ATLANTA, May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Apple, Inc. recently "took a bite" out of its corporate tax liabilities and caused a public outcry. But the ethical issues raised by such a move do not begin or end with them alone, observed Crown CEO Chuck Bentley in the Washington Post today, in a piece titled "Apple's tax ethics: Unpatriotic or Shrewdness in Action."
"The discovery that this innovative technology giant (that has successfully placed cutting edge tools in half of the homes in America) has legally avoided paying U.S. federal income tax on billions of dollars of net income has many outraged and questioning the ethics of their actions," wrote Bentley. "While some lawmakers decry these legitimate 'loopholes' in the tax code as unfair or worse, unethical, I would argue that we are witnessing a modern example of shrewdness in action."
The best-selling author continued: "The case of Apple's excessive success at legal tax avoidance should lead our legislators to examine the real unethical practices with our current system – sacred political cows allowed to opt out of taxes and political constituencies given a free pass. An estimated one-half of all Americans pay no federal income tax while the top five per cent of wage earners pay nearly 50% of the revenues collected by the federal government.
"Punishing the most efficient stewards of resources to garner more for the most inefficient users who often redistribute it for political favors and special interests is not good public policy. Partisan use and abuse of the IRS and the tax code is also an ethical issue. Placing a contrived burden on political rivals and protecting political allies and their cash does not build confidence in the current system. This should be another focus of outrage.
"We need a sweeping overhaul and simplification of the tax code. This has been long overdue and many good plans have been repeatedly rebuffed. Every citizen of America that drives our highways enjoys the peace provided by our public security and the benefits afforded by our freedom should pay the same proportion of taxes regardless of income.
"A flat tax would be a tax code all could understand; or, disbanding the current income tax structure altogether to consider a national sales tax, for example, would ensure that all pay as they consume – which naturally would impact big spenders more than modest consumers.
"As Presidential candidate, Herman Cain, once famously quipped, 'If 10% is good enough for God, it should be good enough for the government.' The old adage, 'Only two things in life are certain, death and taxes' is now only true for half of us. How ethical is that?"
Click here to read the entire column at the Washington Post.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown, a nonprofit business and personal finance policy and educational organization, and best-selling author of "The S.A.L.T. Plan: How to Prepare for an Economic Crisis of Biblical Proportions" as well host of the nationally syndicated radio feature, My MoneyLife™, follow him, @chuckbentley. For more information, go to www.crown.org. For interviews contact: [email protected]