Corp. Cavorting on the Taxpayers Dime

If you wonder why your taxes, keep going up, up, up -- one big reason is that corporations keep finding sneaky ways to dodge paying their share of the burden, thus shifting the cost of public services onto the backs of working stiffs.

With the recent corporate scandals, we've gotten peeks into off-shore partnerships, Bermuda tax havens, and other new-fangled flim-flams to avoid corporate tax responsibilities. But one of the largest means of tax avoidance is an old provision called "cost of doing business."

Under this broad category, corporate chieftans can slash their tax bills by claiming that everything from their marble-walled executive bathrooms to their lavish advertising budgets are necessary expenses for conducting business, and therefore fully deductible from their corporate income tax. In recent years, however, what they claim to be "necessary" has been stretched so thinly that anyone with an iota of common sense can read the tax fraud right through it.

Among the current allowable deductions are the corporate helicopter to ferry the CEO back and forth to work, the company-owned hunting lodge for top-executives, the "business meetings" in Bimini, the luxury skybox for Yankee games, and so forth, as far as the corporate imagination can wander.

How far can it wander was made clear by Dennis Kozlowski, the now-disgraced honcho of Tyco. As an essential, tax-deductible expense, Dennis included most of the tab for a $2 million party he threw for his wife Karen's 40th birthday in Sardinia, Italy. This gay gala featured a life-sized ice sculpture of Michelangelo's famous statue of David, complete with vodka streaming from the statue's penis into the crystal glasses of Dennis' delighted guests.

Isn't it good to know that you're paying more in taxes so corporate greedheads like Kozlowski can cavort so ridiculously -- literally passing the buck to us ordinary taxpayers.


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