It’s the housing version of “cowl lamp violations.” A few years ago an Iowa county prosecutor ended up in hot water over the practice of rewriting serious traffic offenses, like drunk driving, down to “cowl lamp” violations, sometimes in exchange for contributions to charities or government agencies. Cowl lamps are something your great-grandpa’s car might have had.
That may have given the Iowa Civil Rights Commission an idea. From Reason.com:
The Des Moines Register reports that for five years ending in February 2011, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission shook down landlords for “voluntary contributions” in exchange for dropping discrimination complaints. The Register obtained copies of 27 settlement agreements involving about $20,000 in contributions. Unlike money from fines, which end up in the state’s general fund, the donations went directly to the commission, creating “the impression that justice is for sale,” as state court administrator David Boyd puts it. The commission ended the practice after Winterset attorney Mark Smith questioned its propriety.
Creates the “impression?” Creates the fact. Instapundit explains:
I think that all revenue collected by all agencies should go to the general fund. Otherwise, it doesn’t just give the impression of corruption, it’s corrupting.
Why Iowa tax reform will be hard. The politicians will no longer get articles like this from Radio Iowa:
State economic development officials approved financial help for six companies Friday. The Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded tax benefits to Alfagomma America to move its stainless steel tube production from its plant in Italy to its only U.S. plant in Burlington.
The company is investing 1.3 million dollars and is expected to create 14 new jobs.
With a non-corrupt system where everybody is treated the same, there would be no more press releases. The state economy would be much stronger, but the politicians wouldn’t get to cut any ribbons.
In a more just world, the economic development bureaucrats would have to call a press conference any time a business closed or fled as a result of Iowa’s whimsical, byzantine and sometimes punishing state tax system.
Crime doesn’t pay, but turning state’s evidence might. The ex-wife of a Minnesota real estate magnate gets three months after cooperating in the case against him. He got 4 1/2 years.
That won’t stop them for a minute? “Do education tax benefits produce more educated Americans? Congress has no idea.” (Marie Spirie, Tax Analysts – subscriber link)
Andrew Mitchel, Repatriate Now? (Before the Bush Tax Cuts Expire). “There may never be another opportunity for individuals to pull cash out of foreign corporations at such a low U.S. tax cost.”
Roberton Williams, Understanding TPC’s Analysis of Limiting Deductions (TaxVox)
Alisa Martin, Things That You Can Do To Get Ready For Tax Season (Guest post at the Missouri Tax Guy)
TaxGrrrl, Gun and Ammo Tax Proposal Draws Fire. Yes, that will put Chicago’s violent criminals out of business…
The weekend Buzz from Robert D. Flach. This part is very true: “In my 40+ years in ‘the business’ I have found that IRS notices are more often than not incorrect (and state notices even more so).”
And I’m eight feet tall! Maryland Governor O’Malley Says State Has Third Lowest Taxes in the Country! (Joseph Henchman,Tax Policy Blog).
Going Concern, Arthur Andersen’s Bones Still Have Some Meat on Them. Not very tasty by now.
Fortunately, the election will be over in about two weeks. Smelly, destructive bug entering Iowa (TheBeanwalker.com)
Tags: iowa tax policy, economic development, corporate welfare, tax crime, Jim Maule, Robert D Flach, Instapundit, TaxGrrrl, Radio Iowa, Going Concern, Andrew Mitchel, Joseph Henchman, Peter Reilly, Roberton Williams, Anthony Nitti, The Beanwalker, Jacob Sullum, Marie Spirie, Alisa Martin