Tax cheats, or just ignorance?

February 6, 2009
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A third nominee to join the Obama administration has gone down in flames after revelations about problems with income taxes.

A Senate panel last night called off confirmation hearings for U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis, who was nominated to lead the Labor Department, after USA Today raised questions about tax liens filed against her husband.

Early this week, former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew from his nomination to head Health and Human Services after his lack of reporting income on a timely basis came to light.

Also pulling out was Nancy Killefer, sought by Obama to become the first chief White House performance officer, after questions were raised about her tax record.

Perhaps the highest-profile tangle, Timothy Geithner, was confirmed as Treasury secretary despite concerns about his tax forms.

The string has left a lot of ordinary people wondering whether anyone of influence pays their share.

Itâ??s not as if the IRS is shirking its duties, says Carol Howard, tax director at Indianapolis accounting firm R.J. Pile & Co. If anything, Howard says, the agency has been cracking down to the point of doing more harm than good.

One Pile client recently received notification that he could not deduct $2.4 million in contributions made to charitable organizations in 2006. There was no explanation of the rejection, leaving the matter up to the client to prove the contributions were on the level.

â??Itâ??s going to get to the point where they keep poking people like this, and well, itâ??s like, whatâ??s the use?â?? she said. â??Youâ??re guilty until proven innocent.â??

So, if Howardâ??s experience reflects new IRS aggression, what do you make of so many nominees making â??mistakesâ?? on their forms?
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  • I'm leaning towards arrogance over ignorance.
  • Who's there left to trust? Dems - no way, Republicans - not any more, just look at the screwball Gov of Florida, for example. Everything seems to be about power, greed and corruption. The Pres had his own links to undesireables and the starry eyed media chose to ignore because of his overwhelming appeal. After only two weeks in office, he's already beginning to show that the change he was talking about was not what Americans had in mind. What in the world we're ever going to do to get it right again is beyond me. I'm not sure there's a politician left we can trust.

    On point, the Fair Tax program, as promoted by Neil Boortz, would, among other things, do away with the evil and corrupt IRS. Do you think any of the lawyer loving members of the Dem party will ever let that happen to their buddies? Doubtful the Reps would ever get it done either due to defectors in their own ranks that are too lawyer friendly.
  • Maybe a good way for Washington to stimulate the economy, require elected and appointed officials to have their taxes prepared by a CPA. This will put money in the hands of CPA's who will then hire staff, buy computers, rent space etc.

    This would also reduce the time the officials are spending trying to avoid paying taxes and they can devote more time to actually working on issues. It amazes me that Geithner, who is very intelligent and highly compensated does TurboTax himself. He had a complex tax situation. I am sure a CPA would help him for a very fair fee.
  • Why doesn't someone in the media ask the obvious question, which is:

    If the tax code is so convoluted that even public officials don't know what they owe, how can they expect John and Jane Public to comply?

    Simplify the tax code!
  • Tedd, while the U.S. tax code certainly has its share of convoluted provision, the media isn't asking about the complexities of the tax code in the case of the recent nominees who were found to have tax violations because the provision they violated were generally NOT complex. While Geithner's situation of being an employee of the IMF may have been unique, his tax responsibilities were pretty straightforward. The IMF TOLD him he had to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, they gave him QUARTERLY reports telling him how much to report and pay over, and they GAVE him money to pay these taxes. I am sorry, but I fail to see how he was so confused.' As for Daschle, his excuse was that he was so use to having a car and driver that he didn't stop to think he had taxable income by having one provided to him by a company paying him a $1 million for consulting services. Gee, doesn't EVERYONE have a car and driver, dear? No these individuals were just tax scofflaws, plain and simple.
  • Plenty of tax cheats in Carmel. Everyone is a CPA, Lawyer, or can afford one. Greed and arrogance are the reaspns. Keeping up with the Joneses, etc. Very important here.

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