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article imageOp-Ed: New Stimulus Proposal to Congress: Pay Your Taxes!

By Sitafa Harden     Feb 3, 2009 in Politics
Could stiffening tax reporting requirements for U.S. elected officials be just the economic stimulus package this country needs?
Today the Associated Press reports that Nancy Killefer, the latest in a string of President Obama's nominees with a history of delinquent taxes, withdrew from consideration for the role of the country's Chief Performance Officer in an effort to avoid any further embarrassment to the administration.
Killefer was the second major nominee to withdraw and the third to have tax problems complicate nominations after President Barack Obama announced he had chosen them.
A noble move on Killefer's part? Perhaps.
Well, at least she was a private citizen. As was Timothy Geithner who was recently confirmed as U.S. Treasury Secretary in spite of the fact that he failed for years to pay $34,000 in income taxes.
But what about Senator Tom Daschle?
We all watched his long, drawn out, stilted apology last night on the news. He's so sorry for not declaring the gifted use of a chauffeured private car as income which resulted in over $128,000 in unpaid taxes on his part, but he really wants to be our Health and Human Services Secretary anyway.
Is that okay with the American people? Again, the answer is perhaps.
But herein lies the larger question: What if this kind of tax evasion, unintentional or not, is much more common among our elected officials than we think?
There are 100 senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives. Let's assume for arguments sake that at least half of them are failing to correctly report gifts and other personal expenditures on their income taxes. That would be about 267 officials.
If the average delinquent tax bill for each of them was $100,000, then the amount of total taxes owed would be over $26 million. Add interest and penalties and the balance soars even higher.
And that's just the legislative branch of our government.
Imagine if we performed the same hypothetical exercise on elected and appointed officials in the executive and judicial branches and demanded payment in full ASAP.
Now that's a stimulus plan Americans could believe in.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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