Uncle Sams’ tax man cometh
It’s that time of year again. The deadline for mailing our duty-bound income tax forms to Uncle Sam is just a week away. Humorist Dave Barry titled an article “The tax man cometh, and he is saying things you will never understand.”
Uncle Sam’s nephews and nieces, especially those in the middle income bracket, who earn too much to avoid paying taxes and make too little to afford paying them. It is a time for prayer and dash of honesty. It is anything but a joke.
In the late 17th century there were few taxes on income or anything else during Uncle Sam’s youth. Taxes on tobacco and snuff, corporate bonds, and slaves were among the earliest taxes. In 1817 a historically wise Congress did away with these taxes. Uncle Sam then relied on tariffs on imported or exported goods to run the government.
But doomsday came in 1913 when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax permanent. The last 98 years individuals and corporations taxes have led the way in keeping Uncle Sam alive.
For reasons I do not fully understand, our 235-year old uncle’s gait has become erratic. He is inconsistent in his complex tax laws and lopsided enforcement. Uncle Sam has staggered somewhat off the straight and narrow; the path of peace and prosperity.
Pat Oliphant, a powerfully influential politician cartoonist, last week drew a citizen reading a newspaper, saying: “What?? I can’t believe it!” The paper reads: “G.E. Pays NO taxes.” He shows the paper to the I.R.S. officials, exclaiming “Heads up, you jerks. As a taxpayer, I want some action on this – right away.” The I.R.S. goes into action and beats up the tax payer.
At the bottom of all Oliphant’s drawings are two tiny birds talking about the cartoon. One bird says, “In Libya they revolt against this sort of thing.” The other, dressed like a 17th century patriot, says, “We used to also.”
This is a stark example of the fundamental unfairness in the formation and enforcement of Uncle Sam’s tax laws. While the vast majority of the citizens struggle to make ends meet, huge corporations like General Electric and others ride the gravy train. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) compiled a list of the ten top corporations that avoid paying or pay almost nothing in federal income taxes.
(EXAMPLES: Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009, and it received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to SEC filings. Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billions in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion. Also Chevron, Boeing, Valero Energy and Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, ConocoPhillips, on and on…)
Two Fridays ago The New York Times printed a story under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.”
Bob Herbert, in his last New York Times’ column before leaving (after 30 years), wrote: “Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.”
Some of Uncle Sam’s kids have “better” lawyers and “smarter” congressmen/women and “clever” connections with the powerful. They lack very little in money and power. What is lacking with these “patriots” is honesty, integrity, openness, and a frank “Me First” attitude. They are very sincere in their way of life – so is a diamondback rattlesnake coming out of the sagebrush.
As the saying goes, drive carefully. Uncle Sam needs every taxpayer he can get because the giant corporations, like G.E., Exxon and their cohorts, are helping turn us into a third-world country while they bask in their riches.