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Just a reminder: Geithner’s tax problem wasn’t less* than Daschle’s

He was merely first in the queue:

Despite the fact that Geithner sailed through the confirmation process—while Daschle went up in flames—Geithner’s tax troubles were actually far more egregious. People tend to give Geithner a pass, because the overall amount he owed was smaller and it just involved Social Security and Medicare, rather than income tax. But Geithner actually acknowledged years ago that he owed the taxes—but didn’t pay them until he was nominated for the Treasury job. That hardly counts as a mistake.

Daschle, for his part, failed to count as income the value of a car and driver he received from a New York private-equity firm, InterMedia Advisors, during 2005-2007. He also overstated charitable contributions and understated income from InterMedia, which paid him $1 million a year. Daschle filed amended tax returns last month reporting $128,203 in additional taxes and $11,964 in interest. The revised tax returns were submitted after President Obama announced that he intended to nominate Daschle to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

Geithner’s situation was nonetheless a bigger ethical lapse. As an employee of the International Monetary Fund in 2001 and later years, Geithner was responsible for sending a check to the IRS to cover his own payroll taxes. He didn’t do so. What he did do was submit a request to the IMF for reimbursement of those taxes. And he collected.

If Geithner had been delayed for any reason, he’d probably be in the same boat as Daschle, Killefer, maybe now Solis… we’re developing quite the list here, aren’t we? And not just nominees, either: Newsday notes a couple more local politicians and would-be politicians who seem to be laboring under the strange belief that following the tax code is strictly for people with an “R” after their name. And there are a lot of local papers with a lot of local lists. That’s not really a problem for the Obama administration – but their inexplicable reluctance to do anything resembling competent vetting apparently is.

If this keeps up, we might as well admit that Mark Tapscott’s right and just audit them all. It’d save time.

Moe Lane

*Corrected: it used to read “worse.” Oops.

Crossposted at Moe Lane.

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