Thursday, March 1, 2012

Seeing Red

Filing taxes is the annual reminder that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have any legitimacy on policy issues relating to taxes.  I did my civic duty this week with the assistance of software.  The tax code is so complex that unless you have the simplest of situations either a tax preparer or an interactive computer program is needed to sort through all of the various options.  After many hours of answering totally irrelevant questions (that the dang Turbo Tax should already know after all the years we’ve spent together) I got an error message I haven’t before.  “A tax return with the same Social Security number has already been submitted.”  

Joy to the world.  My doppelganger is under the illusion that it’s 2007 and not 2012 when my (financial) identity might have been worth stealing...or even borrowing.  Hopefully my situation is just this year’s system glitch from Intuit.  The Federal Trade commission reported this week that $1.52 billion is bilked from 1.8 million people each year.  The FTC said:  “Government benefits fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft, at just over one in four cases.” 

That actually makes sense.  Approximately 125 million people receive a government check (29 million welfare/food stamps, 28 million unemployment, 11 million federal & government employees, 2.8 million military, 54 million social security) .  That’s nearly half of the American population.  (The actual breakdown is likely less than half given that somebody might be receiving multiple checks from multiple agencies.)  So it makes sense for thieves to go where the money is.

President Obama has been accused of being a socialist.  In popular parlance socialism is equated to communism – a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, stateless society structured upon common ownership of the means of production.  As much as I disagree with nearly all of the President’s policies, he is not a socialist.  In fact his policies are often the polar opposite. 

Statism describes the belief that government should control either economic or social policy or both to some degree.  This makes both the President and the eventual Republican nominee political doppelgangers.  There has been and will be plenty of political rhetoric about taxes and protecting Americans in this election season claiming a wide gulf between the two.  Much of it is noxious gas.

The practice of the Republicans and Democrats is markedly different from their stated goals.  Rewards are built into the tax code for companies and individuals to behave in certain ways.  Some call them incentives.  Others call them loopholes.  No matter the descriptor, it is government incentivizing action through financial benefit.  There are 71,684 pages in the tax code.  In 2006 there were 16,845 pages.  No wonder the tax preparation field is a growing industry.  2013 marks the centennial of the introduction of the modern day tax code.  Wouldn’t it be a good time to put it out of our misery?

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