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Tongue back in cheek this week

As I See It

My column last week proposed, with tongue in cheek, that a tax should be assessed on fatness and ugliness. I believe these attributes to be as tax worthy as the proposed tobacco tax. I promised future suggestions for additional taxes to be assessed against undesirable traits and habits in the interest of stamping out politically incorrect behavior through manipulation of the Internal Revenue Code.

I did not expect my next subject for taxation to present itself so quickly. However, the guardian angel of column writers was watching over me and presented me with an irresistible topic.

In addition to the aforementioned arrows in the quiver of political correctness, I now suggest that Congress pass a law TAXING STUPIDITY.

Over the last year, stupid investors were bilked out of $12 million by three Las Vegas-based companies that promised a book of Elvis photographs that would become the official book of Graceland. To lure investors into the deal at $10,000 apiece, the companies also promised additional goodies, including a compact disc featuring a previously unreleased Elvis song. Graceland itself had absolutely nothing to do with this scam.

Alas, while these ninnies were sniffing at the bait, they were also offered a scheme to sell books on Frank Sinatra and Milton Berle plus products ranging from a yogurt maker to a personal fire extinguisher. I suppose the fire extinguisher did it. They flocked to this deal like white on rice.

The FTC was not as impressed with the deal as the investors were. In fact, several weeks ago, they obtained a restraining order that shut down the promoters. The court froze the promoter`s assets so that the FTC can try to recover some of the money for the investors.

During a time when even the simplest of the simples have been raking in untold profits in the stock market, these ding-dongs chose to throw their money away on a telemarketing scam.

If they had voluntarily paid the $12 million to the IRS, at least they would have been entitled to a charitable contribution deduction since contributions to the U.S.Treasury are tax deductible. Just imagine how much pork barreling our congressional leaders could have done with that money! Now it`s in the hands of alleged thieves and reprobates and it is unlikely that the FTC will recover much of it to return to the investors.

Removing tongue from cheek and talking seriously, when will we learn that the fair way to pay for government is to determine how much is really needed and assess taxpayers accordingly for the cost of living in our country. Removing all the bells and whistles, which are designed to convince everyone that the marbles are really coming out of someone else`s bag, would restore a sense of fairness to the tax system.

I am convinced that the Internal Revenue Code must be scrapped and a whole new “FLAT TAX” system implemented. Amending what we have only adds more complexity and is fraught with influence from special interest groups which no congress since the birth of the income tax in 1913 has shown itself able to resist.

A modern-day Boston Tea Party is needed. To the music of a blaring military band, Congress should congregate on the deck of the U.S.S. Constitution and ceremoniously chunk the Internal Revenue Code into the Boston harbor. It could inspire a rebirth of patriotism.

In the meantime, if you are stupid, you better watch out! Some tax-raising junkie might read this column and really try to tax stupidity. Remember, newspaper publishers are exempt.

Thought for the Moment

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

– James 4:6

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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