Tax problems for another Obama nominee


U.S. Trade Representative nominee Ronald Kirk owes nearly $10,000 in back taxes, according to a report released Monday afternoon by the Senate Finance Committee.

Kirk joins a long line of President Barack Obama’s political appointees who’ve had tax problems, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle, who resigned over tax issues.

According to the bipartisan report, former Dallas mayor Kirk asked for his speaking engagement honoraria be given to his alma mater, Austin College, to fulfill a scholarship fund pledge. In a questionnaire submitted to the committee regarding his nomination, Kirk said he did not think the honoraria counted as income as it was assigned to Austin College.

From 2004-2007, he should have reported $37,750 in honoraria income for 16 speeches, as the honoraria had to be reported as income, regardless of who received the money, the report states.

He also paid $2,188 in back taxes and $139 in interest in October 2008 for his 2006 return, in which he failed to report a $5,000 speaking honorarium and $819 in dividend income. The Internal Revenue Service found the unreported income during a routine matching of the Kirks’ Form 1099 with the joint tax return, the committee report states.

He also owes about $2,600 for an amended use of NBA Dallas Mavericks tickets which were partially used for entertainment expenses. He had initially deducted the price of the tickets in 2005, 2006 and 2007 as an entertainment expense for business clients.

The committee states that Kirk will promptly file amended tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 and will pay any tax owed.

It appears tax issues won’t derail Kirk’s nomination, scheduled for March 9, according to a statement from Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Mayor Kirk is the right person for this job and I will work to move his nomination quickly. I am confident he can successfully restore the confidence of Congress and the American people in a balanced international trade agenda.


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