Taxing time for Clinton's pants

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The Independent Online
WHAT price used underpants, given for charity? Just 95 cents (60p), which is the top going rate in Little Rock thrift shops? Or an extravagant dollars 2 a pair, claimed by President Bill Clinton for tax purposes back in his days as Governor of Arkansas?

This hugely important matter of state has now burst upon the public consciousness after revelations by the Washington Post yesterday of some nuggets from the Clinton tax returns during the Eighties, made public during last year's presidential campaign. 'What did I do to deserve this?' said the White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, who has spent most of Christmas fending off stories about alleged philanderings by her boss and his obscure dealings with the head of a defunct Arkansas savings bank.

This time there is no suggestion of wrongdoing. Under US law, all donations to registered charities, in cash or kind, are tax-deductible. But in the case of an audit - the Internal Revenue Service doomsday weapon to keep tax returns somewhere near reality - documented proof must be produced. Bill and Hillary take no chances.

But dollars 2 apiece for old underpants, or dollars 15 for a pair of long johns? Were they by Valentino? And what about a dollars 100 listing for a used brown sports jacket, or dollars 75 for one in salmon (a favoured presidential colour, if his holiday attire this summer is anything to go by).

Hillary Clinton sets far less store by her old clothes, as is to be expected of a woman once so uncaring about her appearance that she bought her wedding dress off the peg the night before her marriage. In a list of her own, dated 1988, she charged only dollars 2 for a striped cotton dress and dollars 20 for a silk dress.

One explanation, however, may be economic. During the Eighties, Mrs Clinton was making dollars 100,000-plus (more than pounds 66,000) a year as a hotshot Little Rock lawyer. At the time, the Arkansas Governor's salary was a puny dollars 35,000 ( pounds 23,000). Even given the perks of office, at that level of income every deduction is welcome.