Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Death and taxes

Okay, well not death really, but most certainly taxes.

From the NY Times:
From 2001 until 2004, when he received his final payments from the I.M.F., Mr. Geithner paid his state and federal income taxes but did not pay self-employment payroll taxes. The I.M.F., as an international organization, does not withhold U.S. payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare from its American employees’ paychecks, so they are required to pay the roughly 15 percent tax on their own. The Obama transition is calling his mistake a common error for American employees of the I.M.F.

After a 2006 Internal Revenue Service audit identified the lapse on his 2003 and 2004 tax returns, Mr. Geithner paid tax and interest of $17,230 and the I.R.S. waived penalties, according to the transition.
But Obama vetters discovered the same lapse for 2001 and 2002 and brought it to Mr. Geithner’s attention last Nov. 21, after which he paid tax and interest of $25,970, transition officials say.

That leaves for Mr. Geithner the question of why he did not correct the earlier years’ non-payment of self-employment taxes after the 2006 IRS audit identified the problem for 2003 and 2004.
What really bothers me about this is that the last thing we, as a country, need right now is a dishonest, sneaky, tax-evading Secretary of the Treasury. We've had a bad enough time with Paulson, who I personally wouldn't trust with my money (if that were an option)--we don't need Geithner embroiled in a scandal the moment he hits the ground. Beyond the scandal, though, we don't want a man who can't be trusted to pay his own taxes running the Treasury Department during this period of turmoil. It sends the wrong message. Of course, with the inauguration only days away, we're awfully late in the game finding a new Sec. of the Treasury.

On the other hand, perhaps this is all much adieu about nothing...perhaps Geithner really is the man for the job, and he made honest mistakes, perhaps egged on by a willful subconscious.

Anything is possible.

And as I've argued in the past, I'm not in favor of disqualifying people based on suspicion alone.