Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Only the little people pay taxes

By Gil Weinreich

President Obama's pick for U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, will need to amend his tax returns to pay some $10,000 in additional tax on income he did not report. This comes on the heels of other Obama nominees Tim Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury); Tom Daschle (who withdrew his candidacy for HHS Secretary); and Nancy Killefer (who was to be our chief performance officer). It seems reasonable to estimate that this sample is indicative of a wider phenomenon among the Washington power elite. (Remember Eleanor Holmes Norton, who hadn't paid taxes for 11 years before becoming the District of Columbia's representative in Congress?) And yet this same set of wretched politicians blithely hike taxes on the little people. We need a transparent and public mechanism to ensure compliance with tax laws among all elected officials. If they had more skin in the game, they might show more restraint in their revenue decisions.

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