Conservatives Find Next Obama Tax Cheat in Rahm's Basement

It's all our fault! We thought it was pathetically hilarious that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel lived in a basement apartment on Capitol Hill. But right-wingers want to make it a tax scandal.

The Unification Church-owned Washington Times reports that the same tax rule that nailed Tom Daschle could get Emanuel in trouble. Here's why: The White House chief of staff hasn't paid taxes on the lodging given to him by Rosa DeLauro, a Democratic Congresswoman from Connecticut, and her husband Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who got rich after working for the Clinton White House.

The arrangement looked a little fishy. When Gawker raised questions about whether DeLauro and Greenberg's home was zoned for a rental, DeLauro revealed that she had not been charging Emanuel rent for the past five years. Accepting free rent from DeLauro may not have been a violation of House ethics rules, as long as Emanuel received a waiver from the House Standards Committee. He has not yet produced evidence of such a waiver — but whatever, he might get his wrist spanked.

Here's what has Emanuel-hunting conservatives excited: Even if the House okayed the free-rent deal, the IRS might still consider Emanuel's free rent to be what the tax agency calls "imputed income".

Imputed income is what caught Daschle. A lobbying firm for which he did consulting work provided him with a car and driver; he owed the IRS taxes on the value of that service, but did not pay the bill — around $140,000 — until this month, when the problem was caught in the process of vetting him as Barack Obama's Health and Human Services nominee. Under fire, he withdrew from consideration. Free rent, a perk often extended to corporate executives, is considered income under the same rules. But very few corporate execs get free rent in basements. So good luck with that, conservatives.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)