Dropdown menu

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taxes and Lies

Every year, I meet folks determined to cheat the system. Every year, I patiently explain to them that they are breaking the law and how they can work in compliance with the law.

But this year... this year, it's worse. This year, I've had folks who seem to be the nicest people in the world look me straight in the eye and lie. Not just lie, but when I catch them in the lie, they ask me to lie for them.

Because after all, everyone lies on their taxes. Or that's what they try to tell you.

Sorry, but no. That's a lie.

Everyone does not lie on their taxes.

Yes, it is a tough economy. Yes, I do know what it's like to not know how you're going to make it to the end of the month.

But I also know that there are a lot of decent, hardworking folks who do not lie on their taxes to get additional tax breaks. They don't tell me to fudge the numbers because no one will ever know the difference. And they struggle. They count on getting a refund because it's the difference between getting evicted and staying on for a little while longer until hopefully they find another job. They are brutally honest about the sad state of affairs. For some, it would be so easy to lie. So easy to fudge a number or two. But they don't.

What is the price of integrity? A few hundred dollars? A few thousand dollars? I don't know. But somehow, people think that they are so entitled to the government's money that they will lie to get it. Funny thing is, it's not really the government's money. It's our money. It's your money. It's the money belonging to the folks who are out there, struggling to make ends meet.

When you lie on your taxes, you are not just getting yourself a better deal. You are not just taking a deduction that you think you're entitled to that the government isn't smart enough to recognize. You are stealing from your friends and neighbors. Some of whom are stealing from you. But a lot of them- even the ones impacted by the same rough economy, the same job losses, the same fear of losing their homes- are sitting back and taking the hit.

I know, it's tempting to fudge a number or two, to "deduct" something you think should be a deduction even though it's not. But it's still a lie. Legally, it's fraud. I'm starting to get really angry at the folks who think I wouldn't mind committing a crime and facing stiff legal penalties to help perpetuate their lies. And when I'm not mad, I'm really sad. Because these same people actually believe there's nothing wrong with what they're doing. Maybe I've got the wrong version of the Bible, but mine doesn't say Thou shalt not lie, except to the IRS. Mine says something about paying Caesar what's Caesar's.

So could you please do me a favor? When you're doing your taxes, could you just be honest? Please don't lie to me and think that I don't know the difference. Trust me, I do. And please don't ask me, or anyone else for that matter, to lie for you. Just like you, the person preparing your taxes is signing under penalty of perjury. That's fancy speak for saying, "I didn't lie or know about any lies involved in this mess."

And that, my friends, is the truth.

No comments: