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Perfectly Legal
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One of the country's top investigative reporters reveals how the richest 1 percent of the country has rigged the tax code and other laws in its favor
Since the mid-1970s, there has been a dramatic shift in America's socioeconomic system, one that has gone virtually unnoticed by the general public. Tax policies and their enforcement have become a disaster, and thanks to discreet lobbying by a segment of the top 1 percent, Washington is reluctant or unable to fix them. The corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the gift tax have been largely ignored by the media. But the cumulative results are remarkable: today someone who earns a yearly salary of $60,000 pays a larger percentage of his income in taxes than the four hundred richest Americans.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston exposes exactly how the middle class is being squeezed to create a widening wealth 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:
"middle class" tax cuts and exactly whom they benefit how workers are being cheated out of their retirement plans while disgraced CEOs walk away with millions how some corporations avoid paying any federal income tax how a law meant to prevent cheating by the top 2 percent of Americans no longer affects most of them, but has morphed into a stealth tax on single mothers making just $28,000 why the working poor are seven times more likely to be audited by the IRS than everyone else how the IRS became so weak that even when it was handed complete banking records detailing massive cheating by 1,600 people, it prosecuted only 4 percent of them Johnston has been breaking pieces of this story on the front page of The New York Times for seven years. 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.

Most Americans would agree that they are duty bound as beneficiaries of our democracy to pay taxes, and the majority of us do pay°™-exorbitantly. But what about those who do not pay their fair share? David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, here reveals how fairness and equity have eroded from the American tax system. Johnston describes in shocking detail the loopholes our government provides the "super rich"--from private individuals to profitable corporations°™-to hide their wealth, to defer or evade tax payments, and to pass the bill to law-abiding middle-class Americans. The loss in revenue "imposes a severe cost on honest taxpayers" through reduced services, increased federal debt, and a weight on the middle class that threatens to impede its ability to achieve upward social mobility.

Admitting the extreme complexity of our economy and by extension our tax code, Johnston points out that the very wealthy do, of course, pay taxes. However, because of shelters that allow them to understate most of their income, they pay little more on average than most Americans on the dollar. This is regressive, and unquestionably favors the superrich. Johnston includes examples of outrageous corporate malfeasance (such as companies that establish off-shore tax addresses) and exposes the tax benefits of the particularly loathsome practice made famous by Jack Welch, in which thousands of wage earners are laid off while a handful of executives are granted hundreds of millions of dollars through deferred compensation, company stock options, and lucrative retirement packages, all at stock holders' xpense. In addition to these offenses, he describes the tax evasion methods of those who simply defy the law and are emboldened by a beleaguered IRS that is too underfunded to serve as an effective deterrent to tax cheats. Johnston calls for a complete overhaul of the system. But because those who most benefit from these laws comprise the "donor class" that supports the government power structure, our prospects for reform remain very bleak. --Silvana Tropea

Customer Reviews:

  • A book in a different universe
    David C. Johnston lives in a different universe which responds to a different set of rule. If the income tax rate is set at 15 percent and you lower it to 10 percent what you have actually done is raised taxes on the middle class and the poor and lowered taxes on the rich. Once you understand this everything else falls right in place.

    There is a great deal in this book which is simply wrong. The book has a blurb on the cover that there is a conspiracy to eliminate taxes on the rich while raising taxes on everyone else. Of course back when I was in law school in 1974 I took my first course in federal income taxation and was told that the income tax was optional for the rich. I didn't quite understand how the rich could avoid paying anything but it is true. The professor also told the class that if we every handled the taxes of someone earning $70 million we should make sure that they pay at least 10 percent because it looks terrible if someone earning that much pays nothing in taxes.

    This leads to the first problem Johnston does not understand. Since the tax code is so complex and the rich have the ability to manipulate it raising taxes on the rich is meaningless. They pay the amount they want and ignore any increases. The full burden of the federal income tax falls on the middle class and has done so for years.

    Mr. Johnston also fails to mention that this state of affairs was set up when the congress was controlled by the Democrats. Mr. Johnston also fails to understand that there is a reason for this, and that is that the rich control our industry and if you take the money away from them you are taking jobs away from the workers who vote demoncratic.

