Tax competency a test

of candidate suitability

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The yearly chore of filling out tax returns is one that many people are reluctant to do by themselves, hence their use of software or tax consultants. This onerous task involves the basic skills of organizing, concentrating, following instructions and using simple arithmetic with the aid of a calculator.

If we want candidates for state or national offices to be capable and honest, not only should their tax returns be made public, they should be asked, “Do you complete your family’s tax forms with anyone’s assistance, and if not, why not?”

If they answer, “I’m too busy,” this could translate to “I am too self-important to carve out the hours doing what is expected of everyone else.”

If they answer, “It’s too complicated,” this could translate to “I have too many properties, investments and business interests to keep track of, and I probably won’t devote much time to serving your interests.”

They will not say, “I’m not capable,” although this might be the most honest answer. But someone who aspires to public office should possess these skills. We do not want to elect someone who is unintelligent, careless, easily distracted or conflicted.

If we do not want politicians who serve only themselves and their party instead of the citizens, we must hold candidates’ feet to the fire to determine if they are fully qualified.

Regarding the presidential election, I can only state that when pandering to a subset of voters by promising things that are “free,” a candidate is insulting those taxpayers who will end up paying for these “free” things.

It is unlikely that a law will be passed to require candidates to do their own tax returns, but I would put more trust in those who can show proficiency in the task. It would be a great benefit to us taxpayers to expect this of our lawmakers, because it would mean that the tax laws would be simplified PDQ.

Tim Orgain.


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