Posted by: jessicasmall | July 5, 2007

Fourth of July

While celebrating our nation’s Independence Day, I thought about some of the ideas that make our American experience so great.  As in most countries, we have a system that collects taxes to support the government.  Our taxes raise revenue, and our tax code also supports our nation’s social agenda.  For example, we value home ownership in America, so the tax code allows us to deduct property taxes and mortgage interest.

So, too, do we value good health care, so health insurance is encouraged and businesses that offer their employees this benefit are rewarded…once again with tax deductions. I am concerned at the huge number of self-employed individuals who have no idea of their right to some of the same tax deductions that are available to larger businesses.  I think about an essay entitled, Thoughts on Legitimate Tax Awareness and Avoidance, by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis.  In his essay, Brandeis talks about the different routes he can take to and from his home in Virginia and his office in Washington.  He writes about choosing between taking a toll bridge or avoiding the city’s downtown section altogether and instead crossing the Potomac on a free bridge that is just down the road.
If he were to drive over the toll bridge without paying the toll, he would be committing tax evasion.  If, however, he drives the extra distance to the free bridge, he is using a legitimate method of tax avoidance.  And this choice helps alleviate congestion during the rush hour, so he is performing a useful social service.
Brandeis concludes by noting just what a tragedy it is that so few people know that the free bridge exists. His point rings loud and clear to me:  it is our charge and mission to make everyone aware of that free bridge.  The TASC route has many a free bridge for those who take time to plan their journeys wisely.

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