Life can be funny. And sad. And infuriating. And just downright wrong.
All of those apply to the financial situation of American International Group Inc., better known by its initials AIG. We're all too familiar with the recent
After the money was forked over, the fun revelations started coming.
We soon learned, but not soon enough, that the deal was structured to protect AIG's loan interest tax deduction. Well played, AIG tax attorneys. You obviously are much better than our government lawyers.
Now we discover that AIG is using bailout money in an effort to wipe out a multimillion dollar tax bill.
Fed money to fight fed fines: The Wall Street Journal reports that in securities filings last week, AIG revealed that the company has filed a
"claim for refund" with the IRS in connection with
And yes, we taxpayers are helping pay for AIG's efforts against the IRS.
The tax bill comes, in part, from IRS "disallowance of foreign tax credits associated with cross-border financing transactions." Those maneuvers by AIG, says the IRS, were an abusive tax scheme.
A huge international company using questionable tactics to avoid taxes is not a surprise. Neither is its use of every available avenue to argue for the validity of its tax techniques.
Oversight issues: But what has become a recurring surprise to us taxpayers is how little attention our lawmakers paid to all these bailout deals.
I admit that I agreed with the basic concept that federal action needed to be taken to keep the country's finances from imploding back in September.
But silly me, I thought that meant the folks in D.C. who would sign off on the deals would do the proper due diligence and, like any investor or lender or prospective owner, would put some conditions on how the money would be used.
That's not an unreasonable request. I mean the companies are coming to the feds for help because they already proved they're ill-equipped to adequately run their operations. It seems only sensible to put a few strings on any money you hand over to the ne'er-do-well child.
Even worse, our legislators gave control of the implementation details to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The outgoing Treasury Secretary, who just last week decided the original plan wasn't going to work and so shifted gears.
Is Paulson right? How do we know? Exactly how much will this new direction cost us?
To paraphrase a recent vice presidential candidate, what's he got to lose?
One more request: Now there's talk of helping bailing out the flailing, failing U.S. auto industry.
As this and other economic plan discussions continue, I want to urge one thing: Pay attention, Congress!
We -- the struggling companies, national and international economies and U.S. taxpayers -- cannot afford for you to keep doing such a shoddy job.