For the Treasury Department, There’s No Standard Like the Double Standard

So let me get this straight — Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher was found to have delinquent taxes, and suddenly he was deemed the bad guy and vilified for, as a prospective business owner, voicing concern about an increased tax burden designed to advance a socialist agenda, but Barack Obama’s pick for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is found to have had similarly unpaid taxes, yet everything is kosher because he merely “forgot” to pay?

How exactly does that work?

For those who haven’t heard over the media’s coverage of the new First Family’s canine conundrum, we have learned that prospective Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, by all means a fairly pragmatic pick by the Obama administration, has nonetheless failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes from 2001 to 2004. So, again, for the benefit of comparison and perspective, let’s review:

  • Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber and prospective small business owner, owed $1,200 in back taxes and was run across the coals for daring to ask a difficult question of the media’s frontrunning candidate for president of the United States and his harmful plans for small business.
  • Timothy Geithner, former director of the Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund and current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (where he makes $398,000 each year), owed and paid $42,000 in back taxes and penalties yet will nonetheless be confirmed as Barack Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, where he will be charged with revitalizing our lagging economy and will oversee several departments, including the very Internal Revenue Service which he stiffed.

The American people, as misguided as they may have been, voted Barack Obama into the White House because they were by and large sick and tired of the same Washington politics. Since then, we’ve watched his Commerce Secretary stepped down because of a looming pay-to-play scandal, we’ve learned that his Secretary of State’s husband has accepted nearly a half billion dollars from governments and politicians and dictators overseas, and now his Treasury Secretary disclosed that he–oops!–forgot to pay back taxes. Am I missing anybody?

The idea that this whole debacle is being dismissed as merely an oversight on Geithner’s part, absent other information, blows my mind. Geithner, as Byron York points out in a great National Review column, actually accepted reimbursement from the International Monetary Fund for taxes which he did not pay. From the piece:


Documents released by the Senate Finance Committee strongly suggest that Geithner knew, or should have known, what he was doing when he did not pay self-employment taxes in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. After his failure to pay was discovered, first by the IRS and later during the vetting process, Geithner paid the federal government a total of $42,702 in taxes and interest.

The IMF did not withhold state and federal income taxes or self-employment taxes — Social Security and Medicare — from its employees’ paychecks. But the IMF took great care to explain to those employees, in detail and frequently, what their tax responsibilities were. First, each employee was given the IMF Employee Tax Manual. Then, employees were given quarterly wage statements for the specific purpose of calculating taxes. Then, they were given year-end wage statements. And then, each IMF employee was required to file what was known as an Annual Tax Allowance Request. Geithner received all those documents.

The tax allowance has turned out to be a key part of the Geithner situation. This is how it worked. IMF employees were expected to pay their taxes out of their own money. But the IMF then gave them an extra allowance, known as a “gross-up,” to cover those tax payments. This was done in the Annual Tax Allowance Request, in which the employee filled out some basic information — marital status, dependent children, etc. — and the IMF then estimated the amount of taxes the employee would owe and gave the employee a corresponding allowance.

At the end of the tax allowance form were the words, “I hereby certify that all the information contained herein is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and that I will pay the taxes for which I have received tax allowance payments from the Fund.” Geithner signed the form. He accepted the allowance payment. He didn’t pay the tax. For several years in a row.

Even if we can take Geithner at his word, even if he actually was confused and misunderstood his specific obligations, what does that say about our tax code in America if this man, with his credentials and considering the job he is about to undertake, cannot comprehend it? Why are we normal, everyday folks expected to understand it? Last time I checked, I.R.S. agents don’t take very kindly to “oh, I was confused and didn’t know I was supposed to pay that.”

Nevertheless, I do happen to agree with Sen. Orrin Hatch — Geithner is indeed qualified, and most importantly, he may be the best we’ll get from Barack Obama. Still, the double standard is unmistakable. Had this been a Republican selection, after all, it would be dominating the 24-hour news cycles for days to come, and would certainly pollute the new administration’s waters during the first 100 days, if not more.

Because it’s Democrats vetting Democrats, however, because it’s Saint Barack Obama the Wise and Bare-Chested and not some evil, war-mongering neo-con, instead of hearing nearly enough about Geithner’s tax problems or Hillary Clinton’s possible conflicts of interest, no matter how much we want to pay attention to the construction of Barack Obama’s new administration, we’re still finding ourselves limited to the debate between Labradoodles and Portugese Water Dogs.

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Comments

  1. MIkeInSanAntonio says:

    You know, the Libs were quick to cry foul when they were in the minority party, and the GOP tolerated and accommodated them. Now that the Libs are the majority party, they’ve quickly and quietly changed the rules that govern their own actions, by taking away the “right to recommit” of the minority party.

    The Libs (all of a sudden) don’t like the rules they forced the GOP to live by for 6 years, so they changed them. If the American people decide to vote these fools out of office (we can only hope and pray!!!) in two years, you can bet they will reinstitute the rule BEFORE they leave office, so the Libs (READ: minority party, because they will not hold a majority after the next two years) will once again have the rights they denied the GOP Congressional delegation during their tenure as the majority party.

    But what’s all this got to do with Joe the Plumber, you ask? Well, it shows a dangerous trend with the Libs – They spin an event to fit THEIR goals. When Joe the Plumber made the Libs look bad, they used the media to blast him, and they used their contacts in certain state offices to investigate this PRIVATE CITIZEN’S entire life.

    But when one of their cronies, someone actually nominated for an important public servant position (in this case, Treasury Secretary) is found to have committed the same “wrong”, they brush it off, say it was an “honest mistake”, and bury it as quickly as they can, in the hopes the American people don’t see their deception for what it is.

    I pray that Americans will wake up and see what the Democratic party (AKA the Libs) is doing to this country. If we do nothing about it in the next election, we will have no rights left under the Constitution whatsoever, unless it suits the needs of the Democratic party.

    STAND UP, AMERICA, AND LET THESE HYPOCRITES HEAR YOUR VOICE TODAY AND IN 2010!!!

    Do your part to ensure the Libs don’t get a stranglehold on the Constitution and our rights as US Citizens. Circulate petitions, write your own bills to counteract the damage Congress is doing, and put it to a vote of the people. Ask municipalities, Cities, Counties and States for special elections on laws pertaining to the issues that matter to you, as conservatives.

    Bottom line: GET INVOLVED NOW, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Jan,

    Most of the time we never know how something we say may affect someone. Sometimes God uses us, in small ways, to do his work. I think that God may have asked you to post that comment tonight.

    I needed to hear it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jeff -

    THERE IS NO DOUBLE STANDARD WHATSOEVER! Let me help you with this: Timmy PAID his back taxes which were due to accounting errors (and he has his own accountants). Joe the UNLICENSED Plumber knowingly did NOT pay his back taxes. The media coverage is appropriate to the facts and reality. How is that a double standard?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sherry said…

    Actually, Geither was audited, learned of the error and paid the tax. But… the statute of limitations had run out on the prior years so he was not charged for those years. He paid them anyway.

    Truthfully, I wouldn’t have. Would anybody? I mean, the statute was up.

    FACT – He was not audited for 2000/2001 so he thought he got away with it.

    He didn’t just “pay them anyway”, he paid them because the Obama transition team told him too. These taxes would never had been paid if he hadn’t been selected.

    This is a sign of his character.

    ================
    He was not audited for 2000/2001 BECAUSE THE STATUTE WAS UP. It was too late to legally audit those years. What part don’t you understand? The statute of limitations was up on those years. The statue is 3 years from the date of filing or the date due, whichever is latest.

    He paid them anyway.

    Character?

  5. suek says:

    >>It was too late to legally audit those years.>>

    It is never too late if fraud is involved. The statute only applies to routine audits.

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