    In spite of this negativity there is a lot of good information in this book. It is the conclusions what are absurd. The complexity of the tax code is due to the attempts to make it progressive. Eliminate the progressivity and the code becomes much less comples. Make the code less complex and the absurdities which permit the complete avoidance of taxes by the rich much less likely to occur. If we had a flat tax of 10 percent on all income above $40,000 a year there would be no reason to engage in the games which protect us from taxation.

    The current tax system is absurd, complex, unenforceable, and unfair. The only solution is to abolish it and go to a national sales tax (value added?) or a consumption tax. And if we were to cut government spending to say 10 percent of the GDP this would be easy to do.

    But liberal ignoramuses who live in a different world worship and the foot of this monstrosity and write absurd books like this. Take it out of the library like I did and don't waste your money on it. If you disagree with me just look at Teresa Heinz Kerry who is worth $750 million. Her estate is carefully set up with trusts and she pays no or minimal taxes. This is why she has refused to reveal her tax returns. These are the people who want us to pay this tax. Give me a break.

    ...more info
  • Packed With Knowledge!
    The media and middle-class voters have blandly accepted tax cuts for the wealthy, thanks to the theory that the rich have paid more than their fair share of taxes for a long time. Nothing could be further from the truth, journalist David Cay Johnston convincingly argues. Using thorough research and startling examples, Johnston makes a persuasive case that the rich enjoy a free ride from Uncle Sam, while the middle class is saddled with an ever-increasing tax burden. Johnston takes you on a hair-raising tour of posh jets, corporate compensation committee meetings and IRS offices, piling up the evidence that the deck is stacked in favor of the rich. Johnston's strident tone grows a bit tiresome, yet the results of his reporting are sure to raise the blood pressure of anyone who hasn't benefited from a lucrative tax dodge. We recommend this trenchant book to anyone with an interest in creating a fairer U.S. tax system - or in living with the one they've got....more info
  • Excellent and disturbing
    I read this book when it came to paperback a couple of years after its published date. I was so disturbed by some of the stories of freeloaders and tax cheats that I had to stop and google the offenders and to my surprise many of them are now behind bars for tax fraud!

    No one likes paying taxes, but as a self-employed person I pay more than my fair share four times a year, and I am in the most likely group to be audited! So trust me I hate taxes as much as anyone.

    But this book is really about the entire tax system and how it is broken and slanted for those with the very most. Mr. Johnston explains in detailed analysis going decades back into our tax codes, laws and rates and how over time the burden has been shifted from corporations and the extremely wealthy to ordinary working Americans. Johnston is also quite fair in blaming both political parties, and political leaders for their lack of tax understanding, tax laws and basic economic theory. The problems are on both sides of the fence, and we need to fix our system before things like the punishing Alternative Minimum Tax hit more and more middle income people.

    Some other topics that Mr. Johnston brings up. How misguided political slashing of the IRS budget and staff has lead to an increase of audits of the poorest and the least able to fight back. And if you file for the Earned Income Tax credit, a credit for poor working parents, you are extremely likely to be audited. Meanwhile the extremely wealthy get by with huge tax scams costing the system billions.

    Also a very quick read, Johnston has a way of writing complicated economic data simply. I read this in about 4 days. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. ...more info
  • David Cay Johnson's Bias
    Many have criticized this book for being anti-GOP. Just a note for you, Mr. Johnson is a registered Republican. However, he reserves the right to criticize both parties and will not blindly follow the party line like many Americans do.

    The book is fairly objective. No matter what side of the political spectrum (or the $87,000 S.S. cutoff line) you are, you will enjoy this investigation into what's wrong with our Social Security system and why a lockbox or any other panaceas will not save us!

