Ricci Levy

So what's so wrong about a little bit of unpaid taxes?

Filed By Ricci Levy | February 06, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Obama Administration, President Obama, Presidential administration, tax fraud, taxes, Tom Daschle

I mean, clearly, this is not an usual situation. Lots of folks don't pay their taxes - taxes.gifor pay them, but not quite all of them - or even have liens against them for back taxes due for 16 years.

I have to admit that I'm feeling a little silly because I, personally, am not one of those people. I pay my taxes every single year. I'm never happy about it, but I do it. It always bothers me to see how much of my pay has gone to fund programs over which I have little to no control or wars for which I didn't vote and don't support. But still, I pay my taxes.

And now I'm feeling kind of silly that I've paid everything I owed every year.

And then I ask myself, so what if someone got away with not paying their taxes? Does it mean they're not fit to run an agency in our government's administration? Just because they cheat on one thing - just because they consider themselves above the law (and, let's face it, more clever than I), does that mean they can't uphold the law and make good, honorable decisions for America?

Ummm....you bet it means all of that and more. As my grandmother used to say - "Liars lie and cheaters cheat, and they can no more change that about themselves than a zebra can change its stripes."

Is it okay if they pay their taxes now, when they (or their spouse/partner) are about to take office for the Obama administration? Does that make it okay? Were they thinking that if they didn't say anything, we wouldn't? Or was it really just so much a part of the way they live their entire lives that they actually forgot they cheat on their income taxes?

I have to admit that I liked Tom Daschle. Actually, I still do like him. And I am really, really, really sorry to see him get soooo close to that brass ring and have to let it go (again?). But I'm also forced to think that maybe he's not as smart as I thought he was.

And the last thing I'm looking at around this is Obama - with whom I remain completely and utterly enchanted and about whom I remain filled with hope for us. But what was he thinking? Surely he wasn't thinking it would be okay for a person who commits tax fraud to hold these high level public positions? Surely he meant it when he said, on MSNBC, that he knows he screwed up and that the era of responsibility doesn't mean that he won't make a mistake - it means, rather, that he'll take responsibility both for the mistake and for making sure it doesn't happen again.

And as someone who constantly makes mistakes, I was cheering for him when he made that statement, relating to him on a level that perfect people can't understand. Hey - we both screw up stuff.

I always mean it when I say it won't happen again. Surely he meant it too.


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I agree all citizens should pay their taxes if they are treated as equals and receive all of the benefits and priviledges allowed as U.S. heterosexual citizens. For those of us not allowed 100% of the rights and benefits due to ENDA, DOMA, DADT, objection to the war, ect., we should protest the unfair discrimination dictated by the majority. If we really believe in our cause we will risk going to prison, otherwise the cause is not worth fighting for. Why should we help pay for Faith Based programs of Southern Baptists and other evangelical groups that discriminate against us and refuse to hire us ? I am a great admirer of the unsung hero Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin the main brain in back of the Civil Rights movement. He was a War Tax Resister and Quaker which means he protested war as he saw the injustice against humanity, The 60's Civil Rights movement was stimulated by economic stuggles and witholding taxes were not a strategy but a bus boycott was. Rustin travelled to India and studied Gandhi's non violent resistance and salt tax protests to free India. Would Bayard Rustin be a tax protestor today for LGBT equal rights? Absolutely. Not everyone can go this protest route and keep their jobs or non-profit tax exemptions, but those self-employed and retirees who can, should.
Rustin's biography is here. Talk about a hero, his story made into a film would make Milk look weak in comparison. Because he was gay and belonged to the communist party briefly, Black faith based Civil Rights groups keep his name hushed.

His bio, my hero:

Was it a mistake or was it intentional? I think these were mistakes, careless ones but mistakes none the less. I think they were mistakes because nobody tried to rationalize why the taxes shouldn't be paid. The mistakes were identified by the tax payer or the vetting team and then corrected.

Transparency means owning up to one's mistakes and then making amends. People who don't make mistakes shun creativity and never take risks. It would be a shame to foreclose opportunities to public service for people who make mistakes. What a waste of talent.

Senator Dashcle's Achilles heel wasn't the taxes. It was his huge income from the health industry. Tom was a good guy on health before he worked in the industry, I sense that he's a good guy on health now. Why does his financial success mean that he's going to screw the American public?

I applaud President Obama's stand on transparency in government. I also think he's using an axe where a scalpel and a very big window is the tool of choice.

Daschle fell on his sword for the President. I hope the President will remember this when Dashle needs help rehabilitating his political persona.

Thank you, Greg! For what it's worth - I am inclined to agree that it's possible that these were mistakes.

Of course, I also have to be fair and say that I'd like to believe the best of everyone.

There is, no matter what, no disputing the fact that I, too, applaud President Obama (I just love being able to say "President Obama"). I remain, as I said above, completely enchanted with him and so hopeful, for the first time in too long a time, about our future!

No matter what, though, I'm never going to be happy to pay my taxes. *grinning*

Daschle fell on his sword for the President.

That's the understatement of the day.

You pay all of your taxes? Really?

