Enjoy Sec. Donald Rumsfeld’s Tax Day letter to the IRS

posted at 9:21 pm on April 16, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

Knowns and unknowns, as a former Secretary of Defense was known to say:

Dear Sir or Madame,

I have sent in our federal income tax and gift tax returns for 2013. As in prior years, it is important for you to know that I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate. I say that despite the fact that I am a college graduate and I try hard to make sure our returns are accurate.

The tax code is so complex and the forms are so complicated, that I know I cannot have any confidence that I know what is being requested, and therefore I cannot and do not know, and I suspect a great many Americans cannot know, whether or not their tax returns are accurate. As in past years, I have spent more money than I wanted to spend to hire an accounting firm to prepare our tax returns and I believe they are well qualified.

Enjoy the whole thing, which Rumsfeld posted to his Facebook page earlier today.

Complexity is a subsidy for those who can afford an awesome accountant. That’s not usually the middle class. The ridiculously complex nature of the tax code means GE and Accenture avoid tax liability while they’re canoodling with the White House and getting giant government contracts while the rest of us end up paying our fair share, as they call it.

Reason polled a simpler tax plan. Hmmm:

Strong support for a flat tax extends across income groups (62 percent) among those making less than $30,000 a year and 73 percent among those making more than $110,000 a year. Similarly across education groups and age groups, six in 10 say they support the flat tax.

Support for a flat tax extends beyond partisanship, with 66 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents, and 52 percent of Democrats in support. Nevertheless, Democrats are more likely to oppose the flat tax (43 percent) compared to Republicans (29 percent) and independents (29 percent).

Americans who say the less government the better and that the free market can better solve problems than a strong government, favor a flat tax by a margin of nearly 50 points (roughly 72 to 25 percent). However, those who think government should be doing more and that we need a strong government to solve problems favor a flat tax by only 8 points (roughly 51 to 45 percent).

Under such a plan, the effective flat tax rate for the wealthy would be more than 8 percent, right? Because that’s what class warrior Mayor Bill deBlasio paid.
Fair share.

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Electrongod on April 16, 2014 at 9:25 PM

When you are a conservative it’s never “done” right.

Oil Can on April 16, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Blame Congress, not the IRS. Blame the Democrat’s noxious addiction to regulating human behavior and social engineering.

John the Libertarian on April 16, 2014 at 9:26 PM

If god can live on 10%…

SouthernGent on April 16, 2014 at 9:31 PM

“Dear Sir or Madame …”

What a sexist pig! Why does he hate the other 48 Facebook-created gender choices?

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Solution:

All Senators and Congressmen are audited every year. Any problems and they are prosecuted for tax evasion, with mandatory jail time if when convicted.

The tax code will be simplified within a month. Whoever is President at the time can even veto it as a practical joke and watch how fast the veto is overturned.

malclave on April 16, 2014 at 9:33 PM

It’s pathetic and a prime example of how an industry is able to lobby for something perfectly stupid and can get Congress to enact it.

lexhamfox on April 16, 2014 at 9:36 PM

If you are a homeless bum and you have ten cans of alpo to your name,, you should have to give up one can on April 15th.

That’s fair.

wolly4321 on April 16, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Congress writes the laws. Why do you think lobbyists are knocking on their door everyday. A simple across the board flat tax. No exemptions no different rates. Everyone pays the same rate. No cheating no exemptions no accountants. Everyone pays the same flat rate regardless if you make 10000 a rear or 10000000 a year

jaywemm on April 16, 2014 at 9:39 PM

I’m digging the ten-percenters here. That’s Ben Carson’s thang.

John the Libertarian on April 16, 2014 at 9:40 PM

I have 0 problem doing my taxes, and structuring my income, withholdings, etc to ensure I get nothing back at the end of the year.

I am smarter than Donald Rumsfeld.

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 9:49 PM

When you are a conservative it’s never “done” right.

Oil Can on April 16, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Lois, is that you?

LilyBart on April 16, 2014 at 10:03 PM

I have 0 problem doing my taxes, and structuring my income, withholdings, etc to ensure I get nothing back at the end of the year.

