Friday, April 3, 1998 started normally, a beautiful, bright, sunny spring morning. The sky was clear, the air crisp. It ended far from normal. I don’t remember if clouds appeared in the sky that day, but they did in our lives. Melissa would have been 37 yesterday. But, she will forever be 19. This is all I have to say about that.
For right or wrong, bringing about real tax reform is important—scratch that—critical for all Americans. Many of the injuries America sustains are self-inflicted by our tax system. I believe that the cause of many of our problems can be traced to the completely dysfunctional IRC. We aren’t just shooting ourselves in the foot with our tax system; we are playing Russian roulette with only one chamber empty!
Yesterday, the White House trumpeted (pun intended) Donald Trump's UNIFIED FRAMEWORK FOR FIXING OUR BROKEN TAX CODE. Tweeting to all who would read, shouting to all who would listen, the White House extolled this plan as TAX RELIEF AND SIMPLIFICATION FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES. I am skeptical. Short on details and long on hyperbole, you be the judge. The proof, as they say, will be in the particular pudding.
Yesterday, many Americans witnessed an historical event, a total solar eclipse. Not to play on words, but, given the lunatic that occupies the White House, America has been a sort of total Lunar/solar eclipse since November 8, 2016.
Trump claims to “love our vets.” He makes this claim as often as he can, whenever in range of a camera or microphone. As a veteran, my reaction is, “Yeah, right. Blow it out your, well, you know…” What follows are some of the many reasons I feel this way.
Gilligan's Isle offered real humor, slapstick comedy behind the tragedy of a shipwreck. Sadly, there will be no comedy behind the election of Donald J Trump, just tragedy on top of tragedy. Read this ditty to the tune of Gilligan's Isle. Enjoy.
I couldn't help myself. When various agencies reported that Trump's new campaign CEO was registered to vote at an empty house, I decided that prompted some lyrics. With apologies to Victor Hugo, Herbert Kretzmer, Alain Boublil & Claude-Michel Schönberg, I wrote Empty Heads in Empty Houses.
Professor Morris Massey coined the phrase, “What You Are Is Where You Were When.” That phrase offers an appropriate explanation of our tax code. The Internal Revenue Code is a by-product of the events, laws, and opinions from our past. What follows is a description of when it was what it was—a chronological listing of the major events and changes to our tax code that brought us to our current federal tax structure.
For my dad: a father, brother, son; an uncle, granddad and grandson; a friend to all; a veteran: a hard-working American patriot. A good man. As Toni described, one of too few good men. No, Uncle Keith, unlike you, dad was not a marine. Rest in peace.
We have all heard, or used, the adage that "Two Wrongs Don't make a Right!" Mathematicians might well ask, "if two negatives make a positive, why don't two wrongs make a right?" Regardless, in this year of "strangepolitics.com" two rights actually produce one wrong - Donald J Trump.
A common, well-known adage says something like, "where there's smoke, there's fire!" This suggests that, if you suspect something is wrong, it probably is. If you see smoke, there is probably a fire burning somewhere. Well, to be blunt, smoke is pouring out of the Donald J Trump campaign. And, frankly, I think a fire is raging just beneath the surface.
The F-Word! To borrow a Trumpism, The F-Word is a book that "tells it like it is!" How Our Tax Code Is Failing American Taxpayers—and Why! Out of sheer frustration, I find myself uncharacteristically muttering the F word more frequently these past few years. Often, my clients do more than just mutter. Typically, the "F" word is used to describe actions taken by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the arbitrary, unfair result of a provision of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
Many Trump supporters argue that their support is based on their candidate "telling it like it is." But he doesn't really do that. He uses catch phrases, populist slogans, that appeal to our basest instincts. He tells us what we want to hear. To borrow from Al Gore, the inconvenient truth is that, of all of the candidates, he tells it least like it is.
Many years ago, an advertisement posed the question, "Is it real or is it Memorex?" Many users of social media are too young to remember that ad for Memorex Tapes. The question subtly suggested their tapes were so good you couldn't tell the difference between a Memorex recording or a live session. Currently, there is some confusion over the issue of who, or what, is the real Donald J Trump. The question is reasonable given the allegations that attendees at Trump University took photos with a Trump cardboard cut-out. The real answer is offered at the end of this blog post.
Everyone talks about the problem of illegal immigration. And, while we can use the term "illegal immigration" it has become politically incorrect to use the term, "illegal immigrants." Please pardon me if I do not adhere to PC terminology.
Maybe we could just post a sign, like "No Trespassing", or, for those Trump supporters, something a bit less politically correct, like, "Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be prosecuted."
So much for "give me your tired, your poor!" Lady Liberty, long the iconic figure that was America, must be awash in her own briny tears, standing less proudly on Liberty Island.
Senator Bernie Sanders has been feeling the Bern. Fed up with the status quo, he punctuates all of his speeches with the phrase, "Enough is Enough!' He isn't the only person to have used that phrase. And now, today, I use it to urge my fellow Republicans to consider what they are doing. Regarding Donald Trump and his blustery tirades, I urge every Republican voter to conclude, "enough is enough!"
