Third Party & Independents Archives

Timothy Geithner!

Timothy Geithner! Here’s a guy whose résumé lists the presidency of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and whose attendant credentials—we are to assume—make him competent to be the titular guardian of our national treasure. Yet, we’re to believe that he forgot about Social Security and Medicare taxes when he filled out the old 1040, which are intimately, affectionately, and collectively known as the Self Employment, or SE tax, by the 11million or so people in America who don’t earn their living working for somebody else.

The SE tax is extremely straightforward to understand, even if you’ve only graduated from Dartmouth and have an M.A. in International Economics from John Hopkins. As a matter of fact, just type “Self Employment Tax” into Google, and this handy & helpful Web page will appear at the very tippy-top of the listings, which is the kind of search engine result that tells you 11 million or so others have visited here before you. Click on that page, and this is what you’ll see straightaway:

What is the Self-employment Tax?
Self-employment tax (SE tax) is a social security and Medicare tax primarily for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the social security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners.
You figure SE tax yourself using Schedule SE (Form 1040). Social security and Medicare taxes of most wage earners are figured by their employers. Also you can deduct half of your SE tax in figuring your adjusted gross income. Wage earners cannot deduct social security and Medicare taxes.

I think you’ll agree that this is unusually prosaic verbiage for the IRS. Nonetheless, that’s not to say someone couldn’t legitimately not know about the SE tax—once. Believe me, I know.

One dismal year I recalculated my quarterly payments for barodine without the help of my accountant and—yes—I forgot to consider the SE tax, thus underpaying my federal estimated taxes by 15 percent. It’s the kind of mistake you can make when you’re only qualified to run a marketing consultancy instead of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

During the very first run-through of my taxes with my accountant, like the very first thing he said was like, “Dude, you forgot to figure in the SE tax. You are so going to pay a penalty.” And this guy only had a bachelor degree from a relatively anonymous college in the Midwest. I didn’t again make that mistake, let alone three more times.

Call me a cynic. But I think Timothy saying he just forgot about the SE tax—from 2001 to last fall—stretches the parameters of credulity. Or more prosaically, he’s full of crap. You know it. I know it. He knows it.

But since when is being notoriously feculent in spirit and morality a detriment to one’s suitability for government service? Actually, it’s a credential. The Senate has vetted Timothy Geithner, and they have found his ethical predilections to be totally reasonable by their own standards.

No surprise there.

Posted by Stephen G. Barone at January 23, 2009 5:41 PM
Comment #274193

Stephen, thanks for this great prose; “But since when is being notoriously feculent in spirit and morality a detriment to one’s suitability for government service? Actually, it’s a credential. The Senate has vetted Timothy Geithner, and they have found his ethical predilections to be totally reasonable by their own standards.”

You said it better than I could have.

Posted by: Jim M at January 23, 2009 6:40 PM
Comment #274197


Very nice and inciteful article. SE tax: So easy that even a Bush appointee could do it! Forgive and forget, Timothy Geithner is a Democrat!

Posted by: submarinesforever at January 23, 2009 7:20 PM
Comment #274209

Well, Pres. Obama has given Geithner a waiver so that should put it to rest. The administration is saying Geithner is essentially to big to fail in that he is one of a dozen people in the US who is capable of handling the Treasury position. Seems the media doesn’t have a problem with such a foolish statement. Ranks up there with the ‘we gotta bail em out now or we are doomed’ back in October. Now it seems the middle of Feb. might be a preferred time to bail em out some more. Today an ex-Dept. of Labor made a statement that the stimulus package shouldn’t all go to white professional construction workers but be spread all around. Boy, talk about looking for a fight. And, it seems the press is daid on that one too. I see where Japan is taking measures to try and hold on to their immigrant workers through the recession. Seems they too, are suffering from grey hair and not enough young workers coming into the system to support their social security system. Ditto here. Somehow the government has to dump a bunch of bail out into supporting illegal immigrants or they will just go home, thus, bending the CofC out of shape. To add insult to injury, State’s are raising realestate taxes even as home prices have declined. Of course, they also want a bailout. Never seen anything like it. Globalization is being placed squarely on the back of the middle class worker. Nobody will give up some socials, Dr.’s won’t give up anything, banks and financials sure aren’t going to give in, a la Thain of Lynch/Bank Am.
I suspect the recession will end when people get a bad case of cabin fever and figure out nothing too bad has happened so they may as well venture out. Moreso, than anything Geithner and the dozen or so miracle workers do.

Otherwise, we have the government we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 23, 2009 8:38 PM
Comment #274230

Back in October…weren’t both Paulson and Cheney/Bush Republican?

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling”, yelled Chicken Little. And the word spread around so fast, everyone looked at the sky to see if a chunk was going to hit them. Democrats in Congress were just as stupid as everyone else…they heard Paulson, and began glancing at the sky.

While what Paulson said may have been true, and his suggested solutions may have been accurate…it is obvious that his oversight was more than a little lacking. I doubt we’ll ever know if it was necessary, or where the money went, because there has been way too much fog surrounding it from the start…what a travesty…sigh…

Posted by: Marysdude at January 24, 2009 5:54 AM
Comment #274231

This appointment is so ridiculous I’m thinking he did it on purpose. Gotta keep an eye on him, he can’t be allowed to get away with all he wants to get away with.

Posted by: Matt at January 24, 2009 6:29 AM
Comment #274250

Barone, who can blame an American for avoiding federal taxes when and where they can without legal consequence when such a large percentage of those taxes are wasted, inefficiently spent, and outright given away as bribes to politician’s wealthy supporters.

The problem here is not Geithner’s actions, which are red blooded all American, if polls are at all accurate on the relationship between tax payers and the IRS. The problem is Obama’s judgment in nominating such a person to head the IRS branch of the Treasury. The mere and obvious public relations debacle the nomination portended warrants serious skepticism about Obama’s judgment.

Would American’s prefer to be forced to pay their taxes on April 15 by a man who has himself dodged taxes, or a man or woman whose record on paying their taxes is exemplary? Why did this question never get asked by Obama, and if it was, what machinations led him to defend the Geithner choice anyway, once it was obvious the public was not going to accept it and forget it?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 24, 2009 12:08 PM
Comment #274273

This may be a ligitimate situation where the sitting President should be allowed to admit a mistake without being browbeaten for it. It’s pointless to kick a dead horse.

If the President wants to withdrawl his nomination let him make a statement as such and report it once. It’s a wash. Done. On to the next candidate.

If he should stick with his appointment or other nominations suffer the same fate, then let the discussion continue and the chips fall where they may. A repeat of this nature would seriously cast doubt on his judgement and support structures.

Maybe we should look at from the perspective being: This is the first step towards the abolition of self-employment taxes. That would be a real stimulus package.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 24, 2009 4:22 PM
Comment #274278
Maybe we should look at it from the perspective being: This is the first step towards the abolition of self-employment taxes.
Posted by Weary Willie at January 24, 2009 04:22 PM

What’s wrong with an abolition of self-employment taxes, Mr. Remer?
Would it be a stimulus to the economy?
Yes, it would.

Do you agree? Isn’t a self-employment tax aggressive? and regressive? Wouldn’t a market “free” of that tax burden benefit our economy?

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 24, 2009 7:56 PM
Comment #274556


What’s the difference between a “Geiger-counter”
& a “Geitner-counter”…? A Geiger counter detect’s “Radiation” !… A Geitner counter
defect’s on “Tax-ation”.

Posted by: j.i.m. at January 29, 2009 8:11 PM
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