Pharos-Tribune

Columns

July 3, 2014

CREDITOR: A Jewish perspective on taxes and poverty

Here are two related statistics, both of which may surprise you: 1) More than 1.2 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty, and 2) Every year, poor countries lose more money to tax avoidance than they receive in aid.

Here is something that should shock a citizen of the United States just as much: Current U.S. law enables this economic inequality.

I recently returned from Washington, D.C., where I joined the interfaith, bi-partisan anti-poverty group Jubilee USA and other faith leaders and small-business owners from across the country to encourage our elected officials to reform the tax system and protect the most vulnerable among us. Perhaps what surprised me most was that even legislative allies in the efforts to repair the fabric of our nation’s economic inequality feel immobilized by the enormity of the task. To the paralysis, often experienced when confronted with big problems, I offer this faith response, culled from centuries of Jewish tradition: Ours is not to complete the task, but neither are we exempt from starting the work today.

I expressed to our elected representatives that whatever they think about taxes, we should have a tax system in which everybody pays their fair share. To me, this is one of those issues where Republicans and Democrats can – and must – agree. It makes no sense to have legal loopholes that allow big companies to avoid their share of taxes and then pass the burden on through reduced services and increased taxation for the rest of us.

In the United States, tax haven loopholes cost an estimated $90 billion in lost revenue each year. This is an enormous problem with enormous consequences, experienced in every strata of our nation. In the developing world, the problem is even bigger. During my trip to Washington, for instance, I learned that for every $10 poor countries receive in aid, they lose $15 because of large companies not paying their taxes. We heard the story of a woman in Zambia, who works 15 hours a day for $4, but who regularly pays a higher percentage in taxes than the enormous European-owned sugar company operating in her town. That company uses a web of “shell companies” and tax havens to avoid paying taxes. That means reduced funding for health services for the people of Zambia. These travesties, what my faith would call sin, is that all of this is legal. An even greater sin would be our silence as citizens.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 25, 2014

  • FREY: Hero pilot still on a mission to save lives Ordinary people who live their lives, do something spectacular one day, and then embrace a great cause after retirement are tops in my book.Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III is such an individual. He is the pilot who safely landed a US Airways airplan

    July 25, 2014

  • HAMILTON: Why incumbents keep getting reelected It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its approval rating. In June, a Gallup poll found members’ standing with the American people at a historic low for a mid

    July 24, 2014

  • WILLIAMS: Four-legged family I have three pets. First, Paisley, a long-haired cream and tortoise Ragdoll cat. She’s the aristocracy in our group, compared to the rest of us, who are all blue collar folks. Her movements are slow and stately and her mien is gracious. She is by far

    July 24, 2014

  • Holly Sklar SKLAR: Small businesses want minimum wage increase If Congress actually listened to small business owners, the minimum wage would be going up. Instead, July 24 will mark five years without an increase since the federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 an hour in 2009.Small business livelihoods depend on

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • KITCHELL: Reaction times change, but motorists don't Earlier this year, I came home one afternoon to find the worst accident on North Street I can ever recall.A bevy of police cars and four flatbed trucks were removing the pawns in an accident that damaged four vehicles. It was a bit unusual considerin

    July 23, 2014

  • MARCUS: Tax simplification is no simple matter The governor and his select invitees to his closed tax conference last month praised simplifying Indiana’s tax code. It is an idea better loved by Americans than baseball, apple, pie or motherhood.There is no question that our national and state tax

    July 22, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The sheer dumbness of an enormous dome There is a TV series about an entire town trapped under a giant, mysterious crystal-clear dome that appears out of the blue one day. The dome is impenetrable; no one can get in, no one can get out. Who made the dome? Aliens? God? A super-secret branc

    July 22, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Road to funding Indiana highways jammed If you’ve driven on either of Indiana’s two busiest interstates recently, you’ll understand why a blue-ribbon commission last week called for adding traffic lanes to those harrowing highways.The report, issued by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on T

    July 21, 2014

  • LYONS: When academic committees play 'police' If one believes even a significant fraction of the horror stories in the national news media, beastly male behavior has become almost epidemic on American college campuses. Tales of drunken sexual assaults and worse multiply from sea to shining sea.E

    July 21, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.