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April 14, 2004



"Renoir" is a joke, unless it turns out to be right, in which case, it was eerily prescient. Think of it as a metonym for "expensive, probably Euro, probably old-like-Kerry" painting.


I am half-asleep, just leaning on my muck-rake, and missing the obvious: did Kerry sell the painting to a wealthy, friendly supporter at an inflated price? Let's get the picture appraised!


"Kerry had $43,735 in charitable contributions among his $48,674 in itemized deductions, which included more than $9,000 in medical and dental expenses and more than $3,000 ..."

if he had $43K+ in charitable contributions AND $9k in med exp AND $3k in interest, shouldn't the TOTAL itemized deductions be more like $55k?

Am I missing something here?


It get's even more interesting.

For him to deduct 9,000 in unreimbursed medical expenses, he would have to have 38,625 in unreimbursed medical expenses to begin with.

You can only deduct uncovered medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of AGI. With an AGI of 395,000 he would have to exceed $29625 to be able to deduct anything. Then only what's above that level can be deducted.

What did he have done for almost $40,000 that his senate health plan wouldn't cover?

And the question by TM, I think the inference in the painting is that since he can use joint investments with Theresa, was the half interest in the painting something she owned and suddenly called "joint" so he could sell it and use the money. Probably sold his half back to her...


"Mindles H. Dreck"

You found the dripping Botox syringe! Even the notoriously generous congressional health coverage won't pay for that.


Some of his deductions may have been disallowed.

Michael Hertzberg

If Kerry's adjusted gross income was $395,000, and his medical expenses deduction was $9,000, that would mean his actual medical expenses were nearly $40,000, since only expenses that exceed 7.5% of agi are deductible. That's one hell of a lot of botox!


I want to blurt out "prostate cancer" before anyone else, because he did get treated for that in early 2003.

Still, what sort of catastrophic coverage are we talking about here?

And, better material for the Wonkette than me, we all know some common side-effects of the prostate surgery - might Kerry be sitting on his medical records because he is not quite ready to walk the trail blazed by Bob Dole?


Byron York at the National Review lifts the curtain - the painting was done by 17th-century Dutch seascape painter Adam Willaerts.

more here


didn't Kerry take out a 2nd mortgage of $6M recently -- was that in 03 or 04?

The interest on $6M is in the neighborhood of $250,000 per year - how does he service the debt with just his own income

The Comedian

I'm not enough of a tax guru to know the answer to this one, but perhaps another reader might be.

"In all, taking into account losses from investments, Kerry reported a total 2003 income of $395,338. His total federal tax bill was $90,575. He had $27,277 of that withheld from his paychecks and paid the rest, $63,298, with his tax return."

Given the huge shortfall, shouldn't Sen. Kerry have made a quarterly estimated tax payment to cover the likely tax liability, and if not, shouldn't he have been assessed penalties &/or interest? (Assuming that his 2003 withholding didn't at least equal his 2004 tax.)


Adam Willaerts art auction results are shown at artprice.com including some 2003 results. However, you have to pay to get access to this data.

The amount of appreciation from $1mm to $1.375 over 7 or 8 years seems reasonable to me. I can't imagine a political supporter seeking to inflate a price to this level to provide funds to man already rich enough ( counting his interest in Teresa's fortune).

The $40 grand worth of likely plastic surgery is more interesting. You would think, though, that you would see some more notable changes in his visage is this is what he spent it on.

I say give him a pass on this, the world is moving in this direction. But there is no doubt the NYT would give a republican grief over plastic surgery. Maybe he paid for a high class breast job for his rich wife?


You people are pathetic; Cheney's 2000 income from Halliburton: $36,086,635

Then he got caught LYING about it again: A report by the Congressional Research Service undermines Vice President Dick Cheney's denial of a continuing relationship with Halliburton Co., the energy company he once led, Sen. Frank Lautenberg said Thursday.

The report says a public official's unexercised stock options and deferred salary fall within the definition of "retained ties" to his former company.

Cheney said Sunday on NBC that since becoming vice president, "I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years." LIE!!!

