Tax Analysts Blog

When Only the Feds Have to Pay Taxes

Posted on Jan 11, 2010

Conservative superstar Glen Beck apparently has a tax problem. Not a big one, mind you, but not a trivial one either. Which makes him just like a lot of other decent, responsible people who find themselves on the wrong side of an IRS interview.

Except that Glen Beck is not like everyone else. He's a prominent media figure who has made a cottage industry out of lambasting liberals for their myriad failings. Over the past year, Beck has been a voluble champion of paying taxes -- at least when it's the other guy who has to pay them. Just last month, he had this to say about the various Obama appointees (and near-appointees) who were tripped up by tax troubles:

    It is a culture of corruption — a culture that doesn't mind the ethics just slide a little bit. It's a culture that tolerates excuses. Oh, the tax thing, it was an accident. It was my husband's fault. I didn't do it, he did it. I didn't mean to do it. I was just working hard for the people.
Tough words, especially from a guy with his own tax issues.

The liberal commentariat has been understandably gleeful. And conservatives have been just as predictably defensive:
    I still ask, “What of it?” Glenn Beck is not an employee of the federal government. He is a television personality. In contrast, the people he holds up to ridicule, such as Timothy Geithner, are employees of the federal government. Because they are charged with the responsibility of running some aspect of the nation’s government, they are expected to live according to a higher standard of behavior. Which part of this do liberals have trouble grasping?
Now that's rich: paying taxes is part of a "higher standard of behavior" applicable only to government employees. That's good to know. I'll keep that in mind the next time the IRS comes knocking and the Geithner Gambit doesn't carry the day. I'll call it the Beck Defense.

By the way, TaxGirl has a fine and balanced (as opposed to fair and balanced) assessment of the brouhaha.

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