The Great American Tax Dodge: How Spiraling Fraud and Avoidance Are Killing Fairness, Destroying the Income Tax, and Costing You

Donald L. Barlett, Author, James B. Steele, Joint Author, Donald L. Bartlett, Author Little Brown and Company $22.45 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-81135-4
A hard-hitting expose of perceived gross inequities in the U.S. tax system and of the current epidemic of tax fraud, this often shocking report could prove to be a bestseller, as was the authors' America: What Went Wrong?, published in 1992. Every year, more than 10 million Americans (by the government's own conservative estimate) fail to file federal tax returns and, consequently, honest taxpayers shell out $300 billion to cover what the delinquents owed. The culprit, in the view of Time Inc. writers-at-large Barlett and Steele (two-time Pulitzer winners), is not the IRS per se, though they blast its selective prosecution tactics, archaic computer system and absence of internal oversight. Rather, the fault, they insist, lies with a series of Republican and Democratic presidents and Congresses who, they say, have rewritten the tax laws to favor the privileged; Barlett and Steele present abundant evidence that the IRS stalks small-time tax cases while ignoring or going light on upper-income dodgers. Equally disturbing is their account of how the Internet is rapidly becoming the lead instrument promoting tax avoidance, as countless peopleDnot just the richDset up secret offshore bank accounts, trusts or dummy corporations to hide their assets with the click of a mouse. Barlett and Steele deride current flat-tax proposals as ploys to give a big tax cut to the wealthy at the expense of the less well off. They likewise reject a proposed national sales tax as equally onerous. Their solution: a massive rewrite and simplification of the existing progressive tax structure, elimination of special-interest provisions, and vigorous enforcement. This important, incendiary book may spark a national debate. 5-city author tour. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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