    FYI: I am an independent but a conservative ideologically....more info

  • Great, but a key part is missing
    This is a very informative and readable book on a subject matter that must be understood more broadly to keep our golden goose from being driven off the edge of a cliff by the greediest members of our society. Since I agree with most of the complements written about this book by others, I will focus my remarks on some important deficits.
    The generally missing part of any discussion of taxes, and missing from this book, is the clarification of the equitable basis for taxation. Often, someone will propose some scheme of taxation and simply claim that it is equitable. Many, like Steve Forbes, think that it is equitable for someone else to pay more of their taxes. In an equitable tax scheme each taxable entity should pay taxes in a share that is proportionate to the benefits that entity derives, directly and indirectly, from the tax supported infrastructure. It is similar to paying a proportionate share of the rent of a building based upon the value of one's beneficial occupancy. Neither gross income, taxable income nor any form of consumption based taxes comes close to being equitable. Many among the wealthiest citizens could be taxed at 100% of gross income and they still wouldn't come close to paying a share proportionate to the benefits that they derive. They are amused to see how easily the public is taken in by comparisons based upon income. They know that they can manipulate income to any level they wish. Most of their annual increase in wealth does not show up as income. In addition, their unrealized capital gains are readily made accessible to them by their ability to borrow and by other means not available to those less fortunate.
    The author mentions "supply-side economics," but fails to explain how the simple, and reasonably correct, supply-side theory has been transmogrified into a tax theft scheme. The theory states that if a supply is introduced into the market, the market will eventually recognize it and, at some price, remove it from the market. The theory does not at all suggest that this is good business practice. Under conditions of a lack of demand, an increase in supply is not a stimulant. The best price at which to buy it is sufficiently below scrap value such that a subsequent sale as low as scrap value will provide a profit. The highest price that should be paid is sufficiently below the cost of production of any current producers such that they will be unable to compete with a profitable sale.
    The supply-siders suggest that they can stimulate the market by using the tax system to take money from consumers and transfer it to producers in the hope that they will increase supply and the presence of supply will stimulate demand. They would have you believe that, under conditions of a current lack of demand, producers will be so foolish that they will increase the dead load in the supply chain in the hope of selling more goods to those who will have even less money with which to purchase it. I don't think that I have to explain why it has never worked.
    Neither is there the slightest evidence that there is any lack of capital available to producers when there is even a faint hope of money in the marketplace. Certainly, the recent Internet bubble amply illustrated that there is a flood of capital even when that hope is just an illusion. That has been the case at least since the Tulip Mania of 1635. There is always more capital available than there good applications. No one need use taxation to stuff the pockets of the rich at the expense of consumers.
    In addition to tax code tricks, the author might have mentioned how your taxes are bloated with contract games. How about building a Maginot Line in space? It is called an anti-missile defense system. Like the Maginot Line, it might work if you can find an enemy dumb enough to attack it in precisely the manner in which it was designed to defend. There are dozens of ways to get around it and every one of them works better and costs less than an anti-missile defense system. Even advancing technologies make the means of skirting it work better than their enhancement of the system. Of course, the administration knows it is a losing strategy, but it is a great means of pouring hundreds of billions of your tax dollars into their patrons pockets.
    Taxation cannot be considered without consideration of the economic productivity of our political parties. As all studies have shown, one of our political parties produces all of the wealth for our society. The other party destroys national wealth faster than communism stripped away the wealth of the old Soviet Union. You can easily look up two of the best studies.
    http://www.biblio.liuc.it:8080/biblio/toc/jpmfall993.htm for the Journal of Portfolio Mgt. article.
    http://econpapers.hhs.se/paper/cdlanderf/11074.htm (indirect) or for direct access to the UCLA study:
    http://econpapers.hhs.se/scripts/redir.pl?u=http%3A%2F%2Frepositories.cdlib.org%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1074%26context%3Danderson%2Ffin&h=repec:cdl:anderf:11074
    The Republican Party claims that it is good for business, but every study shows that it has been a dismal failure for more than seventy years. Have the courage to look up as many studies as you like and then see if you can deal with what is real. Then, if you can tolerate another nasty bit of truth, see if, by real metrics, you can prove that the Republican Party is more conservative than the Democratic Party. Although both parties steal our money to pay off the special interests that finance their campaigns, one party is nothing more than a tax scam....more info
  • If you are wealthly, you .....
    Perhaps one of the most telling statements was that the overall tax burden for federal taxes is 15.3 cents, while that of the top 400 taxpayers (if the 2003 tax cuts were in effect) were 17.5 cents. When one adds in state, local, and property taxes, the poorest fifth pay 18 cents, while the richest fifth pay 19 cents. There is a great deal of background information about the effect on deferred executive compensation on corporate profits, the effect of the AMT (alternate minimum tax) on people who are not rich, and the propensity of the IRS to focus a great deal of resources on auditing the wage earner, who can hide very little of his income since it is reported on W-2 and 1099 forms anyway. But, with reduced IRS audit resources, auditing the little guy provides statistics, while the complexity of the wealthier tax shelters requires resources and reduces the numbers. But, auditing the tax shelters is where the tax recovered is greatest, but it is not often done. If the tax structure would be changed to a consumption (sales) tax, then the retiree would face double taxation since the retiree is spending after tax income for something that is then taxed. There are a lot of insights into the tax shelters available to the extremely wealthy (with an 'entrance fee' sometimes in the millions, not too many can enter into those deals). If there are tax dodges that are not caught, then it is wrong. If they are simply using loopholes then it is a value judgment although how they were created shows the power of money. If there is a bottom line, it is that adequate resources need to be made available to enforce the tax laws so that the tax laws apply to everyone. Note I term 'enforce the tax laws', not whether they are fair. If the laws are not enforced, it has the effect of allowing the system to break down. Taxes are necessary for society and society can make the rules they wish. The author also makes an interesting observation that auditors sometimes leave the IRS to set up tax shelters for wealthy clients using information they have gleaned from loopholes in the tax code. Another interesting statement is that the 'tax letters' used in setting up shelters are only opinions, but if they are written into hundreds of pages of detailed verbage, it can have the effect of getting the IRS to back down, or at the very least provide 'cover' for the client. One thing that should get most people angry is the statement that if seems that the IRS does not really penalize the abuser of tax shelters, even when they are found illegal....more info
  • Subsidizing the Rich.
    "Perfectly Legal" is the result of nine years of investigative research by the author. Some sources that he cites are tax lawyers, accountants, preparers, and tax protesters.

