Saturday, February 14, 2009

Are All Senators Free From Tax Errors?

Are All Senators Free From Tax Errors? Politico.Com; Feb 11, 2009.

When Timothy Geithner appeared before the Senate Finance Committee last month, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) accused the soon-to-be treasury secretary of “dancing around” questions about his taxes.

When news broke that Tom Daschle had failed to pay taxes due on a car and driver, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) declared himself “very troubled by it.”

But neither Kyl nor Cornyn seems interested in answering questions about his own tax history.

They’re hardly alone.

Last week, Politico asked the offices of all 99 sitting senators to say who prepares their taxes, whether they or the Internal Revenue Service has ever discovered an error on returns they’ve filed, and whether they’ve ever had to pay back taxes. (Read all the surveys here.)

Of the 56 senators who have responded to the survey, eight said that mistakes have been made on their tax returns, and six said they have paid back taxes. Thirty senators said that no mistakes have been discovered on their returns and that they’ve never paid back taxes - at least to the best of their recollection.

The offices of two senators - Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) - told Politico that they would not answer the survey questions. The offices of Kyl and 42 other senators - 17 Republicans, 24 Democrats and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) - failed to respond at all.

Some Senate offices took issue with the line of questioning, saying it was either unfair or an invasion of privacy. Aides to one senator told Politico that they considered the survey “presumptuous and intrusive.” Some Senate press secretaries encouraged others not to respond to the survey.

Twelve senators, including Cornyn, responded with generic statements about their compliance with financial disclosure requirements.

The office of Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) - who declared Geithner’s explanation of his tax problems “unconvincing and unsupported by the facts” - responded to the survey by referring Politico “to the senator’s financial disclosure forms, which are public.” The office of Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.) - who said Geithner’s failure to pay taxes was “inexcusable” - said that “all the financial records Sen. Enzi is required to release publicly are open for anyone to see.”

But senators are not required to include their tax returns in their annual disclosure forms. And although some senators do so voluntarily, the returns themselves would not show if a senator or the IRS subsequently discovered mistakes or if a senator was required to pay back taxes.

Read the whole article here.

Comment: Certainly I know mistakes can be made by anyone on tax returns, I have made them myself, but when a government body excludes themselves from any level of transparency so the citizenry can examine their character, which is their right and obligation, what does that say about the our government? What does it say about the people that continue to elect them?

There are few government bodies more corrupt than the US Senate. End the corruption; repeal the 17th Amendment.

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