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The Debate: What’s to be done about taxes?
by Dannie McConkie
Oct 16, 2011 | 2215 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Commissioner
DANNIE MCCONKIE Former Commissioner
As I thought about what can be done to keep our federal government running in this difficult time of economic downturn, I come up short of a FIX-IT plan. I come up with more questions than answers. As I follow the discussions from Washington, and all the bantering of ideas from those running for federal elected offices, some ideas seem to make sense to me, and some don’t. I am not a tax expert and therefore I have to rely on my instincts to trust those who declare to be knowledgeable and think themselves to be experts. Like many others I read about these things and do my best to understand them. I talk with our elected officials and ask them to share with me their understanding on this issue.

I, like many other citizens, wonder why so many electronic and printed advertisements call out to those who have tax debt which has not been paid, to give their agency a call and they will act as your agent to negotiate a much smaller settlement and save you money – and keep the government off your back. They offer testimonials from satisfied customers with the amount of savings received from the exercise. They tell how much they owed, and how much they paid in taxes to show you why you should consider the same action. This is confusing to me. I see it as a way to circumvent their lawful obligation to pay their taxes. Now I know we all wish the tax obligation would go away, and it is very easy to dislike taxes in any form, yet we expect certain services and protections from all levels of government.

When Gov. Blood was inaugurated as Utah’s governor, he said: ”We in government need to listen to the people, and give them the services and protections, that they desire to have. But you good people of Utah need to give to the government by way of taxation, the moneys that will be needed to provide for your requests. And you citizens need to give the payment of taxes willingly. We promise to be responsible and use your tax money wisely for those requested services. So we call upon the citizens of the state to be realistic of what you ask for.”

In America, the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid is huge. Published estimates put that range from $400 billion to $500 billion annually with another $100 billion lost to offshore accounts. A government study found the typical tax evader is a male younger than 50 in the highest tax bracket, with a complicated return. The findings reported 60 percent of under-reported individual taxes are for business and self-employment income.

At the current rate of doing business by our federal government, we can make the argument that America is broke. We continue to live above our means and have been doing so for decades. Before Thanksgiving, Congress may find they must start reducing how fast our national debt grows. This will be called cuts, but really it will be no more than a slowing of the growth of government. Some believe the goal will be to reduce future deficits by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

A really good way to work toward balancing our budget would be to get people to pay the taxes they owe. Some financial experts believe it would fix half the revenue problem, and with cuts it could actually balance the budget. Those same experts have pointed out that for every dollar spent on enforcement it shrinks the deficit by at least $3. Our President understands this and has proposed $13 billion more in IRS enforcement and compliance to reduce the deficit by $42 billion. It is expected we will see how serious our Congress is about the deficit debt. There are those that believe Congress will not spend any more on the IRS.

Some analysts have asked this question: If we are really as patriotic as we say we are, why is tax cheating such an American pastime?

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November 23, 2011
I sure miss Rob Miller as a columnist. I looked forward to his column and he was extremely well informed for a democrat. Just ain't the same, Clipper. Too bad!
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