Recently, public radio had a segment about fine print.
The consensus was that technology has enabled the print to become even finer yet.
It’s not done to save spruce trees.
The purpose is to make selected passages so difficult to read that they aren’t.
The tax code is like that.
Although the print may be large enough, the complexity of words and obscure references turns them to cuneiform.
Like thermodynamics for dummies, you can read it, but you won’t understand it.
Words can be so confusing.
(Look up ‘credit default swap’ then explain it to your neighbor)
But we all understand numbers.
We get the difference between, say, 15 and 35.
Take the struggle over getting Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.
It’s given us a teachable dividend.
He’s attempted to defuse the inevitable outrage by telling us in advance that he pays an effective tax rate of about 15%.
We’ll soon learn that it was even lower; thanks to tax regulations …
( Also known as avoidance schemes)…but let us not haggle.
Let’s thank him.
Mr. Romney has given us the gift of sunlight.
During the coming ground-war of the national campaign, when President Obama is repeatedly called a Euro-socialist, he’ll be comfortable responding, “15%”.
We’ll be advised to look at our tax returns, seeing 28% or 30% or 35% of our taxable ordinary income being paid to the Internal Revenue Service.
We’ll question why Mr. Romney’s not-so-ordinary income gets treated so much more kindly, and not even subjected to the payroll tax.
He and his platoon of accounts, lawyers, lobbyists, and cohorts will try to muddle us with words…investments, long term, job creation, capital flight, appreciation, depreciation, private equity funds, carried interest, venture capital, and words not even known in these parts.
It just may not work anymore.