Democrats pointed out that Cheney receives deferred compensation from Halliburton under an arrangement he made in 1998, and also retains STOCK OPTIONS. He has pledged to give after-tax proceeds of the stock options to CHARITY.
In 2002, Cheney's total assets were valued at between $19.1 million and $86.4 million.
GEE, I wonder how he made that much money when people at Halliburton have said he didn’t really do anything there? Perhaps Halliburton was making an investment? Seems so.

And BOTOX? How about CANCER?

Ron Hardin

The press release says : ``Last year, Kerry wrote "A Call to Service," which had $89,000 in proceeds. Kerry is paying the taxes on the proceeds from the book and is donating the balance to charity.''

I'm struck by the public posture of generosity, and the mathematics of stinginess. If he donates the whole $89,000 to charity, he pays _no tax_ on it.

But that's not what he is doing. He reasons (35% rate) $89,000 generates $31,000 of tax, so he'll donate $58,000. He does not say that that $58,000 donation removes $20,000 of tax that he has not yet accounted for; thus he keeps $20,000 more than his pubic posture of charity would allow.

The amazing thing is the chinzyness of it. He _cares_ about $20,000 so much that he pulls this off, at risk to his public posture? Amazing.

Kevin Murphy

Kerry might well have $55K of "itemized deductions", yet only be able to deduct $43K due to several take-back provisions as one climbs the income ladder. Depends on where on the forms you look.

Ralph Gizzip

I couldn't care less about Dick Cheney's relationship with Halliburton. Halliburton was awarded the contract they're under during the previous administration. It's just money. Everybody lies about money. Oh BTW, Cheney didn't take office until 2001. Looks like he took a stupendous cut in pay to take the job of VPOTUS.

And like most leftists you're confusing wealth with income. A person can be quite wealthy yet take in little inclome while some people can bring in a great income yet aquire little real wealth (think pro athlete).

As for Kerry and cancer, I'll agree with you in this respect. The ideology Kerry represents is spreading like a cancer across this great country. Unfortunately it's going to take a Hell of a lot more money than $40K to eradicate it.


regarding cheney's options, and his 'ties' to halliburton - do the research and check when those options are exercisable (ahem..after 2007..ahem). and last i checked, they weren't even in the money. people need to stop acting like there is a story here.


He sold a painting he had an interest in and made some money? He paid $9000 in healthcare during the year he had treatment for cancer? These "revelations" are deeply lame. If this is the best you can do, you're in real trouble.


Don't you understand that Cheney does not need great wealth? He could afford to do alot of other more relaxing, enjoyable things in life than being vice-president. He cares about the future of our country and the future of the world. He has faced death at least four times (through heart attacks) and he knows he probably works too hard, yet he steadily and faithfully works away. You imagine he is doing the job for the money it will bring to Halliburton or himself? Of course not, he does not care that much about great wealth. Deferred compensation is just another way of thinking of retirement benefits for executives. He earned that money while he was actually head of the company.


Christ, is this the best you [folks] can do? That pathetic performance last night must have really rattled you...


Not only is this story going to prove short-lived, there is virtually nothing that can be reported about Kerry, short of a crime, that will affect the election outcome. This election is a referendum on George W. Bush and his response to 9/11 and his handling of the economy.

So look for all the damning info about Kerry you want. Accuse the media for giving Kerry a pass. Give Bush-Cheney the benefit every doubt. None of it matters. None of it. It's All About Bush.


READ MY LIPS: As of Oct., 2003, Cheney was still receiving deferred compensation from and held stock options in HALLIBURTON! For all I know he still does, although he promised (and that may mean very little nowadays) to donate it to charity.

At that time, Cheney held 100,000 Halliburton shares at an option price of $54.50 per share, 33,333 shares at $28.125, and 300,000 shares at $39.50 – about that time the closing price for Halliburton was about $24.00.

Of course, 9/11 hammered all defense related stock but Halliburton still reached a 52 Week High of $32.70. No doubt he thought that an easy invasion of Iraq would shoot the price up.
As for Halliburton contracts, the IRAQ no-bid contracts they won were NOT in place during the Clinton administration. It is true that Halliburton had contracts during the Clinton years, but they were NEVER ‘NO-BID’; they had to win with the best quote. And I do not recall reading anything about them “over-charging” (insert ‘stealing from’) the government when they had to quote (because in a bid the charges can be compared to the quote).

