Thanks for "IRS Aims to Make Rebel Pay," the amusing Jan. 4 article on Lynne Meredith; comic relief in the morning is always nice. Meredith uses the phone system (infrastructure built with tax dollars), has electricity in her house (infrastructure also built with public funds), gets in her Corvette (most auto safety advances made with federally funded research), drives on public roads (do I even have to say it?), benefits from a low-crime Orange County community (publicly supported police force) and sends out mailings using the government's post office.
All of these activities are in support of a position that people do not have to pay taxes. No intelligent person wants to pay excessive taxes; however, she wants all of the benefits of a civilized society without paying for any of them. It is nice to see that hypocrisy is alive and well in our country. As for the low-IQ people who have paid her millions for her tax shelters, I hope they are next on the IRS' radar.
Michael S. Varat
Tax avoidance at all levels is growing. There are two main factors driving this trend: the awesome complexity of the tax code and the bad example Congress has set by allowing the practice of offshore tax evasion by corporations to continue unabated. Tax code complexity grows worse every year as Congress imposes new, special provisions. The White House, unfortunately, hasn't shown any interest in the problem. Indeed, it recently dumped Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill shortly after he said tax code simplification was a priority for him.
Congress continues to turn a blind eye to the problem. Indeed, in the recently concluded postelection "rump" session, outgoing House Majority Leader Dick Armey tacked on several special-interest riders to the "must pass" homeland security bill. Thanks to Armey -- and with the apparent, if tacit, approval of the president -- corporations that shirk their tax burden by setting up offshore post office box addresses will be able to get government contracts related to homeland security. Not only is this unfair to corporations that do pay their taxes, it sends a terrible message regarding corporate responsibility and patriotism. Whether you oppose new taxes or believe that new taxes are necessary, every taxpayer should demand that the tax code be fair.
I am a CPA, I have a graduate degree in tax law from USC and I have been in private practice for 31 years. Meredith is not a crusader helping people to legally avoid taxes. She is a con artist encouraging people to illegally evade taxes. Tax rates in the U.S. are among the lowest of developed nations. Our rates would be at least 20% lower if those in our "underground economy" paid taxes on their income.
How can anyone equipped with nothing more than common sense think that they can enjoy the benefits of this country without paying taxes? One of Meredith's followers has the answer -- greed!