Friday, January 23, 2009

The Turbo Tax "Scandal"

James Fallows on Geitner's tax problem:

Some standard of reasonable judgment has to be applied here.

So by the standard of what the country needs right now, I would probably vote for Geithner's confirmation as Treasury Secretary, if I were in a position to do so.

But I do not believe, and will never believe, that his failure to pay his own self-employment tax while at the IMF was an "oversight" or a "mistake." I have many many friends who have worked for this and similar organizations. I have myself over the years juggled the complexities of what is self-employment income and what is W-2 income and how to handle income from non-US sources -- and I have a lot less financial acumen than any Treasury Secretary aspirant should and must have. (Though I also use Turbo Tax!) Not a single person I have known from the IMF or similar bodies, not a one, believes that Geithner could have "overlooked" his need to pay US self-employment tax. When I have received similar income from international sources, the need was obvious even to me -- and I wasn't receiving and signing all the forms to the same effect Geithner would have gotten from the IMF. I could go on with details but I'll just say: if this were a situation more average Americans had experienced personally, he would not dare make his "mistake" excuse because everyone would say, "Are you kidding me???"
I agree. The faux outrage of the winger communities over the unpaid taxes is overwraught with desperation for scandal, but it's intellectually dishonest to not see the Geitner's explanations for what they are: dissemination. He tried to cheat on his taxes. And he's still one of the best candidate for the position. Own it, and move on.

Reasonable folk don't really care, as long as he's going to be good at his job.


  1. I am good at my job also. Does that allow me to make a mistake (?) on my federal taxes???

  2. If you have anything close to the experience Geithner has to offer, then yes, in my book.

    If not, then know, you're just a dirty tax cheat. :)