Don Tequila, tending bar this evening in the Liquor & Rubber Balls Sports Emporium and Vegans-Cleansed-While-U-Wait, silently passes me the newspaper with the following story as he draws me a cold Pilsner Urquel (special tonight):
Timothy F. Geithner, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be Treasury secretary, failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in federal taxes, according to the committee and the Obama transition.
After the underpayments were detected, he paid back taxes and interest totaling $43,200.
The underpayments…involve Mr. Geithner’s income earlier in this decade when he was a senior official at the International Monetary Fund before taking his latest job, as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in November 2003.
From 2001 until 2004, when he received his final payments from the I.M.F., Mr. Geithner paid his state and federal income taxes but did not pay self-employment payroll taxes. After a 2006 IRS audit identified the lapse on his 2003 and 2004 tax returns, Mr. Geithner paid tax and interest of $17,230 and the IRS waived penalties, according to the transition.
But Obama vetters discovered the same lapse for 2001 and 2002 and brought it to Mr. Geithner’s attention last Nov. 21, after which he paid tax and interest of $25,970, transition officials say. That leaves for Mr. Geithner the question of why he did not correct the earlier years’ non-payment of self-employment taxes after the 2006 IRS audit identified the problem for 2003 and 2004. — NYTimes
“Looks like Obama got himself the right guy for Treasury,” says Don, setting down my drink.
How you figure? Looks like he’s a tax dodger, ferchrissakes. Great start.
“You mean, he’s like everybody else in the country? He tries to get away with paying as little as he can?
Don, he’s the top guy. He’s supposed to be squeaky clean, not weasely bent.
“Ha! You and Toto really miss Kansas, don’t you, Dorothy? So I guess if we peeked at your tax returns for the last 10 years, they’d be 100% on the up and up, too, like most American taxpayers.”
I plead the fifth. And need a drink from one. Besides, my returns are mostly zeroes — on both sides of the decimal point.
“Don’t worry,” he continues, not that I am (or care). “This won’t mean dickfer. Fact is, a little sneaky maneuver on his part just earns respect from his peers. Particularly the Republicans. Oh, they’ll huff and puff and make a political point or two for the rubes back home and the righty bloggers, but the fact is, they’re less likely to trust an obedient asshat who follows the rules than a crafty player taking the angles.”
Comfort level, huh. He’s one of them, too.
“Damn betcha. Cheating on your taxes is the ‘Merican Effing Way, especially if you have something to lose. Here’s a guy with a high-level position serving in a hostile administration. He takes a gamble, gets caught, pays up, but still leaves himself a little bit out there as a matter of defiance. Yeah, he’s okay in their book. They admire that kind of attitude.”
Shit. How about you, Don? You’re a righteous dude. How do YOU like it when you find out the guys who make the rules and manage the cash are cheating, lying, and stealing?
Don squints at me for a moment, then reaches around for the Partida. Grinning, he pops off the cork and pours me a long shot. Hesitates, then pours a second. We toast each other silently, then down them straight. Actually, it doesn’t go that well with the Urquel. Gotta give up Urquel.