The Research Institute of America, Inc., has invited me to subscribe to a "special report for executives who want a faster, surer and simpler way to accumulate personal wealth."
I am greatly interested in this because up until now I have been using a slow, unsure and complicated way to accumulate personal wealth: I have been trying to work hard enough to support my family and the IRS, but not necessarily in that order.
The very first page of the Research Institute's special report gave me a clue as to the mistake I have been making. I have been paying my taxes in accordance with what I thought was the law.
The report says, "Through simple income rechanneling -- entirely within the family unit -- executives are funneling large amounts of money directly into wealth-building which would otherwise go 100 percent to taxes. You can use this 'ultimate' tax shelter without complicated formalities and without losing control of your money. You call the shots. This new special report fully explains how to activate it yourself."
As I read on, I learned that "some executives can cut taxes more than 75 percent," and that "the family device can be used not only with spouse and children but also with parents, in-laws and other relatives." Also, "a relatively small 'gift' from an executive to his spouse can slash taxes by thousands of dollars." I don't know why the word gift was put inside quotation marks, but the message conveyed to me by that punctuation is that the gift isn't really a gift.
There was also reference to the triple break one gets by hiring his own youngsters without paying any Social Security or unemployment taxes -- and without giving up dependency deductions. And to the "magic of interest-free loans to family members to bypass taxes." And to the "installment sale method that can cut capital gains taxes to a fraction of what they would normally be."
One of my favorites is, "How to give money away but keep it too, creating an immediate tax deduction which leaves the executive with more cash right now."
A letter from the Research institute says these are just some of the ways executives are using the "family device to create substantial funds -- entirely out of tax dollars -- for faster wealth accumulation or for more expansive living." Alas! For those like me who have spent a lifetime dancing to the IRS fiddle, the realization comes too late: We have accepted more expensive living instead of achieving more expansive living by using tax "devices" born of small print, 200-word legislative sentences and a tax code that is such a mess the men and women in Congress who enacted it cannot fill out their own tax returns.
I can understand why congressmen take bribes and kickbacks, why they are alcoholics, why they lead aberrant sex lives, and why they are selfish; these are the same traits one finds in the population as a whole. But why are they stupid enough to pass, and retain, such tax laws? The population as a whole is not stupid. If the avergage American were empowered to write a new tax code, he would write a simple law that everybody could understand. The unspeakably complicated code under which we now exist would be swept into oblivion, and thousands of expensive tax counselors would have to look for new ways to make a living.
Congress should be ashamed of itself for its abysmal failure to simplify our tax laws and eliminate cute "devices" that permit some people to pay far less than their share, thereby making it necessary for others to pay far more. POSTSCRIPT
The letter from the Research Institute included a reminder that the cost of a subscription to its service is (sigh!) tax-reductible.
As a bonus for subscribing, you get special advice on "tax-wise handling of expense accounts." One chapter heading is, "Why It Pays to Make Overnight Trips." Another is, "This Way, the Names of Business Guests Do Not Have to Be States." Also, "Earning 100 Percent Deduction for Business-Pleasure Trips." Doesn't that brighten your day?