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Confusion With the Geithner Reporting

There’s some confusion with the reporting over Geithner’s tax problems.  Are his tax problems because of his odd payment plan from the IMF or because of the housekeeper? The WSJ’s latest mentions only the IMF:

Obama transition officials continue to say Mr. Geithner’s failure to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes was a common mistake for employees at international organizations in Washington. The Internal Revenue Service issued a settlement initiative in 2006 granting amnesty to employees of international organizations who come forward and pay back taxes.

But Fox News has a new report out that says the Social Security and Medicare taxes of the housekeeper are the issue.  If that’s the case, Team Obama can’t rely on the “common mistake for employees at international organizations” defense.  Everyone knows you have to pay the help’s taxes (even though I doubt many do so):

Supporters of President-elect Barack Obama’s treasury secretary nominee say the sheen is still on the shining knight, even as critics wonder why the man who is supposed to oversee the nation’s coffers failed to pay self-employment taxes for a housekeeper for four years.

[…]

Geithner worked at the International Monetary Fund from 2001-2004, the years that his taxes were in arrears. He had been expected to pay employment taxes – Social Security and Medicare — for his housekeeper, who during his employment had let her immigration papers expire. The housekeeper later got a Green Card and the federal authorities decided not to prosecute her for the lapse in legal residency. 

And back to the WSJ report, there are other tax issues:

As to why Mr. Geithner didn’t pay all his back taxes after the 2006 audit, an Obama aide said the nominee was advised by his accountant he had no further liability. Senate Finance aides said they were concerned either Mr. Geithner or his accountant used the IRS’s statute of limitations to avoid further back-tax payments at the time of the audit.

Other tax issues also surfaced during the vetting, including the fact Mr. Geithner used his child’s time at overnight camps in 2001, 2004 and 2005 to calculate dependent-care tax deductions. Sleepaway camps don’t qualify.

Amended tax returns that Mr. Geithner filed recently include $4,334 in additional taxes, and $1,232 in interest for infractions, such as an early-withdrawal penalty from a retirement plan, an improper small-business deduction, a charitable-contribution deduction for ineligible items, and the expensing of utility costs that went for personal use.

Maybe Geithner and Charlie Rangel used the same accountant?

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Language, of course, is generally employed by human beings to distract or deceive. So there is much to be said for critical listening.