Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 12, 2013/ 2 Iyar, 5773

U.S. tax code, 74,000 pages, lots of laughs

By Deroy Murdock




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As the Monday, April 15, tax-filing deadline mercilessly approaches, millions of Americans will cry as they calculate what they owe Washington and then fork it over. But amid those tears there will be plenty of laughs. The U.S. tax code is so tangled and twisted that University of Florida law professor Steven Willis speaks amusingly about "tax humor." While not exactly the stuff of stand-up routines, America's surreal tax code is a masterpiece of dark comedy.

When Florida started its graduate tax program in the College of Law, Willis recalls: "One requirement of the graduate school was knowledge of a foreign language. Well, that just wasn't going to work. Then, the faculty showed the graduate school the Internal Revenue Code, and they said that would do."

Willis points to section 467(e)(1), which concerns pre-paid rent. It reads:

"The term 'constant rental amount' means, with respect to any section 467 rental agreement, the amount which, if paid as of the close of each lease period under the agreement, would result in an aggregate present value equal to the present value of the aggregate payments required under the agreement."

"I love the sentence because of the poetry," Willis says. "I always have a student read it aloud and watch the faces."

Also lovely is section 509(a), which defines private foundations:

"For purposes of paragraph (3), an organization described in paragraph (2) shall be deemed to include an organization described in section 501(c)(4), (5), or (6) which would be described in paragraph (2) if it were an organization described in section 501(c)(3)."

The tax code's treatment of gambling is a hall of mirrors. IRS Form 730 covers "excise taxes for both legal and illegal wagers of certain types. For state-authorized wagers placed with bookmakers and lottery operators, there is a tax of 0.25 percent of the wager, if it is legal. If the wager is not legal, the tax is 2 percent of the wager."

So, one must pay legal federal taxes on gambling revenues obtained illegally under state law.

The tax code defines contest thusly: "A contest is any competition involving speed, skill, endurance, popularity, politics, strength or appearance, such as elections, the outcome of nominating conventions, dance marathons, log-rolling contests, wood-chopping contests, weightlifting contests, beauty contests and spelling bees."

Log rolling? Wood chopping? This gets deep into Monty Python territory. They're lumberjacks, and they're OK!

The tax code is a museum of run-on sentences. Just the first sentence of section 509(a) -- on private foundations -- contains one period, three semi-colons, six dashes, nine parentheticals and 25 commas. Professor Willis sees 327 words in that sentence. I find 373, using Microsoft Word's word-count function. Perhaps it depends on what the meaning of the word "word" is. MS Word considers "170(b)(1)(A)" a word. I would call it something else -- although that word fails me.

A 373-word sentence is a mere monosyllable compared to the totality of the U.S. tax code. The "CCH Standard Federal Tax Reporter" includes every page of the code, plus the swarm of regulations, decisions and other fine print that govern federal taxes. CCH estimates that the tax code spanned just 400 pages when Congress imposed the income tax in 1913. By 1984, as Ronald Reagan chopped rates and streamlined the tax thicket, it stretched to 26,300 pages. Today, the U.S. tax code runs 73,954 pages. That equals 57 copies of Vintage Classics' 1,296-page edition of "War and Peace." And the only thing more hilarious than Tolstoy's saga is 57 copies of it, standing side by side.

Meanwhile, the Tax Foundation reports that Tax Freedom Day will fall on Thursday, April 18. That is five days later than last year. So, the biggest joke of all is that if you pay your taxes on April 15, you still must pay your taxes. You will owe Uncle Sam three more days of hard labor in 2013 before you start working for yourself.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.



