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Friday, January 16, 2009
Timmerman's 'Tax Experts' Are All Right-Wingers
Topic: Newsmax

A Jan. 15 Newsmax article by Kenneth Timmerman cites several "tax experts" who claim that treasury secretary-designee Tim Geithner should withdraw because of an issue over non-payment of taxes (which he has since paid) while employed by the International Monetary Fund.

Timmerman leads with a claim by "former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer" -- whom Timmerman does not describe as having any declared tax expertise -- claiming that Geithner "cheated on his taxes." Timmerman also cites so-called experts from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Maryland Taxpayers Association and the National Taxpayers Union.

While Timmerman identifies the CEI and Heritage reps as "conservative," he provides no ideological ID for the others, even though NTU and AEI are considered conservative groups, and the MTA "chairs the Maryland Center-Right Coalition."

By contrast, Politico talked to tax attorneys with no partisan ax to grind and actual understanding of the issue at hand:

“This is a very discrete issue,” said Michael Lloyd, an employment tax lawyer at Miller & Chevalier. “If you’re not a payroll tax lawyer, you’re not immersed in this, you are probably not getting it at first blush.”


Tax experts blame Geithner’s error on the IMF’s atypical tax arrangement. Because it’s an international organization, it’s exempt from withholding employees’ payroll taxes.

U.S. employees get additional salary to cover the IMF’s share of their payroll taxes. They’re responsible for paying the tax, considered a “self-employment tax,” as part of their personal tax returns.

Geithner did his own taxes in 2001 and 2002. An accountant did them in 2003 and 2004.

“Usually, all this stuff is taken out of your paycheck, so this particular arrangement is unusual,” said George Yin, a tax professor at the University of Virginia Law School and former chief of staff for the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. “It would be much more troubling if he didn’t understand some basic principle of economics.”

None of Timmerman's so-called "tax experts" exhibited similar knowledge of the issue at hand. But they were all eager to call for Geithner's withdrawal over it. Go figure.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:05 PM EST
Updated: Monday, January 19, 2009 2:15 PM EST

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