The Campaign Spot

The Leona Helmsley Administration

If I happen to forget to pay some of my taxes, will the IRS say, “Hey, no big deal, no penalties”?

Because they said that to Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner.

Or does that courtesy only extend to you when you’re the director of the Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund? We’ll take it easy on the big, powerful, Washington movers and shakers, but the IRS brings down the hammer on the little guy? And if they managed to find the unpaid taxes for 2003 and 2004 in a 2006 audit, how did they miss the unpaid taxes for 2001 and 2002?

Can employees of the Department of the Treasury continue working there if they fail to pay their taxes?

Isn’t that the kind of behavior we expect from, say, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee?

I’m reminded of Leona Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”

UPDATE: A liberal reader, gushing with enthusiasm for my sterling efforts, points out that Geither’s potential penalties were likely covered by a 2006 IRS settlement with employees of U.S.-based employees of foreign embassies, consular offices and missions and international organizations.

This settles the matter of the penalties – but we’re still left with… failing to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while at IMF for four years, while being informed by his employer that they didn’t do so; collecting a reimbursement for those taxes while at IMF; not correcting the errors made in 2001 and 2002 when he paid the back taxes for 2003 and 2004; using his child’s time at overnight camps to calculate deductions for dependent-care; taking deductions for ineligible donations to charity; failing to pay an early-withdrawal penalty for a retirement plan; and employing a housekeeper whose papers have expired.

Other than that, he’s in the clear… except for his role in the bailout and his spotty oversight of Citibank in recent years.


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