TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

GOP Introduces Geithner Penalty Waiver Act

Congressmen John Carter (R-TX) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) yesterday introduced the Geithner Penalty Waiver Act, requiring that the IRS assess the same penalty against U.S. taxpayers that came forward in the UBS tax fraud investigation as paid by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay taxes on his IMF income -- zero.  From Congressman Carter's press release:

Carter says the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates equal penalties for similar offenses, and that the failure of the IRS to assess any penalties against Geithner demands similar penalties for all taxpayers with substantially equivalent cases. “This bill seeks to codify what is now established by the law of precedent,” says Carter. “The Geithner case has established a legal precedent for the determination of penalties by the IRS, and that precedent can be cited in all federal tax courts. The penalty is now set at zero.” “Taxpayers who willfully attempt to evade paying their fair taxes should pay a penalty, or our tax code becomes unenforceable,” says Carter. “This bill is not to reward tax evaders, but to defend the Rule of Law itself. If we as a nation choose not to enforce the law against the politically privileged, then we cannot enforce the law against others without undermining respect for the law itself.”

Update:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/12/gop-introduces-.html

Congressional News, News, Tax | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4eab53ef012875fcf415970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference GOP Introduces Geithner Penalty Waiver Act:

» If they keep this up, I just might rejoin the GOP from Pursuing Holiness
Good stuff: Congressmen John Carter R-TX and Lynn Westmoreland R-GA yesterday introduced the Geithner Penalty Waiver Act, requiring that the IRS assess the same penalty against U.S. taxpayers that came forward in the UBS tax fraud investigation as paid... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 2, 2009 9:41:26 AM

Comments

Sauce for the goose is (or should be) sauce for the gander, but this one won't fly. It's a fitting gesture, though. F

Posted by: ff | Dec 2, 2009 7:28:34 AM

Can we get an Andrew Sullivan amendment re. getting caught with dope?

Posted by: HalifaxCB | Dec 2, 2009 7:55:23 AM

Cheap political theater.
Likelihood of this one getting out of committee to an actual floor vote?
Nil. . .

Posted by: Looking closely | Dec 2, 2009 8:19:12 AM

Why stop there? All I need to do is find someone who clearly got away with murder at some point (surely that can't be too hard) and I can start killing people! I sure didn't think that's what the Equal Protection Clause meant, but who am I to argue?

Or does that pesky prosecutorial discretion mean that the choice (of an agency or otherwise) not to go after someone is within their discretion and does not, after all, set precedent? Hmm, no I guess not.

Posted by: ewn | Dec 2, 2009 8:20:46 AM

ewn: If you can find a case of a murderer who admitted to the act but the prosecutors still refused to charge him, then bring it on. The situation with Geithner is much mroe analogous to this than, for example, OJ walking after a full trial and acquittal.

Posted by: submandave | Dec 2, 2009 8:33:40 AM

submandave: It is even worse than you have stated. Your notional murderer would also have to be someone that is appointed to a highly visible government post where he has great power over anyone else that has ever committed murder. This murderer would be granted a pass on his confessed murder simply because he adheres to the same political agenda as the president.

Posted by: Mark W | Dec 2, 2009 9:06:11 AM

Glenn R. said it for us all:
Taxes are for the little people.

Posted by: uncledip | Dec 2, 2009 9:07:36 AM

"Why stop there? All I need to do is find someone who clearly got away with murder at some point (surely that can't be too hard) and I can start killing people! I sure didn't think that's what the Equal Protection Clause meant, but who am I to argue?"

EWN, I assume you are referring to Atty Gen Holder's refusal to prosecute the Black Panther's for their blatant intimidation of voters in Philadelphia this presidential election. Spot on!

Posted by: willis | Dec 2, 2009 9:11:35 AM

I'm about as conservative as people get and wish the present D.C. Mob nothing good.

But still I must shake my head at the foolishness of these two GOP morons. Can they really believe these petty partisan antics are useful to anyone?

Yes, Geithner skated by. What did you expect of him? Honesty? Too bad. He is old news.

First, there is no 14th amendment issue.

Second, does the GOP really want to be associated, even in jest, with waiving penalties for tax cheats who kept overseas accounts?

Third, the overseas tax cheats program is winding up now. So Barrack will get the praise. But the program is the work of Bush. The GOP should be proud of that.

Posted by: K | Dec 2, 2009 9:22:53 AM

If Geithner had even a shred of integrity, he would have offered to pay the penalty plus interest and would have refused any special treatment. He KNOWINGLY evaded his tax responsibility - as an employee of the IMF, he was informed of his obligations and was actually compensated extra to meet those obligations, and he willfully pocketed the cash thinking that he would not get caught. With this lack of integrity and his subsequent crappy handling of AIG, he should be sacked.

Posted by: Vito | Dec 2, 2009 9:32:00 AM

I believe Khalid Sheik Mohammed might be your upcoming example of a murderer who admitted to the act but the prosecutors let him go free.

Posted by: luagha | Dec 2, 2009 9:33:09 AM

I'm sure Wesley Snipes is following this one closely.

Posted by: plutosdad | Dec 2, 2009 9:51:53 AM

EWN:

Unfortunately, Ted Kennedy passed away -- He meets your criteria of someone who got away with murder.

Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment!

Posted by: jmj | Dec 2, 2009 10:04:38 AM

LOL, well-done! ;-)

Posted by: Speedmaster | Dec 2, 2009 10:08:13 AM

I think that there should be some penalty in this situation. This is a tenuous precedent that is being set here.

Posted by: Disability Insurance | Dec 2, 2009 11:44:05 AM

If the two congressmen were true patriots they would submit legislation to get rid of the IRS and it's monstrous mush of a tax code, institute a flat 10% tax (maybe not that much even) and then we would not have to worry so much about anyone being remotely confused about what is owed. Hmm, salary $149,000 a year, oh yeah, $14,900 taxes. No deductions, no credits, no offsets, no nothing but a one page bill. Ah, simplicity. Instead, these two join the clowns with their own colored wig and funny noses, too, in the hope probably of a few more tax deductible donations to their reelection campaigns.

Posted by: Jim Hlavac | Dec 2, 2009 12:01:18 PM

"Why stop there? All I need to do is find someone who clearly got away with murder at some point (surely that can't be too hard) and I can start killing people! I sure didn't think that's what the Equal Protection Clause meant, but who am I to argue?"

Two words -- Ted. Kennedy.

Posted by: Shawn | Dec 2, 2009 12:16:50 PM

The same penalty? Being forced to work for Obama?

I'm sure I remember reading something about "cruel and unusual punishment" somewhere...

Posted by: malclave | Dec 2, 2009 1:04:08 PM

The only reason Geithner got away with a zero liability is because of his political connections. The obvious result of this is the creation of a two-tiered society in which the politically connected can do whatever without paying the freight but the serfs get the slammer. Geithner's zero penalty reminds me of Robert Heinlein's "A Is For Anything".

Posted by: Harold | Dec 2, 2009 3:47:15 PM

An additional thought perhaps... Shouldn't there be an addendum to the new law. If indeed you are caught cheating on your taxes, then that cannot be held against you for any job appointment. After all our Senators voted to
confirm Mr. Geitner's appointment. IE cheating on your taxes, while expressly prohibited, is not really that bad ... apparantly. WAR

Posted by: Warren Record, Sr. | Dec 3, 2009 6:29:01 PM