In The Blogs: Tolbert Tackles Auto Issue

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    I was going to chime in a with few thoughts on the StateVehicleGate thing, but I see that Jason Tolbert absolutely nailed it. So I will just link to his post, blockquote some of it, and note that this is a great example of why Jason is the one conservative blogger that I actually enjoy reading on a daily basis.

    Second – as an accountant or any other accountant in the state for that matter will tell you – it is clear that the personal use of a vehicle provided by your employer is taxable and should be reported by the employee. The IRS rules (which DFA mirrors) can be found in IRS Publication 535. This rule deals with the deductable of business expenses on an employee’s vehicle but the same rules apply to the inclusion of personal use of a vehicle owned by the business. It states…

    “Business use of your car. If you use your car exclusively in your business, you can deduct car expenses. If you use your car for both business and personal purposes, you must divide your expenses based on actual mileage. Generally, commuting expenses between your home and your business location, within the area of your tax home, are not deductible.”

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    Finally, on the issue of whether the Arkansas Constitution prohibits constitutional officers from using state provided cars, I believe it does not prohibit this. Amendment 70 states “Except as provided herein, such officials of the Executive Department shall not receive any other income from the State of Arkansas, whether in the form of salaries or expenses.”

    The argument has been made by the RPA Chairman Doyle Webb and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Jim Keet that if the personal usage is income than it is unconstitutional. While I understand where they are coming from, I don’t believe this argument holds. It is common for the IRS definition of taxable income to be different from the business definition of income. While the personal usage is clearly taxable, it does not appear to me to be income as defined in the Amendment but rather a fringe benefit such as health care insurance or retirement benefits.