Taxes

Another Tax Day, Another Senior White House Official Who Didn't Pay His Taxes Properly

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This is all very taxing.

It's tax day, and whaddaya know: The New York Post has revealed yet another a senior Obama administration official who failed to pay his taxes properly:

US Attorney General Eric Holder and his brother failed to pay the property taxes on their childhood home in Queens, which they inherited last August after their mother died, The Post has learned.

And because their ailing mom, Miriam, was already behind on two quarterly tax bills when she succumbed to illness on Aug. 13, the charges went unpaid for more than a year—growing to $4,146.

It wasn't until The Post confronted Holder last week about the delinquency that he and younger brother William Holder finally paid up Friday, including $73.14 in interest.

I'm genuinely sympathetic towards political figures who don't manage to get their tax filings in perfect shape. Over the years, the tax code has grown into an impossible bureaucratic labyrinth, and compliance is now a sort of epistemological nightmare that even plagues the government: As my colleague Jacob Sullum recently noted, in some cases, highly trained tax professionals don't know for sure whether a filing is correct, and government experts who ought to know frequently can't say for sure either. In 2007, meanwhile, it was reported that the federal government was struggling to extract $3 billion in missing tax revenues from its own employees.

Even the taxmasters at the Internal Revenue Service can't keep track of their own agency's books: Last year, the Government Accountability Office reported that the IRS could not explain billions in accounting discrepancies: Essentially, the IRS failed an audit. The government and its employees, in other words, are just as confused by the tax code as anyone else.

But my sympathy for these sorts of cases only extends so far: At a certain point, one sort of expects that government employees and officials will stop making mistakes on their own taxes and start working to correct the numerous larger mistakes in the system. So far, I don't see that happening.