And I'm sure Dr. Strangelove could do other things other than be V.P. (insert 'the real president') but the reasons might have more to do with his ego than his heart.


Yes, Kerry had cancer surgery. But cancer would have been covered. This had to be $40,000 in uninsured and unreimbursed medical expenses.

The point is that if this were Bush's tax return, the press would be going over the painting and the medical expenses with a fine tooth comb. Kerry, they just ignore it.



Hey Dave [email protected]: If the best YOU can do is refer to people as "[folks]" then go troll on Moveon or DU, where they deal is such arguments. The host's post was about the NYTimes coverage, or lack thereof, of some obvious questions that jump out at the thinking man, if he were reporting on politicians' tax returns. I missed that part of your "argument." All the best.

commie atheist

How pathetic is this? This is what matters to you people - Kerry sold a painting and paid $9,000 on healthcare? Meanwhile the rest of the world laughs at the moronic performances put on by our President while Iraq burns.

Good luck with the rest of your lives.


Amen, commie atheist. This is almost as absurd as putting 200 FBI agents on the useless Whitewater/Blowjob investigations when they should have put those 200 agents on the trails of the Arab pilots and terrorists who were learning to fly under our very noses!

This is another pathetic attempt to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING to discredit Kerry. Good luck.


"Iraq burns"... yes, one portion is in conflict as opposed to before when it was all burning under the rule of Saddam Hussein. And "the rest of the world" laughing because they think Saddam would be better... I'll take the "Dummy president," thank you.


"This is another pathetic attempt to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING to discredit Kerry."

He discredits himself quite well, thank you...


I looked at the story: “Kerry had $43,735 in charitable contributions among his $48,674 in itemized deductions, which included more than $9,000 in medical and dental expenses and more than $3,000 in home mortgage interest.”

I don’t understand were the $40,000 figure cited is coming from: The story states he had $9,000 in actual expenses; the $48,674 in DEDUCTIONS included (factored in) EXPENSES of $9,000...it doesn't say $9,000 in deductions.



I suppose this is a sneak preview of what the next 8 years will look like.
For those who thought Whitewater was too risque.

Kill me now.



Cheney has already taken care of his options in a manner that has been determined to be sufficent to qualify as "breaking ties". In effect Cheney has pre-sold his options. The amount of compensation he gets is not affected by the future price of Haliburton stock.

Additionally, the $40,000 in medical expenses arises in that if Kerry had only $9,000 in medical expenses they would not be decuctable -- and thus not reported to the IRS. The only valid conclusion is that he was deducting $9,000 worth of medical expenses which means that his total medical expenses would have had to have been in the $40,000 range.



Kill me now.

Oh, no, Willie - we are going to tape your eyelids open and make you watch. Well, not Rush, obviously, you will be forced to listen to that...


Maybe he has the Federal Employee Program and was using out of network services (since he travels). Although he has a good plan it would only cover emergency and urgent care out of his local service area.

Health Insurance Guy


---"I'll take the "Dummy president," thank you."---

Please do….. And take his puppetmaster, too. Please.


NRO has a .pdf file of the return.

It turns out that he need not have reported medical/dental - he shows $9,000 gross, calculates the 0.075 threshold of $29,000, and reports no net medical/dental deduction.

So, the early commenter who said that he would need total expenses around $40,000 to get a *net* deduction of $9,000 was correct, but lacked all the data.


---“And like most leftists you're confusing wealth with income.”---

I get sooooo tired of the “Liberals/leftists just don’t get it” comment. We get it plenty well. But for most things, we just disagree, or see thru the BS and/or opinion the Far Right passes off for “truth.”


Alright, I understand the $40,000 now, sorry. But I don't understand its importance.

"Cheney has already taken care of his options in a manner..."

I think the phase "already taken care of" is a bit odd -- yes, after October of last year, after being in office for almost 2 years, and after it was ‘revealed’ , publicized and he received Congressional criticism about it; he did it to avoid a hearing or a call of a conflict of interest by the Congress. Legally speaking, he broke the law by not breaking ties before becoming president, I mean VICE-president.

