Wednesday, March 28

Tax Day Alert: Mandatory Viewing Before Mailing Uncle Sam That 15 April Check

In 2006 Aaron Russo, a veteran music promoter (he brought Led Zepplin to America, managed Bette Midler) and six-time Academy Award-nominated film producer (The Rose, Trading Places, etc.), directed his first documentary, America: Freedom to Fascism. (Click here to view the complete film online).

A film making a huge splash on the internet, AFF tackles some provocative problems America's power-elite have created over the years for this country, to include the federal income tax. In the main, corporate media avoided covering Russo's film. Hollywood also ignored it, a testament to Tinsel Town's growing conservatism.

The 10-minute clip below is an interview Russo conducted for AFF with Sheldon Cohen, a former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner and IRS legal counsel; Cohen literally wrote the book on the U.S. tax code.

So why does Cohen become testy when Russo pushes him to pinpoint the law requiring Americans to send their tax payments each year by 15 April to the U.S. Treasury?

Postscript: NY Times Staff Writer Skewers Elite-backed U.S. Tax Code

New York Times staff writer and author David Cay Johnston arguably is American journalism's resident scholar and "enforcement officer" when it comes to our tax system. In 2003, Johnston published Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else, an eye-popping read for revelations such as this one:

"Since the mid-1970s, there has been a dramatic shift in who benefits from the American economy and who bears the burden of taxes. CEOs, big investors and business owners can delay paying their taxes for years and sometimes escape them almost entirely, while wage earners have them taken from each paycheck. Discreet lobbying by the political donor class has made tax policies and enforcement a disaster. Because of obligations to these donors, Washington has been unable, or unwilling, to fix these problems. The news media have largely ignored official favors to those who are supposed to pay the corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the gift tax. Millions of families expecting tax cuts are losing some or all of them to a stealth tax that was originally enacted only to apply to the tax-avoiding rich, but that now stings single mothers making as little as $28,000."

In the same year Perfectly Legal appeared, Johnston reported on some intriguing court findings from a IRS tax prosecution trial in Memphis of Federal Express pilot Vernice Kuglin. (She briefly appeared in the Russo clip just before his Cohen interview.)

"U.S. jury faults IRS in a dispute over tax evasion"

David Cay Johnston - NYT
Source: International Hearld Tribune

A federal jury in Memphis, Tennessee, has acquitted a Federal Express pilot on six counts of tax evasion after she testified that she had written letters asking the U.S. Internal Revenue Service what law required her to pay taxes but never received a response.

The verdict, reached Friday, brings into question the IRS practice of ignoring such questions, which it regards as frivolous because the first words of the Internal Revenue Code are "a tax is hereby imposed."

The pilot, Vernice Kuglin, 58, filed a withholding statement on Dec. 30, 1995, directing that no taxes be withheld from her pay. From 1996 through 2001 she earned $920,000 as a pilot for Federal Express, but no taxes were withheld, she said Monday. Normal withholding for the period would have been about $250,000.

Federal Express would not say Monday how many other employees had submitted W-4 forms requesting that little or no tax be withheld.

Sandra Munoz, a company spokeswoman, also declined to say whether the company had reviewed its payroll to identify employees who were having no taxes withheld. She did say that Federal Express was complying with all tax agency regulations on withholding.

.... [Kuglin's defense attorney Lowell] Becraft, who 12 years ago was part of a team that won acquittals for 17 defendants in another Memphis [Chattanooga?] tax trial, said jurors told him they had voted, 7-5, for conviction on Thursday. They then told Judge Jon McCalla of U.S. District Court that they were deadlocked. He ordered further deliberations, and the jury voted to acquit on Friday.

Read more

Good luck, tax pilgrims.

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