Taxing Events

Two stories today illustrate the absurdity and frustration of our tax system.

When Derek Jeter attained his 3,000 hit over the weekend Christian Lopez caught the ball. Although the 23 year old cell phone salesman could have kept it and made a lot of money from it, the sports fan did the honorable thing and handed it over to Jeter. In appreciation, the Yankees gave him tickets for a suite for the rest of the baseball season, plus bats and jerseys.

The ball was estimated to be worth $250,000 but Lopez said, “He (Jeter) deserves this, he’s worked hard for this… I’m not the type of person to take this away from him.”

His generosity was quickly called foul by Uncle Sam. Sam says the tickets are worth about $40,000 and Lopez owes the IRS $10-14,000. Lopez, a recent graduate of St. Lawrence University still owes money on his student loan. Now he owes that, plus another chunk.

Lawyers say Lopez should have kept the ball and sold it later. He could have given it to Jeter in the future, either for money or not, keeping it on the QT from the IRS. Now Lopez is being called a chump. How sad is it that now it’s a matter for legal sharks to tussle over and ultimately benefit from. Something is wrong with our system.

Something is also wrong with our system when people are now suggesting that charitable donations not get tax deductions. Allan Luks of the Fordham Center for Nonprofit Leaders wants people to give to the government rather than to personal charities. He suggests people pay taxes on their first $1,000 charitable deduction. This would mean that the $10 you put in the church basket would cost you $350 when the tax man takes a look.

Luks says this needs to be done “as a symbol that we all need to come behind the government.” He thinks that the current government debt crisis should be our major concern. The government should be the recipient of our charity, too, because they know better how to apportion it.

It’s also a great way to weaken organized religion and faith. Get rid of that and the government can assume an even greater moral role in our lives.

That’s why taxes need to be pared and the correct vote when taxes are a ballot issue is always no. It always means that you lose rights and the government gains power.

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