2 minute read
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

BOB DOLE ALWAYS GETS A chuckle on the campaign trail when he complains that the flat tax would upset his wife, who has served as head of the American Red Cross, by eliminating her favorite tax break–the one for charitable giving. But this week Elizabeth Dole’s relationship with the group is likely to bring an uncomfortable moment. She is expected to disclose that she didn’t give as much to her own organization as she publicly promised she would, sources told TIME. She plans to write a check to the Red Cross for as much as $75,000 to make up the shortfall.

On her husband’s financial disclosure form to the Senate, Mrs. Dole had voluntarily pledged to contribute her income from giving speeches, minus taxes and other expenses, to a Red Cross program for needy youths. In 1991-94, she received $855,500 for speeches, of which she gave $415,727 to the charity. Mrs. Dole is expected to explain that her tax preparers overestimated her taxes on the speeches, which prompted her, in turn, to pay the Red Cross less than she had promised.

She also will amend the Doles’ federal income-tax returns to correct a separate mistake: speech income that she should have claimed on her returns. Mrs. Dole gave at least seven speeches, worth $16,000, in 1991-94 to civic groups that erroneously paid her honorariums directly to the Red Cross. A lawyer for Mrs. Dole asserts that she paid the proper amount in taxes, though she might face civil penalties for failing to report the misrouted money. Now that she’s correcting the problem, first suggested by the Los Angeles Times last month, the political deduction could be small too.

–By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum. Reported by Ann Blackman/Washington

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