By David Cay Johnston
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Political tax talk is becoming Orwellian: Secrecy is Democracy. Auditors Reduce Collections. Tax Cheats Will Be Caught With Fewer Auditors.
Let’s start in Kansas, where the Lawrence Journal-World broke the news on Sunday that economist Arthur Laffer, father of curve-on-a-napkin tax policy, is advising the state on a new tax structure. The news is not so much that Laffer is getting $75,000 of taxpayer money, but that Governor Samuel Brownback wants advice only from business leaders; no wage earners allowed behind these officially closed doors.
In Albany, state tax authorities issued a statement asserting they already were pursuing the real estate tax cheats I wrote about last week. Never mind the statistics and lack of public enforcement actions. Maintaining this facade will be more difficult going forward as 300 newly pink-slipped auditors turn a drip of leaks into a stream.
Will Governor Andrew Cuomo, who wants to be president and has declared his eternal allegiance to lowering taxes on the richest New Yorkers, keep looking the other way? Will Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, who wants to be governor, mimic the boss? How long will only the little people of New York feel the full force of tax law enforcement under these two Democrats?