Open Phones: Fudging Your Taxes

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yesterday on the show we talked about GE's use of creative accounting to avoid paying income tax. How about you? If you weren't completely honest about your taxes, let us know why. Post a comment here, or call 212.433.WNYC and discuss how you tweaked your return. And, of course, all comments can be anonymous!

Comments [19]


Finally...(obviously this piece really bugged me), why should your callers who admit to committing a crime over the phone be protected through anonymity? If these were murders phoning up, would you have no obligation to hand that information over to the police? Really!

Apr. 21 2011 08:12 AM

Btw: As a middle class, two-income-earner family living in New York City with no assets like a home mortgage, we paid an appalling amount in taxes and we live quite humbly. We should be concerned about how much middle income earners are taxed and where those tax dollars are going (multiple military engagements, for one), but it is really terrible for people to decide that they are justified in basically screwing their neighbor and fellow citizen.

Apr. 21 2011 07:59 AM

This segment was so offensive, beginning with the use of the word "tweaking" instead of lying or committing a criminal act. What is also scary is that the IRS is not able to identify these cheats.

Although I was an Obama supporter, I was shocked that so many nominees in his administration had tax irregularities. That's a bright red flag!

Apr. 21 2011 07:56 AM

Part of the reasons middle class and many working class people feel they are overtaxed is that there are not that many benefits they can depend on. Indeed, if the the likes of Rep. Paul Ryan get their way -- and some ConservaDems may assist them in this, along with Pres. Obama who keeps talking about "shared sacrifice" and "fixing" Medicare and Social Security -- people may not be able to depend on what had been completely dependable: SocSec and Medicare.

In this nation, one must be poor or 65 and over to receive single payer medical care. The rest of us are exposed to the tender mercies of for-profit private health insurance parasites.

Child care? Dependable pensions (we already read about someone whose pension was ruined by criminal behavior by union officials, it appears; I have many friends whose contractually guaranteed pensions were raided by leveraged buy-out corporate raiders and received only pennies on the dollar if anything)? SocSec is the only thing in that area which remains as dependable...situation uncertain in these times.

So, if like most Europeans and Scandinavians, we got good value for taxes, while it might not be fund to pay them, the taxes would mean security.

But, we don't have security...while we do have a huge military complex and wage lots of wars. What's not to like? /snark

Apr. 19 2011 06:29 PM

I believe that our tax system is unfairly overtaxing the lower and middleclass and in general, people who are working for taxable wages. Corporations and businesses routinly take advantage of the many loop holes provided in our tax laws that had been designed to reduce their tax liabilities. In my case, while I was still working full time (in my 70-s) last year, I had began collecting social security in the middle of the year which was added to my taxable income resulting that 85% of it was taxable increasing my tax liability greatly. Being single, I had no other but standard deduction to take. I was angry (and still angry) knowing all the statistics regarding taxation here and considered cheating a little but at the end decided to swallow the 'pill' so I could sleep well. Still I don't believe that our tax laws are fair, that our tax money is well spent. If it was fairer and spent for the public good and benefit, (improving infrastucture, services, etc.)I would be willing to pay more if needed.

Apr. 19 2011 01:14 PM
Edward from NJ

There are plenty of people who really do take a principled stand and refuse to pay their taxes. They do so openly and proudly. They are protesters exercising civil disobedience. The callers here are just criminals.

Apr. 19 2011 12:19 PM
Maureen from NYC

You don't address the real problem of people living in poverty and working off the books to keep from starving or paying their medical. I am a senior and work selling online to make a few dollars to pay my electric bill. Most of the people I know in my position would not pay taxes if they declared their few extra pennies but they would no longer be eligible for the few "entitlement" programs such as student grants for their chlldren, food stamps or ability to get low income housing. The fishermen in New Orleans will be completely destroyed because they cannot make an honest living wage and pay taxes this their compensation will be based on their not quite honest tax returns. The poverty level in America is completely absurd in comparison with what it really costs to live - housing, medical, education, food, utilities. America has become a shadow nation where most of the people I know are often making 1/2 of their income off the books and barely keeping their homes and paying their medical costs. The tax returns are totally confusing and hard to fill in. America is full of people who are in danger of losing their homes, suffering from substandard medical (my brother was on Medicaid and died from lack of decent health care.) This is a country ruled by the rich and greedy. And the world is paying the price in worldwide wars because of the desperation of people who have no money to live in dignity but see others living off the fat of their work. Yes everyone should pay their honest taxes and, in the very short years when I made a living salary I paid every penny I owed but now I can barely live and honesty is not a survival option anymore. I cannot even pay for a movie or a Starbucks cup of coffee and most of my peers are in the same boat with me. The tax system is horribly lopsided and it's incredulous to me that anyone should demand strict adherence to a system that punishs the poor and rewards the rich.

