Well, not really
Bushes claim post office box as home for tax returns
By KEN HERMAN
Cox News Service
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
WASHINGTON — They've got a ranch in rural Texas and a nice home-office setup on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But for income tax purposes, President Bush and his wife Laura claim a Chicago post office box as their "home address."
On the 1040 they signed – and the White House released last week – the listed home address is "Northern Trust Co., P.O. Box 803968, Chicago, Ill. 60680."
That places the president's home in a downtown Chicago post office named for former Democratic U.S. Rep. Cardiss Collins.
White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said Tuesday that the post office box is the Bushes' home address for federal income tax purposes, and has been since he took office, because Northern Trust handles the blind trust into which the Bushes have put all their holdings. Healy said the use of the Illinois address did not mean the Bushes had to pay Illinois state income tax.
IRS spokesman Tim Harms said Tuesday that the "home address" question does not always have a simple answer.
"As near as I can tell, it's OK," Harms said after shopping the residency question among several people at his agency.
Bush, coincidentally, was in Illinois on Tuesday at the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.
In general, the Internal Revenue Service frowns upon the use of a post office box as a home address on tax forms. IRS instructions for Form 1040 say, "Enter your box number only if your post office does not deliver mail to your home."
Richard Lenet, an accounting professor at Montgomery College in Maryland, said he has had many clients who listed post office boxes as their home address on tax returns but only because they did not receive mail at their residences.
"But the post office box is in the city in which they live," Lenet said of his clients.
Lenet said he is confident the Bush family's advisers are on firm legal footing, nonetheless.
The 1040 released to reporters by Vice President Cheney and his wife Lynne indicates they live at an undisclosed location. The Cheneys' address was blacked out on the tax return given to reporters because it is personal information, according to attorney Terrence O'Donnell, who handles the vice president's tax matters.
O'Donnell said the address listed on the form that went to the IRS shows a Wyoming address. Cheney changed his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming in 2000 to get on the ticket with Bush. A presidential candidate and running mate cannot be from the same state. At the time, Cheney, a former Wyoming congressman, lived in Dallas.
A review of recent presidential income tax returns shows a definite partisan split concerning what home address to list: Democrats have listed the White House. Republicans list an address of the entity that handled their money.
Democrat Bill Clinton listed "1600 Pennsylvania Ave" and Jimmy Carter simply put "The White House."
Republican George H.W. Bush used the New York address of Besemer Trust Co., but it was listed as a "care of" address, not as his home address. Ronald Reagan listed the Los Angeles office of attorney Roy Miller.
This year's tax returns also show the Bushes and the Cheneys differ on supporting federal funding of presidential races. Both Cheneys marked the "yes" box indicating each wants $3 to go to the fund.
The Bushes' slalomed around the question, checking neither the "yes" box nor the "no" box. Bush did not take federal matching funds during his 2000 bid for the GOP presidential nomination, a move that allowed him to avoid spending limits. He did accept federal funds for the 2000 general election.
The Bush-Cheney ticket took the same approach last year, declining federal funds for the primary season but accepting them for the general election.
The Bushes reported $784,219 in 2004 income, about half from "wages, salaries, tips, etc." and half from investment income. They reported $77,785 in charitable contributions.
The first family's tax liability for 2004 was $207,307, which they overpaid by $38,534. In lieu of a refund, the Bushes opted to have that money applied to their 2005 taxes.
The Cheneys listed $1,734,373 in income, including $194,852 in deferred compensation from Halliburton Company, where he formerly worked. They owed $393,518 in income taxes and paid $102,663 with their return.
The Cheneys' return includes the signature of an accountant at KPMG in Dallas as the "paid preparer."
The Bushes' return does not list a paid preparer. The return shows a deduction of $2,690 for "tax preparation fees" paid in 2004 for their 2003 return.
Ken Herman's e-mail address is kherman(at)coxnews.com