Previously:

04/05/13: Obama should share in Americans' sacrifices

03/29/13: Karl Rove has no right to lecture conservatives

03/22/13: Black votes could be GOP's secret weapon

03/15/13: Dems, choose between rhetoric, reality

03/08/13: GOP leaders need courage and stagecraft

03/01/13: Sequester should chop federal fat, not bone

02/22/13: Chuck Hagel's Greatest Hits

02/08/13: Control government's guns

02/01/13: GOP lacks guts, imagination on spending cuts

01/25/13: How to guarantee the rich flee

01/18/13: Limitless and lawless bipartisanship

01/11/13: The most frightful environmental nightmare isn't

01/04/13: 'Fiscal cliff' leaves GOP dazed, confused and fractured

12/21/12: How sad that nearly every Democrat and too many Republicans cannot grasp a concept self-evident even to a Cuban Communist

12/07/12: A simple fact on which every American should meditate

11/30/12: GOP should hammer Left about racism

11/21/12: How Squanto became a Thanksgiving symbol

11/09/12: Obama's re-election bewilders

11/05/12: Actually, Obama is growing the economy

10/26/12: Romney's ignored Mitt-zvahs

10/19/12: Obama's most dangerous disappointment

10/12/12: About Behghazi, Obama lied, people died --- and few bother to cry (out)

10/05//12: Obama the exacerbater

09/28/12: Barack Obama, slacker-in-chief

09/24/12: Citizens or subjects? Candidates offer choice

08/17/12: Dems ignore own issues with Medicare

08/13/12: Speech Romney should give on Bain

07/20/12: Obama's green projects bleeding red

07/13/12: EPA, why fine oil firms over fantasy biofuel?

07/06/12: How about remembering Mexican victims of 'Fast and Furious'?

06/29/12: Health-care victory will give Obama headaches

06/22/12: Mitt Romney, get on bus

06/18/12: The 'racist' Florida vote purge obeys federal law

06/08/12: Scott Walker's win should propel big reforms, stiffen pols' spines

06/01/12: Regulators regulate, and that's a problem

05/25/12: WWII hero Karski to receive U.S. Medal of Freedom

05/18/12: Not the behavior of normal Americans

05/18/12: Spacemen to NASA: Cool it on global warming

05/04/12: Libs want to plunge the penthouse

04/27/12: Obama and company are pushing hard on the pedal for deadlier cars

04/20/12: We don't need no stinkin' budget?

04/14/12: New Reasons to Hate Obamacare

04/06/12: Team Obama plays energy policy for laughs

03/30/12: Twitchy Dems need to let workers put tax-cut money in retirement funds

03/23/12: Why not $100-an-hour minimum wage?

03/15/12: The real (high) cost of Obama's health care act

03/09/12: Race-baiting Dems oppose voter ID

03/02/12: Forget kids --- today's debt hurts adults

02/24/12: Dems arise against Obamacare

02/17/12: The voting dead are understated

02/10/12: Holder takes on 'racist' photo-ID cards: Prejudice is widespread --- even Obama backed them

02/03/12: On tax plans, Gingrich trumps Romney

01/27/12: Photo IDs can protect elections, let dead rest

01/20/12: Romney runs hot and cold on global warming

01/13/12: Economic freedom declines in U.S.

01/06/12: Time to yank off Mitt's mask

12/23/11: Boehner hands Dems a gift

12/15/11: The U.S. could learn much from Hong Kong

12/09/11:$687 billion is available to Congress free of strings

12/02/11: Obama criticizes Wall Street but takes money from it

11/18/11: Puerto Rico shows Washington the way

11/11/11: Take heed, America: In Ohio even left-wing unionists voted to repeal ObamaCare

10/28/11: Thanks, Netanyahu, for surge of hardened terrorists

10/24/11:The Obama Spend-O-Rama

10/17/11: Cain stakes his viable claim just by showing up

10/07/11: Green jobs are national scandal

10/04/11: Obama proudly declares class war

09/23/11: Obama wrong about ‘Do-Nothing’ Congress

09/16/11: Obama needs Ryan's vision on jobs

09/09/11: Reaganomics trounces Obamanomics

09/02/11: Labor leaders to Obama: Stop killing jobs

08/26/11: Pro-market Perry vaults over Romney in GOP race

08/19/11: Some rich Americans will not rest until Washington boosts their taxes

08/12/11: Hope, change and free birth control for all

08/05/11: Debt deal does virtually nothing

07/21/11: Dems pro-choice on abortion but little else

07/15/11: Debt deception: If only Dems were honest and GOPers were courageous

07/08/11: Congress' war on light bulb blows up





© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast