Fun With Timothy Geithner
Pejman Yousefzadeh, writing at something called The New Ledger, toasts “The Indispensable Mr. Geithner.”
In urging Geithner’s confirmation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered his entirely nonpartisan opinion that “This powerful economic storm demands strong, decisive and wise leadership,” and that “No one is more qualified or prepared for the task than Tim Geither.” Thus, despite the fact that the Treasury Secretary was ridiculously delinquent in paying over $40,000 in back taxes (plus interest), despite the fact that his delinquency stemmed from his inability to master the supposedly complex machinery of TurboTax and his inability to properly read the rules on self-employment taxes that applied in the two years he worked at the International Monetary Fund—all while collecting IMF reimbursement for the taxes he did not pay—despite all of these mistakes that would have landed an ordinary citizen in hot water with the Internal Revenue Service, Tim Geithner finds himself as the latest successor to Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury.
Now, a churlish soul (like me, perhaps) might remind you that the TARP program Geithner helped design and whose implementation Geithner urged has turned out to be something of a disaster; its accounting procedures are opaque, its functions are haphazard at best and its original mission has been drastically altered from purchasing toxic assets and taking them off of the balance sheet of financial institutions, to injecting capital into banks in exchange for stock. Oh, and TARP has encouraged appalling amounts of corruption. But never mind all of that. Tim Geithner is indispensable.
Iowahawk, meanwhile, has a satirical “Ask the Tax Guys” column offering “Expert IRS Advice from US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY).” A sampling:
Dear Tax Guys:
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and when I was going through some old receipt boxes in my filing cabinet I suddenly realized I haven’t paid my income taxes for the past 8 years. Am I in trouble? Please help!
– Forgetful in Fort Worth
Here at the IRS, we realize that many well-meaning taxpayers like you can be distracted by various family illnesses, baseball pennant races, political campaigns, and so on. The rules for late filing can be surprisingly flexible if you have the right qualifying circumstances. According to IRS guidelines, you are eligible for the 306(b)(19) “I Forgot” amnesty if the following applies:
(1) Your total adjusted gross income in the “I Forgot” years was equal to or greater than $8,528,000; and(2) You are a nominee to head a cabinet-level federal agency.
If you answered “yes” to (2), or both (1) and (2), then you are in the clear. If you answered “yes” to (1) but “no” to (2), mail 10% of the total to the Democratic National Committee and request a cabinet appointment. If you answered “no” to both, then I’m afraid you are shit out of luck. Turn yourself into your local IRS authorities, who will assist you in computing appropriate penalties, interest, and parole terms.
Less humorously, CQ’s David Nather notes that the likes of Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, and Charles Grassley voted against Geithner and gets in a subtle dig at Republicans in the process:
It’s also worth reading the words of Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, a Republican who is so deeply committed to congressional oversight that he even did it when George W. Bush was president. (It wasn’t exactly the popular thing for Republicans to do when they were in the majority.)