The President, as I understand it, IS required to place all assets in a blind trust; I my hubris opinion, the V.P. ought to be made to do the same and I don't understand why that loophole exists (if it actually does)...I will defer to my Republican comrades for an answer to that.


Oooh, don't EVER call Republicans "Comrades..."


"... He had $27,277 of that withheld from his paychecks and paid the rest, $63,298, with his tax return."

Given the huge shortfall, shouldn't Sen. Kerry have made a quarterly estimated tax payment to cover the likely tax liability, and if not, shouldn't he have been assessed penalties &/or interest? (Assuming that his 2003 withholding didn't at least equal his 2004 tax.)

Comedian, you're right. If you check out the PDF on NRO, you'll see Kerry did file Form 2210 for underpayment (it's the third page of the PDF). However, his 2002 taxes were about 33k, so he only owes a penalty on the difference between that and the 27k he actually paid.

What happens is, the IRS calculates an interest charge for the payments Kerry should have made, and sends him a bill. As I recall, the interest rate is pretty reasonable; using the 2210 formula (it's on page 2, which Kerry did not file), he'll have to pay around $150, no biggie.

Actually, as I understand the current rules, Kerry shouldn't have filed a Form 2210, because he is not requesting a waiver of the penalty. The IRS automatically figures the penalty and sends you a bill, or you can figure it yuorself and put it on line 73 of your 1040.

Kevin Murphy

I wonder if all the Haliburton-bashers are now going to bash the Kerry's for hiding Teresa Heinz Kerry's income and interests. Or are you going to demand that BOTH Kerrys divest? Surely if Laura Bush had a billion dollars in investments and didn't divest, you'd be all over him for it.

Not that I expect this.


I hate to see BGGW's thirst for knowledge go unquenched, so I'll pass along what little I know about Cheney's "ties" to Halliburton.

His deferred salary is a standard tax thing. Halliburton could go out of business tomorrow and it would still be paid (it's actually handled by insurance companies).

My understanding with the options is that they are non-transferable and can't be exercised for several more years. So Cheney just said he would donate any future profits to charity and let it go at that. It would be cleaner to put them in a trust of some sort, but that may not be permitted; the only real alternative would be to give them back to Halliburton, and I'm sure you don't want that to happen!

As for what Cheney is legally required to do, I'd suggest doing a little research before using phrases like "legally speaking" and "why that loophole exists", even if you then go on to disclaim any actual knowledge. I don't know much, but this PDF seems to say that most Federal employees are required to disqualify themselves from dealing with companies in which they hold investments. Blind trusts are the usual way to avoid this, and disclosure of investment holdings is required. The President, VP, and members of Congress are explicitly exempted from the disqualification requirement; as I read it, then, there is no legal requirement for them to do anything. (My impression is that Congress(wo)men and Senator(ess)s may have other rules decided by their House.)


PJ/Maryland is right; the document PJ provided states that the President, V.P. and members of Congress are exempt from those laws because being required to recluse themselves actually could prevent them from fulfilling their duties and says, "public financial disclosure and the attendant publicity is the principal method of conflict of interest regulation,..."

Unlike the Republicans in the current administration, I am able to admit when I am wrong and don’t know something.

That’s also my parting shot for the day.

P.S.; P.J., will you do my taxes for me? I need a refund so I can donate more money to Kerry.

Paul Zrimsek

Looks like the only real scandal here is that Reuters gave the story to someone who doesn't know how to read a tax return. (Even if he didn't understand the restriction on deductible medical expenses and better than the Bush Girls, that goose egg over in the right-hand column is pretty hard to misinterpret.)

Timothy Lang

You know times are hard in America when you have to start selling the 17th century Dutch Masters to make ends meet.

If these tough economic times continue the next thing to go after that is the third floor housekeeper's junior maid, which of course will increase the workload of the third floor first and second maids (third floor housekeeper won't be picking up any of that slack...she's Management).

And if the bad times keep up, forget about dressing for dinner. Do you have any conception of the costs involved, year in and year out, of getting the port wine stains out of a cummerbund?

Paul Zrimsek

Why a Dutch master anyway? Is Kerry one of those Benedict Arnold collectors who outsources his buying, when there are plenty of 17th century American masters to choose from?

