Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wait...I Have To Pay Them, Too?

Timothy Geithner, President-elect Obama's much-lauded pick to run the Treasury Department, has recently run into complications upon revelations that he had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004. Furthermore, according to MSNBC:

Transition officials discovered last fall that Geithner also had not paid the taxes in 2001 or 2002. He paid $25,970 in back taxes and interest for those years several days before Obama announced his choice, the committee documents showed.

Geithner and his supporters have said his mistake was a common one for people hired by international organizations that don't pay the employer share of Social Security taxes. Geithner told Obama's team and senators that an accountant had reviewed his tax returns after Geithner prepared them and didn't discover the problem.

But some tax experts said the problem is not that common.

I'm inclined to believe that the mistake was unintentional; if it was, it is best to let the whole thing pass rather than focus attention on a non-issue for purely political purposes. But the convenient decision to pay up just a few short days before being named to a cabinet post raises some flags, and at the very least some more investigation should be done. No matter how much we may dislike paying taxes, and no matter how much we as libertarians may oppose most uses of tax revenue on a philosophical level, we have a responsibility as civilized persons to operate within the law and the institutions that govern the polity.


Mark of Excellence said...

I was watching ABC news when they were covering this. They gave him a complete pass. I wish there was a way we could stop it. How could we even think about having somebody like this who failed to pay taxes administer the whole thing. If he gets on board this administration will be tainted.

Alexander McCobin said...

The issue in my mind is more that of hypocrisy than a tainting of the administration. Let's say one of the administration's lead officials failed to pay his taxes unintentionally as Ricky suggests. Is this going to lead the administration to reconsider the IRS's structure? Will they be more lenient on people who have problems paying taxes? Will they question the viability of the system itself as it stands? No. Just like Obama will not touch the war on drugs issue even though he has admitted to doing cocaine in his autobiography, this administration will tout the values of big government even though their personal histories are riddled with challenges to it.