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Geithner Touts Tackling Tax Evaders After Failing to Pay Own Taxes

The pot has issued the kettle an ultimatum: tax dodgers beware.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was forced to fork up $34,000 in unpaid back taxes, told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday that the Obama administration will be going after people who avoid and evade taxes.

In prepared remarks before Congress, he said the president is intent on "tackling tax shelters and other efforts to abuse our tax laws, including international tax evasion efforts."

Geithner himself never used a tax haven to avoid payment, but did neglect to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes while he was a self-employed staffer for the International Monetary Fund. He even hired an accountant for two of the years he forgot to file.

"Over the next several months," he said Tuesday, "the President will propose a series of legislative and enforcement measures to reduce such U.S. tax evasion and avoidance."

But the Treasury secretary might want to heed something of a caveat legislator: such a dragnet could quickly catch a handful of Obama's top appointees.

Tom Daschle, Obama's pick to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, had to bow out when it was disclosed that he had failed to pay $128,000 in back taxes. Nancy Killefer, who was appointed by Obama to scrutinize government spending for the OMB, also had to withdraw her nomination because of tax issues.

And just a day before Geithner's appearance in the House, Obama's designated Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, told the Senate Finance Committee that he owed some $10,000 in back taxes that he had agreed to pay.

Some of the administrations enforcement measures, put forth in good faith inside the president's proposed budget, might be hitting just a little too close to home.

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