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McCaskill now owes $320,000 in taxes on plane

WASHINGTON — Sen. Claire McCaskill's private airplane ended up costing her about $320,000 in back taxes.

The Missouri Tax Commission on Wednesday confirmed the amount after St. Louis County calculated four years worth of unpaid personal property taxes on the plane, plus the interest, penalties and fees.

The Missouri Democrat on Monday paid the county $287,000 to cover what she estimated was her outstanding bill for the years 2007 to 2010. She took responsibility for the mistake and said that she would pay any further amounts once she received a final accounting from the county.

As of Wednesday afternoon, McCaskill still owes an additional $32,000.

McCaskill is a co-owner of the plane, an 11-year-old turbo-prop Pilatus, along with her husband and several investors. It has been a source of controversy recently because she used it for official Senate business, which is allowed under Senate rules.

But McCaskill also used the aircraft on two political trips that were mistakenly billed to her Senate account. Using public funds for political travel is prohibited.

She has repaid the government for those trips, as well as for every Senate-related trip that she took using her plane. But the revelation that she hadn't paid some local taxes on it has added to her problems. She faces re-election next year in what could be a tough environment for some Democrats.

County tax records show that McCaskill owed $233,000 in back taxes on the plane, about $80,000 in interest, $6,257 in penalties and $400 in fees.

Republicans apparently were aware of tax bill before she was. Missouri GOP Executive Director Lloyd Smith used the $320,000 figure in discussion with reporters on Tuesday.

St. Louis County Spokeswoman Martina Price said that someone in the revenue office apparently "did the calculations on our software on what (McCaskill) would owe and our software automatically put it on line. That's what happened."

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