The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Oops! Geithner Falls into Turbo Tax Trap
Read the whole thing.
TurboTax Doesn't Prompt Users to Pay Self-Employment Taxes? Or Just Geithner's Copy of the Software?
In today's confirmation hearing, Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner said he used TurboTax to prepare his returns for the years in question where he failed to pay self-employment taxes — even though he collected reimbursement from his employer, the International Monetary Fund.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked, "Did the software prompt you to pay those taxes?"
"Not to my recollection," Geithner answered.
Do any TurboTax users know otherwise from experience?
UPDATE: A reader responds, "I assure you that Turbotax asks very specifically if you got a 1099 or a W2 from your employer. I know it, you know it, the American people know it!"
Geithner added that the error is his, not the software's, but again, if the software that he used to prepare his taxes reminded him of this provision of the tax code, and he still didn't pay, it looks worse, and tougher and tougher to believe that they were "completely unintentional" as he said in his opening statement.
Maybe this isn't worth voting against his confirmation for, maybe it is. But it increasingly looks like Geithner had several reminders, didn't pay the taxes, and then collected the reimbursement — and this is aside from deducting the summer-camp expenses as child care, etc. It's disturbing to see a guy universally regarded as smart and having good judgment repeatedly evading tax laws and making increasingly implausible claims that it was a simple oversight — and perhaps more disturbing to see most lawmakers shrugging their shoulders at it and insisting it's no big deal.
Despite these developments, and not necessarily because of the unity of the partisan Democrats, it is more likely that the weak-kneed Senate Republicans will not want to be seen as having taken down an Obama nominee this early--especially not this nominee, who many Republicans consider to be both qualified and ideologically tolerable. Thus, unless this Turbo Tax episode gets especially embarrasing for Obama and Democrats in the next couple of days--embarrasing enough that a number of Democrats would vote "no"--I'm guessing Geithner probably will be confirmed, despite his having been caught in a lie to the panel. He wouldn't be the first Democrat to get away with lying under oath...