Bernard Hassan

Mr Zrimsek: I defer to no one in my longtime visceral disdain for Kerry and the Mayflower crowd in general. However, as the former owner of an art gallery (which never offered anything from the 17th century), I should be grateful to know of the plethora of American masters of that period. Well, just two undisputed masters. One?
Even the "Dutch master" is scarcely a household name in most ZIP codes, and a couple of hundred thou scarcely puts one into a select circle of affluent connoisseurs. Am I failing to pick up on the irony?


guess my question is if Kerry sold his half of the painting to his wife. That way he gets the income (to spend on his campaign if needed) and keeps the painting.

though it seems 145000 is a drop in the ocean compared to how much he gets from Soros, and he could always sell one of his houses if he needs bigger bucks





In my book those people that hate Bush are really sick in their minds and hearts. Poor people sick of hatred. O! and, in case you want to come back with the usual and stupid "you too" let me tell you that I don't hate anyone, period. But you hate Bush...well, poor you, slave of such a lowly feeling as hate.


Jesus, someone needs to take his or her medicine.

And Miguel, why is hate a ‘lowly’ feeling? Are we projecting some psychological issue here?

Bush is not worth my time hating; but he does deserve my scorn and ridicule. As the ‘leader’ of this nation and sworn to protect and defend us, he found it more important to take a month-long vacation after only being president for six months while he and his staff received reports about imminent attacks.

He is an incompetent ass-wipe.


I was just looking at Kerry’s 1999 to 2003 tax returns. He never took any deduction for property taxes. How can he own a house and have a 0 tax bill?



“U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry used an appraisal pegging the value of his Beacon Hill townhouse at twice the amount listed on City Hall records in order to get the $6.4 million loan he needed to resuscitate his presidential bid.

The Kerry campaign says the elegant Louisburg Square townhouse that Kerry shares with is millionaire wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry is worth $12.8 million - exactly double the Christmas Eve mortgage the senator got from Mellon Bank.

But Boston's Assessing Department puts the value of the swank, five-story mansion - with six fireplaces, five bedrooms, a private elevator and roofdeck - at $6.6 million as of Jan. 1, 2003. The assessed value actually dropped from 2002's figure of $6.95 million.”

So $3.3 M, he should have been paying about $33 K in taxes. I suppose he didn’t list it as a deduction because someone else has paid them for the past 5 years.

Another thing is his personal property taxes. Boston listed the rate at $33.08 per thousand.


1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Deduction 89 89 510 1167 761

Property value 2,690 2,690 15,417 35,278 23,005

I would have thought that painting would have been subject to personal property tax ($16 K per year) if it was in Boston. It would be interesting to see what he listed as personal property for taxation. Cars are exempt so it is not like the tax is being paid on an automobile.

The Comedian

[Quoted verbatim from http://news.bostonherald.com/election2004/view.bg?articleid=1781 ]

WASHINGTON - Sen. John F. Kerry [related, bio] had to amend his tax return this week after accountants discovered he owed nearly $12,000 more than he thought.

The Bay State senator first reported paying $90,575 in federal income taxes on $395,000 in income.

But yesterday his campaign announced that ``due to an accounting error,'' Kerry had filed an amended return bumping his taxes up to $102,152.

Spokesman Michael Meehan said Kerry's accountants calculated his capital gains tax wrongly at a 20 percent rate instead of the correct 28 percent.

[Not the error I'd suggested above, though as another poster pointed out Kerry was likely charged a small automatic penalty for under withholding. I just thought that this update was important for the conversation in these comments.]


Okay, having actually looked at the tax return I see that his gross medical was the $9 figure. All hail the abilitiy of internet users to check the source document! At 9 grand there is nothing here.

I don't think Cheney is telling a lie over his ties to Halliburton, at least as a businessman would interpet it. Deferred comp is not contigent on anything except Halliburton not going bankrupt. However there is still a link via the deferred comp and the Halliburton = evil crowd (intellectual heirs to the John Birch Society) will not be placated.

I don't think that the deferred comp is guaranteed by an insurance company, such arrangements might make it current comp. I am pretty sure that the comp is a general obligation of Halliburton.

I would guess that the property taxes on Kerry's homes are paid by his wife. As someone said, you can't really tell much when one spouce's returns are not disclosed.

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