Tax Bloggers Maule and Kristan: Today’s Required Reading

Tax Bloggers Maule and Kristan: Today’s Required Reading

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required readingTwo of my favorite tax bloggers have published posts today that should be read by everyone. They illustrate nicely the tenor of our times.

In Taxes and Disgust Professor James Maule illustrates the absurd complexity of our federal and state tax laws. In Aviva Girls in Tax Trouble  CPA Joe Kristan sounds a warning about the ubiquitous dangers of the Internet.

Here’s Maule on the mind boggling (and, he says, unnecessary) complexity of Pennsylvania’s Corporate Franchise Tax return (RCT-101):

The taxpayer is required to enter, on line 7, the shareholders’ equity at the end of the current year. On line 8, the taxpayer must enter the shareholders’ equity at the beginning of the current year. The next step is priceless. I’ll quote. “If Line 7 is more than twice as great or less than half as much as Line 8, add Lines 7 and 8 and divide by 2. Otherwise enter Line 7.” Think about that for a while. Pick two random numbers and put one in line 7 and one in line 8. Then figure out the next step.

If you have flashbacks to the SAT or some other standardized test that asked what you would be viewing if the object had a transverse axis more than twice as great as its length but less than half as much as its width, I apologize. It is an averaging device, but why not just average lines 7 and 8? Granted, this is a creature of the legislature and not the people who create the form, but does it really need to be so disgustingly complicated? Why?

It was probably a tax form like this one that compelled Albert Einstein to say, “the hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

And here’s Joe Kristan on the dangers of publishing private information on the extremely public Internet:

Two words of advice, tax cheats: Shut Up!

Sure, you might be proud that you’ve filed bogus tax returns and haven’t been caught yet, but here’s a fact: the IRS can read the Internet. The two women accused of stealing from Des Moines insurer Aviva are just figuring this out, reports the Des Moines Register

Marla Stevens once bragged about how she and her spouse, Phyllis, violated federal tax laws.

“We won’t lie about our marriage on our tax forms, either, filing as the married people we are,” Marla Stevens wrote on a blog in September 2005. “We’ve racked up about a million dollars in potential criminal fines and about a hundred years in potential prison time under the old sentencing guidelines between us – so far.” 

Well, now they know: 

A federal grand jury has indicted the two women on five charges of income tax evasion and conspiracy, as well as filing false tax returns, U.S. Attorney Nicholas Klinefeld said in a news release Thursday.

Joe is not endorsing tax fraud here, just brains. Sadly, though, tax fraud is probably the more prevalent.

This is why I’m heartened by low voter turnouts. I think they increase the chances that we’ll elect the right guy.

About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida