I'm Sorry, You Can't Use That Deduction: It's Patented

from the say-what? dept

It's no secret that we have some problems with the way the patent system is set up, especially when it comes to things like business method patents. However, sometimes a situation comes along that so perfectly explains the problems with these types of patents, there's just not much to add. John Bennett at Against Monopoly points us to a NY Times/International Herald Tribune piece that talks about the rise of patented tax strategies. Yes, certain financial firms are patenting their tax strategies, and then claiming no one else can use them to reduce their taxes. In one case, a financial firm has actually sued the chairman of Aetna for daring to use its strategy to reduce taxes. The IHT article claims that 50 tax reduction patents have been granted and many more are pending. A recent article in Fortune claimed that there are another 81 tax reduction patents pending. That Fortune article points out why this is patently ridiculous: "tax advice hinges on interpretations of the law and... the law should be available to everyone equally, without the need to pay a licensing fee." Not so in our wonderful world of patents.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    eric, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 5:41pm

    next: patent a legal defense

    wanna stay out of jail? using my patented defense? pay up.

     

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    smokebreak, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 5:55pm

    Im Appaled

    I can't belive this crap. Everyone HAS to pay taxes. The government controls the taxesl. Deductions have to be done legaly, and the law applies to everybody. So where and how does a "tax strategy" get patented? So not only are lawyers and corperations skrewing people by flagerantly destroying the patent system, now there going to start with the IRS. What leader would allow this kind of thing to run rampant in their country....... oh, thats right it's G.W.
    I Love the U.S.A. , but it's a good thing the president can't read this and congress and the senate are too busy trying to fondle minors.

     

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      identicon
      Some Guy, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 11:12pm

      Re: Im Appaled

      Well excusing your numerous spelling errors... I love the generalization of how our government and leader is responsible for "letting it go on" and how our congress and senate are too busy fondling children to read YOUR post... because they all are doing that, you know.

       

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        the grey fox, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 9:14am

        Re: Re: Im Appaled

        It is the fault of our political leadership in both parties, and especially george Bush, who has spent our wealth on empowering radicals and terrorists while allowing victims of our own national disaster, Hurricane Katrina, to suffer the worst for it...and while this was not an intentional plan, it is what happens when you have no plan at all other than pipedreams...Democrats aren't discussing national health plans or tax reform; they are beating their chests with immoral indignation following the formulated course to return to power so they can rake in the dough...Nero fiddled while Rome burned and I am hearing a lot of fiddles playing without any harmony.

         

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      Normalguy, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 12:39am

      Re: Im Appaled

      i'm not a GW defender but this peroblems been around longer the bush. it's easy to blam the guy in charge for the problems that have been in effect for the pat decade

       

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    MEoip, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 6:08pm

    Audit

    Does this mean if I use there strategy and I get audited they pay cause there strategy messed up?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 6:15pm

      Re: Audit

      Ha! Good luck with that idea. Just like s/w vendors, they own everything, you can't do anything, but if anything goes wrong you're on your own buddy. Please see the cashier on your way out.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 6:17pm

    The Fair Tax would put an end to that silliness right away.

    http://www.fairtax.org/

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 7:38pm

      Re:

      The Fair Tax would put an end to that silliness right away.
      It'll never happen. Remember the golden rule: Those who have the gold make the rules. The Fair Tax would have them paying more taxes, so they'll never go along with that idea.

       

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    Ben(damnit), Oct 20th, 2006 @ 6:24pm

    Everyone has to pay taxes?

    Except for those who make the tax laws.

     

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    John Gietzen, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 6:49pm

    WOO!

    Fair tax is the way to go!

     

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    identicon
    dorpus, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 7:36pm

    Students do get sick

    According to an unspeakable news source, 35 students developed high fevers and vomiting after dissecting a pig's eye in a Japanese classroom today. (Pigs are carriers of Hepatitis E virus.)

    And of course, there are high school chemistry experiments that go horribly wrong when the bullies decide to point the chemicals at nerd-boy's face.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 7:55pm

    Unbelievable.

     

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    identicon
    Possible Spam, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 8:26pm

    possible spam

    What the hell? Is my IP boned? I keep getting possible spam notices when I post.

     

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    identicon
    CFP, CLU, ChFc, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 8:40pm

    Tax planning big buisness

    Understand that most of these taxs plans involve the purchase of a financial product. These products as sold sold by financial firms. These firms have spent money on legal options and due dilgence. They either want there in house folks, or out side brokers to have to use there firm to provide these products to there clients. If there was not this kind of protection there would be on financial incentive for the firms to come up with or sell the idea to others. If you want to see an example of a procted plan go to the website http://www.thedolgoffplan.com/index.html
    for one such plan. The client does not pay for the right to use it, but rather the planner does.
    Most tax planning can only be done with a buisness owener when there is more than one tax payer. exp. C or llc to pass the income between the owner and the coproration.

     

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    Johnny Bravo, Oct 20th, 2006 @ 11:46pm

    Re: Im Appaled by Some Guy

    You're a douche bag. Congress fondles children and you fondle children

     

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    Paul OFlaherty, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 2:47am

    Collective stupidity

    One has to wonder at the collective stupidity that permits such things to happen. Even more amazing is the collective stupidity which permits it to continue after being informed of it.

     

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    identicon
    Brian, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 3:55am

    I want to make a point that applies to a scary percentage of all posts on all boards nowadays...

    "It's W's fault!".... "No, it was Clinton's fault"... "Bullshit, remember Reagan?"... "one word: Carter!"... "Republicans!"... "Democrats!"

    What good does that crap do ANYBODY? Right or wrong? THAT'S the argument they want us to get bogged down in. They're screwed if we ever actually debated an ISSUE with the same emotion and energy we've been conditioned into arguing the previous paragraph.

    We face serious problems today. Things aren't black and white. This noise benefits NO ONE* - in fact, it is the definition 'counter-productive'.

    * actually, it does benefit some - those R's and D's whoring themselves for re-election. I can say this from FIRST HAND experience (spent 5 years in high-level politics). Not bragging - I'm apologizing. This is a pre-meditated strategy in play - I have actually been in the room with Member(s) of the US House "strategizing" with paid staff on how to keep the voting public split 50-50. THAT is your tax dollar at work in 2006. That's the only way to ensure nothing ever gets done while each Party's core base stays VERY pissed off and sending the donations. Since legislators draw their own districts (essentially), it is virtually impossible for an incumbant to lose re-election in such a district when the country's population as a whole is split 50-50 on the "issues of the day".

    Think about it. I'm 32 years old and vividly remember my 3rd-grade teacher trying to explain the Social Security system to my class. She gave up half-way thru by uttering "you guys will never see it anyway." That's at least 20 years that common-sense has dictated there are serious flaws in the system. What's been done? I'm not asking what's been proposed - thats the game they play to energize the base and mailing checks. What's even been TRIED (not floated, actually tried)? If they solve the problem, there's nothing to argue about in 2 years when it's time to get re-elected - I should put quotes around that since my own ears heard it come from a (household-name) elected Member. Name a hot-button issue besides war/terrorism, and then ask yourself how long you remember it being a hot-button issue. 10 years? 20? Likely 30+... I exclude terrorism/war because on 9-10 nobody saw that coming, and no one tried to spin it for their own *blatantly obvious* political gains for about 2 years. It took those 2 years to plan how to use it, but 2 years wasn't enough for those fools - 25-30% are about to be booted from office as a result of that plan...

    I could go on and on about this, but many of my best anecdotes are totally, 100% unbelievable - I mean laughed-off-this-site unbelievable. Names you would recognize - lots of them. I get so worked up recalling this stuff that I start babbling...

    To re-iterate my original point: the more polarized we are as a people, the more we guarantee the status-quo. The normal public (you and I), regardless of our party affiliations should be able to agree that the status-quo IS the problem. Politics is the art of compromise. Not sure when exactly we lost that notion, but we'd better find it again soon.

     

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      identicon
      the grey fox, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 9:28am

      Re: brilliant stuff

      i'd like to hear your recall...lower level experience in ohio for me, but the same thoughts and results...in all seriousness, you need to write a book and name names...i resigned after Waco because it was totally needless killing, a smaller version of this Iraq War, took no consideration for the children there (just like we have in Iraq, which was selected for its supposed ease and political ploy, but we forgot that real, living human beings reside there) in the Waco house, and the chief begged them to to let it take another path but political expedience and gain took over, just like we have done in this meaningless and utterly uneffective war, unless promoting hate and stealing money was the plan to begin with

       

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      identicon
      Teilo, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 10:57am

      Re: Brian

      Thank you, sir! You are a breath of fresh air!

      I am your age, but do not have any of your political experience. I do, however, read profusely, and have learned to pull back the curtain and see what's really at work. I am now to the point that I do not care who wins ANY election but the local elections which I can actually have some influence over.

      You people want real change? Start with yourself - your home town - your county. That's where real change happens. But that kind of change takes personal effort, and it doesn't happen quickly. We are addicted to the quick fix. Pick any decaying governmental construct, whether the patent system, copyright law, etc. None of it fell apart overnight, and there is nothing that can fix it overnight.

       

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    paintballbob (profile), Oct 21st, 2006 @ 7:08am

    Brian, i applaud you

     

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    identicon
    Joe Taxpayer, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 7:55am

    Brian's Comment

    Sir,

    Name names...

     

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    identicon
    harbingerofdoom, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 9:04am

    brians comments

    here here sir! well played.

    unfourtunately there are too many sheeple these days and not enough thinking men/women left who care about the people than themselves.

    you say we have lost the art of compromise, i say how can you compromise when both sides are activly working together to keep the power amongst themselves and only giving us a dog & pony show of elections.

    What saddens me to no end is while congress enjoys only a 12-25% approval rating there are no real political leaders to step up and fill the void of leadership.
    it leaves one with the only option of going with the lesser of two evils.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    UniBoy, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 10:03am

    You people...

    Are part of the problem.

    There is nothing in this thread but bitch after gripe after bitch.

    Instead of looking for the perfect leader to follow, why don't you stand up and BE one.

     

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      identicon
      pure.Caprice, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 10:25am

      Re: You people...

      Because we're lazy bastards, yeah?

      I kid. Believe me, if we could, we would be the perfect leader.

       

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    identicon
    DigitalBomb, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 10:41am

    The truth is that our party system is flawed. Not just inherently, but in today's world all we have are people who are too afraid of losing the possibility of election to actually stand up for something like a real leader does. Anyone who actually does stand up for something in this country is labled as a radical or extremist and we dismiss them from consideration. So it's not a wonder why our political leaders are the way they are. We keep making them that way. It's not to say they; we, can't change it. We can, but it will take someone with untold courage to step up and bring these kinds of issues to the public unsugar-coated.

    That leader will have to be able to take the hits from the media (which is the single greatest cause of political civil war in this country) and learn to adapt to the threats rather than try to eliminate them as our politicians do today.

    People, try to realize, the only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too. They know this, but you don't.

    Quote:
    Uniboy- "Instead of looking for the perfect leader to follow, why don't you stand up and BE one."

    If they did you wouldn't know. The vast majority of elections are local so I doubt you'd ever find out if they did. The only real election that you'd know if they won is the Presidential election. Other than that you'd have to be uncommonly interested in every US city to find out.

    I'm nineteen years old. If a teenager can see the real issues then adults can too. Stop getting caught up in your perfect bubble world views and stop letting religion influence your opinions. For once people, think for yourselves. Most of our political problems, if not all, would be solved if people thought for themselves. So rather than ask you to assume a role among these corrupt leaders of ours unprepared, I ask you all to change your way of thinking to that of openness. If we all think for ourselves, we will achieve our goals. Not everything you want has to be 100%. You can compromise, it won't kill you.

     

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    identicon
    bubba, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 11:02am

    the word SHEEPLE has been patented, please remove your post

     

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    identicon
    Republican Gun, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 11:11am

    abusive tax shelter

    Uneducated liberals like to blame W for everything. These patents will keep the masses from using these shelters. Most tax loopholes become illegal because too many people start using them, then the IRS declares them an abusive tax shelter. It's funny to see liberals cry and blame Bush for everything when in reality, it's the dems that use the prolitariat as pawns to insure their power.

     

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      identicon
      jsnbase, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 11:40am

      Re: abusive tax shelter

      Most tax loopholes become illegal because too many people start using them, then the IRS declares them an abusive tax shelter.

