Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Here we go again

An unbelievable sixth high-level Obama nominee with significant tax issues:

"Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius [best known around these parts as the Kansas governor who vetoed the state's "shall-issue" handgun permit bill in 2006, only to be overridden by an overwhelming margin in both houses of the state Legislature four days later] recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding "unintentional errors"—the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee."

The full details of this latest embarrassment of the Messiah really aren't that important; the two main points to take away from these continual embarrassing financial revelations from his Cabinet appointees is that

1. The tax code is so irritatingly complex and labyrinthine due to Congress finagling all sorts of sweet breaks and loopholes for their supporters that it's all too easy for even law-abiding taxpayers to completely screw up while calculating just how much blood they're going to have to squeeze out to the Feds (this may have been the case here, if one is inclined to give Sebelius the benefit of the doubt, which we aren't quite prepared to do), and

2. If these cases are so easy to find and be used against the "elite" among us who enjoy access to the best accountants and tax attorneys money can buy, imagine how easy it would be to build a similar case against an ordinary peasant should the IRS be inclined to do so, either by itself or perhaps at the request of another government agency that wishes to find some way to put someone in a whole mess of legal trouble.

One example: IRS agent Jeff Novitzky and his Ahab-like quest to put Moby Dick Barry Bonds in jail, even though the crimes Bonds is accused of committing have nothing whatsoever to do with any tax issues, save for the allegation that Bonds lied under oath when questioned in front of a grand jury about evidence that Novitzky apparently came up with while investigating Bonds. In fact, most of the charges against Bonds have been dismissed except for the perjury rap, and he may yet beat that one, due to the many inconsistencies, errors, omissions and alleged outright lies made by Novitzky during his own testimony before the same grand jury. See the article for the complete story, it's actually quite fascinating and well-researched.

This whole mess is compelling evidence that the U.S. Tax Code is in dire need of a complete overhaul, perhaps even switching the whole shebang to a system such as the Fair Tax. Until then, it's quite entertaining to watch nominee after nominee wriggle like a worm on a fishhook when their shady finances are brought into the light of day.

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