    Mr. Johnson observes that "our tax system now forces most Americans to subsidize the lifestyles of the very rich, who enjoy the benefits of our democracy without paying their fair share of it's price."
    There are examples of tax "engineers" that for a large fee will share schemes that allow tax evasion by exploiting a plethora of tax loopholes.

    Of the many means employed to cheat on taxes, the deferral of compensation was an interesting and very common method. The battle over jet-travel perks was another expensive tax avoidance controversy.

    The chapter "Big Payday" on executive's compensation was an eye-opener.
    Is anyone worth some of these compensation packages? No! But that's corporate greed in it's most blatant form. The author demonstrates that greed is not owned solely by corporations and is often not easily detected. It is also rarely prosecuted.

    Some more of the topics that struck me the most are:
    The myth of the estate tax causing a loss of family farms. Most interesting is the the reason why the rich like Warren Buffett, George Soros, and Bill Gates, Sr. support the estate tax. Mr. Johnston states a disturbing fact- "Some of the biggest fortunes in America have never been taxed, not even once."

    The hidden side-effects of the Alternative Minimum Tax or otherwise called the "Stealth Tax".

    How tax evasion vehicles are promoted by tax advisers and large financial firms in an open fashion. Some of those advisers were former IRS employees. The 861 position was investigated.

    The business philosophy employed by a few notorious CEOs which basically amounts to squeezing the pay and numbers of workers and then rewarding the executive on a ridiculous level.

    How patriotism (remember the old logo "Made in America?) has taken a back seat while American corporations "expatriate" offshore.

    The details of oil companies tax dodging schemes such as claiming profits in a foreign country and claiming expenses in the U.S.

    The "moral hazard" of the limited liability partnerships(LLPs).
    These partnerships limit the accountability of partners, removing potential incentive to monitor each other.

    "What is in short supply in America is not capital, but income- at least for the half of Americans getting by on less than $28,000 per year- and educated minds. But our policy is aimed at more capital in the hands of the few, not at higher incomes for most so that they can acquire more assets..." Page 312-313.

    "Transparency is good for the taxpayers overall, bad for the favored few." Page 315.
    Those are a few of the astute observations made by the author.

    If you only read one book the politics of taxes and the rich, I recommend reading "Perfectly Legal" by David Cay Johnston!...more info
  • So What's Wrong with a Flat Tax
    I had no idea what to expect prior to reading this book. I half expected the book to be similar to a Michael Moore (albeit, not as funny) or an Ann Coulter rant. Not so. I was pleasantly surprised to find a well thought out argument in each chapter. The author seems slightly left but finds plenty of opportunity to bash both Democrats and Republicans. So if your looking for something to get your partisan juices flowing, this ain't it.