      This is the closest thing to a fact I could find in your ridiculous post. Care to back it up, or do you just want to admit that you made it up?

       

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    identicon
    General Patent, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 11:30am

    IF they patent all methods

    If all methods of tax reductions and payment get patented, does that mean there are no legal ways to pay your taxes?

     

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    identicon
    WhooTAZ, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 1:01pm

    Fair Tax

    Fair Tax is good but then we would also need to CUT all the PORK BARREL fat that exists in the Local, State and Federal Govt

    Ok Bleeding Heart Liberals... Oh the poor will get lost in the system... Shit if they have no money then they need to spend money on food and shelter and not Name Brand clothing, Cell phones, and other luxeries that do not need.

    For once it would be nice to see people live within their means... Meaning spend less than you bring home!

    If you want more and can not afford it, NO 5 FINGER DISCOUNT either! Get a second job you lazy bums!

     

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    identicon
    Dan, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 1:18pm

    Yet another reason

    This is another reason to reform the tax code. This would not be an issue if we reform the tax code and stop ALL corporate and personal deductions. It is quite simple, tax everyone (yes everyone includes corporations) on purchases not on income.

     

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    identicon
    Tim, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 4:06pm

    Patent Grammar

    I'm going to patent the misuse of similar sounding words in internet comment boards.

    For example:
    "there" in place of "their" or perhaps "they're"

    I'm gonna be rich!

     

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    ElectroGeek, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 9:22pm

    Bring on the Flat Tax

    If everyone paid a flat tax without deductions we wouldn't be reading about this nonsense. This is just making a mockery out of the entire patent system. Better yet eliminate the income taxes and tax other items at a higher rate to make up the difference.

     

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      Celes, Oct 23rd, 2006 @ 7:20am

      Re: Bring on the Flat Tax

      The problem with a flat income tax is that lots of people are really good at hiding income. Some states have already worked a way around having to levy a personal income tax - Alaska, Florida, South Dakota, and Texas - while Nevada,Washington, and Wyoming have no personal or corporate income tax.

      However, people will always complain that the way they are taxed is unfair; if we have a federal sales tax, people won't like that either. Any tax reform we propose will meet fervent opposition because someone will be paying more taxes than they previously were.

       

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    identicon
    DigitalBomb, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 9:48pm

    Tim: Yes, yes you will. Even if you only do it for Tech Dirt posters.

     

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    identicon
    mousepaw, Oct 22nd, 2006 @ 6:07am

    Re: Brian's comment

    Another feather in your cap, from me. Brilliant.

    To address uniboy, It's not that easy to stand up and be one.

    I think it's fair to say that most men and women get into government positions to make a difference, at least that's how they get started. The thing is, once you get there you have to play the game or you'll be ousted or framed.

    In Canada, our three-party system has broken down to the same mud-slinging level. The platforms for our last election, for Prime Minister were based on: "he's going to do this and I'm going to stop him!" Brian was right when he said they have to keep the status quo. There is no one here to vote for and no party. They're all saying the same thing and even the original intention of the party, left, right or down the middle has meshed so well we can't tell the difference. Not to mention the number of people "crossing the floor."

    As for the tax issue, do the people that work for these tax firms have to sign over their rights to their ideas, formulas and/or systems? What gives the company the right to patent a program? Who really has ownership?

    It's the same as all the other current trends of how to make more money. We have to pay for everything, including information and the companies patenting the "tax programs" (I didn't know you could do that - thought it had to be a physical "thing" or "device") are culling money from a new source. And that's what we're all doing. All the things that used to be courtesies or "customer service" are now chargeable. I don't feel that it's right but hell, the banks have been getting away with it for years. It's insidious and by the time one recognizes that it's happening, it's too late to do anything about it.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Hunka Hunka, Oct 22nd, 2006 @ 6:37am

    Flat, Fair, VAT, Cat Rat Bat

    Vote out every incumbent, turn over the house and senate and keep doing it until something gets done.
    Set term limits, make serving the country an expression of service not a career.

     

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    wwwqueen, Oct 22nd, 2006 @ 7:44am

    Brian

    1. Please write the book and name names - unless you, too, are afraid something or someone you want to protect will get taken down.

