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Fourth district candidates drop real issues, settle for soundbites and buzzwords

As I See It

There is NO shortage of candidates running for the Fourth Congressional District seat being vacated by Congressman Mike Parker. At last count there appears to be 10 or more in the contest.

In the interest of encouraging legitimate debate on real issues, I hope to deflate the tires of the “IRS issue” some of these characters are planning to chariot to victory upon.

Several of these folk have hitched their rising political star to dispatching the IRS much as one would execute the Thanksgiving turkey. They have picked up on the political clap-trap aired in Congressional hearings last fall that has painted the IRS as an Americanized version of the Gestapo.

This is all NONSENSE.

Please let me reiterate my right to have an opinion of this subject.

I have practiced as a tax consultant for almost 30 years. In that time, I have dealt with literally hundreds of IRS agents from everywhere on issues as minor as $1.21 penalties to disputes involving millions of dollars. I am no stranger to the workings of the Internal Revenue Service.

Other than soldiering, I have never drawn a paycheck from the government and thus my opinion should be reasonably unbiased.

That opinion is that the IRS is like any other large group of people; some are pleasant and hard working and some are not. Most with which I have come in contract with are reasonably motivated professionals who do have the public interest in mind.

Sorry. This column would be much more emotionally appealing if my experience were otherwise, but it is what it is.

Into the maelstrom

With cannons to the right and cannons to the left, let us march bravely into the political arena.

Point No.1. I am wholeheartedly in favor of scrapping the Internal Revenue Code and adopting a totally new system. In my judgment, the tax code is beyond repair. The flat-tax concept has merit and deserves further consideration. Adopting a flat tax will in no way reduce the amount of tax that folks pay; only a reduction in government spending programs — including Social Security — will do that.

Please allow me to preface my second point by saying that I am highly respectful of the legal profession. Attorneys play an indispensable role in furthering commerce and helping maintain order in society. Most of the lawyers are responsible and professional. My comments are not intended to be personal toward the profession, merely observations from the sidelines over a quarter century of living.

Point No. 2. I believe that the quality of our government improves as the number of lawyers in government diminishes.

Lawyers put the tax code into the unintelligible mess it is in. How long would it have taken a teacher, a farmer and a pharmacist to have written the Internal Revenue Code? If they had started the day Judas Iscariot committed suicide they would still be working today.

Carefully consider this matter before you vote to replace Mike Parker with a lawyer.

Point No. 3. Discarding the existing tax code and replacing it with a flat-tax or any other new tax system will not mean the demise of the IRS. Somebody will still have to collect the tax. Did you think the government would simply give everyone a deposit book and ask them to put something in the account when the spirit moved them? Get real folks!

Point No. 4. Discarding the existing tax code and abolishing the IRS will not reduce taxes. Why would it? Will your mother expect less Social Security if the IRS is ridden out of town on a rail? I doubt it.

A first term congressman has very little influence in Washington, much as a freshman in high school. Don`t count on these guys moving mountains. Better to judge their value system and satisfy yourself that they will keep the home folks in mind when the deals start flying.

Mississippians historically return our congressional representatives to office for as long as they ask to be returned. The decision we make this year has long term impact on our state. Look to the quality of the candidate and don`t be fooled by the political demagoguery being sent down from the mountain.

Thought for the Moment

This makes me think of the Irishman whose horse kicked up and caught his foot in the stirrup. “Arrah!” he said. “if you are going to get on, I will get off.”

— Abraham Lincoln

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal.


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