Palin can kiss goodbye that chance at an Obama Cabinet appointment

Not that she was likely on any short lists for any remaining, unfilled Cabinet positions in an Obama administration, but a ruling this week that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin must pay back taxes on nearly $17,000 in per-diem payments won’t help.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the governor is staying mum on how much Palin might owe the Internal Revenue Service after billing the state for meals and incidental expenses while living in her own home.

The governor’s office wouldn’t say this week how much she owes in back taxes for meal money, or whether she intends to continue to receive the per diem allowance. As of December, she was still charging the state for meals and incidentals.

“The amount of taxes owed is a private matter,” Sharon Leighow, Palin’s spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “If the governor collects future per diem, those documents would be a matter of public record.”

Palin’s record of nickel-and-diming the state of Alaska isn’t exactly in Tom Daschle limousine territory, but that’s what makes it all the more dicey that the Republican governor could have to amend her taxes.

The payments became a touchy issue for Palin last fall when she was running for vice president and campaigned as a budget watchdog.

The Washington Post published a story in mid-September that said she had charged the state almost $17,000 for meals and incidentals while staying in her own home.

The state considers Juneau, where she lives in the Governor’s Mansion, to be Palin’s official duty station.

Palin billed the state for 312 nights spent in her Wasilla home during her first 19 months in office, according to the Washington Post.

Our colleagues at The Washington Independent note that Palin’s tax troubles have been on public view for months, and not only for her unreported per-diem collections.

One big issue that tax attorneys are pointing to is the fact that the Palins did not report as income the $43,490 that the state gave the family to cover travel expenses for Mr. Palin and the Palin children. Had the Palins reported these payments as income, the couple would have had to pay taxes on it.

Experts also raised questions about $9,000 that First Hubby Todd Palin deducted for snowmobile racing expenses — allowable if his racing counts as a business, but not if it’s a hobby.

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Ernest Luning

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