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Opinion

I was in college making a late-night run to a grocery store near campus collecting the materials necessary for a social gathering that was to be recorded in the archives of history. As we turned into the only open register, I recognized the tired face of a young mother. The cashier was explaining something to her and her husband, and then they shared a heavy sigh. I knew this family. They were not unlike many others that I knew – a classmate who could play little league baseball, but doesn’t. The family you don’t often see in church, except first in line when a free meal is offered. Growing up in rural North Carolina, you know many families such as the young family standing in front of me at the cash register. But it was on this night that I realized this circumstance had a name.

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Time magazine reported this week that the estimated tax gap - the amount of money the IRS fails to collect due to misfiling or tax cheaters - is an estimated $600 billion.

The fact that this money goes uncollected ultimately increases the tax rates and the amount of money that you and I pay.

An article from the 2002 study by the Government Accountability Office showed that "fifty-six percent of [tax] returns prepared by a paid preparer had errors in comparison to only forty-seven percent prepared by the taxpayer." In short, over 50 percent of tax returns being filed in the 2002 study were wrong and we "only" had 53,280 pages of tax code back then. Fast forward to 2012 and the code has grown to over 73,000 pages. That's taxation without comprehension and it is only expanding the tax gap.

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It's been difficult getting into NCAA Basketball's “March Madness” because “non-officiating” drives me crazy. What had been the relaxing of certain rules over the years is now a full-blown free pass for players to travel, double dribble and palm the ball at will. Apparently, the basketball rulebook is considered more of a set of general suggestions, not to be taken literally, so the flow of the game isn't interrupted.

In any sport, officiating is made in real time (if you don't include video replay) so there is an acceptance of human error and subjectivity. I'm fine with a mixture of mostly good calls with a smattering of bad calls in a game. What is hard to accept is – no calls. Like one of Pavlov's dogs, every time I see a flagrant rule violation, I begin to salivate – waiting for the whistle that never blows. Back in the last millennium, when traveling or “walking” was still an infraction in basketball, the call would often be disputed. Did he drag his pivot foot or not? Now, we can watch players have alternating pivot feet, do the moonwalk and then palm the ball while they resume their dribble.

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Time and again, throughout America’s history, individuals with a passion for truth and a commitment to justice have opted to defy the unjust laws and practices of the American government in order to speak up against slavery, segregation, discrimination, and war. Even when their personal safety and freedom were on the line, these individuals spoke up, knowing they would be chastised, ridiculed, arrested, branded traitors and even killed.

Indeed, while brave men and women such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry David Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman are lauded as American heroes today, they were once considered enemies of the state.

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published: 10/18/2013
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