News broke this week that at least 13 companies receiving TARP funds owe a combined total of $220 million in unpaid federal taxes. Frankly, since these companies were running into the ground, this is not really surprising. And, since 40 million individual taxpayers owe the IRS, these corporations are in good company. Where it gets a little trickier, however is that each company who accepted TARP funds signed contracts stating that they did NOT have unpaid taxes.
We are left with two possibilities.
1. These executives were even more out of touch with their companies’ functioning than we previously thought. That they truly did not know they owed the IRS millions of dollars. Ignorance, evidently, is bliss!
2. If these executives were not ignorant of their companies’ enormous debts to the government, then this is outright criminal. They signed their names, took billions of dollars in aid, all the while defrauding the government and American taxpayers.
Which is worse? Incompetence or dishonesty?
And where in this were their lawyers? As an attorney and a business owner, I certainly wouldn’t sign anything that hadn’t been reviewed by my attorney. It is just good common sense: read the contract before you sign it. But clearly, common sense is not so common anymore.