Tax Analysts Blog

I Hear She Has an Unpaid Parking Ticket, Too

Posted on Apr 1, 2009

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, paid nearly $8,000 in back taxes and accrued interest after discovering errors in her tax returns for 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Oops.

So far, Democratic leaders have been notably silent on this latest episode in the Obama Administration Tax Follies (except for Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, who isn't too concerned). Conservative bloggers, on the other hand, are having a good time with it.


It's hard to fault the critics -- I mean, seriously: can't the White House find anyone without a tax problem to head HHS?

Well ... maybe not. How many Obama critics would survive the sort of intense tax scrutiny that these nominees are getting? For that matter, how many regular taxpayers would make it through unscathed? There's an awful lot of self-righteous blather on this topic, from Democrats and Republicans alike. But let's face it: Mistakes happen. Mistakes on tax returns happen all the time. Which ones are serious enough to derail a nomination? Some, like Tom Daschle's, certainly are. But others -- like this one -- are not.

That being said, we could all benefit from a little more tax transparency, at least among elected officials. I've said it before and I'll say it again: national politicians should all release their tax returns for every year they're in office. The president and vice president do it already (as a matter of custom, not law). If the rest of official Washington followed suit, we could all rest a little easier.

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