The chief of employees to Rep. Bennie Thompson spends his days within the halls of Congress and his weekends in jail for tax evasion, after the Mississippi Democrat violated his pledge to fireplace his rich chief if the aide was discovered responsible of stiffing the Treasury of $150,000.
Issac Lanier Avant made $170,000 a yr in congressional pay, but the courtroom discovered he didn’t pay any tax returns for seven years. Prosecutors mentioned he was dishonest all through their investigation, and when he did file tax returns, he lied about donating $50,000 to a spiritual group and tried to take a “weird” tax write-off for rollerblading. Prosecutors requested for a one-year jail time period, however Avant was sentenced in January to a monthlong stint in jail adopted by a yr of weekends in jail.
Between 2008 and 2012, Avant didn’t have any federal revenue taxes withheld from his pay after, a U.S. Department of Justice launch reads, “he precipitated a type to be filed together with his employer that falsely claimed he was exempt from federal revenue taxes.”
Eight months into his weekends in jail, a grand jury indicted him on new prices: claiming he paid his taxes in an effort to get a top-secret clearance when he was the highest Democratic staffer on the Committee on Homeland Security. Thompson hasn’t fired him due to that indictment, both.
Thompson is a constant advocate for prime authorities spending paid for by taxes on the rich, saying in a press launch this month, “Republicans guarantee the rich proceed to thrive on the expense of others.”
“He’s charged and if he’s confirmed to be responsible then clearly that might be the consequence, however I’m not going to fireplace him now as a result of he hasn’t had his day in courtroom,” Thompson mentioned in August 2016 of the unique tax evasion prices.
A couple of months later, Avant pleaded responsible, but Thompson quietly stored him on employees. Pay information present Avant took a month off in March, presumably whereas he was in jail.
In September 2015, after the IRS started garnishing his wages for failure to pay taxes, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gave Avant an award for “exemplary management,” an award Avant trotted out at sentencing. In attempting to point out Avant’s good character, his lawyer mentioned he had volunteered for a charity 20 years in the past.
Thompson is the rating Democrat on the Committee on Homeland Security, and Avant served as each the committee’s Democratic employees director and his private chief of employees. He stopped working for the committee two weeks after he was sentenced however retained his job as chief of employees.
Avant mentioned on the background verify software for the homeland safety job in 2013 that he had filed his taxes, when in truth he had not. He might face 5 years in jail if discovered responsible of mendacity on these kinds.
Avant answered his work telephone Wednesday and advised The Daily Caller News Foundation there was “no have to elaborate” on the scenario. A consultant for Thompson didn’t return a request for touch upon the person charged with operating his workplace.
“Avant’s cavalier angle in the direction of his authorized obligation to file and pay taxes, which prolonged from 2005 to the time he was interviewed by federal brokers in 2015, is astonishing,” prosecutors wrote. “The extraordinarily restricted written assertion Avant submitted to the U.S. Probation Officer as to his acceptance of accountability is additional proof of this disconcerting view of the seriousness of his tax fraud.”
Avant advised the decide he didn’t pay taxes as a result of he couldn’t afford hire on his house. Other staffers in Thompson’s workplace made lower than 1 / 4 of Avant’s $170,000 a yr wage.
“The chief of employees for a member of Congress, who oversees a employees of 19-22 congressional workplace staff and handles payroll points, claimed” he didn’t know he needed to file with the IRS, prosecutors wrote. “These statements defy credibility.”
They mentioned he filed “a weird tax return” falsely claiming he donated $26,000 in money to Catholic Charities, plus $22,000 price of products, together with an oil portray and a coin assortment.
“Avant said that he didn’t know why the $26,000 donation to Catholic Charities and the $22,000 in non-cash charitable contributions are on his tax return. Avant additionally took outlandish miscellaneous deductions for biking, chess, bass guitar, and rollerblading. The tax return Avant filed with these ridiculous deductions resulted in an itemized deduction quantity that every one however worn out his adjusted gross revenue and resulted in a declare that the tax owed by Avant was simply $119.”
“One model of the draft tax return he ready on April 15, 2008, had totally different deduction quantities for various objects, and resulted in a tax due of $636. Despite no federal revenue tax withholdings, apparently that quantity was too excessive for Avant,” and he revised it till it was even decrease.
“Starting with the tax return due in April 2009 for tax yr 2008, Avant didn’t file a tax return in any respect till after he was interviewed by federal brokers in 2015. … This is astounding. Avant earned about $170,000 a yr ready of public belief, and his wage was funded by federal tax funds, but he paid lower than $450 in federal taxes in 2006 and 2007, after which neither paid any federal tax, nor filed a federal tax return for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012.”
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