In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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, 2005 / 3 Nisan , 5765

Tale of a daring taxman

By Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's nice to know my former accountant isn't in the federal pen anymore.

My taxman from the early 1980s — let's call him Sheldon — is apparently back in Los Angeles doing what he's really good at: working hard to help middle-class people save money on their taxes.

I couldn't get him on the phone when I called his office the other day. But my guess is that Sheldon is not quite as aggressive in looking for tax loopholes as he was when I met him.

Twelve years in federal prison for massive tax fraud can blunt even the sharpest accountant's pencil.

‘Sheldon's Shelters’

Back in L.A. in 1983, Sheldon was a former IRS agent getting rich by democratizing tax avoidance. He was making it possible for hundreds of poor schmoes like me to take advantage of the same legal but shaky tax shelters designed for the wealthy.

I don't remember the details of "Sheldon's Shelters," as we called them. They had something to do with heavy-equipment leasing and rapid depreciation schedules and leveraged write-offs.

All I knew was if I paid Sheldon about $1,000 upfront to do my taxes, I'd get back every dime of federal tax I had paid in the previous three years, plus my 1982 tax bill would be zero. I couldn't wait to sign the forms.

Sure enough, as Sheldon promised, the IRS mailed me full refund checks for 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982. Since I was a part-time copy editor making $21,000, my tax refunds totaled only $11,000. Several of my unmarried workmates' checks added up to $35,000 — $67,000 in today's money.

It took seven years for the IRS to catch up with Sheldon, who was my taxman until he went to federal prison. After two years of living in terror of the mailman, I and hundreds of his clients had to pay back every dollar, plus interest.

My Aprils are no longer so exciting. TurboTax does my taxes now for $40 a year — and never asks if I want to get into the latest tax shelter. But why would I ever risk getting into another one?

My federal bite in 2004 was a meager 6.3 percent of adjusted gross household income. Like most taxpayers in my five-figure income range, I paid more last year in Social Security payroll taxes.

I haven't sold out to the socialists. Like Judge Learned Hand, patron saint of tax consultants, I still believe that arranging your affairs to keep your taxes as low as possible is neither unpatriotic nor immoral.

I also still believe with Frederic Bastiat that the income tax is an act of "legal plunder" and hope to live to see the 16th Amendment repealed and the IRS disappear.

Tax it flat

Meanwhile, until that glorious day, I'm a fan of the Fair Tax, the proposed 23 percent national retail sales tax that would replace all federal income taxes, death taxes, capital gains taxes and Social Security payroll taxes.

The Fair Tax, which is slowly picking up supporters in Congress and among pundits, isn't perfect and it may ultimately raise my total tax bill. It's also revenue-neutral and therefore won't downsize Big Government. But it sounds pretty good for the real world.

Its proponents say, among many good things, that the Fair Tax would benefit the economy, let you keep your entire paycheck and make April 15 just another spring day.

It'll also keep a few daring accountants like my old pal Sheldon out of jail.

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.

JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.


© 2005, Bill Steigerwald