The current front runner for the Democrats is a septuagenarian democratic socialist. For the Republicans, the leader of the pack is a Reality TV actor, ego-maniacal billionaire. Can the message be any clearer? In the two elections concluded thus far, voters have sent a loud and clear message to both major political parties. The key question is, "are they listening?"
This weekend is a busy time for most Americans, preparing big dinners, putting up holiday lights, shopping. It's an eat 'til you sleep, shop 'til you drop kind of holiday. But keep in mind what this holiday represents. Remember its roots. Find time to be thankful and to thank those around you for the things they have done for you. And never forget, despite any challenges you may face, others face an even greater Waterloo. Happy Thanksgiving!
Thankfully, the vast majority of Americans do not know what it means to serve, to wear the uniform of this great nation. That is a good thing. But, all of us, those who have served, and those who have not, must never forget the sacrifice made by those who "dared to take the oath." George Washington said it best, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."
What is it that we have in front of us? What does the current crop of Presidential candidates offer regarding tax reform? Do we have a smorgasbord – a feast with many different tax savings from which taxpayers can serve themselves? Or, do we have a potpourri – a mixture of unrelated objects or subjects, which, like the more traditional potpourri, is offered to create a pleasant fragrance – and, which is more often used to mask a foul stench.
It's a matter of debate whether Sen. Everett Dirksen ever made a statement often attributed to him - A billion here, a billion there, next thing you know we're talking about real money. Regardless, the federal government is now so large that rounding has been eliminated. We truncate numbers instead. Thousands of dollars, indeed millions, are simply pocket change, lost in the shuffle. Numbers provided in this blog are subject to debate. But they are so large that the debate doesn't matter. If the 2006 deficit is only $248 billion instead of $500 billion, it's still huge. And if the tax gap, of necessity an estimated number, is only half as large as I suggest, it is also still huge.
As a duplicate bridge player, I find One No Trump to be among the most powerful opening bids. In the methods my partner and I use, it is the best opening bid we have. I find this oddly prescient as a Republican. That same term can be correctly applied to the coming primary season. What follows are my thoughts on last night's Republican debate.
We have become so politically correct that it is hard to talk about anything in America today, least of all immigration. To call America (I understand there are even those who say we should not use that word as it demeans South America) a land of immigrants is said to devalue and diminish native Americans. Well, I know that my family hailed from points across the ocean centuries ago, as did most families that I know. Dennoch, hier gehe ich. (my very poor German is my attempt to pay tribute to my family heritage). Es tut mir leid , wenn ich Sie beleidigen.
In the army, we used to say "dazzle em with brilliance or baffle em with BullS--t." Since passage of the 16th Amendment, Congress has enacted more than 50 major tax laws baffling American taxpayers. But they do keep trying. The process reminds me of an old sports adage, “Keep running that play til you get it right.” And Congress does not have it right yet. In a continuing effort to get it right, Senator Marco Rubio, together with Senator Mike Lee of Utah, has proposed the Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan.
This past weekend, my wife and I visited the 9-11 Memorial in NYC. This was my fourth trip to ground zero and third to the memorial. It was my wife's first visit to the memorial. I was struck by her emotional reaction. Even she said she was surprised by just how much the memorial affected her. On our drive back home, she said it was the most moved she had been by any memorial. If you have not been, should you ever visit NYC, you owe it to yourself to visit this powerful, yet sensitive and moving tribute.
In today’s political milieu, Americans can have the best of both tax worlds. Not to be outdone, Sen. Rand Paul has put forth a Siamese twin proposal for tax reform that adopts the advantages of the two proposals discussed previously. His plan is Fair. AND, it is flat. All for One and One (tax rate) for All!
I am always somewhat skeptical when I read a sign on a clothing rack that claims “one size fits all!” It may fit many; it may even fit most; or it may fit everyone who falls in a certain subset of body types; but it will never truly fit all. Likewise, it seems to me that one tax rate does not fit all taxpayers. But many believe this idea offers the best remedy to the dilemma caused by the current, confused tax structure.
I have to get out the whetstone for that tool in the shed because I have never quite understood the frequently used marketing slogan, “buy now and save.” To me, it is more correctly stated as “buy now and spend.” Regardless, it now looks as if some tax reform proposals advocate this same approach, arguing in favor of a tax on purchases. Buy now—pay the tax—now! One such proposal is the Fair Tax.
This blog begins a series of posts examining proposed alternatives to our existing federal income tax structure. I recognize that valid ideas may exist other than those I present. I do not rule out any as a possibility. While the solution may be uncertain, we must select from one of these or develop and implement another. What is certain is that we cannot maintain the status quo.
The term "The F word" has become commonplace. While watching the news last night, I heard it used three times. Not the "F word" but the term "the f word." I have written a book, titled "The F-Word", to describe our failed tax policy. What follows is a tongue in cheek essay using 185 "F" words (not THAT one) to describe our tax code and failed tax reform efforts.