All sorts of press releases and product announcements come my way throughout the course of a week, besides all the material I go out seeking to consider running on WebCPA.
There's no complicated formula I use to decide what gets put up on the site, most days, it simply comes down to trying to find the top five stories of the day -- hopefully turning up something of interest for everyone somewhere within those stories for . Some days, there's more material to sift through than on others, and inevitably, some stories that might have made it on one day can be deemed too regional, or of uncertain impact, and are set aside for a slower news day. On occassion, the timeliness of those so-so stories eventually diminishes, and they never make it to publication.
One of those stories that never made the cut first appeared on my radar in February, via an article in the New York Post, and again found its way into my Inbox last week thanks to a press release.
Multimillionaire Charles Merrill -- a man long about the New York social scene, whose cousin founded Merrill Lynch and whose late wife was the only daughter of Johnson & Johnson's founder -- has refused to file his tax returns for 2004 or 2005 and has launched a Web site lobbying other wealthy gays to join him in his protest against efforts to ban gay marriage (http://www.gaytax.org/).
In a letter to the Internal Revenue Service, posted on the Web site, the 71-year-old Merrill writes that he is not evading taxes but merely resisting them. "I expect to suffer the penalty of my civil disobedience," he wrote.
Now residing in Hendersonville, N.C., it doesn't appear that anyone has yet to join the eccentric Merrill in his quest to change the tax code to allow gay couples to benefit from what he quotes as the Government Accountability Office as saying are more than 1,000 tax incentives and benefits of marriage.
"If I was a young man with a 9-to-5 job, I wouldn't be able to do this ... but I've been around the world three times, and I've sat next to all the movers and shakers," Merrill told the Post. "What else have I got to do? A lot of people around me are starting to die having not really done anything in their lives. I really want to try to make a difference while I'm still around."
Whatever your view on the issue of gay marriage, I thought his crusade and his colorful, actually quotable quotes -- a true rarity for most releases that cross my desk -- made for an interesting twist in the normal day of tax news. His release and accompany Web site are far from showcasing the normal degree of public relations savvy, and have yet to be picked up by the mainstream press, but it'll be interesting to see what his next step is as the IRS continues knocking.
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