TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dave Barry: Obama Blames Bush Administration for Tax Code

Dave Barry's Year in Review 2009:

JANUARY . . . The No. 1 item on the agenda is fixing the economy, so the new administration immediately sets about the daunting task of trying to nominate somebody -- anybody -- to a high-level government post who actually remembered to pay his or her taxes. Among those who forgot this pesky chore is Obama's nominee for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who sheepishly admits that he failed to pay $35,000 in federal self-employment taxes. He says that the error was a result of his using TurboTax, which he also blames for his involvement in an eight-state spree of bank robberies. He is confirmed after the Obama administration explains that it inherited the U.S. Tax Code from the Bush administration.

(Hat Tip:  Christopher Hoyt.)

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Does anyone remember a detail on this issue?
As I recall, Geithner did not pay the tax for multiple years. IIRC, in some cases, the tax had gone past the statute of limitations. Did "Turbo Timmy" pay all of his due, or did he only pay the minimum required?

Posted by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA | Dec 30, 2009 4:36:22 PM

Jim-The answer is, he paid only what the statute of limitations required (ie, 3 years back taxes). That was the truly galling part of the whole sordid affair - the fact that Geithner KNEW he was delinquent for multiple years' worth of unpaid taxes (and admitted as much), yet willfully paid only what he could have been prosecuted for. And the best Congress that money can buy let him get away with it. As Glenn says, the country's in the best of hands.

Posted by: njoriole | Dec 30, 2009 4:57:05 PM

In order to receive authorization from the IRS to electronically file income tax returns, a tax preparer must submit personal information that establishes their suitability to participate in this program. Among the questions asked is whether the tax preparer has filed all personal income tax returns and has paid all tax liabilities due. It seems that a double standard exists where the Treasury Secretary doesn't have to meet the same ethical standards as the tax preparers that he oversees. One would think that the higher ethical standards would apply to the individual that is charged with supervising the entire US Treasury.

Posted by: Dan | Dec 30, 2009 5:29:20 PM

Do any of these guys pay interest and penalties like the rest of us "little folk"? Or are they by virtue of their connections and exalted status immune from such?

Posted by: James M | Dec 30, 2009 6:25:39 PM

From what I understand, Geither paid the taxes but did not pay any penalties. Position has its privileges in this new America. I am a self-employed person who made a mistake on a monthly tax return last year. The IRS discovered the mistake. I paid the taxes immediately, plus a penalty of $700. Mea culpa. Then I see Geithner get away with murder. I pay his penalties for him. This pompous multi-millionaire ass must really have a laugh at suckers like me.

Posted by: Willy | Dec 30, 2009 7:27:34 PM

It takes a thief to catch a thief. So, the logic goes, why not put a tax cheat in charge of collecting taxes? Who better knows how tax crooks get around the laws than another crook? There is method in the Big O's apparent madness.

Posted by: ralph b | Dec 30, 2009 9:50:34 PM

ralph b: Aah, makes perfect sense. So they are grooming Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for DHS Secretary. At least he'd be more competent than the current one.

Posted by: Willy | Dec 31, 2009 6:44:59 AM