Tax & tacks

BY BEAU ELLIOT | APRIL 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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Monday was, as most of us know, Tax Day, and most Americans are today probably still grumbling about their taxes being far too high.

(We’ll note that they are not grumbling about having three extra days to file their taxes because Washington, D.C., had a city holiday on April 15 — the traditional deadline set by the Founding Fathers. Maybe.)

So it’s interesting to note that the Tax Policy Center, in Washington, D.C., estimates that 45 percent of U.S. households will pay no taxes — not because they’re deadbeats or so poor that they earn too little or because they’re multi-multimillionaires and can afford really sharp tax lawyers (though of course, that does occur), but because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have stuck enough tax loopholes into the law that middle-income people can use them and owe nothing.


Then again, the top 400 households went from paying 26 percent of their income in 1992 to around 16 percent in 2007, according to tax analyst Joseph Thorndike on public radio’s “Marketplace.”
Hmm again.

If we Americans are serious about cutting budget deficits, we could probably afford to pay a bit more in taxes. Because, as Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times pointed out last week, the Republican plan for the budget put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin involves only cutting and cutting and cutting spending (not to mention killing Medicare) and still envisions budget deficits well into the 2030s.

Speaking of hmm.

On another note, I see many are making fun of Vice President Joe Biden for nodding off during a speech by President Obama last week. How dare he? Doesn’t he realize he will hold the reins of government if something happens to Obama? (And why do we, here in the 21st century, still say “reins of government”? That sounds so 19th century.

(Of course, if some Supreme Court justices have their way with things, we’ll all live in the 18th century. This line of thinking should probably be reined in before we find ourselves contemplating Joe Biden holding the app of government. Which is a scary thought, but not as scary as contemplating Mitt Romney holding the app of government.)

We should remember, in fairness to Biden, that the previous occupant of the office (code name: Stealth Rawhide) pretty much slept his way through his terms (code: The vice president is in a secure location). Pretty much slept, that is, except when he was yelling at intelligence analysts or shooting guns. (Well, there was one occasion when he discharged a firearm when he was apparently asleep. The details remain unclear; Stealth Rawhide might have been in a secure location.)

And in other news, David Foster Wallace’s new book has come out, posthumously, though in his case, post-humorously may be the case. He was a witty writer, from time to time.

However, the first time I tried to read Infinite Jest, I quit in disgust at page 175 and loaned the novel to somebody I didn’t like all that well. (It’s around a 600-page book, in paperback.) I never got the book back, which is what happens often when you lend a book, and I cried many tears.

Well, OK, maybe one. It might have been a crocodile tear, but I have to admit, I’ve never seen a crocodile, let alone seen one cry.

The second time I tried to read Infinite Jest, I quit at page 176, congratulated myself on crossing the 175-page Rubicon, and threw the book, left-handed, across the room and crashing through a window (don’t try this at home).

Breaking it utterly.

That turned out to be less expansive than I had first thought: My landlord had no more love for Infinite Jest than I did. He did, however, have a certain love for the integrity of his windows.

I wonder if I could get a tax break for that window.

Just jesting.

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