Free Markets, Free People

IRS Workers See A Double Standard And Lack Of Leadership

A little dissention in the IRS?

The Treasury secretary, who oversees the IRS, didn’t pay all his taxes. Neither did five other top nominees for the Obama administration, or their spouses.

Now, as Wednesday’s tax deadline looms, some Americans are wondering why they should comply with the arcane requirements of the Internal Revenue Service when top administration officials failed to do the same. Even some IRS employees are upset at what they see as a double standard.

The most criticized example has been Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who admitted not paying $34,000 in payroll and Social Security taxes, saying his failure to pay was an oversight. Five other nominees disclosed similar tax issues, including one as recently as two weeks ago when Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama’s pick for secretary of health and human services, admitted she didn’t pay $7,040.

“Our members are upset and angry,” said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, referring to concern bubbling up within the IRS over unusually strict rules that can cost agents their jobs if they make a mistake.

Indeed – while the man who has Cabinet level authority over the IRS was essentially a tax cheat, IRS employees are held to a very strict standard concerning their taxes and returns:

In some cases, IRS employees have lost jobs for simply filing a late return or failing to report a few hundred dollars of interest income.

Of course, the union representing IRS workers doesn’t want to see Geithner or anyone else held to the same standard. Oh, no – instead they want those standards loosened:

In an interview Tuesday, Kelley said the Geithner case underlines the need for a change of the rules governing IRS employees.

“My issue is not that I want Geithner or anyone else punished,” Kelley said. “I want there to be a re-examination of the law that holds IRS employees to a separate standard: one in which a simple mistake can cost them their jobs with no right of appeal.”

Yup – again, something the Obama administration and some of our commenters don’t seem to understand – the essence of leadership is setting the proper example – not do as I say but not as I do. That “essence” is still missing from this bunch.

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11 Responses to IRS Workers See A Double Standard And Lack Of Leadership

  • Let’s not be too critical here: the union may be onto something.  I mean, can I fail to pay a huge chunk of MY taxes, claim that it was an “oversight”, and get away with it?  If so, then I’m not going to complain.  I can use that extra money to… um… stimulate the economy.  Yeah!  That’s it!

    Here’s another idea: instead of holding tea parties, why don’t we all have “oversights” and underpay our taxes?  Talk about starving the pig…

  • The mainstream media wouldn’t do it. So we are trying to get your important messages to the American people. This post is a suggested read at, 4

  • The Elite never pay retail. That’s for the suckers.

  • Some of these people probably did have legitimate oversights (not Geithner, that’s just BS).  What it really calls out for is a massive simplification of the tax code.  Not only is in insanely complicated which causes broken window costs, the complexity obscures who’s really paying the tax.  The debates over marginal rates are almost completely pointless when the actual rate paid can vary so dramatically due to all the exceptions in the code.  It’s similar to comparing income tax rates between states – completely meaningless without all the other bits and pieces.

  • I had dinner last night with a friend who is pretty middle-of-the-road; she voted for The Clown™,  but she is starting to get upset from his constant mistakes.

    Some schmuck next to our table kept saying out loud, “Boy, am I glad that Bush is gone and Obama is running things! Finally, a President who is eloquent, who is knowledgable, who makes us proud to be an American once again!” My friend Melanie reached over the said to him, “Listen, you drunk pr!ck. I voted for Obama. I wish I could take my vote back. I should have realized that he was unqualified to be President, but I was too stupid to notice. Now, even after all he has screwed up, you are still too stupid to notice. Now shut the FUGG UP!”

    Some people in the restaurant cheered. I was so proud of Mel. She mucked up her vote last year, but The Clown™ is losing her. And if he loses her, his days in the White House will be ending in January 2013.

  • Yah know, they’re still happy that ‘Bush is gone’.    I gather it has escaped their notice he was gone no matter what?

    Obama ran against Bush and, surprise, won. 

  • Rather than go after Geithner or use this to attack Obama (it won’t work, these mini-scandals are forgotten once the confirmation ink is dry), use it to go after the tax code, it’s complexity and it’s unfairness.  If top officials can’t get it, then how can they expect average folk to?   If you shift away from a focus of using the tax as a reason for ad hominems and shift towards using it as proof that substantive change to simplify the tax code is necessary, it’ll be far more effective.

    • I’m always surprised, Scott, about the extent to which you never seem to know where you are or what’s going on around you. I recall the time when you claimed not to know who Christopher Hitchens is. It’s hard to find a good historical precedent, but I suppose it’s damn close to not knowing who William F. Buckley was, given Hitchen’s powerful personality and imposing style.

      Geithner, FYI, is the continuing subject of ridicule, criticism, and suspicion. And many different sorts of people are getting in on it. You have to be one of the most ill-informed individuals who claims to follow national affairs I’ve ever run across, and that’s in addition to everything else about you.

    • No fan of the tax code at all.  Agree it should be simplified dramatically.
      But to point out that the problem is the tax code, which millions of normal people DO manage to get through to defend a tax cheat is a bit much.
      At this point I think we’re all agreed it’s not going to ‘get’ Geithner, he’s here until he just screws the pooch beyond denial or until Obama tires of him, or we tire of Obama. 

      As for you, once again, your cluelessness about leadership shows through.  The problem is the people who work FOR Geithner.

      In this case
      “My issue is not that I want Geithner or anyone else punished,” Kelley said. “I want there to be a re-examination of the law that holds IRS employees to a separate standard: one in which a simple mistake can cost them their jobs with no right of appeal.”

      So, they want their own standard lowered.  Even YOU should understand the distinction between ‘getting Geithner’ and how the way Geithner was treated, as head of his agency, has affected the way HIS employess view their own treatment.  Being as you are no where near being any kind of real leader, I’m not surprised you don’t get it and think it’s about the tax code, or about getting Geithner.

      It’s an object lesson in how poor leadership spreads it’s disease down the chain of command to lower levels.