State Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas continues his disregard for Tennessee taxpayers by driving the long way to his Capitol Hill legislative office, which makes him eligible for a tax break on money he collects from the state for official expenses.
Carr claims his route to work is 51.8 miles, which allows him to escape paying income tax on “per diem” he receives for official legislative work, according to a news report from Tennessee Report. Members of the General Assembly are paid a daily allowance of 5 in per diem for expenses, but the money is taxed by the Internal Revenue Service if they live within 50 miles of the state Capitol.
“If there’s a dispute about it, I don’t care,” Carr told the news reporter. “Routes are a dime a dozen.”
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called Carr’s callous response typical for the same first-term lawmaker who abused the system last year and raked in the second most per diem of any House member, including House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol.
“Despite living less than 50 miles from the Capitol, Mr. Carr gamed the system and drove a route to Nashville that allows him to circumvent the Internal Revenue Service threshold,” Forrester said. “Once again the Per Diem King shows his true colors.
“He wants everyone else to tighten their belts in a tough economy, but he loosens his with other people’s money. And his statements to the news reporter indicate he doesn’t care what taxpayers think, either.”
Last year soon after taking office, Carr, who had no leadership responsibilities, received scathing criticism for receiving an exorbitant amount of per diem. He claimed he was making frequent trips to his legislative office to learn more about the budgeting process and get up to speed on the upcoming legislative session. He also said at the time he didn’t realize he would be reimbursed for those expenses.
“Despite his claim of ignorance on the legislature’s reimbursement policy, Mr. Carr kept the money when he didn’t have to,” Forrester said. “He could have returned the payments, but he didn’t.
“I guess Mr. Carr is ignorant about how far he lives from the Capitol, too. I can give him directions on a shorter route to work if that’s the case. At a time when the rest of us are making tough sacrifices, Mr. Carr should not be bending the rules to make a profit,” the chairman added.