Nathan Deal has a history of using elected office to benefit his friends, and they’ve happily returned the favor. In fact, just a few weeks ago, at the Georgia Forward forum in Macon, when Deal was asked about tough decisions he might have to make as Governor, he said that his toughest task would be saying no to his friends. Given the revelations of the last two weeks, that statement is even more ominous than it was at the time. Plane-Gate, the latest in a series of Deal’s questionable financial arrangements, has so far generated more questions than answers.

For example, given Nathan Deal’s curious tax returns,  his continuing lack of disclosure of the schedules, and his amazing ability to pay little tax on considerable income, I wondered whether he and his friends could have benefited financially from tax deductions as a result of the convoluted and costly arrangement to continuously lease the aircraft for the campaign.

The short answer is, “I don’t know, but I bet some smart CPA can figure it out.”

Below the fold are some of the pieces.  Follow closely lest you forget which shell the money is under.

In 2002, when then-Congressman Nathan Deal was serving his sixth term in Congress, The Jobs Creation and Workers Assistance Act of 2002 became law. Buried buried in this complex legislation was a provision favorably changing the economic benefits of aircraft ownership. (Sec. 168(K)) For aircraft placed in service between September 10, 2001 and September 11, 2004, or on expenditures to renovate acquired or owned aircraft, a 30% bonus depreciation was generally allowed.

How fortunate that in July of 2004, HRPW Investments, LLC, of Gainesville was formed and is partially owned by North Georgia Aviation, a subsidiary of Gainesville Salvage and Disposal, a company Nathan Deal co-owns. HRPW in turn owns the 2002 Pilatus PC-12/45 plane that is on “retainer” to the Deal campaign.

Among those listed as initial members of HRPW Investments, LLC are the Chair of Deal’s campaign for Governor, Philip Wilheit and Deal’s campaign manager, Chris Riley.

The organizer of HRPW was Louis M. Meiners, Jr. of Advocate Aircraft Taxation Company in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Meiners, a CPA and an attorney, is something of an expert on the possible tax benefits of aircraft ownership. According to Aviation International News, in 2003:

Louis Meiners Jr., president of Indianapolis-based Advocate Consulting, offered perspective on new accelerated depreciation opportunities under the 2002 tax bill affecting used aircraft such as the Twin Commander. Meiners, a CPA, attorney and twin-turboprop pilot, described how even when an aircraft is flown primarily for personal use, courts have allowed full depreciation and expense write-offs. He outlined how individuals with significant investment or non-employee income can form a separate corporate structure for asset management to qualify for an advantageous optional IRS method of taxing personal use of an aircraft. Meiners also described how buyers of used aircraft such as Twin Commanders can exploit 30 percent bonus first-year depreciation features of the law aimed primarily at new equipment. (Emphasis mine)

Curious, don’t you think?

I’m not suggesting that taking advantage of a tax deduction is anything to be ashamed of, but when looking at whether or not Deal benefited financially from the airplane arrangement, doesn’t it makes sense to consider whether he gained financially through a possible  tax advantage created by the convoluted set-up? Of course, he could clear all this up by just releasing his schedules.

2 Responses to I Smell a Rat

  1. I think you’ve got him. Another politician doing business as usual.

  2. JMPrince says:

    Again, excellent rat catching here Amy. And once again, the SOP of a daisy chain of fraud, corruption & malfeasance from & by Deal’s Dirty Deals. JMP