Monday, April 4

Tax Cheats and the Commish

In a recent column titled "Tax cheaters seem to be prospering" in the Orlando Sentinel, Susan Strother Clark has a lot of fun at the expense of Mark Everson, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Seems the good Commissioner, who used an online tax service to prepare his income tax last year, turned over his tax information to a professional tax preparer this year.

"I felt like I'd just learned my dentist didn't floss or that the guy behind the Publix meat counter was a vegetarian," she writes, "And I never got to the bottom of why Everson took a pass this year, or whether even the IRS commissioner -- a former CPA -- finds the tax system too tough to navigate."

The reason she never got any further with this little discussion is that she and the good Commissioner got onto a discussion on tax evaders.

And, whaddyaknow, they're pretty darned prevalent. A new IRS report, coming less than three weeks before the tax-filing deadline, shows that more than $250 billion in taxes was uncollected by the government in 2001, the most recent year studied.

Massive as it is, the number would have been well over $300 billion were it not for a chunk of change that the IRS recovered.

Still, the stuff left on the table -- or more accurately, under it -- is enough to power the economies of Ireland and New Zealand, with plenty of juice left over for Costa Rica, too.

Tax evasion is a serious problem and guess who gets to pay more because our friends and neighbors refuse to pay their fair share.

Ms. Clarke continues,
Certainly, some of the shortfall cited by the IRS is from honest mistakes and confusion over the tax code. But the bulk of it? My money's behind purposeful misreporting corporations, which shorted the government of $30 billion, according to the report.

But the largest category is with regular people, those of big wealth and modest means, who fail to report what they earn.

'The individual income tax is the single largest source of uncollected money,' Everson said.

And, yep, some of them are the sorts that are, shall we say, a little generous with the deductions, claiming that 1975 Pinto was worth $10,000.

But a far larger problem exists with self-employed people who underreport income.

The commish stopped short of saying the IRS was going after small-business owners. A statement like that would fly in the face of the administration's professed love of entrepreneurs.

Still, there's no denying the stats: Business income among unincorporated outfits was the largest segment of underreported taxes, accounting for as much as $83 billion.

See why we need the FairTax? It is fair -- everyone from the intentional tax cheat to the person who simply makes mistakes on his/her return to the drug dealer to the illegal immigrant to 60 million foreign tourists annually will all pay into the tax system. When everyone pays their fair share, everyone pays less!

I don't understand why everyone in this country isn't writing and calling their congress reps and senators begging them to sponsor HR 25 and S 25. This is the first thing that has come along in my political lifetime (that spans almost 50 years) that works for everyone, and to everyone's benefit -- even the entire US government.

It should be easy to get this passed and it would be, if only the people we elected to Congress actually cared about the people who elected them.

Check it out for yourself at www.fairtax. org. You'll be amazed -- and then go contact your Congresspeople and help us get this passed.

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