Nominee woes point out need for new tax code

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An Obama nominee has tax troubles, and, as one blogger noted, "the sky is blue."

The latest is Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who hired her own CPA, only to find that she owed nearly $8,000 because of errors concerning charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses.

She's the replacement for the president's first choice to head up Health and Human Services; former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle had to pay $140,000 in back taxes and interest.

The most high-profile case was Timothy Geithner, who was confirmed as U.S. Treasury Secretary only after paying $35,000 in back taxes. And those are only a few of the long list of the new administration's nominees who have run into trouble over tax troubles or other financial questions.

It seems obvious, if the governor of Kansas, a senator and a man qualified to run the U.S. Treasury are unable to figure out their taxes correctly, that something is wrong with our tax system. The problem stems from members of Congress who use tax breaks to influence public policy in ways they may not be able to using traditional legislative means.

A radical simplification of the tax system is needed, but accomplishing one during the current economic crisis is a tall order. On the other hand, what better time for a major "change" than during the first years of an administration sent to Washington on that premise?

The convoluted tax code is an example of back-door governance that the United States would be better off without.

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