Yet Another Tax, um, Mistake-Maker for the New Administration

Once again, President Barack Obama has selected someone to work in his administration who seems to have trouble paying his taxes. This time, it’s former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk on the hot seat. The President wants Kirk to be the U.S. trade representative, a rather important position at any time but especially so during a recession. The problem, though, is that according to the Senate Finance Committee, Kirk has been about $10,000 short on his tax payments over the last three years. All of the irregularities sound like the result of complicated earning and taxation situations, which I would elaborate on if not for the fact that the particulars are both tedious and unimportant in the overall scheme of things.

Several points come to mind in light of this recent development. One, it’s not fair to blame Obama personally for all of his picks who haven’t been paying all of their taxes. It’s not like he cheated on his returns. And I’m sure he asked them up front if they had any red flags and they assured him that they didn’t.

Two, after the first situation where an Obama nominee had tax problems the President’s aides should have thoroughly checked all the rest of the nominees before their names were announced. I would suggest that after this happened the fourth time maybe somebody should be reassigned or encouraged to go find a less important job. I mean, how many times should the same group of people make the same mistake before the American people get some of the “change we need?”

Three, when it seems that a bunch of politicians have trouble paying their taxes (and their mistakes are always in the direction of paying too little, never too much), maybe some kind of reform needs to take place. Do we need to simplify the tax code? Maybe. You know, not only would that make it easier for taxpayers to avoid mistakes, but I would think that with a simplified tax code, it might be easier for the IRS to catch people who make mistakes—or who aren’t paying on purpose.

Four, we’re talking about raising taxes on the wealthy. This doesn’t affect me directly since I’m nowhere near the threshold for higher taxes. It does concern me that if people making over $250,000 have their taxes go up, they’ll be less likely to start or expand their businesses, but that’s not my point. Since our politicians will be seeing their taxes go up, too, shouldn’t we make sure that they are already paying what they are supposed to be? In theory, if one was low balling their tax payments for a few years in a row (accidentally or otherwise) it might be easier for them to agree to a tax increase—they haven’t really felt the pain.