Posts filed under “Politics”

Tax me if you can!

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You are paying about 15% too much in taxes due to illegal tax cheats. That’s the conclusion of Charles O. Rossotti, who was commissioner of IRS for five years. In a recent interview, Rossotti, a conservative Republican businessman, gave that stunning statistic to Frontline, a PBS show hosted by Bill Moyers.

According to Rossotti, roughly $250-300 billion a year is owed but not being paid. “Which basically means everybody is paying 15 percent more,” says Rossotti. “You could give everybody twice as big a refund, if they average it out, if you just collected all the taxes that are due.”

That missing fortune includes outright tax cheats and frauds and a myriad of underpayments. The biggest single chunk, Mr. Rossotti says, is abusive tax shelters cooked up and marketed wholesale by the very people we trust to keep the system honest — highly respected accounting firms and law firms. Their tax tricks have the veneer of legality but turn the tax code on its head because they generally lack authentic business purpose. “Sham transactions” is what John Chapoton, former assistant secretary of the treasury for tax policy in the Reagan administration, calls them.

The epidemic of illegitimate tax shelters has so seriously infected the tax system in recent years that Larry Langdon, tax director at Hewlett Packard for 10 years, says he recalls “a number of CFOs, CEOs and others who realized it was going on and it was wrong. But frankly, a fair number, almost half of the major companies, were succumbing to that sort of pressure.”

Broadcast info:

Tax Me if You Can
Monday, Feb. 23, 2004 at 1.00 am (Thirteen/WNET New York).

Sources:
PBS: Tax Me If You Can

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tax/

The Great Amercian Tax Dodge

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tax/shelter/oped.html

Charles O. Rossotti, IRS commissioner

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tax/interviews/rossotti.html

Prospects for Reform

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tax/reform/substance.html

Category: Finance, Politics

It’s not whether the Medals matter or not

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Today’s New York Times has an OpEd titled “The Medals Don’t Matter.” It’s by Jake Tapper, who is a well regarded ABC News Correspondent (formerly of Salon). The article reaches the conclusion that voters do not care about the military service of their Presidential candidates.

To reach this feat of logical deduction, Jake focused primarily on the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Presidential elections (and the 2000 GOP primary), and the Military Service of each candidate.

There are many, many analytical errors in his approach, sample size being the most obvious. But let’s focus instead on a very common logic error which seems to catch most people unaware:

Controlling for a single variable instead of many when analyzing complex systems.

I would be oversimplifying the situation were I to call this error, well, a mere oversimplification. But that’s what lay at the heart of this fallacy: Taking an extremely complex and dynamic issue — who won the Presidency and why — and then boiling it down to a single, and in this small sample, mostly minor issue. The author might as well have based it upon how many letters were in the men’s first and last names.

Presidential victories are the result of a far more nuanced and multi-faceted set of factors. This issue deserves to be examined in far greater depth . . .

Read More

Category: Media, Politics, War/Defense

Why the president’s record matters

Category: Politics, War/Defense

More on Job Creation

Category: Finance, Politics

Greenspan Goes to Disneyland!

Category: Finance, Media, Politics

The Capital Spectator

Category: Finance, Media, Politics

Category: Current Affairs, Finance, Politics

Apolitical Fed ?

Category: Finance, Politics

Iowa and Prediction Markets

Markets are not God. To many people, this statement is a form of economic blasphemy. I suggest those people should get over it. In the past, I’ve challenged the issue of how “predictive” markets actually are. I note that many people read what they want into short term jags and twists, despite the obvious limitations…Read More

Category: Finance, Politics

GE’s Welch on Leadership

Category: Media, Politics