You know our tax system has gotten completely out of control when even people like Senator Tom Coburn (R-17th Century) are condemning it.
David Kocieniewski writes a very useful and readable article about the tax strategies the most wealthy among us use to avoid paying their share of taxes.
"An examination of public documents involving Mr. Lauder’s companies, investments and charities offers a glimpse of the wide array of legal options for the world’s wealthiest citizens to avoid taxes both at home and abroad."
Just how bad are things?
"The tax burden on the nation’s superelite has steadily declined in recent decades, according to a sliver of data released annually by the I.R.S. The effective federal income tax rate for the 400 wealthiest taxpayers, representing the top 0.000258 percent, fell from about 30 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2008, the most recent data available."
My money is on that figure continuing to drop after 2008. It is great to see the efforts of all of these economic patriots to work for themselves and not their nation during this time of crisis. Lauder, unlike others, at least has provided some public benefit through a few of his tax-avoidance strategies. But that isn't a high bar to clear.
That brings us to Senator Coburn, someone with whom I rarely ever find reason to find common cause. But on this issue — this specific issue — we can agree.
“This welfare for the well-off — costing billions of dollars a year — is being paid for with the taxes of the less fortunate, many who are working two jobs just to make ends meet, and i.o.u.’s to be paid off by future generations,” said Senator Coburn…"
That is a sensible position. Alas, despite the deficit hysteria gripping Washington, D.C., reforms on this subject probably remain off the table.
Although I think the fact it is even being discussed at all is a small, but perhaps growing, victory for the Occupy movement.