Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Louisiana Scofflaws Cry the Blues

It's sad. So many of those in the Louisiana fishing industry who have been harmed by the BP oil well debacle will not qualify for BP's reparations because they can't document their 2009 income. Why not? Well, they didn't file tax returns, that's why. Doing business on a cash basis and not paying taxes is traditional, it turns out, just like in the country of Greece and other semi-civilized places. Now it's time to pay up for these sins, folks!

After five minutes of research I found that Louisiana has only a four percent sales tax (it's 8.25% where I live), a 2,4, or 6% state income tax rate after generous deductions, and very low property taxes. I suppose that's because the state has lots of industries and natural resources extractors that put taxes and fees into the state coffers. Louisiana is a very tax-friendly state, made much friendlier when lots of folks don't even file tax returns.

Somehow this news makes me feel much less generous when it comes to government relief for hurricanes or oil blowouts in Louisiana. We pay much higher taxes here in New York, and they're much harder to avoid. Why should we send that money to bail out the scofflaws who don't do their part?

Well, my Christianity tells me I should be generous, so I'll make an offer. BP should pay compensation to these people if they are willing to pay five years back state and federal taxes on the amount they claim as lost income from their fishing business. Amnesty! Sounds good to me. Otherwise, go fish!


Thomas said...

Louisiana really is like a whole different country.

I worked for a while at the Ponchatrain plant for Du Pont, and until we agreed to bring out janitor lunch every day he refused to empty our trash or sweep our floors. His job was never in jeapordy- "cutting a deal" is just how things get done down there.

Thomas said...

PS- this has nothing to do with Louisiana, but there's a blog you might like to keep an eye on by a fellow Walker who might be a kindred spirit: http://imjustwalkin.com/

Ron Davison said...

I still think that people who make more should pay more. But I'm beginning to think that it does no one any good to avoid paying taxes altogether. Even the poor should pay a little income tax - even if it is almost token - just to make them more sensitive to watching how government money is spent. "That's my money," is how everyone should feel.
And as to the folks who pay no taxes ... well, I'm with you in saying that if you can't prove that you've lost income from tax forms you ought not to expect the government (or BP) to pay any restitution for lost wages. If people lie about not making money in order to avoid taxes, you can be that they'll lie about how much they made in order to be compensated.