Most U.S. Senators don't want to talk about taxes, at least not about their own.
Politicians are quick to pounce on tax topics when they're on the campaign trail or debating stimulus bills, However, Politico.com found that such verbosity doesn't extend to personal filings.
But it also is useful to know that our leaders understand the practical implications of the tax laws they ultimately approve; that they actually know what they are asking each of their taxpaying constituents to do each filing season.
That's part of what Politico was trying to determine when it asked all 99 sitting Senators (the Norm Coleman/Al Franken seat in Minnesota is still open) who prepares their taxes, whether they or the IRS has ever discovered an error on their returns and whether they have ever had to pay back taxes.
Of the 57 Senators who responded to the survey, Politico reports that:
Nine said mistakes had been made on their tax returns,
Seven said they have paid back taxes, and
31 said that no mistakes have been discovered on their returns and that they’ve never paid back taxes, at least to the best of their recollection.
Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declined to answer the survey questions.
Forty-one others -- 17 Republicans, 23 Democrats and Connecticut Independent Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- didn't respond at all.
Time to file: The Politico inquiry lends support to a Congressional rule I'd like to see implemented: All Representatives and Senators must complete their taxes themselves at least once during each term they serve.
They can use tax software if they like. Heck, I'll even let them call in a tax professional, as long as they sit there and pay attention while the accountant fills out the 1040.
But they must, to some degree, fully feel the pain that 150 million of us taxpayers, and voters, go through each year.