Democratic Vice President Joe Biden said during the election campaign that paying taxes was a patriotic act. By Mr. Biden’s own standard, elected and appointed Democrats who will be responsible for tax law and fiscal policies are un-American. Key members of the Democratic Party, those responsible for developing tax policy, are not paying their federal income taxes.
President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, 47, did not pay all the federal income taxes he was required to pay. As Treasury Secretary is in charge of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which collects federal income taxes.He did not pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for “multiple years” while he was working for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) between 2001 and 2004. He acknowledged having made “mistakes” but insisted the errors were unintentional.
There was no criminal action taken against him. Once Mr. Geithner was told he owed the back taxes, he paid them plus interest although for unknown reasons the penalties were waived. Nonetheless, there are many questions about his actions.U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., questioned Mr. Geithner extensively during his confirmation hearing about the errors on his 2003 and 2004 tax returns and why Mr. Geithner did not immediately pay back taxes due on his 2001 and 2002 returns.
Mr. Geithner floated several excuses as to why he did not pay his taxes.
He said he could not understand TurboTax, a popular income tax preparation computer program used by millions. He neglected to closely read IMF yearly statements warning him of his personal liabilities for the Medicare and Social Security taxes in question, even though he signed the statements saying he understood. He then said he hired a tax preparer, who also failed to catch the errors.
Despite this, it is almost a certainty Mr. Geithner’s tax problems will be confirmed as the new U.S. Treasury Secretary. Few senators voted against him, but the $34,000 he owed in back taxes — and the taxes he delayed repaying — have been noted by some politicians and their constituents.
As U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., put it, “Mr. Geithner’s failure to pay all the Social Security and Medicare taxes he owed until he was to be nominated is hard to explain to my constituents who pay these taxes on a regular basis.”“My phone lines lit up,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. He said people were asking, “Why we are considering a nominee for Treasury Secretary who would not pay the taxes that he owed?”
Mr. Geithner’s problems were considered serious enough by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for to vote against his appointment.Mrs. Collins said yesterday she said she would vote against Mr. Geithner’s confirmation because he initially failed to pay $34,000 in back self-employment taxes, which she kept her word on when the 60-34 vote favoring his confirmation came down.“We have to have confidence in our top economic leaders,” she told MSNBC. “I can’t in good conscience vote for Mr. Geithner.”
She said that Mr. Geithner, “demonstrated a cavalier attitude” about his taxes during his confirmation hearing. She said such an attitude was unacceptable.“Even after Mr. Geithner was audited, he failed to make good on previous years’ obligations,” she said.
Another Democrat who owes back taxes and who is tasked with crafting federal income tax policy, is U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.snip
Mrs. Pelosi has not asked Mr. Rangel to resign his chairmanship, despite revelations that Mr. Rangel failed to pay taxes on $75,000 of rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic and may have received an improper financial benefit from leasing four rent-stabilized New York apartments for use as a residence and a campaign office.
Just as damaging is an aspiring U.S. Senator who owed $70,000 in back taxes. Minnesota’s Democratic Party Senate Candidate, comedian Al Franken, also had problems with taxes. He claims he received bad advice from his accountant and as a result had to pay back taxes in several states.