WASHINGTON – The law office of Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, was nearly two months late in paying a property tax bill this fall, marking the 39th time that either he or one of his businesses has been tardy on such payments since 2005.
Elmira city tax records show that Reed’s law firm had a $1,588.38 tax bill due on Sept. 17 in that Chemung County city, but that the bill was not paid until Nov. 7.
A spokesperson for Reed stressed that the second-term congressman is no longer involved in the law firm and thus cannot be blamed when it fails to pay its tax bills.
“Congressman Reed cannot be involved in the day-to-day activities and actions of any of his former or family businesses,” said the spokesperson, Elizabeth Shaffer. “As such he has no control over timing of any financial decisions made by the law firm as it winds down its operation.”
The Buffalo News reported in August that Reed was late in paying the taxes on his personal and business properties 38 times between 2005 and this year, including 18 times since he was elected to Congress in 2010.
Reed is a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, which is one reason why his Democratic opponent in his 2014 race for re-election, Martha Robertson, is making the late tax payments a campaign issue.
“Members of Congress should be held to the same standards as the constituents they represent,” said George Koutsos, a spokesman for Robertson, who chairs the Tompkins County Legislature.
“This is especially important for Rep. Reed who helps write our nation’s tax laws as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee,” Koutsos said.
While saying that Reed was not personally responsible for the latest late tax payment, Shaffer also acknowledged that Reed had not reimbursed the federal government for the money he earned during the October government shutdown, even though he had asked the House’s chief administrative officer to withhold his pay during the shutdown.
The Constitution bars House officials from withholding congressional pay as Reed requested, so he was paid in full for the month of October. Shaffer noted that while he requested that the salary be withheld, he never vowed to return it if were paid to him.