Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Death and Taxes

There are two things in life we can't escape -- death and taxes. Today, we deal with both of them.

First up... death. It was 50 years ago today that, as the song goes, the music died. In actuality, the music thrived, but a couple of rock's shining stars perished in a plane crash. Ritchie Valens was a 17 year old rising star, the Big Bopper a DJ with a novelty hit, and Buddy Holly was a musical genius who, at 22, had a string of hits already to his name.

Fifty years later, those songs hold up with the best music ever made!

Next, taxes. If you don't pay them, not only are you not contributing your fair share of taking care of the needs of the country, it'll come back to haunt you. Tom Daschle learned that the hard way today.

Both he and Nancy Killefer, the woman nominated by Obama to be the government's first chief performance officer, pulled their names out of consideration for the posts they were almost assured to be confirmed for, because of tax issues.

With Daschle, the issue was back taxes that he owed on a car and driver provided to him over a period of three years, which amounted to $128,203 in taxes and $11,964 in interest.

A spokesperson for the former Senator said Daschle asked his accountant in June if the car service could be a tax issue. He did not learn until late December that the service - valued at more than $250,000 over three years - was subject to taxes.

Tom Daschle's surprise withdrawal announcement came just three hours after Nancy Killefer withdrew her name, citing problems with tax filings. In her brief letter to President Obama, Killefer wrote that she had "come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay" that must be avoided in responding to urgent economic problems.

The Associated Press disclosed that in 2005 the District of Columbia government had filed a $946.69 tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help.

More recently, Tim Geithner was confirmed as Treasury secretary despite belatedly paying $34,000 in income taxes.

I've said it before and I know I'll say it again. If you want to work in the public sector, you've got to be beyond reproach. These things should not be happening.

Before I sign off, I promised in the podcast today that I'd give you links to some of the analysis of Don McLean's American Pie. Click here for the most comprehensive one I found.

And, although he still won't decipher the lyrics, Don McLean wrote a piece for CNN today on the 50th anniversay of The Day the Music Died. Read it here.

And listen to today's Radio or Not Podcast here (runtime 16:30)


elkojohn said...

elvis smelvis, the first record i bought as a pre-teen was Buddy Holley's ''Peggy Sue'' -- the drums drove me into estacy, even thought i couldn't dance yet. . . may he RIP.