Ever hire a kid to cut your grass, shovel your snow, or wash your car? You paid them in cash, or possibly wrote them a check, right? Did you make sure they were not illegal aliens? Did you withhold Federal, state, local, unemployment, and FICA taxes on them, then pay them to the appropriate agencies? I didn't think so. I didn't, either. They probably didn't want the money withheld, after all. Let's face it, there is a huge underground economy in which many self-employed people do not report income, or in the case of tipped employees, report a small fraction of it.

That's basically what Solis, Geisner, Daschle, etc., are accused of doing.

I'm guilty, both as the recipient and as the bursar. You probably are, too.

Ever hire a kid to cut your grass, shovel your snow, or wash your car?
No. No. No. Also not the same. Under a certain threshold you don't owe taxes or FICA and are automatically exempt. Besides it is the parents of said kid who are then responsible for paying taxes upon his/her income if it goes over the threshold. None of those will ever amount to the staggering amount of back taxes, none involve obvious kickbacks like "free" limo service.

At the heart of this is this: lazy, rich people pay to have things done for them but don't have the wherewithal to look after the actual costs of outsourcing the labor. If you can't be bothered to do it properly, don't do it.

The main trouble with political appointies not paying there taxes on things like maids cars and working for the IMF is very simple.Most feel that they were exempt form paying in the first place.They paid only when it was clear they opps were going to maybe get a job with the President.So if this was indeed the case then they desever what ever the IRS and public opion dishes out.Now if they were truely opps you gotta pay on what? Then give them a break and confirm as long as said taxes are paid. Off topic as far as HHS I would prefer to see Gov. Howard Dean M.D. in that job.He knows what is to be a medical professonal and a elected offical and he knows how to get things done.

One test: assume they were (R) not (D). Would that make a difference to your opinion?

If Bush had had, what is it, 6 of his prospective appointees being tax evaders, would we say "oh well, they all do it, no biggie".

Corruption is a bipartisan problem. I blame the GOP for not holding the DNC's feet to the fire over this, because too many (R)s have their fingers in the cookie-jar, and they could get caught too. But I blame the DNC even more, as they were the ones who promised to end corruption. And as they can do end it too, easily, as by all accounts, they are responsible for most of it.

Now that "our guy" is safely in, maybe it's time MSM examined all - both sides - of politicians finances with 1/100 of the same scrutiny they gave to Palin, or even Joe the Plumber.

We could get real change. But I'm not holding my breath. Not while Nancy Pelosi's repeated claims about "500 MILLION JOBS LOST PER MONTH!!!" get a pass.

Can we forget the (R) and the (D), and just concentrate on ridding the US political system of the endemic "financial irregularities"? Can we remove the MAD doctrine of deterrance, where both sides won't go after the other because they're afraid they'll be found out too?

I would have felt the same if they were a D or an R.

I would, I think, probably have felt more aggravated and frustrated if they were an R under Bush because I was so aggravated and frustrated with Bush.

As for removing the hesitance to point to anyone else lest someone else point back at you (which was, of course, the very thing Polar did above, declaring that this is something we've all done), I think that's a much bigger issue and goes all the way back to the beginning of time. I'm no Bible scholar, but didn't Jesus say "Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone?"

Perhaps what we should do with all of our elected officials is have a day like the one they do at libraries, where you can return all of your overdue books without penalty or censure - let's have a day where every elected official (or private citizen) can pay their back/over-due/taxes without penalty or censure and start with a clean slate in the next year.

Most of Bush's appointees were completely corrupt. But that didn't stop them from accepting their positions and being confirmed by the Senate.

The equivalency you're proposing is false.

I don't know if Daschle's tax oversight was intentional or a mistake, but Daschle is responsible for making sure that his taxes are "reasonably" correct.

(I say "reasonably" because there are times when an accountant can honestly frame a situation one way, and the IRS insists on framing it another. It may not seem good process for the correctness of a tax bill to depend upon the subjectivity of the IRS, but sometimes it does, and that is why tax courts are necessary. But my point is that a politician, any citizen in fact, can do his/her taxes with utmost diligence, and it is still possible that questions and challenges may come up.)

What I am more disappointed about is this: I think the tax problem was Daschle's problem, not Obama's. And thus I think Obama was overly-conciliatory when he said, "I screwed up." Obama did not do Daschle's taxes for him, nor is it the duty of the President to do a beforehand audit of every nominee's taxes all the way back to the day that nominee earned their first dollar. This was just the hard knocks of governing, it was not Obama making a "mistake" he could have reasonably avoided. Obama should just move on and find a new appointee, not spend time apologizing.

I didn't think he was apologizing for Daschle's unpaid taxes. I think he was apologizing for not having vetted Daschle well enough to ensure that his nominee would get affirmed.

And Obama, from what I've seen, goes with "the buck stops here" in a way we haven't seen in a very long time. No matter what, it's on him. If his people screw up, it still reflects on him.

And I think it was for that reason that he apologized.

I am kinda glad they found out about daschle. Appointing him was as clear a signal as any that Obama had no intention to reform health care.