IRS employees ticked at the hypocrisy from the Obama administration
The Treasury secretary, who oversees the IRS, didn't pay all his taxes. Neither did five other top nominees for the Obama administration, or their spouses.
Now, as Wednesday's tax deadline looms, some Americans are wondering why they should comply with the arcane requirements of the Internal Revenue Service when top administration officials failed to do the same. Even some IRS employees are upset at what they see as a double standard.
The most criticized example has been Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who admitted not paying $34,000 in payroll and Social Security taxes, saying his failure to pay was an oversight. Five other nominees disclosed similar tax issues, including one as recently as two weeks ago when Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama's pick for secretary of health and human services, admitted she didn't pay $7,040.
"Our members are upset and angry," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, referring to concern bubbling up within the IRS over unusually strict rules that can cost agents their jobs if they make a mistake.
In some cases, IRS employees have lost jobs for simply filing a late return or failing to report a few hundred dollars of interest income.
In an interview Tuesday, Kelley said the Geithner case underlines the need for a change of the rules governing IRS employees.
"My issue is not that I want Geithner or anyone else punished," Kelley said. "I want there to be a re-examination of the law that holds IRS employees to a separate standard: one in which a simple mistake can cost them their jobs with no right of appeal."
Robert Schriebman, a California tax lawyer who has testified before Congress, said his clients are seething over the tough treatment they get from the IRS, while some in the president's Cabinet apparently were able to duck paying their taxes.
"Politically powerful people are less likely to get bothered by the IRS," Schriebman said. "It is more than a question of fairness. Not only is the IRS looking away from confronting influential people, the IRS is getting a lot tougher and nastier toward the little guy."
IRS employees have reported that taxpayers are occasionally citing the Geithner case when they are asked to pay their tax bills. "It's making the compliance conversation harder," Kelley said.
Geithner's $34,000 in unpaid taxes pales in comparison to the more than $128,000 owed by Tom Daschle, Obama's first choice to run health and human services. But Geithner's position overseeing the IRS has made his case particularly galling in the public's mind.
His position as Treasury Secretary is a joke, and that's why the public is pi$$ed. He gets to skate, free and clear, of any sort of responsibility, save having to pay the back taxes, and the average citizen gets bullied by the IRS. Worse, IRS employees can get canned if they pull a Geithner. I disagree with the reevaluation of the rules. There should be one strict set of rules for all, not a relaxation of the rules. If IRS employees can be fired for a simple mistake (far more than Timmy the Taxman's excuse that Turbo Tax screwed up, and not him) then why was Geithner approved by the senate for his own lack of fiscal responsibility.
Every taxpayer in America should be up in arms over the tax cheats that have been appointed by Barry. If this were done by President Bush, the calls for the nominees to step down would reach cacophonous levels that no one has ever heard before. The outcry over them, going hand in hand with the Bush haters claiming his Wall Street connections, would never die down. But under Barry? Eh. We're told that these people just made a simple mistake, and then the media tells us to shut up.
I think not.
Colleen Kelley says she doesn't want to see anyone punished, and that's fine. That's her opinion, but we can see her side of things, and the only recourse we can see is for Timmy the Taxman to be removed. If IRS employees can face termination for a mistake, Timmy should be held to account. Their frustration is well-founded in reason. Those who tell them to pipe down are the ones willing to run cover for the tax cheats we've had to watch get rewarded for their illegal activities. That's what galls America.