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Big people and taxes

February 3, 2009 - Rob Weaver
Last week, Timothy Geithner was confirmed as treasury secretary, despite belatedly paying $34,000 in income taxes. Tuesday, Tom Daschle withdrew as nominee to be health and human services secretary. The former Senate Democratic leader paid more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest after disclosing he had failed to fully pay taxes from 2005 to 2007.
Their tax troubles are shocking on several levels.
First, if truly in error, how can IRS expect mere citizens to comply with tax law? Would an accountant or tax-prep software have helped?
During hearings before senators, Geithner maintained his failure to pay some self-employment taxes for four straight years was an oversight. He said he just didn’t understand the tax laws.
‘‘It was completely inadvertent, but that’s no excuse,’’ Daschle said.
Second, these aren’t just run-of-the-mill public officials. Geithner is treasury secretary. Dashle was going to be White House health czar for an administration hoping to greatly expand health-care coverage.
Third ... well, here’s how columnist Dick Morris puts it: “Now, 70 percent of all federal revenues and 85 percent of all personal income taxes are paid by the top 25 percent of the nation (those with household incomes higher than $65,000 a year). Under Obama's proposal, virtually all of the revenues will be paid by this group.”
In essence, Geithner and Daschle are among the upper-income workers whose income taxes are expected to fund federal programs for rest of Americans. And they managed to avoid part of their tax burdens for years without getting caught.
That’s the most disturbing aspect of this scandal.


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