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As if threats on their lives weren’t taxing enough, federal judges are sometimes taxed again for the security provided to them by the U.S. Marshals Service. And when the murder of a judge’s family literally brought home their worst fears, they turned to Congress and asked it to provide more money for their protection. If they get what they’re asking for, they may have to pay income taxes on some of that too. “When they have a security detail that includes door to door, the transportation is a taxable benefit,” said Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Last week, Leonidas Ralph Mecham, director of the Judicial Conference of the United States, wrote letters to President Bush and congressional leaders requesting $12 million for the installation of a home intrusion detection system for every judge. They also asked for additional funding for the U.S. Marshals Service to: Increase staffing of its Office of Protective Intelligence. Develop a rigorous program of threat investigation. Have marshals present when needed during criminal proceedings. Increase marshals’ salaries to bring them in line with salaries in other federal law enforcement agencies. Last Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee tacked on $11.9 million—earmarked for the Marshals Service—to an $80.58 billion emergency supplemental bill, $74.4 billion of which is defense related. That bill still needs to be reconciled with the House’s version. The home improvements for judges—the security systems—could be taxable if they are installed. The Marshals Service has not yet decided how it will spend the $11.9 million that it doesn’t yet have, said a spokeswoman. Chief Judge David A. Ezra of the District of Hawaii asserted that one of his colleague’s main concerns is protecting their families. But that as public servants who are responsible for hearing controversial cases, taxing even a part of their security is inappropriate. “It is the nation that benefits by having an independent judiciary that never acts out of fear,” Ezra said. According to an IRS official, the transportation—with the exception of a negligible charge for the commute—would be tax-exempt if the transportation were provided pursuant to a security study done by the Marshals Service’s threat analysis unit. The IRS requires that it be an independent and objective threat assessment. It further requires a statement of the requisite security response, and more, before an exemption for the bodyguards and special security features of the car could apply.

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