    If you have the slightest interest, go to the book store and read Chapter 7 Stealth Tax. This chapter gives a history of the Alternative Minimum Tax. It describes how the Bush Tax Cuts will affect families with incomes from 75,000 to 500,000 by having them fall into AMT. To be fair, this unfortunate proposition was accelerated by the Bush Tax Cuts and not exclusively caused by them. I have been there before, it's not a good place to be. Very Broadly, you lose all your itemized deductions and get taxed on Net Income. Now that will make you rethink your W-4's.

    Don't read it before bed though, you'll just get aggravated....more info

  • David Cay Johnston is Republican
    For those of you who have written saying the David Cay Johnston
    is "anti GOP" and that this book "is another liberal class warfare agenda piece" please note that Mr. Johnston is a registered republican....more info
  • Do you wanna know how little you matter to our government--enough to be audited because you aren't the super rich!
    Read this book yesterday! This is important stuff and will piss you off on every page--get to it!...more info
  • I apologize
    I apologize for the person that used my name for a review of Mr. Johnston's book. It was not me and what I have read from the book, I believe is very informative and truthful. Mr. Johnston has since contacted me and I have communicated with him several times, he is a very helpful person and should not be ridiculed like he was....more info
  • Did you ever notice...
    ...how those who are most ready to shout "Class warfare!" are those who most benefit from it? In a real sense, that's what this book is about. Those who have the most money manipulate the tax system to benefit themselves.
    Although there's nothing really new about that premise, it's reading the specifics here that will really alarm you. For while it's all too human to roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders, and ask "What're ya gonna do?" this book reveals so many disgusting details, you just might be moved to take action. At any rate, it always pays to be informed....more info
  • Greed
    A book about greed. This one is about ways to cheat the IRS thereby cheating all taxpayers. In the mid 60's business schools taught courses in ethics and often you would hear "You not only have to be ethical, you have to appear ethical". Things have changed. In 1998, the IRS ruled that professional firms could be organized as a Limited Liability Partnership. Before this rule each partner in a firm would be personally liable for the misconduct of his partners. Now legal and accounting firms may sell tax shelters which may not pass muster with the IRS without risk to other partners in the firm. This is exactly what has happened bigtime as illustrated in this book....more info
  • The Author is right!
    I've read this .... which is something more than some of the reviewing attack dogs seem to have done.

    I've also read Mr. Johnston's review of his own book, which cautions against political attack dogs from either side making of this book something that it's not.

    We have a tax system that is what it is. And what Mr. Johnston has done is to indicate where the tilts are and how they came to be. If you're among the super-rich, this is great.

    On the other hand, if you're one of the suckers who believes what's being said about our tax system, then shame on you.

    Inevitably, Bush critics will find supporting evidence here. But so too will critics of any administration who seriously look at the way our tax system has been and will be administered.

    Republicans and Democrats alike should both be given pause in their partisan bickering and consider these issues -- rather than blindly lashing out....more info

  • The Wealthy are gaining again.
    This book shows us how the wealthy are gaining and the poor just keep and stay poor. If you make more than $250,000 you are winning in the tax game here in America, while those making less than $250,000 are paying the taxes.
    This is a must read book....more info
  • Perfectly Legal Should be Required Reading in Every School
    Johnston reports on taxes for The New York Times. In Perfectly Legal he lays out, in clear and easy to read prose, how the tax code has been used to shift to the wealthy the vast benefits which have flown from technology-enhanced productivity. Johnston, a registered republican, lays the blame on politicians from both parties who over the last 30 years have paid more attention to the wants of the wealthy than the hopes and desires of the vast majority of American tax payers. Reading this book will make you angry, because Johnston establishes very clearly that the wealthy are getting much wealthier at the expense of the rest of us. We have been the victims of a perfectly-legal massive theft of unprecedented proportions. If we put up with this then we are giving up much more than our hard-earned share of newly created wealth, we may be giving up our democracy....more info
  • if you make between $50k and $500K you are getting shafted
    If you would like to learn some more about problems with the
    tax code this book is for you.

    Basic summary:
    if you make between $50k and $500K you are getting shafted
    to enable huge tax cuts for super millionaires.<......more info

  • "Perfectly Legal" WILL get you madder than hell.
    By the time they're halfway through this book, 999 out of 1000 people will be outraged at the unfairness that exists in our modern tax system. (If you're that 1 out of 1000, please visit my Wish List.) Unfairness in the sense that our tax system allows the ultra-wealthy to continually push more and more of the tax burden onto the working class. I think the author does a good job of presenting his argument, backing it up with facts, and placing sufficient blame on both major political parties that nobody could call this book partisan....more info
  • Easy but difficult read
    I cannot offer enough enthusiasm in the written word to tell all Americans to read this book. It is easy and clear reading; but, I also add difficult because I could read only a few pages before having to take a breather. The book, by its revelations, so incenses me that I feel as though the top of my head will blow off.

