Magazine article The Spectator

Taxable Earnings

Magazine article The Spectator

Taxable Earnings

Article excerpt

New York

April in the Bagel is as good as it gets. The girls are back in their summer dresses, people are crowding the outdoor cafes, and Central Park is an explosion of greens and pinks. Spring, as the song says, is busting out all over.

And the taxman cometh - though not for 41 per cent of NYers. Last week, on tax day, it was revealed that an eye-popping 41 per cent of the state's filers did not pay any federal income tax last year. I don't know the London figures, but I'd guess they'd be about the same. Being on the dole nowadays is good business, and being on the fiddle is the business of today. And the steady rise in the number of people removed from income tax rolls is the best business of all.

Having many children will get you off the list, and if you can guess who is having the fewest children among blacks, Hispanics and whites, I will lend you my boat for a week this summer. Which I cannot do unless I'm on board because EU regulations say so.

Just imagine. I pay for the bloody thing 52 weeks a year and keep a crew year round, which upkeeps the boat. Then one day I feel like lending the boat to a friend for a long weekend, which I did last year to a member of the Spectator family.

Had we been found out, the fines imposed by the bureau crooks in Brussels would have been close to the value of the boat, which is quite high, I may add. The rules say so because Italians and other types rent their boats out and don't declare their profits to the taxman. So the crooks in Brussels decree that the poor little Greek boy cannot lend his boat to anyone, even to the deputy editor of the Speccie, or else. Unless I'm on board, that is. Knowing the deputy editor, she might accept the offer of a cruise as long as I weren't on board, which makes me hate Brussels a little less than I already do.

But back to the Bagel and taxes. It's been proved that it's healthier for an economy to have everyone paying something than to have fewer people paying a lot of taxes. It has to do with having a stake in the game, to ensure everyone cares a bit. Putting a heavier tax burden on the rich reduces investment and job growth. So say people who claim they know. All I know is that the clubs and restaurants are full, taxis are unavailable, theatre tickets ditto, and the lines of steel columns from the Upper East Side toward the Hamptons resemble Guderian's Panzers moving toward gay Paris 70 years ago, except the latter moved much faster.

Yet all one reads about is the fiscal crisis and how the city is about to default. …

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