updated 4/1/2009 1:32:56 PM ET 2009-04-01T17:32:56

Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius has corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding "unintentional errors" — the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee.

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The Kansas governor explained the changes to senators in a letter dated Tuesday that was obtained by The Associated Press. She said they involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses.

She and her husband paid a total of $7,040 in back taxes and $878 in interest to amend returns from 2005-2007.

Nominees derailed by tax issues
Several Obama administration nominees have been derailed by tax issues, notably the president's first nominee for HHS secretary, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. He withdrew from consideration while apologizing for failing to pay $140,000 in taxes and interest.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., quickly issued a statement supporting Sebelius' nomination.

"Congress is going to need a strong partner at the Department of Health and Human Services to achieve comprehensive health reform this year, and we have that partner in Gov. Sebelius," Baucus said. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gov. Sebelius has the political experience, determination, and bipartisan work ethic to get the job done with Congress this year. She's the right person for the job."

Sebelius is to appear Thursday before Baucus' committee, which will vote on sending her nomination to the full Senate. Sebelius testified Tuesday before the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee before the tax issue became public, getting a friendly reception.

In her letter to Baucus and the top Finance Committee Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sebelius wrote that the errors were discovered after she and her husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge in Kansas, hired an accountant to review her returns in preparation for her confirmation hearing.

Following errors discovered
The accountant discovered these errors:

  • Charitable contributions over $250 are supposed to include an acknowledgment letter from the charity in order for a deduction to be taken. Out of 49 charitable contributions made, three letters couldn't be found.
  • Sebelius and her husband sold their home in 2006 and then took a mistaken deduction for mortgage interest.
  • Insufficient documentation was found for some business expense deductions.

An administration official said Sebelius filed the amended returns before her nomination papers were sent to the Senate Finance Committee. Sebelius advised the committee of the mistakes, and senators requested an explanation, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

In a letter to Sebelius, Baucus and Grassley wrote that they'd reviewed the three years of amended returns and "no additional items were identified that needed to be addressed."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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