I am smarter than Donald Rumsfeld.

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 9:49 PM

More likely your finances are simpler than Mr. Rumsfeld’s.

I work with high net worth individuals, and some of their tax returns would take a ream of paper to print! Its crazy. And my mom (the CPA) has always said that a lot of the tax code is ‘grey’ – open to interpretation.

LilyBart on April 16, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Solution:

All Senators and Congressmen are audited every year. Any problems and they are prosecuted for tax evasion, with mandatory jail time if when convicted.

malclave on April 16, 2014 at 9:33 PM

…and they would be REQUIRED to complete the returns themselves.

LilyBart on April 16, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Time to get the government out of peoples income and earnings. Lets go to a consumption tax with no exemptions. See: Fairtax.org

JimK on April 16, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Tweets All / No replies

Donald Rumsfeld ‏@RumsfeldOffice Apr 15

That I & most Americans have no idea whether our taxes are accurate tells us something. My annual letter to the #IRS: pic.twitter.com/BFh0AXTvAk

https://twitter.com/RumsfeldOffice/status/456156891534483456/photo/1/large

canopfor on April 16, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Here’s my tax plan: Repeal the 16th amendment, b!tches!

gryphon202 on April 16, 2014 at 10:22 PM

A good one from the Hamster!
Love Rumsfeld. Always have. Great patriot.

Zorro on April 16, 2014 at 10:31 PM

I favor a flat tax myself, along with an end to any tax credits being paid out. Individuals should never receive more than they actually paid in. Companies who qualify for tax credits in excess of their current year liability should be allowed to carry them forward to apply against future taxes owed.

This is temporary as all credits should be phased out, too.

The problem is that when people see how little some rich people will still pay, they will stop supporting it. Even though the simplicity would increase economic efficiency and promote growth over the long term, simple jealousy and resentment has been the earmark of American democracy since FDR.

Adjoran on April 16, 2014 at 10:38 PM

If you are a homeless bum and you have ten cans of alpo to your name,, you should have to give up one can on April 15th.

That’s fair.

wolly4321 on April 16, 2014 at 9:37 PM

.
. . . : )

listens2glenn on April 16, 2014 at 10:49 PM

Thanks for posting this, Mary . . . . . I would not have seen it otherwise, and it’s GREAT.

listens2glenn on April 16, 2014 at 10:52 PM

No cheating no exemptions no accountants. Everyone pays the same flat rate regardless if you make 10000 a rear or 10000000 a year

jaywemm on April 16, 2014 at 9:39 PM

I like the idea of a flat tax but of course there will still be cheating. People will not report all their income.

Meremortal on April 16, 2014 at 11:09 PM

The problem with a flat tax is that it keeps the fascist corruptocrats in the IRS in business.

A sales tax or VAT tax puts them out of the business of harassing citizens.

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 11:22 PM

I’m surprised at all the flat tax advocates. You’re happy to keep income taxes, leaving the IRS in possession of immense power? Not me. Abolish the income tax (federal, state…all), replace it with a national sales tax.

xNavigator on April 16, 2014 at 11:40 PM

…I love this Donald!

KOOLAID2 on April 17, 2014 at 12:01 AM

…I love this Donald!

KOOLAID2 on April 17, 2014 at 12:01 AM

I hate this Donald.

The other is merely a buffoon masquerading as a politician.

This Donald; he is a Wilsonian idealist who’s inability to see the reality in front of him condemned good men and women to die for lack of good strategy, equipment, and numerical strength and in the end empowered Iran in a way not done since the Carter administration.
/end rant

SgtSVJones on April 17, 2014 at 12:26 AM

What a sexist pig! Why does he hate the other 48 Facebook-created gender choices?

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Those are obviously unknown unknowns for him, known unknowns for you, and known knowns for the crazies at Facebook.

ebrawer on April 17, 2014 at 2:08 AM

I don’t pay any income taxes because I get a refund every year.. /

Brock Robamney on April 17, 2014 at 5:37 AM

The problem with a flat tax is that it keeps the fascist corruptocrats in the IRS in business.

A sales tax or VAT tax puts them out of the business of harassing citizens.

