Just a few short weeks ago, Anthony Weiner was a rising star in the Democratic party. The seven-term Congressman from New York's Ninth District, straddling Brooklyn and Queens, was a well-respected liberal voice, with frequent appearances on cable news networks and a legitimate shot at becoming Gotham's next mayor. Now, he joins fellow New Yorkers Elliot Spitzer, Chris Lee, and Eric Massa in the Disgraced Politicians Hall of Shame. (Must be something in that New York water). Weiner's already enough of a national laughingstock that we can just skip all the wisecracks you expected when you saw the subject line of this email and get on with it!
Weiner may be on his way out for now, but he's not likely to be gone forever. Former Governor Elliot Spitzer, who left office after being uncovered as a high-end escort service's "Client 9," hosts his own talk show on CNN. New York native and former mayor of Cincinnati Jerry Springer, who was caught paying for similar services with a check, overcame that disgrace to become a wildly successful national television personality. And of Weiner, even President Obama told ABC news that "he'll refocus, and he'll end up being able to bounce back."
But will there be any tax breaks to help ease the shame that he must feel, as he and wife Huma Abedin prepare to welcome a little Weiner into their family? Weiner starts out with some pretty sweet perks as a former Congressman — perks which are already tax-advantaged. His Congressional pension will grow tax-deferred until he reaches age 62. He'll also get access to the house floor during regular business or joint sessions, free parking for life on the House side of the Capitol building, and even access to the House gym where he took some of the photos that ultimately brought him down — all tax-free.
But of course, Weiner will have to find work to replace his $174,000 congressional salary. Fortunately, job-hunting expenses are deductible too, as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, subject to a 2% floor on adjusted gross income. This holds true whether he parlays his cable-news appearances into a full-time broadcast career, or starts lobbying former colleagues at $500 per hour. (Good news: porn mogul Larry Flynt has already offered Weiner a job with a 20% raise, medical benefits, and even relocation costs!)
Speaking of medical benefits, Weiner has announced plans to enter a "treatment center." While he hasn't revealed exactly where he's going, it makes sense to assume he'll seek counseling for online sex addiction. That sort of psychological treatment — which generally runs $500-1,000 per day for 30-45 days — is a deductible medical expense, subject to a 7.5% floor on adjusted gross income (or 10%, if he's subject to Alternative Minimum Tax, which hits New Yorkers especially hard). Weiner was an early and enthusiastic supporter of last year's health reform package, but he originally threatened not to support it without a "public option." We'll be intrigued to see if he's happy with his own "public option" once he gets the bill!
In the end, it's easy to make fun of high-profile names like Weiner when they stumble and fall. But we all make mistakes. The real challenge is learning from those mistakes and moving on to greater success. When it comes to taxes, your mistakes won't cost you your reputation. But they can cost you a fortune. So if you don't already have a plan, let Scholl & Company create one for you! And remember, we're here for your family, friends, and colleagues too.
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