June 19 Mail: Accessible Buildings and the IRS
Buildings Unfriendly to Disabled People
Thanks for the article on the disabled-unfriendly new Downtown buildings [“Access Denied,” May 8]. I was actually shocked a few months ago when I arrived for jury duty at the new courthouse. I couldn't believe that it wasn’t a building constructed 100 years ago, but rather recently! The first thing to strike me was the imposing number of steps just to get to the front door. (Luckily, jurors get free transportation from their assigned parking a mile away, or the parking would have been a hassle as well.) The inside had many unfriendly things about it as well, most of all the “lavishness” of it (far too many frills on which money was wasted) which required lots of walking through the halls. And I could go on and on about our disabled-unfriendly library, again a new building; I was surprised about that when I first went there (and still am).
IRS Scandal Not What It Seems
The latest political controversy being stirred up in Washington over the IRS, though exciting animosities among a hysterical, paranoid and loud minority, is actually a less than subtle manipulation.
For those who have not been paying attention, the Republican Party has become the ardent defender of the One Percent and their attempt to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Before I go on, I would like to clear up a couple of misunderstandings. The term One Percent is not intended to be taken literally. When we talk about the extraordinarily wealthy, we are not talking about the guy who lives up the street who worked hard his whole life, saved his pennies, and now has a Harley and a couple of rental houses. It’s more like the 0.25 percent who make tens of millions of dollars or more a year, as corporate lawyers, CEOs and mutual fund “managers.” The other misconception is that the disparity between rich and poor has always existed in America. Over the past four decades, it's been growing to the point that the disparity has never been greater.
Anyway, it turns out that the .25 percent is hiding as much as $10 trillion from the U.S. government in unpatriotic, unethical and possibly illegal offshore accounts. President Barack Obama has pledged to eliminate the tax loopholes that allow this, as well as other tax cheats to avoid paying their fair share. In fact, the reason the Republicans and Democrats still haven’t decided on a budget is because “Conservatives” do not want their wealthy masters to be subjected to the scrutiny of the IRS.
So, since the GOP overwhelmingly lost the presidential campaign in 2012, partly because of their refusal to raise taxes on the wealthy, they have circumnavigated the will of the American people and relied on petty politics to do the job instead. By asserting that the IRS is a political arm of the Democrats, they're trying to destroy the efficacy and reputation of the group charged with bringing these cheaters to justice.
The ironic thing is that, in reality, the Republicans actually did this to themselves. The reason the Internal Revenue Service was “profiling” these groups is because they were understaffed and hadn’t the manpower to take every new case on its own merit and were forced to streamline things. This, of course, is the result of cost-cutting to government agencies sponsored by none other than the Grand Old Party. Proves the old adage about being your own worst enemy.
Fair Tax Would End IRS Problems
The Backpage Editorial by Susan Aertker on moving the approval of nonprofit tax status from the IRS to a new federal agency is a very good idea [“Remove the IRS from the Equation,” May 29]. That said, there is another way to make sure that there are no concerns about tax-exempt status: the Fair Tax.
By eliminating the income tax, the Fair Tax makes the whole issue of approving nonprofits for tax exempt status a moot point. All organizations will still need to register within their state(s) to make sure they follow state fundraising laws and that for a 501(c)(3)s the proper amount of money is given to charity. However, there will be no questioning their purpose or disclosing of members, except for a 527, which will still need to follow federal and state election laws as enforced by the Federal Election Commission and state attorneys general.
Regarding the question "Will people still give to charity if the deduction goes away?", the answer is arrived at historically in the book “Fair Tax: The Truth.” During the period from 1980 to 1987, the marginal (top) tax rate fell from 70 percent to 28 percent. In that time, the amount donated to charity increased from $43 billion to $88 billion. In 2003, according to “Giving USA 2004,” charitable contributions totaled $243 billion while, according to IRS data, the total of charitable deductions filed was $145.7 billion or 61 percent of the giving. The data also showed that only 30 percent of taxpayers filed itemized tax returns.
Most Americans give to nonprofits because they are worthy causes and not to get back a fraction of each dollar spent. Because of this spirit of giving, the Fair Tax should not negatively impact nonprofits. In fact, the hundreds of billions in additional funds that the taxpayers keep upfront and the trillions of dollars that return from offshore tax havens will provide a much larger base of donors.
The Fair Tax is the best answer to ending the recent IRS abuses.
Bruce A. Fouraker