    2. Good grammar/spelling gets more attention than bad grammar/spelling - because, we can read and understand the message - even if we don't like/agree with it.

    3. Fair tax may well be the way to go - and won't happen until all political positions are limited to no more than two terms elected. And don't be surprised if GW wants to change that law, too.

    4. I am voting libertarian in my state this year (for the most part). I used to be a D, and before that a(n) R - but have always voted for whomever I thought might make a difference. This year, the Rs are offensive in my State, and the Ds are mostly outright criminals. I don't agree with all the libertarians have to propose, either, but at least it is a statement the other two might understand.

     

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    identicon
    Obvious Man, Oct 22nd, 2006 @ 11:11am

    THAT'S IT!

    If I had a nickel for every time someone patented a frivilous ... AHA!
    I'm PATENTING THE PATENT PROCESS! EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO PATENT SOMETHING HAS TO PAY ME, AND I GET TO DECIDE WHO PATENTS WHAT! FURTHERMORE, I SHALL NOW PATENT MURDER, HATE CRIMES, RAPE, THEFT ... aw, hell - I'm going to send for a patent on all Felony charges - someone else can take the misdemeanors. EVERYONE convicted of a crime will have to PAY ME in patent rights! I am now the sole owner of Felony charges !(Patent Pending ...), and I will SUE !

     

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      identicon
      MASK, Oct 22nd, 2006 @ 1:55pm

      Re: THAT'S IT!

      It is Obvious that some people have never heard the saying that..It is better to be silent and thought of as a fool, than to speak and eliminate all doubt.. It is not as easy as Obvious Man seems to think it is to be awarded, yes awarded, a business method intellectual rights patent..I don't believe he knows a business method patent from a bag of apples.. Our Patent Office is a freedom that anyone in the world can appreciate...besides, if it weren't for our freedoms and these patents, Mr Obvious would not have been allowed to eliminate all doubt

      PEACE AND FREEDOM TO AMERICA

       

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    •  
      identicon
      MASK, Oct 22nd, 2006 @ 2:46pm

      Re: THAT'S IT!

      It is Obvious that some people have never heard the saying that..It is better to be silent and thought of as a fool, than to speak and eliminate all doubt.. It is not as easy as Obvious Man seems to think it is to be awarded, yes awarded, a business method intellectual rights patent..I don't believe he knows a business method patent from a bag of apples.. Our Patent Office is a freedom that anyone in the world can appreciate...besides, if it weren't for our freedoms and these patents, Mr Obvious would not have been allowed to eliminate all doubt

      PEACE AND FREEDOM TO AMERICA

       

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    MadJo (profile), Oct 23rd, 2006 @ 1:46am

    Good points everyone

    I see some great points in this thread. And I think it comes down to this famous quote:
    "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!"

    Sadly many people don't want to think for themselves, they like being led by some greater power, and let that entity (be that either a god or a governmental entity) make all the hard decisions...

    We, in The Netherlands, also had a campaign long ago, which said: "A better world starts with yourself". Let's all change just a little, to be more open to others, and accept that everyone is different, and alike at the same time.

    Now about this whole Tax deduction patent scandal. Would these really hold up in court? Not that anyone would like to challenge them. (perhaps that's the main problem, no-one is willing to invest time and money to challenge these ludicrous patents and pending patents)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Krishna Manchikalapudi, Oct 23rd, 2006 @ 8:37am

    I need to apply patent for human thinking ;)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    mousepaw, Oct 23rd, 2006 @ 4:46pm

    Taxes in general

    I think if we knew more, or for that matter were involved in (as we're supposed to be) the WAY that our tax dollars were spent, taxes in general wouldn't be such a pain where the sun don't shine.

    I, for one, hate that our tax dollars are spent on companies who don't have to bid (or are the only bidder) and government mucky-mucks who get their personal properties reno'd at our expense; the ad-scam is a big thorn in our side...

    IF (ya, right) the PTB'S should ever let us in on their actual budgets (a.k.a. hidden agendas) we may not have half the resentment at having to pay taxes! As my brother once suggested, why don't they make everybody buy lottery tickets from them, instead of paying taxes. At least that way, we'd have some chance of recovering lost income by winning the jackpot. Who wouldn't buy tickets in anticipation of getting a ton of dough from the government?

     

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