The Anti-Tax Governor's Tax Haven

Pataki Grabs Bush Bonanza, Makes 'Offshore' Investment

Since these swaps are largely restricted to what the IRS calls "like properties," the Patakis rented the Garrison house, at least in part, before fully occupying it. Their use of it as a residence, like their announced plans now to "spend time" in Essex, may raise questions about the legality of their exploitation of this loophole.

** Not only did the governor find time on budget day to sign the final documents to get this farm, he championed a new $10 million tax cut for renovating historic houses that might actually apply to his new property. Even as his budget savages one social or educational program after another, he proposed this new preservation tax break, just as he did, unsuccessfully, last year. He's also already steered through the legislature both a tax credit and grant program that could aid any restoration he might attempt of the "historic barn" he's bought in Essex, where the entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ex-state senator who helped him find the farm and whose law firm did the early legal work on the deal, Ron Stafford, has also recently been named by Pataki to head a state Olympics committee and to serve on the SUNY board.

That's how neatly the country-boy governor's life fits together. It's not that he's proposing the historic housing credit for himself, nor did he push the barn grant program so he could grab one. His agenda and his lifestyle mesh effortlessly. His barn grants, which began in 2000, go to those whose properties "enhance scenic drives or agricultural landscapes," practically a prophecy. His tax breaks for farm fix-ups cost almost as much as the state gains, under his budget, by freezing cost-of-living payments to the needy blind and disabled, many of them people with AIDS. Those are his persona-as-policy priorities—especially his current obsessive refusal to tax wealth.

It's Pataki's choices that make us poorer as a state, even while his life gets one mansion richer.

Research assistance: Cathy Bussewitz, Alexa Hinton, Felicia Mello, Solana Pyne, E.B. Solomont, and Steven I. Weiss

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