Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., plans to hire a forensic accountant to sort through his tax liabilities as he comes under increasing pressure to step down from his chairmanship of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel admitted last week that he owed taxes on nearly $75,000 in rental income that he earned from a vacation property in the Dominican Islands (see Rangel Won't Step Down as Committee Chair). Rangel plans to amend his tax returns and pay over $10,000 in back taxes to the IRS, New York State and New York City. He has also faced new questions about discrepancies in the value of a Florida condominium that he bought in 2004 and sold in 2006, and how he reported the value and timing of the sale on his congressional disclosure forms, according to The Washington Post.
He also did not separately disclose all 20 of the privately sponsored trips that he took to Taiwan, Singapore, the Caribbean and other locations on detailed disclosure forms, although they were all listed on his annual disclosure forms.
Rangel said he now plans "to engage a national forensic accounting specialist to conduct a thorough, independent review of all these statements going back 20 years as well as all of my U.S., state and local tax returns for the same time period."
Rangel's spokesman Emile Milne was not aware of which accounting firm the congressman planned to hire. One of his attorneys told WebCPA the firm would be hired very soon and would produce an independent report that would be sent directly to the House ethics committee.
Rangel also reportedly lobbied the Internal Revenue Service for tax breaks for the New York Yankees after receiving close to $25,000 in campaign contributions from team owner George Steinbrenner and the team's law firm, according to the New York Daily News. In 2006, the city was able to persuade the IRS to allow the Yankees and New York to raise $942 million in tax-free bonds to build a new stadium.
However, the stadium ran over-budget and the team wanted another $350 million in tax-free bonds. Rangel sent a letter to the IRS prepared by city officials and Yankees lawyers asking for the ability to raise additional funds tax-free. The IRS rejected Rangel's letter and asked for a letter that came directly from the city.
Amid all the allegations, Rangel met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House leaders to discuss his chairmanship on Monday evening. She told CNBC that no decision had been made on whether he was giving up the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Rangel was scheduled to confer with other members of the New York congressional delegation on Tuesday.
One of Rangel's attorneys denied that Pelosi was pressuring Rangel to step down from his committee chairmanship. "I respectfully ask my critics to allow the bipartisan Ethics Committee to investigate all the facts and to render its judgment on the merits, not on the basis of unsubstantiated innuendo or partisan pressures," said Rangel in a statement. "I am confident that when the Ethics Committee has completed its work, it will find that I have done nothing to dishonor myself, my colleagues or this House."
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