Audit Them All?
by Byrne Hobart
Via TaxProf, I found this article suggesting that we audit all high-ranking politicians political figures. Not to be vindictive — or not just, anyway — but because people take cues from politicians on how to behave, and incidents like the Daschle tax affair make people less likely to take taxes seriously.
This doesn’t just have the obvious effect of streamlining the nomination process by digging dirt in advance. And it’s also not just a way to keep politicians honest about the favors they’re getting from — and doing for — their friends.
Nope, it’s actually based on a legitimate study, which showed that people cheat less on their taxes when they think others cheat less, too.
The great thing about a proposal like this is that it would be so hard for anyone to honestly object. The version suggested in the link actually requires that we not release the results to the public. Instead, people would just be informed if their representatives ahd over- or under-paid.
Granted, this is a one-shot deal. If regular audits became more common, a few crooks would shape up, and the rest would just try to be a little more subtle. But in the meantime, it would create the appearance that people are obeying the law. And as the study showed, those appearances can be all that really matters.