Even though they’ve railed against taxes for decades, Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle’s recent tax troubles have given conservatives a new appreciation for  paying taxes on time.

Of course, it goes without saying that nobody should get special treatment when it comes to paying taxes, politicians and governmental officials included.  But some conservatives seem to be under the impression that making a mistake on your taxes is a jailable offense. That’s not really how it works–if the IRS finds out you made a mistake, they come to you and collect the taxes you owe, as well as any fees or fines that may apply.  They don’t prosecute you unless you were purposely trying to defraud the federal government; just making a mistake on your taxes won’t land you in jail (nor should it).

What happened with Geithner and Daschle was embarrassing, but it’s not uncommon or unusual.  There’s really no evidence that either of them got any kind of special treatment from the IRS; if there was, I would be condemning all of them for it.

That being said, I’m glad to see conservatives now believe everyone should pay their fair share in taxes; hopefully now we can deal with the biggest tax cheats of all:

The news that more than 60 percent of U.S. corporations failed to pay any federal taxes from 1996 through 2000 when corporate profits were soaring and that corporate tax receipts had fallen to just 7.4 percent of overall federal tax revenue in 2003 – the lowest since 1983 and the second-lowest rate since 1934 – is an outrage. But it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to national tax policy over the past few years. The General Accounting Office (GAO) report also found that an astonishing 94 percent of corporations reported tax liability of less than 5 percent of their total income during the same time period. Corporate tax dodging has gone on for far too long. But the policies of the Bush administration have exacerbated the problem by furthering the culture of tax avoidance by big corporations and creating a pervasive unfairness in our tax code.

[Emphasis mine]

Geithner and Daschle failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes; American corporations avoid paying tens of billions of dollars per year. I’m sure conservatives–with their newfound appreciation of tax laws and support for everyone paying their fair share–will join Democrats to end the pervasive culture of corporate tax cheats and reclaim the hundreds of billions of corporate dollars rightfully owed to the United States Treasury.

(That is, unless GOP criticism of Geithner and Daschle was just partisan posturing and Republicans dont’ really care if people who aren’t Democrats pay their taxes.)