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 11:22 PM

Um, no.

Sales taxes & VAT taxes need enforcing, too.

Since those would hopefully be vastly simpler formulas than what we have now, hopefully we could fire about 90% of IRS agents (but not all, as you supposed).

However…
It will never happen.
The tax code will never stop getting more complex until Jesus comes back.

itsnotaboutme on April 17, 2014 at 5:42 AM

No cheating no exemptions no accountants. Everyone pays the same flat rate regardless if you make 10000 a rear or 10000000 a year

jaywemm on April 16, 2014 at 9:39 PM

I like the idea of a flat tax but of course there will still be cheating. People will not report all their income.

Meremortal on April 16, 2014 at 11:09 PM

it all sounds great. i have favored a sales tax however. some things to consider (i hate to be a wet blanket, sorry) when folks say how a ‘flat tax’ will be so easy…just real quick:
- if you sell your house, is it income? how much? the whole thing? can you subtract what you paid for it to figure out whats income?
- what if the house is your second home, at the beach and you dont live there? you go there for some time in the summer. what if you use that house for one week every summer, then rent it the rest of the summer, do you pay tax on the rent? can you deduct any of the expenses on the house before you pay flat tax on the rent?
- if you have a small business and you sell widgets, do you pay tax on what you were paid for selling widgets (your gross sales)? can you deduct the costs to you of those widgets becuase you buy them from a wholesaler? what about the rent you pay for your store? is that a deduction? what is all your expenses are MORE than your ‘income’? do you get a refund? can you carry those ‘extra expenses’ to next year to deduct against next years ‘income’?
- if you setup a college savings account for your kid whose maybe 6, and the kids grandparents put something in it, and its in the kids name, does the kid pay flat taxes on the interest (and dividends and capital gains)?
- if your mom dies, and she leaves you her house in her will, is that income? how much income so i can pay that easy ‘flat tax’? what if i dont sell it and i keep it. what if she owned stock? when i get it is it income?
-if i DO buy a stock on my own. and then i sell it for 100 bucks. do i pay easy flat tax on the 100 bucks? what if i paid 50 for it? what if i paid 200……
- if i win some money at the track and give some to me neighbor cause i am a nice guy, he loaned me his chansaw a bunch of times and has this auger that kicks butt i used a bunch of times for fixing fence, is that income to him? does he pay flat tax on it?
- if my employer decides he wants to give me some stock in the company instead of a bonus, is that ‘income’? how much? so do i pay ‘flat tax’ on income i never really received? if i have to pay flat tax on the value of the stock, which isnt really ‘money’ (or is it).

most people have very simple tax situations. and really dont know what most of “tax law” is about. flat tax sounds great. its easy. and its about less than 1% of what needs to be worked out. the current code needs total overhaul and “simplification”, but theres still a lot of issues that need some work. defining what IS income is the issue. most folks dont think of that becuase they have mommies and daddies (employers) who still treat them like little kids and pay them allowance and even hold back what they owe in tax from them becuase they cant be trusted to pay their own taxes. thats 70% of the population; wage earners. like kids. the grown-ups who have never had an employer and have to figure it all out themselves from start to finish and have to actually PAY taxes. physcially PAY. write a check. take money from their pockets and pay; not have it done FOR them. who never get refunds, because that means you sent them too much in the first place. those folks know. its funny watching wage earners talk about taxes tho. like watching kids at the ice cream truck figuring how to pay.

t8stlikchkn on April 17, 2014 at 6:53 AM

Been said before, and will say again:

Blame Congress, not the IRS. We do our absolute best to follow the law and do what’s right for the taxpayer. You get some bad people (Lerner and crew), but the vast majority of us are just trying to do our jobs right and make a living.

The crazier Congress makes the tax law, the harder our jobs are, to the point we can’t even answer a simple question like, “Do I have to file?” Answering that question alone requires us to go through no less than 32 other questions before we can say yes or no. If you called in to ask that this year, you got told to go to the interactive tax law assistant on the website. Not because we’re lazy… No… The past 3 years, we’ve been reading that tool to you, because we couldn’t answer it accurately otherwise.

