Okay, I’m now officially ticked off.
Last week, I went through my annual ritual of meticulously organizing my W-2s, interest statements and assorted 1099s in order to meet my accountant at our traditional venue — under the historic clock at Grand Central Station.
For me, this filing-season process has remained unchanged for 22 years.
While the procedure is admittedly a bit of a pain, it’s also pretty cut and dried. You gather all the pertinent documents, hand them over to someone far more capable than you with a 1040, mail or e-file them before April 15 and with any luck, you’ll perhaps earn a refund.
So my question is why do so many Obama Cabinet-wannabes lately seem to be screwing this up?
Four – count them, four – cabinet nominees have been dragged front and center for, ahem, tax problems.
First Timothy Geithner, who recently was confirmed as Treasury Secretary, admitted to owing more than $34,000 in employment taxes over the past two years, admittedly sort of an awkward situation for a man who will be charged with overseeing the IRS. Then last week we had Tom Daschle, the former South Dakota senator, to flog for a couple of days who, after disclosing that he failed to pay some $128,000 in taxes and interest on a private car and driver, withdrew his candidacy.
So why did it only occur to him in June as he later admitted that “something made him think” he may have owed back taxes? And then why did he not inform the president’s staff until two weeks ago?
Since his re-election defeat in 2004, Daschle has accrued more than $5 million in various lobbying efforts including about $300K in consulting fees from various insurance and pharmaceutical companies – a curious coziness with an industry he was set to regulate had he won confirmation.
Somewhat buried under the Daschle storyline was the withdrawal of Nancy Killefer, Obama’s choice for White House chief performance officer, who cited arrears in unemployment taxes. Later it was revealed that her obligation came to just under $950, but it took a lien on her house in D.C. to collect it.
Then, just to make it an even number, it was revealed that Sam Sayyad, the husband of Obama's nominee for Labor Secretary, Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., had two state and 14 Los Angeles County tax liens lodged against him.
Meanwhile, it may get more uncomfortable for Daschle as the president’s vetting team has discovered that he took improper charitable contributions and may owe even more in back taxes.
In the eight-plus years I’ve held this job, I’ve made my feelings fairly clear on those who dodge paying their fair share of taxes and then whine “oops” when they’re essentially caught naked in public.
If I have to get up early and meet my CPA at 7 a.m. — without a staff of advisors and toadies to remind me of such things — then I think they should be able get with the program as well.
To his credit, President Obama was contrite and basically admitted to the national press corps that he screwed up. Although I'm a bit confused as to what changed over a span of two days, when the president first declared his unwavering support of Daschle then uttered his mea culpa some 24 hours later.
But seems early on that the Obama administration, which promised a platform of change, has apparently succeeded in changing only the furnishings in the Oval Office.
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