Tom Burger has spent his life dedicated to public service. Burger said it started with President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961, when Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
“That stimulated me to look into public service,” Burger said.
As a young man, Burger served as a Marine in the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive of 1968. After he left the Marines, Burger was still looking to serve. He turned to the federal government.
Burger looked into working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Internal Revenue Service, but he ended up at the IRS, where he worked for 37 years. Burger rose to the rank of director of the employment tax. Working for the IRS, Burger helped ensure that the majority of the money that funds the federal government was collected. He was responsible for determining whether citizens received W-2 or 1099 tax forms.
“Basically are you an employee or independent contractor?” Burger said, ”It’s the IRS’s job is to ensure that everybody pays their fair share – no more, no less.”
Listen to Burger’s views on public service.
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.
11:33 AM: One has to wonder if Killefer’s withdrawal will make it harder for Tom Daschle to win confirmation as secretary of Health and Human Services.
Here’s what we wrote about Killefer after her nomination last month. She was universally praised as a good pick for the new position.
11:15 AM: Killefer had a $924 tax lien placed on her house in 2005 because she failed to pay employment taxes for her household help. She paid the bill five months later. And that’s why she withdrew, according to a letter she sent to the White House.
It’s a little surprising her nomination was derailed by that issue: It’s a small amount of money, compared to Timothy Geithner (more than $32,000 in unpaid taxes) and Tom Daschle (more than $100,000), and she paid the bill years ago.
But after those two big problems, Obama probably decided (for political reasons) to take a stand on Killefer. From her letter to the White House:
I recognize that your agenda and the duties facing your Chief Performance Officer are urgent. I have also 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 those duties must avoid. Because of this I must reluctantly ask you to withdraw my name from consideration.