Monday, March 29, 2010

Good for the goose, good for the gander?

You heard about the business owner who was visited earlier this month by two rather officious IRS agents over a supposed failure to pay four cents in income tax back in 2006. They demanded $202.35 to cover the four cents plus penalties and interest over the intervening years. (Crazy!)

And you've heard about President Obama's concern to ensure that no businesses that are delinquent in tax payments should receive federal contracts. (Good.)

Why is it, then, that Tim Geithner was approved as Secretary of the Treasury (yes, Treasury!) when he messed up on his taxes and permitted a woman to work for him illegally? When caught, he paid the taxes, but "the IRS waived the related penalties." (How nice for him! But how completely two-faced.)

And, though he eventually withdrew his name from the process for consideration, why does it seem that former Senator Tom Daschle was perfectly acceptable to the president as a candidate to become Secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services--despite his failure to pay $146,000 in back taxes? (!!!!)

And why was it only after massive pressure that Charlie Rangel finally--at least temporarily--stepped down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (the committee responsible for writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs), despite well-documented problems with his fundraising, major known tax evasion on property he owns in the Dominican Republic, and improper use of four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan?

But this one seems to take the cake: Earlier this month it comes out that nearly 100,000 federal employees (including 678 congressional staff members) owe just shy of a billion dollars in back taxes--and yet they can't be fired. (Include retirees and military service members, the numbers go from nearly 100,000 up to 276,000 current or former workers who owe $3 billion in taxes.)

So not only do federal employees, on average, make significantly more than their private economy peers (see also here), but, apparently, they are also permitted to steal from their employer, the federal government (and we the people who actually pay our taxes) without repercussions.
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