Monday, June 22, 2009

Perfectly Legal

While this is clearly and American book, David Johnston's Perfectly Legal is quite an enlightening read. Mr. Johnston, writing firmly from within a market-based philosophy, asks the question, who pays the taxes? Using his investigative reporter skills, what he finds is that while token gestures are made toward the poor, the vast majority of so-called "tax cuts," accrue to the super-rich - the top 1% and the top 1% of the top 1%. In order to recover some of these lost revenues, taxes are actually increased on middle and upper income families. Repeated calls by the public for "tax breaks," and "tax relief" from our "excessive tax burden" only serve to compound the problem. Assuming his figures are correct, the American government is missing out on collecting between $300-$500 BILLION annually. For a more detailed review from an entrepreneurial/business perspective, visit here.

Sadly, even though Perfectly Legal was published in 2003, it has become dated. Moreover, it highlights problems in the American tax system. Linda McQuaig's 1987 book, Behind Closed Doors: How the Rich Won Control of Canada's Tax System ... And Ended Up Richer is a Canadian account of our tax system. I can't find a more recent Canadian book on the market. Perhaps governments should appoint an investigative reporter to provide an annual public report on the state of our tax system.

This CBC story might also interest you if you are interested in the issue of taxes.

Finally, a wee bit of editorial. The Fraser Institute, with its large media-and-marketing budget has recently issued notice that we've reached "tax freedom day." The idiocy of this phrase bothers me to no end. Here are a few alternative names we can celebrate the day by (can you think of more?):

Freedom from Literacy Day
Vetran Support Freedom Day
Freedom from Firefighting Day
Pothole Day
Freedom from Public Education Day
Freedom from Environmental Monitoring Day

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