Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tax Time

All across America regular folks are rounding up their W-2s, 1099s, receipts and other scraps of paper for the annual rite of Tax Time. For it is widely known that Spring will not come until every American has filed.

Every American, except some High Profile Democrats that is. In the last few months we have learned that Al Franken had "tax problems" in 19 different states. nineteen. Charlie Rangel went for a two-fer - tax dodges on investments and misuse of rent control apartments (there may have also been campaign finance violations in the mix). At least two Obama appointees have "problems": Tim Geithner, despite getting a specific allowance from the IMF to pay taxes did not, and now we learn that Tom Daschle owed taxes on a car and driver that was "loaned" by a wealthy friend. And Daschle didn't report over $80,000 in income in 2007.

I hold Al Franken in pretty low regard, however of the four he has the best 'defense': 1) He's an idiot. 2) As an "entertainer" he didn't know the laws and he relied on an accountant, or at least so he can say... He has other money issues dating to his tenure with Air America, but those are probably behind him. Probably.

Rangel's tax issues can't be as easily explained away. He's chairman of the Ways and Means committee - the hell whence tax laws come. As a member of the House of Representatives he voted on these tax laws... Yet nothing will come of his crimes.

Geithner's transgressions - and their implications - are worse. It boils down to this: he was given an extra allowance to pay Social Security taxes. He signed documents indicating he knew it was his responsibility. But he didn't pay. For 4 years. He got caught first by an IRS audit - not the publicity of his nomination. But the audit was for 2003 and 2004. When caught, he paid up. But he also owed for 2001 and 2002. Did he take the opportunity to fix the issue then? No. It was only when he was nominated did he finally make good. Now he is the head tax collector.

Daschle has two tax problems. He was loaned the services of a car and driver. For years. Why did he need a car and driver? The real answer is he didn't. But it was nice to have. Much is currently being said about the tax issue, but I think this illustrates a bigger wrong. A wealthy fundraiser loans a car and driver to a former Senator for years... for nothing? Really? Well - let's assume the Franken defense - he's an idiot. But failing to report over $80,000 in income in 2007? It requires the willing suspension of disbelief...

Clearly if they were Republicans the press coverage and reaction would be much different. Any Republican transition team would have pulled Geithner's and Daschle's nominations. An inexperienced candidate like Franken would have been eaten alive for his tax transgressions if he were a Republican. And if a Republican had done the things Rangel admits, the ethics investigation would have been finished faster than the Blagojevich impeachment.

My advice to Franken, Rangel and Daschle? If anything else comes up, you can always throw yourself on the mercy of the head Tax Collector. 

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