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How Geithner can

By   /   Sunday, January 25th, 2009  /   Comments Off on How Geithner can

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Here’s a can’t-fail idea for getting the economy moving again — and preventing the big guys from getting all the government handouts and tax breaks.

We’re proposing a new Treasury Department program for small businesses. Just for kicks, let’s call it The Geithner Exemption.

Under The Geithner Exemption, any one of the nation’s 6 million small businesses — or for that matter any one of our 25 million Schedule C filers — can get an exemption from any single tax  for one year.

Don’t want to pay your payroll taxes? The Geithner Exemption makes it kosher. Want to skip out on those pesky California Unemployment Insurance charges of $300 per employee? Sure, take a Geithner pass. Getting tired of paying into the Medicare fund for employees who won’t be eligible to collect until after 2050? Skip it now and take the Geithner cure.

Our Geithner Exemption takes its name from incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who conveniently skipped four years of federal payroll taxes on Social Security and Medicare when he was a consultant to the International Monetary Fund.

Geithner was dinged by the Internal Revenue Service for skipping two of the years, but he didn’t come completely clean until the Obama administration vetters found that he hadn’t paid for 2001 and 2002.

But it gets its inspiration partly from the work of our editor’s late father, Sol Dubroff, a retired Treasury Department official who subsequently worked for the IMF as a consultant. Dubroff, a stickler for following the rules, reminded his family that he was responsible for the payroll tax liability and he gladly paid it — figuring that the additional payments would add to his retirement income in later years.

Maybe the Geithner Exemption needs another wrinkle — small business owners who use it have 10 years to come clean and make amends. That would be called a tax amnesty and it, too, might not be a bad idea.

As the Geithner case shows, it could be a good way to collect billions from correcting erroneous past returns.

But the thought of the Treasury Secretary getting a break that no small business owner could get should stick in the craw of every man or woman who ever called in a payroll. There’s no getting around these taxes if you are in business for yourself or the owner-operator of a small business.

There shouldn’t be for anybody else, either.

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