Nowadays, we have to spend our time focusing on ID Theft and other fraud schemes. Get rid of all refundable credits, and you’ll actually cut our work load by a third. Get rid of this rush for “refunds” (most of which exceed what was paid in thanks to refundable credits), move tax day to 10/15, and allow us to reject all claims for withholding that haven’t been substantiated by the employers, and you kill another third of the fraud we see.

All of that depends on Congress, though.

Asurea on April 17, 2014 at 7:18 AM

Asurea on April 17, 2014 at 7:18 AM

tax day IS oct 15. right?
who doesnt file an extension anymore?
yes, its always funny to hear people complian about taxes on april 15. i always tell clients dont complain now, complain the 2nd tuesday of november. THATS “tax day”.
and the answer to ‘do i have to file’? easy: it depends. i will let you know in june.

assuming you are at irs, what section?
and why are all fiedl agents now less than 5 yearas experience, and have no college degrees? didnt used to be that way 20 years ago. seems to me theres been a real degradation of agent expertise. i think you all have lost a lot fo good poeple thru attrittion. and the affirmative action hiring has really taken a toll over there since then.
but i have to tell you, its a lot easier to deal with a stupid agent than a smart one. and we are thank ful for that.

t8stlikchkn on April 17, 2014 at 7:38 AM

1st tues

t8stlikchkn on April 17, 2014 at 8:10 AM

We should not be taxing income at all. We should be taxing retail sales. That is absolutely the fairest way to tax. First: It gets everyone. The 49% that pay no tax now will suddenly become taxpayers. Second: The rich will pay more; since the wealthy buy more, the wealthy will pay more. Third: No more IRS. Fourth: No more dreaded tax day on April 15.

supersport667 on April 17, 2014 at 8:23 AM

What a sexist pig! Why does he hate the other 48 Facebook-created gender choices?

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 9:33 PM

That isn’t sexism. He’s being gender normative.

This is temporary as all credits should be phased out, too.

Adjoran on April 16, 2014 at 10:38 PM

Flat taxes will never remain flat. Reagan got us the flattest tax code we ever had in 1986 and look what has happened since. We need repeal and replace with the Fair Tax.

Grammar Nazi on April 17, 2014 at 8:24 AM

It has been revealed that a corrupt and power-hungry President illegally used the IRS as a weapon to target and punish his political enemies in an attempt to silence those who opposed his re-election. we know the most senior Congressman (Cummings) was involved in the targeting of at least 1 conservative organization (True the Vote). We also now know that the IRS and corrupt DOJ colluded and schemed in an attempt to devise a way to not only deny conservative groups tax exempt status but to also create a way to PUT THEM IN JAIL.

If there was any time to make a critically needed change, to strip this administration and future administrations of the ‘tool’ to do this again, it is now.

Jail Lerner…and anyone ese who was part of this.

Jail Holder, if nothing more than for his 4 Felony Counts of Perjury before Congress.

Boot Cummings out of office for not only betraying the public trust but for also becoming ‘an enemy of the state’ that sought to inflict harm and deny American citizens of their rights.

Burn the IRS to the ground – get rid of it – replace it with the Flat Tax or the Fair Tax.

easyt65 on April 17, 2014 at 8:36 AM

The problem with a flat tax is that it keeps the fascist corruptocrats in the IRS in business.

A sales tax or VAT tax puts them out of the business of harassing citizens.

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 11:22 PM

I’m surprised at all the flat tax advocates. You’re happy to keep income taxes, leaving the IRS in possession of immense power? Not me. Abolish the income tax (federal, state…all), replace it with a national sales tax.

xNavigator on April 16, 2014 at 11:40 PM

And who would be monitoring the national sales tax, ensuring it is being collected correctly?

Nutstuyu on April 17, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Flat tax, NOW.

vnvet on April 17, 2014 at 9:16 AM

The real question is “How do we fund the federal government?” That question leads to “What should the federal government be doing?”

