CNN's Andy Serwer's Double Standard on Taxes

CNN business contributor Andy Serwer
cast aspersions on investor Boone Pickens, a contributor to the MRC's
Free Market Project, for using perfectly legal tax deductions to lower his 2005 tax liability. He reminded viewers that it wasn't illegal, but that it "raised questions." But Serwer found nothing questionable in tax sheltering last December, reports the Free Market Project's Amy Menefee:

CNN’s Serwer advised his viewers to
get “cute” with the tax code on the Dec. 26, 2005, “American
Morning.” He wasn’t talking to billionaires, of course, but
ordinary individuals who apparently, in his estimation, deserve to
save money. Serwer encouraged his viewers to “Maximize those
charitable deductions, your 529 college plans for the kiddies. And
your gift exclusion, anyone in America can give anyone else $11,000
tax free.” He gave further advice on how to “lower your 2005 tax

“If you’ve lost some money in
stocks this year and want to just sell those dogs, do it before the
end of the year, because you get those capital gains this year,
$3,000. And then you can be left – the capital gains can be held
over, if it's more than $3,000, until the next year. Now, what about
some expenses? You should pre-pay them. This – again, accelerate
those deductions. If you’re going to be paying, prepaying taxes on
a quarterly basis, do it in December. Also, the same thing with
mortgage payments. Do it in December so you can write it off. And
lower your 2005 tax bill. And, you know, April 15 is around the

Yet, Serwer and the Times skewered
Pickens for using existing legal tax breaks when making charitable

“Boone kinda taking advantage of
the hurricane relief tax code provisions to do this,” Serwer said,
to which Miles O’Brien chimed, “Ouch.” He continued groaning
with disapproval as Serwer described the tax break.

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Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.