January 15, 2009
Should the U.S. treasury secretary know how to do his own taxes?
Maybe not, say payroll lawyers, accountants and tax professors, who consider Timothy Geithner’s failure to pay four years of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes to be a fairly common mistake — even for a top economist chosen to run the Treasury Department, including the Internal Revenue Service.
In part, say accountants, that’s because the IMF’s tax process is confusing even for professional accountants. The IMF distributes a W-2 form that leaves empty the box for payroll tax obligations, a fact that likely led Geithner to assume he was free from obligation.
“If he got a W-2, it’s not something that would jump out at you,” said Bryan Camp, a tax professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law.