Suppose the government decided to place bushel baskets full of cash at every street corner, with the following note: "Please read the attached instructions and take the appropriate amount, if any, from the basket. Write your name, address, and the amount you took on the sign-in sheet. WARNING! We will check one out of every 50 names, and anyone we find taking too much will have to give the money back."
In a recent article in The New York Times, David Cay Johnston details how some sleazy American companies are reincorporating in Bermuda and other countries in order to avoid taxes. Insurance companies led the way a few years ago; and when Congress failed to take action, other patriotically challenged corporations followed suit.
The ploy entails little more than some creative paperwork. In late 2000, for example, Silicon Valley computer-hard-drive maker Seagate Technology turned itself into a Cayman Islands "shell company" called "New SAC," whose operations, Seagate notes in its 2000 annual report, "are substantially identical to the operations of Seagate Technology before the transactions."
Until this February, I had no idea that we had an "assistant secretary of energy for fossil energy," although it turns out there's been one for decades. What does an ASOEFFE do? The current and ninth occupant of this position, Carl Michael Smith, helpfully provided a job description in a January 30 speech to the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia. His role, he said, is to figure out "how best to utilize taxpayer dollars to the benefit of industry."
According to press reports, Republican interest groups are "salivating" over a proposal by Senator Edward Kennedy to reduce the size of the Bush tax cuts. The Massachusetts Democrat wants to eliminate about $280 billion of the $1.35 trillion in tax reductions enacted last year. Kennedy calls for scrapping the cuts in the top three income-tax rates that are currently slated for 2004 and 2006. He also wants to drop the scheduled repeal of the estate tax, offering instead to exempt all but the biggest 0.3 percent of estates.
Andy Sipowicz, NYPD Blue's crusty curmudgeon with a heart of gold, has
taken a second job, and I, for one, am pretty doggone disappointed with the
Since last September, there has been a welcome resurgence of popular support
for public employees, at least the kind epitomized by the brave members of New
York City's police and fire departments. So what were the scriptwriters of NYPD
Blue thinking when they decided to turn the quasi-saintly Detective Sipowicz into
a tax cheat?