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Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich -- and Cheat Everybody Elseby David Cay Johnston
Synopses & Reviews
One of the country's top investigative reporters reveals how the richest people within the top 1 percent of the country has rigged the tax code and other laws in its favor.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston has been breaking pieces of this story on the front page of the New York Times for nine years, work for which one business school professor calls him "the de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States." With Perfectly Legal, he puts the whole shocking narrative together in a way that will stir up media attention and make readers angry about the state of our country. And he has sound advice on what to do.
Since the mid-1970s, there has been a dramatic shift in who benefits from the American economy and bears the burden of taxes. CEOs, big investors and business owners can delay paying their taxes for years and sometimes escape them almost entirely, while wage earners have theirs taken from each paycheck. Discreet lobbying by the political donor class has made tax policies and enforcement a disaster. Because of obligations to these donors Washington has been unable, or unwilling, to fix these problems. The news media have largely ignored official favors to those who are supposed to pay the corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the gift tax. Millions of families expecting tax cuts are losing some or all of them to a stealth tax that was originally enacted only to apply to the tax-avoiding rich, but that now stings single mothers making as little as $28,000. But the cumulative results are remarkable: the 400 richest Americans pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than someone making $100,000. The 400 richest pay less and less of their income in taxes while the middle class pays more and more. And while the incomes of the very rich skyrocketed over three decades, the average income for the bottom 90 percent fell.
Johnston exposes exactly how the middle class is being squeezed to create a widening income gap that threatens the stability of the country. By relating the compelling tales of real people across all areas of society, he reveals the truth behind:
"[Johnston's] journalistic legwork informs every page of this expose....[A] thoughtful overview for any citizens willing to educate themselves on the issue." Publishers Weekly
"[Y]ou can't put it down....Perfectly Legal is rich with details and examples, and it never bogs down, even though Johnston deals with very complex tax schemes." San Antonio Express-News
"David Cay Johnston believes 'the tax system in America is being rigged to benefit the super rich.' And David Cay Johnston's Perfectly Legal and the alternative minimum tax have made a believer out of me." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"At times, this book might seem overstuffed with facts and numbers, but they serve a noble purpose....[A] scrupulously reported, anecdotally rich wake-up call urging all of us to not only follow the money but also pay the piper." Boston Globe
"[C]overs more ground than most investigations....Johnston presents plans for reform that sound plausible. But he understands that his reform plans and plans offered by other commentators quite likely will stand no chance in Congress or the executive branch." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Johnston takes us on a remarkable excursion....Perfectly Legal thus stands as one of the best, and certainly one of the most thorough, examinations of the perfidies of recent tax policy in the United States." San Diego Union-Tribune
"Want to know how business execs get nearly free personal trips on their corporate jets? Johnston is your man." Business Week
"Mr. Johnston exposes some fundamental problems with the tax code that Campaign 2004 seems to be overlooking." Amity Shlaes, Financial Times
"This book is vital, an infuriating call to action." Jim Hightower, author of Thieves in High Places
With a new Prologue and updated with new material, this six-week New York Times bestseller reveals how everyday Americans are being robbed to subsidize those who make millions.
“No other modern country gives corporations the unfettered power found in America to gouge customers, shortchange workers, and erect barriers to fair play. A big reason is that so little of the news . . . addresses the private, government-approved mechanisms by which price gouging is employed to redistribute income upward.”
You are being systematically exploited by powerful corporations every day. These companies squeeze their trusting customers for every last cent, risk their retirement funds, and endanger their lives. And they do it all legally. How? It’s all in the fine print.
David Cay Johnston, the bestselling author of Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch, is famous for exposing the perfidies of our biggest institutions. Now he turns his attention to the ways huge corporations hide sneaky stipulations in just about every contract, often with government permission.
Johnston has been known to whip out a utility bill and explain line by line what all that mumbo jumbo actually means (and it doesn’t mean anything good, unless you happen to be the utility company). Within all that jargon, disclosed in accordance with all legal requirements, lie the tools these companies use to rob you blind. Even worse is what’s missing—all the contractually binding clauses that companies hide elsewhere yet still enforce and abuse. Consider, for example, how:
Johnston shares solutions you can use to fight back against the hundreds of obscure fees and taxes that line the pockets of big corporations, and to help end these devious practices once and for all.
A bestselling author's shocking analysis of the many ways everyday people are systemically victimized by powerful corporations.
David Cay Johnston has made a name for himself as the defender of the common man, calling out the rich and powerful for cheating the system at the expense of everyone else. Whether he's exposing unjust loopholes in the tax code that help the rich get richer or pointing out how powerful corporations pocket government subsidies at excessive taxpayer expense, Johnston is an eloquent town crier for justice and equality.
Now this bestselling author has turned his attention to the sneaky stipulations hidden in the fine print of just about every contract and government rule. Johnston has been known to whip out a utility bill-any utility bill-and explain line by line what all that mumbo jumbo actually means (and it doesn't mean anything good, unless you happen to be the utility company). Within all that jargon, disclosed in accordance with all legal requirements to you, the unsuspecting customer, lie the tools many companies use to rob you blind. Even worse is what's missing-all the contractually binding clauses that companies hide elsewhere yet still enforce.
The Fine Print is essential reading for anyone who wants to wrest power from devious corporations and end their long-standing consumer abuse.
About the Author
David Cay Johnston won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 and was a finalist three other times since 2000 for his investigative reporting in the New York Times, for which he has written since 1995. Prior to that he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, and the San Jose Mercury News. Johnston is a frequent guest on NPR's Fresh Air.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Taxes - They're Not for Everyone
Chapter 2: A Nickel an Hour More
Chapter 3: The Rich Get Fabulously Richer
Chapter 4: Big Payday
Chapter 5: Plane Perks
Chapter 6: When the Old Man Is Dead and Buried
Chapter 7: The Stealth Tax
Chapter 8: How Social Security Taxes Subsidize the Rich
Chapter 9: Preying on the Working Poor
Chapter 10: Handcuffing the Tax Police
Chapter 11: Mr. Rossotti's Customers
Chapter 12: For Want of a Keystroke
Chapter 13: Mr. Kellogg's Favorite Loophole
Chapter 14: Mass Market Tax Evasion
Chapter 15: Getting Off the Hook
Chapter 16: Profiting Off Taxes
Chapter 17: Profits Trump Patriotism
Chapter 18: Letters to Switerzland
Chapter 19: Gimme Shelter
Chapter 20: Only the Rich Deserve a Comfortable Retirement
Chapter 21: Is Reform Possible?
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