Kathy Sebelius's Tax Problems

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The HHS nominee's tax problems are small -- compared to Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's -- and can be summed up like so:

--She and her husband could not locate receipts for three charitable over $250, so she re-paid the charitable deduction she had claimed.

--She and her husband misunderstood home mortgage interest deduction laws and claimed the deduction even after she'd sold the home she'd taken out the mortgage for. (She was underwater, having sold the house for less than the amount on her mortgage.)

--She could not locate receipts for some business expenses she'd claimed.

The total liability is $7,040 plus $878 in interest.

Meanwhile, I am impressed by how uninterested the critics seem in the question of whether Sebelius intended to avoid these taxes. I think the administration handled the nominations badly by pushing Geithner through -- even though he almost certainly intended not to pay some taxes for some period of thime -- and letting Daschle and Nancy Killefer fall by the wayside. That created the perception of getting tough but the reality of a totally incoherent double or triple standard. But everyone agrees that the tax code is labyrinthine and problematic, and to tear Sebelius down you still need to come up with an argument for why her tax issue constitutes a wrong.

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Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.
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