The AP reports: “President Barack Obama’s Treasury secretary says the administration will unveil a series of rules and measures in the coming months to limit the ability of international companies to avoid U.S. taxes. ”
We only ask because:
- January 7, 2009: “But even an experienced financial expert like [Nancy] Killefer is susceptible to tax errors: Four years ago, the District of Columbia slapped a $946 tax lien on her home for a few months until she paid back unemployment compensation tax for her personal employees.
- January 30, 2009: “Former Sen. Tom Daschle, tapped by President Obama to lead his healthcare reform campaign, failed to pay more than $128,000 in taxes in the three years before Obama nominated him in December to head the Department of Health and Human Services.”
- February 6, 2009: “Hilda Solis, Labor nominee, faces tax questions. A Senate committee’s vote on her confirmation is delayed after it learns her husband had $6,400 in unresolved tax liens filed against his business.”
- March 3, 2009: “The Senate Finance Committee announced Monday that Ron Kirk, nominee for trade representative, owes roughly $10,000 in taxes from 2005, 2006 and 2007.”
And of course the granddaddy of them all, chief tax collector, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:
According to Mr. Geithner, he initially failed to pay payroll taxes on income he received from the International Monetary Fund in 2001, and then repeated the error in the three subsequent years, despite the help of an accountant. Apologizing to the committee, he took responsibility for what he called “careless” and “avoidable” mistakes while insisting they were unintentional. He acknowledged signing an IMF statement at the time that he understood he had been reimbursed to pay those self-employment taxes, adding that he should have read the statement more carefully. Millions of Americans have said the same thing about the tax code during an IRS audit, earning less forgiveness.
Perhaps the most embarrassing moment for Mr. Geithner was his attempt to evade the questions by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl on why he had only remedied the error on back taxes for two of the four years. Because the statute of limitations had run out on the 2001-2002 tax payments, Mr. Geithner was not legally required to pay them — and didn’t until a Treasury confirmation hearing seemed possible.
But instead of fessing up that he had obeyed only the letter of the law, he insisted yesterday that, gee whiz, the earlier tax dodge didn’t even occur to him — an excuse that came off as legalistic and implausible. His replies finally brought Mr. Kyl to insist, “Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it — please?”
Mr. Geithner replied that “I did not believe I was avoiding my liability,” and that he had worked in government his entire life and “would never put myself in the position where I was deliberately not meeting my obligation as a taxpayer.”