Geithner Didn’t Pay Taxes
Timothy Geithner neglected to pay a rather large sum in taxes owed to the Treasury Department he’s been nominated to lead.
President-elect Barack Obama‘s choice to run the Treasury Department and lead the economic rescue effort disclosed to senators Tuesday that he failed to pay $34,000 in taxes from 2001 to 2004, a last-minute complication in an otherwise smooth path to confirmation. Timothy Geithner paid most of the past-due taxes days before Obama announced his nomination in November, an Obama transition official said. The unpaid taxes were discovered by Obama’s transition team while investigating Geithner’s background, the official said.
Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes for money he earned while working for the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2003, the transition official said. In 2006, the IRS notified him that he owed $14,847 in self-employment taxes and $2,383 in penalties from 2003 and 2004. Transition officials discovered last fall that Geithner also had not paid the taxes in 2001 or 2002. He paid $25,970 in taxes and interest for those years several days before Obama announced his nomination, the transition official said.
Geithner also didn’t realize a housekeeper he paid in 2004 and 2005 did not have current employment documentation as an immigrant for the final three months she worked for him, the transition official said.
I’ve never met the man but my default position on these sort of things is that it was an honest mistake. He’s been in the public spotlight for quite some time and is held in high regard and, to him, a few thousand bucks isn’t much money.
The optics aren’t good, though. I’m reminded of the consecutive picks to head Bill Clinton’s Justice Department who had broken the law by failure to pay Social Security taxes on their nannies. Lawyers and economists aren’t necessarily experts in every single facet of the wide territory handled by people in those professions. It’s still embarrassing, though, to get caught skirting the rules.