Historically, this was not a big deal, because the federal government didn’t do much (as it was planned). After 1917, Congress has increasingly spent inordinate amounts of time trying to find ways to get more money into the federal government without making the voters feel oppressed. Their strongest appeal is to the people’s natural desire to covet. Since others have more than me, it is only right the government take more from them. Our current tax code is precisely built on this principle. Since the short abberrant period in the 90s, when Republicans actually stood against the natural tendency of amassing more power, and tried to balance the budget, Congress has increasingly just skipped the attempt to fleece the people and gone directly to thievery by printing money.

BTW, this is a moral issue, just as all governmental issues are(sorry libertarians, but we can and do legislate morality, or immoralityin some cases). As the people of America have increasingly left the sometimes constricting tenets of the the Bible, they have become coarser, cruder, more vulger, and increasingly more willing to cheat, lie, steal, and especially covet. Our government is a reflection of the people. As the people become more immoral, so does the government.

jya lai on April 17, 2014 at 9:56 AM

I blame Charles Rangle that Paragon of Virtue /sarc

REPEAL the 16th Amendment it was a FRAUD from it’s conception.

I’d like the ITGuy to do a chart showing the near exponential growth of the Tax Code from the birth of the Nation. (Might take a logrithmic axis for the number of PAGES added to the code.)

Missilengr on April 17, 2014 at 10:17 AM

The real question is “How do we fund the federal government?” That question leads to “What should the federal government be doing?”

Historically, this was not a big deal, because the federal government didn’t do much (as it was planned). After 1917, Congress has increasingly spent inordinate amounts of time trying to find ways to get more money into the federal government without making the voters feel oppressed. Their strongest appeal is to the people’s natural desire to covet. Since others have more than me, it is only right the government take more from them. Our current tax code is precisely built on this principle. Since the short abberrant period in the 90s, when Republicans actually stood against the natural tendency of amassing more power, and tried to balance the budget, Congress has increasingly just skipped the attempt to fleece the people and gone directly to thievery by printing money.

BTW, this is a moral issue, just as all governmental issues are(sorry libertarians, but we can and do legislate morality, or immoralityin some cases). As the people of America have increasingly left the sometimes constricting tenets of the the Bible, they have become coarser, cruder, more vulger, and increasingly more willing to cheat, lie, steal, and especially covet. Our government is a reflection of the people. As the people become more immoral, so does the government.

jya lai on April 17, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Well said.

Deckard BR on April 17, 2014 at 11:37 AM

if you make 10000 a rear or 10000000 a year

jaywemm on April 16, 2014 at 9:39 PM

o.O ???

Here’s my tax plan: Repeal the 16th amendment, b!tches!

gryphon202 on April 16, 2014 at 10:22 PM

CONCUR! Return the revenue collection to the states, where it belongs. One of the main amendments that helped to destroy state sovereignty.

GWB on April 17, 2014 at 11:39 AM

A national sales tax to replace the income tax is the fairest way. However, if that doesn’t happen a flat tax is second best.

Putin instituted a flat tax of 13% in 2000. The Russian tax code at the time made ours look simple. By 2002, their tax revenues had doubled.

The progressives in this country are complete maroons when it comes to finances.

UnstChem on April 17, 2014 at 1:29 PM

A flat tax would be better than what we have, but the Government would still need to know way to much about you. The IRS has proven the Government can’t be trusted with such information. Abolish the income tax. Use consumption/sales taxes instead. Government would have to know about businesses collecting the tax, but not about the individuals paying it.

JayDick on April 17, 2014 at 2:33 PM

stlikchkn on April 17, 2014 at 7:38 AM

I am very glad I’m not one of your clients. They must be racking up failure to pay penalties left and right, since a filing extension only stops failure to file penalties. FTP and interest just keep on accruing…

I’m in IVO, one of the identity theft programs. I can honestly say I’m helping taxpayers instead of harming them, because the crooks seem to start with us and then move to personal fraud (CC’s, etc). Get the taxpayer informed, get them documentation they can give to any creditors who were defrauded by the criminals to prove the incident, get the tax account cleaned up, etc.

As to field agents, the answer is obvious: $$$. We’re very underfunded versus what we’re tasked for. Lucky everyone, that means ACA enforcement is essentially impossible.

Asurea on April 17, 2014 at 4:45 PM