Mulvaney told members of the Senate Budget Committee that he believed he was up to date on all of his taxes and found out about the debt during the vetting process for his nomination. The South Carolina Republican said he paid $15,583.60 in back taxes to the federal government but similar oversights brought down the nominations of several past nominees, including former senator Tom Daschle, President Obama’s 2009 pick for secretary of Health and Human Services.
“I have come to learn, during the confirmation review process, that I failed to apply FICA and federal and state unemployment taxes on a household employee for the years 2000-2004,” Mulvaney wrote in the disclosure.
Mulvaney said he has not yet paid any penalties, interest or state taxes because those amounts have not yet been determined. The disclosure came as part of the routine vetting process for all Cabinet nominees.
Tax issues are among the more common problems to emerge in the vetting process, causing at least three of Obama’s picks to withdraw from the confirmation process. The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment but Senate Democrats called on Republicans to encourage Mulvaney to follow previous custom and withdraw his name from consideration.
“We say to our colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said, referencing Daschle’s decision to step away from his nomination.
Daschle was one of the most prominent nominees to step away from a nomination in recent years. The former senator from South Dakota failed to pay around $140,000 in employment taxes for a driver he employed, and taxes on about $80,000 he paid in consulting fees. Like Mulvaney, Daschle said the missed payments were an oversight. Daschle withdrew his name anyway.
A spokesman for Senate Budget Committee Republicans declined to comment on the status of Mulvaney’s nomination.
There is some precedent for Mulvaney to remain a nominee despite the tax issue. Obama’s 2009 nominee for treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, was confirmed after it was revealed that he did not fully pay his taxes while working at the International Monetary Fund. Geithner blamed “careless mistakes” for the underpayment and paid roughly $42,000 in back taxes and interest before he was confirmed.
Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.