I take considerable issue with your view (“I volunteer — not,” Accounting Today, Sept. 10-23, 2007, page 6) that voluntary compliance is not part of “the equation.” Certainly more and improved enforcement has been lacking and is much needed. However, the voluntary aspect of our tax system has always been a key element of the United States’ approach to its system of finance. I also strongly feel that it is a key element of citizenship.It has become more and more frustrating to see the rationalization by much of the taxpayer community that non-compliance is not breaking the law, or unethical. Taxpayers are always very willing to avail themselves of aspects of the tax laws that benefit them, yet many routinely flout the simple and common-sense tax laws (this is not an issue of too much complexity of the tax laws), i.e., reporting of all income and deducting only proper expenses, as if just a little bit of non-reporting or a little bit of deduction “fluff” is okay. Apparently, to these taxpayers, “under penalties of perjury” — under which they sign their names — is just a meaningless string of words.
It is a slippery slope that grows steeper and longer with each additional rationalization.
As you and everyone knows, we live in the best country in the world. The citizens of this country have to pay for our way of life, our civilization — all citizens.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Taxes are the cost of a civilized society.”
There are a lot of places where taxes probably aren’t too high — Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan?
Perhaps the people who rationalize not reporting properly, etc., should try a society in which taxes aren’t collected using the voluntary framework of the U.S. To those, as a former president unfortunately said, “Government is the problem.”
It is distressing, at the least, to me that responsible parties of our tax system, you included, don’t embrace the concept of self-responsibility, that paying one’s fair share of taxes is a civic responsibility. Indeed, it’s patriotic. Those responsible parties, you included, should be setting the bar of behavior; responsible parties should be shunning and ostracizing the rationalizing scofflaws, or thus become part of the problem themselves.
Frederick Hutchins, CPA/PFS, MTX, CFP
Kitty Hawk, N.C.
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