Apr. 19 2011 12:18 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Another comment in repsponse to the caller that commented about how we should use the proper system to object to what's being done to us. I can't afford to compete with GE, Chase Bank, and Archer Daniels Midland. They certainly do have the best congress money can buy - now even more than ever since the Citzens United decision.

Apr. 19 2011 12:14 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

I don't cheat on my taxes strictly due to the risk-benefit analysis. It's not worth the risk. I have NO moral qualms - I am SICK of being ripped off. 1st my pension fund was destroyed by crooked union officials, then the government added regulations to strangle it even further. Next, my pension at AT&T was yanked out from under me for some defined contribution junk. I already had my SS benefits cut back by the increased retirement age when I was in my 20s. Now they want me to continue to support those slightly older than me but tough &*$% for me when I retire. Finally they want to take Medicare away. Listen guys - can you at least use some vaseline?

Apr. 19 2011 12:05 PM
PT from Hoboken

I wish the meme that "middle America" is "overtaxed" would be challenged more... it's just not true. The US has low personal income tax rates compared to most countries in the developed world:
As for the gentleman who said he never took any govt money in "any shape or form"... I was hoping that Brian would ask him if he ever drove on a highway...

Apr. 19 2011 12:04 PM
Henry from Katonah

There is a reason why the tax cheaters are not afraid of being audited- - there is very little chance of that happening.
I do not know if this is still true, but I did some research about 4 years ago and found that that claiming the earned income tax credit increases your chance of being audited - - a classic example of the IRS going where the money is NOT.

Apr. 19 2011 12:03 PM
Justin Flores from New York

I am an independent contractor and a performing artist. I write off everything from socks to music to rent. Senators and congress people cheat on their taxes. Remember how hard it was for the Obama administration to find someone who hadn't cheated on their taxes? Oddly because of my tax classification there are legitimate categories for all my write offs. I just don't claim all income as much of it either cash or under the table.

Apr. 19 2011 12:03 PM
Reggie from Brooklyn

I had to cheat on my taxes to my disadvantage this year. We own a few rental properties and I had to NOT write off certain expenses and pay a higher tax bill in order to get a mortgage refinance. The bank said my houses don't make enough money to justify a refi, but maybe if this year's tax return showed a greater profit I would qualify. Guess what, I qualified.

Apr. 19 2011 12:02 PM
Edward from NJ

It's absurd to think of cheating on one's taxes as a form of protest. When you protest, you want people to know you're protesting and risk the consequences. The follow-up question for "principled" tax-cheats should be, "Are you willing to go to jail for your cause?"

Apr. 19 2011 12:02 PM

Exactly. Fudging is our equivalent to lobbying law makers to our advantage.

Apr. 19 2011 11:56 AM

Well what do you expect--these folks are too busy! You can't expect them to keep track of these things. However, us little folks have all the time in the world NOT to make the mistakes of the truly busy and important.

Apr. 19 2011 11:52 AM
Edward from NJ

If GE is "cheating" by using perfectly legal loopholes, I guess I'm "cheating" by deducting my mortgage interest.

Apr. 19 2011 11:52 AM
snoop from Brooklyn

Are you going to take calls from GE, Chevron and all the other big multinationals that made billions and paid no taxes whatsoever?

Of course, they didn't cheat, they just rigged the system.

Which begs the question: When high rollers can rig the system to their advantage to the extent that they have, how can we really hold the less well off to account when they cheat by fudging their milage deduction?

Apr. 19 2011 11:04 AM

Sales/Use taxes... I buy a ton of stuff on amazon and don't pay the taxes for it. There's legislation moving through Congress that would fix this "loophole," and while on the one hand it definitely worsens the revenue situation for the states, it's: 1) super inconvenient for me to keep track of. 2) I do like the idea that online vendors are at a competitive advantage because they don't have to maintain a store somewhere. The fewer strip malls, the better.

Apr. 19 2011 09:33 AM

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