Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Taxpayers - Enemy Action

Well, now we are up to three - I heard on NPR this morning that Nancy Killefer, the candidate for "performance czar" (czarina, surely?) is withdrawing her candidacy "because of a tax issue." Specifically, she didn't pay unemployment compensation taxes on her household help, and the District of Columbia put a $925 lien on her property.

I'm sorry - that's the worst tax flub yet. Geithner "didn't realize" he had to pay the full Social Security tax when working at the IMF; OK, that's just stupid, even if he was using TurboTax (TurboTax?) to do his returns. Daschle "didn't realize" that the car and driver his dear old friend the plutocrat "loaned" him actually represented a gift of income; he was "used to" having a car and driver as Senate majority leader. That's just arrogant. But this woman didn't pay the unemployment tax on her housekeeper or nanny - that's really inexcusable. That means that if and when she fires them, they can't pull unemployment.

The good news is that Daschle has shown more class than the senators who were all set to confirm him - he's withdrawn his name from nomination. He still shouldn't have done it; but at least he realizes that it's a problem, which is more than Geithner did.

Remember Leona Helmsley, who said that only the little people pay taxes??

Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle devoted her column today (Feb. 3) to this mess. She's even more bitter than I am about it. She makes the valid point, though, that if we're going to require absolute perfection for anybody who wants a job inside the Beltway, the pool of applicants will be very very small. But on this one I agree with her - these mistakes are not only stupid but venal. Dashle and Killefer did the right thing by withdrawing (finally); and frankly, I think Geithner should resign as well. But we may be stuck with him.


  1. But this woman didn't pay the unemployment tax on her housekeeper or nanny - that's really inexcusable. That means that if and when she fires them, they can't pull unemployment.

    It also probably means that the housekeeper or nanny in question didn't have a social security number to report to the IRS.

    Maybe some enterprising soul should open a business called "Legal Domestics" - providing domestic employees who have guaranteed legal residence status to avoid any embarassing questions down the road.

  2. Absolutely delighted with your fervent, even triumphant, upbraiding of these meek apologists.

    Molly is smiling from up there.

    Dear Echo: There are indeed such outfits.

    My problem is: If our high school dropouts can't find work, why should we be giving these jobs to illegals? And don't tell me Americans "won't do them"--that's hogwash!

  3. I suspect certain employers of domestic servants (and "temporary" employees in manufacturing, warehouses, and agriculture) like the leverage they gain by having employees who are just one phone call away from being arrested and/or deported. Keeps them from gettin' too uppity and demanding fancy things like "minimum wage," "decent working conditions," etc.

  4. I think, though, that there is a childcare trap - because probably almost everyone who has hired a babysitter potentially owes taxes if they've paid that sitter over a certain amount in a year. I doubt anyone figures this out for the teen down the street who they pay to babysit their kids. I know there is an exemption for that sort of sitting, but it is only up to a certain amount. Truly, the tax code is just terible. I bet you could pick up any random person off of the street, "nominate" them for office, and if you then audited them, you'd find out they owe taxes.

    This doesn't excuse the egregious failures exposed here, but it would show the ridiculousnes of our tax system.

  5. Frank Rich has an interesting column today (2/8) at NYTimes.com (opinion section) on this. I bet he is right that the real issue was the how casually rich the lifestyle of the nominee was and how seemingly influenced it might be by such favors.