I don’t understand the fuss about Mitt Romney’s enormous earnings and his little tiny taxes. He’s just living the American dream, giving life to some of his investments and the kiss of death to others, and helping sharpen the debate about the national deficit.
We should stop pissing and moaning, and listen to Mel Brooks, who, with Carl Reiner in The Tax Expert, explains that he pays only $1.40 on an income of $100,000. How can that be? Reiner asks. I take the entire nation of Romania as dependents, Brooks responds. How can you do that? Reiner asks. I send them things — old socks, Time magazines, chocolate pudding, and, besides, nobody else is claiming them.
If you wanna be like Mitt, think like Mel. I have, and it has taken pounds of ugly fat off my tax bill. For example:
1. I deduct the cost of food as a medical expense: If you don’t eat, you die. What could be worse for your health than death? Food is just medicine that happens to go well with beer.
2. From my income, I subtract lottery jackpots that I might have won, but didn’t: You have to declare gambling and lottery winnings as income. If I win the lottery, the government shares in my good luck … a lot. If my luck is bad, they should also share … a lot.
3. I do not check the Presidential Campaign Election option: I know the form says doing so will not change my tax or refund, but I recently saw the IRS Commissioner interviewed on TV. He was laughing, and I know why.
4. I deduct from my Adjusted Gross Income certain business expenses of performing artists: I was singing in the shower recently. I got so wrapped up in the surround sound that I was late for work at the car dealership and missed a big commission that went to another salesman. I don’t have to spell it out, do I?
5. I include my neighbor’s capital losses, but not his capital gains, on my return: Curiously, the stock tips I gave him went sour whereas his broker’s suggestions did well. Just as I should not take credit for the gains I didn’t suggest, I should take responsibility for the losses I’ve caused. It’s a simple moral obligation.
So, let’s not jump on Mitt. He’s only doing what we should be savvy enough to do for ourselves. In fact, I’ve offered to make this point on the campaign trail with him. I haven’t heard from his people yet, though they may have called and I just couldn’t get to the phone in time.