    How can we, as adult citizens, allow the wealthy and their hirelings to get away with screwing the general public so much? Johnston's book tells so much that it is almost too much. His next book, Free Lunch, is just as devastating to the wealthy. This country is going down the tubes and Johnston tells us most of the reasons why....more info
  • The title deceives
    The author, a NY Times writer, borrows from another NY Times writer to further promote the Paul Krugman school of journalism. The methodology is to take a topic that 99.9% of the population knows little or nothing about, play fast & loose with complex issues & then sell to the reader a scenario that is not even remotely accurate. But then, who cares about accuracy when hardly anyone can dispute your points? Most knowledgable CPA's, such as myself, could write a book about Johnston's distortions. This guy would love speaking to the typical leftist Times readers but he wouldn't show up at a CPA Society meeting on a bet. The biggest flaw of all is the title. In chapter after chapter every topic covered comes down to cheating, there's virtually nothing covered in the book that is perfectly legal. But "robbing from the poor to give to the rich" is a much better sales tool than "IRS does a poor job on tax law compliance". Johnston also has multiple cases of some of the most obtuse logic one could imagine. If IRS goes after a single mother to collect tax, Johnston would have you believe their purpose is to turn the money over to millionaires. There is a story that can be gotten from this book and that is that it is shameful that IRS is handcuffed by Congress in the enforcement of tax law. But Johnston's presentation, logic and conspiracy theories are laughable. Gary M Hetrick Medina, Ohio...more info
  • Ideologies aside, Perfectly Legal is must reading.
    This book will get under your skin no matter your political leanings. Johnston does an impressive job of showing how our Congress has let the plurality of Americans down, though not necessarily with malice in mind. The issue really comes down to political access, and there's nobody out there pushing for the lower/middle/upper middle classes like the hordes of lobbyists and fake think tanks have done for the very rich. As long as our voices aren't heard, and complex policy problems are dumbed down with catchy marketing slogans (Death Tax vs. Estate Tax) and exaggerations of who is affected -- less than 2% of estates actually exceeded the threshold for the Death Tax to kick in, and no family farms have EVER been lost due to the tax despite assertions by the Bush administration to the contrary -- things will only get worse. Particularly damning is the impending crisis of the Alterntive Minumum Tax (AMT) that was originally designed to ensure those making $1M or more actually paid some income taxes. However, due to a number of factors, that tax is creeping in on middle and upper middle class families that can ill afford to lose the deductions to which they've grown accustom (standard deduction, child credits, mortgage, property taxes, etc.). Moreover, by 2010, the AMT will affect 73% of Americans making $100k or less. This was not the intent of the Congress, but the tax cuts afforded to the rich have/had to be paid for somehow since government expenditures certainly haven't decreased commensurate with its tax revenue reductions (from the rich that is). Those are just two of many examples of how those with the political access shape policies that only negatively affect the rest of us. Johnston makes it very clear that Democrats and Republicans are both responsible for the state of the tax code, and I hope enough people learn about this that we can make it an issue for our politicians to talk about in the near future. ...more info
  • Perfectly Legal, by David Cay Johnston
    The taxation system was previously of little to no interest to me. You pay and they leave you alone. But this book was a complete suprise. I understood every word because it is so perfectly written - like a newspaper article that you spend all Sunday reading. Wow! This is a must read book for anyone who wonders how things in goverment really run. I was so surprised on every page. Opinions I once had were completely reversed, and that is not something I do easily. David Cay Johnston is one smart guy. I used to work with him at the LA Times and just picked up this book because it was someone I knew way back when. He has not changed. Diligent, interesting, energetic and right on! Wish I could sit down with him today and have one of those Mannings brownies in the LA Times employee cafeteria and just talk endlessly about this book. I gave a copy to my attorney and my CPA and they enjoyed it as well. I bought 12 copies, so I have run up the numbers by myself, and everyone has thanked me - before AND after they have read this very informative book.If you do nothing else to prepare yourself for the upcoming presidential election, read this book!...more info