“Evidence of consciousness of guilt”

Did Sarah Palin declare those per diem expense payments for sleeping at home as income on her Federal income tax? If not, that was a no-no. And why did she change the records to conceal the fact that the “lodging” she charged the state for was her own bedroom?

Two additional damning elements of the Sarah Palin “home per diem” scam:

1. Since sleeping in your own bedroom is not a tax-deductible business expense, those per diems (and perhaps the travel expense for Palin’s children traveling with her) represented taxable income to Palin. As far as I know, she hasn’t released her tax returns yet, but there could be an explosive issue there. Voters don’t like petty chiselers, and they don’t like tax cheats.

2. Palin changed the records to conceal that some of her “lodging” charges were for the use of her own bedroom. Years ago, when I took the two-week course for IRS agents working on tax fraud cases, we were taught to call that sort of behavior “evidence of consciousness of guilt.” Evidence like that converts a simple error, calling for a mere civil penalty, into a criminal tax-fraud investigation.

Bonus fact: The people of Alaska got to pay for to send Todd Palin and the rest of the gubernatorial family so he could compete in a snowmobile race and they could watch him. Thrift! Thrift, Horatio!

Footnote: No, I was never an IRS Special Agent. I took the course because I was thinking about the Justice Department’s needs for financial investigators.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com