Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Article excerpt

How to improve the tax system

Regarding the April 15 article "The American scheme: pushing the tax envelope:" An unduly complex tax code makes it possible for the wealthy to find loopholes while confusing and keeping many low- and moderate-income households from figuring out how to take legitimate deductions. The best solution is a simple progressive tax on all income with credits only for dependents.

Alternatively, the standard deduction could be set at a flat percentage of income. That would allow many middle- and upper- middle-income taxpayers to take the standard deduction. The latter would reduce the number of returns with itemized deductions to those with very large deductions, which could more closely be scrutinized by the IRS.

Either solution would reduce the enforcement burden, making enforcement more effective. It would also reduce the incentive to divert income to avoid taxes. Michael Bradley BaltimoreProfessor of economics University of Maryland

In "The American scheme: pushing the tax envelope" a tax analyst says that in the past five years, Americans have begun taking taxes less seriously. This change is attributed to "a widespread perception that the government isn't paying attention." As a tax attorney myself, I say that is a false premise. The reason more Americans want to avoid and even evade taxes is that political leaders look only at cost and not at value. Worse, they demonize taxes to get elected by appealing to emotion, not reason. Americans don't know IRS audit statistics. They feel justified in hating taxes because they are taught to hate them. Raymond Myers Nashville

Control of humanitarian aid

Regarding Sarah Kenyon Lischer's April 15 opinion piece "Humanitarian aid is not a military business": The article opens "The installation of a retired general to head postwar operations in Iraq demonstrates the Pentagon's ability to wrest control of humanitarian reconstruction from the United Nations and the Department of State." Can this be true? …

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