Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rich Baird: Snyder's Chief Tax Cheat?

By now you've heard the story of Rich Baird, Governor Snyder's $140,000/year "Transformation Manager", who until Friday ostensibly was a resident of both Illinois and Michigan. Seems he caught claiming homestead tax exemptions on residences in both states which is, uh, tax fraud.

A Snyder spokesperson more politely stated that Baird, former Global Managing Partner with the massive accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, had made an "inadvertent" mistake (translation: he didn't think he'd get caught by the media).

When banks and rich guys get caught cheating the public, they usually buy their way out of the problem which is what Baird has done. On Friday he paid $16,700 in back taxes to Clinton County for his $500,000 home Hawk Hollow shack. That means he has declared his home in Bath is NOT his primary residence. That would be Palatine, Illinois (which is where his wife lives).

Baird is also registered to vote in both states. Just another unfortunate mixup, according to Snyder's spokesperson. It isn't vote fraud. It is simply because Illinois has yet to update its voter files. But to register to vote in Michigan, you have to be a resident of Michigan and the city or township in which you register. (Baird also ran for Republican precinct delegate in Clinton County. State law requires that you must be a resident of the precinct in which you run.)

Let's summarize:

For tax purposes, Rich Baird is a resident of Palatine, Illinois. For voting purposes, he is a resident of Bath, Michigan.

Can you be both? And why the dual identity?

Maybe it has to do with Governor Snyder's pension tax (which Baird helped get passed).

As a retired Global Managing Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Baird certainly has a very generous retirement plan (enough to allow him to have a $500,000 '2nd home' in Bath). Illinois exempts virtually all pension income from state taxes. Michigan, thanks to Rick Snyder, raised taxes on pensions.

So by claiming Illinois residency, Baird potentially saves thousands of dollars annually in Michigan income tax.

So here are the questions I have sent to Sara Wurfel, Governor Snyder's press secretary:
  1. Did Rich Baird file a Michigan tax return last year as a resident, or non-resident? 
  2. Did he pay Michigan income tax on his Pricewaterhouse pension? 
  3. Is he willing to release his Michigan income tax return (with appropriate redactions)?
  4. If he filed as a non-resident of Michigan, how can he register to vote in Michigan since state law requires you to be a resident in order to vote?
I'm not holding my breath over getting a response.

Earlier: Did al Qaeda Underwrite Snyder's NERD Fund?

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