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Timothy Geithner: Blame me, not TurboTax


Timothy Geithner is getting a grilling from the Senate Finance Committee this morning about his nomination to be Barack Obama's Treasury secretary. In a nutshell, critics on the committee want to know how they can entrust him with a $700-billion rescue fund in the worse economic times since the Great Depression -- and with oversight of the International Revenue Service -- when he forgot to pay more than $34,000 in taxes when was working for the International Monetary Fund.

The theme led to one of the more comical exchanges of the day, when Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, seeking details on how Geithner could miss the need to pay the Social Security and Medicare taxes, asked him what software he used to prepare his taxes during the years in question, 2001 to 2003.

Geithner, currently president of the New York Fed, seemed reluctant to name names. The conversation went like this.

Grassley: "Did you use tax software to prepare your taxes?"

Geithner: "Yes, I did."

Grassley: "Which brand of tax software?"

Geithner: "I will answer that, but I want to say I take full responsibility. ... It was TurboTax."

No word yet on whether the company will want to use the testimony in its ads. Of course it might not be a great endorsement either.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (7)

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A careless mistake? TurboTax calculates Social Security and Medicare taxes automatically, and did so even for tax years 2001-2003. You would have to override TutboTax in order not to have these taxes included in the sum that you owe.

Anyone who has used Turbo Tax knows this guy is a liar. The idea of having a tax cheat as Secretary of the Treasury shows how corrupt the people in Washington are. If he had and decency left he would withdraw his name from consideration.

Right, blame TurboTax. No shame. TurboTax will not allow that, unless you make a concious override.
When the IRS tries to collect unpaid taxes from one of us, we'll use the "Tim Geithner did it twinkie" defense.

Hey Tim, pay your taxes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am a Beancounter by Degree and TurboTax is by far the best program out there. On top of the tutorials that they offer to beginners, the security within the system allows for little error. I help family and friends with their returns and if the Social Security and/or Medicare is not what the program calculates, you are prompted to another screen to choose the reason why and then provide an explanation.

I think the appropriate question should be, "If you weren't nominated, would you have ever paid thia tax?"

I don't think a lot of you understand what tax is. This is coming from a tax CPA. You seem to think the Social Security and Medicare taxes only apply to your W2. It is more complicated than you think. Unless you understand how it works, the software can't help you.

Giving a 2 year old child a calculator doesn't mean you'd understand math. The calculator does, the child doesn't.

This guy will just make Turbotax more popular.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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