Playing the Pot-vs.-Kettle Game in Washington

Some senators have made a big fuss about the tax problems of Obama appointees Tom Daschle, Timothy Geithner and Nancy Killefer, but quite a few

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Some senators have made a big fuss about the tax problems of Obama appointees Tom Daschle, Timothy Geithner and Nancy Killefer, but quite a few of them have had the same kinds of problems themselves.


Politico.com sent all 99 sitting senators (the Minnesota Senate election is still up in the air) a short questionnaire about their personal tax situations, including whether they or the IRS had ever discovered an error in any of their tax returns and whether they'd ever had to pay back taxes.

A majority of the senators - 57 - either haven't responded yet or refused to participate. Among the 42 who did respond, 12 said they either had errors or had to pay back taxes, or both. That's about 29%. Maybe we're being too cynical, but we have a hunch an equal - if not higher - percentage of those not responding had tax problems too.

What about Oregon's two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley? Neither of them responded to the survey.

Perhaps not surprisingly, only two members of the Senate - which is often described as a millionaires' club - said they prepared their taxes themselves: Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Patty Murray of Washington, both Democrats. And they both said they'd never had an error in their return or owed back taxes.

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