There is nothing fun about this week.
Not only do we get up and go to work, we file our taxes.
What’s that you say?
You filed your taxes back in February?
Congratulations. Those of us who pay the piper have put this off long enough. We have to meet our April 15 deadline. Which is actually April 18 this year.
Another example of how screwed up our tax code really is – we can’t even get the date right.
But, as famous actor Wesley Snipes would tell you, if you don’t pay something at some point Uncle Sam will catch up with you.
Snipes didn’t pay any income tax on $50 million and spent two-and-a-half years in jail and got a tax bill for $17 million.
But, curiously, he had not paid for years – and nobody noticed for quite some time.
Recently on the podcast Planet Money, an economics professor noted that we should see people cheating more than they do as there are not enough IRS agents to keep up with all of the “potential cheaters.”
But taxpayers in the U.S. are labeled as “Dudley Do-rights” by the podcasters as our Puritan instincts tell us to pay our taxes every April.
Not so in other countries.
In the Philippines, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is famous for being photographed quite often firing big guns. She aggressively figured out who the top tax cheats were and went after them first. Among those was world-famous boxer Manny Pacqio. The boxer is so famous among his countrymen, he has his own postage stamp.
He also got his bank account and assets frozen as he was taken down for tax evasion.
The following year, tax collections were up 15%. “If they can get the champ, we’d better pay up,” seemed to be the reasoning.
In Italy, tax evasion is so pervasive, the Italian Prime Minister was convicted of tax fraud while running the country.
WHILE RUNNING THE COUNTRY.
You wonder why so many wanted a look at Trump’s 1040?
Seems as though anyone who is anybody in Italy is a tax cheat.
Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana – all found guilty of tax evasion.
But the Italian government didn’t threaten their citizens, they simply checked up on their major purchases for the past year.
It was a simple use of the computer.
If an Italian reported income of $50,000 Euros, but bought a new Maserati during the year – well it might be worth double-checking that Paisano’s income.
Loss of privacy? Maybe.
Gain in tax collections? You bet.
We’re not talking groceries here.
But how tough is it to match major luxury purchases with income?
But in Great Britain they don’t threaten or investigate your life.
They simply ask nicely.
Sending a letter to tax cheats letting them know that “you are in the small minority of your neighbors who has not paid your taxes.”
Like your mother who wants you to call more often, the British simply guilt tax cheats into paying up. And it works.
Here in the good ‘ol USA? I just signed off on my accountant electronically filing my taxes. Got my quarterly estimates. And wrote the check.
I’m just another Dudley Do-right.