Friday, April 20, 2012

The Powers That Beat © 2012 ELyssa Durant

Published on Apr 20, 2012 by

Can you imagine when this race is won?

Sooner or later we will all be gone.

I don't want to perish like a fading horse.

Do you really want to live forever?

Hoping for the best but expecting the worst...

Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?

It's so hard to get old without a cause...

So many adventures couldn't happen today, so many songs we forgot to play.

Do you really want to live forever, forever and ever?




The Powers That Beat © 2012





The Powers That Beat © 2012 Elyssa Durant

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Twenty Questions: One Answer

1. Can I buy a cemetery plot in cyberspace?

2. Why is it illegal to commit suicide?
Correction: It is not illegal to commit suicide; it is only a crime to attempt suicide. Perhaps we should make it a capital offense?

3. Can I get course credit for traffic school?

4. Who do you call when 911 puts you on hold?

5. Will the Department of Education ever realize it would be cheaper to hire me than harass me?

6. Shouldn't my financial planner be required to have good credit?

7. Why can't I find the word "synonym" in the thesaurus?

8. Have you ever needed a map to find items inside your own home?

9. Does Walt Disney have a death certificate if he is indefinitely suspended in a cryogenics lab?

10. Why is it so much easier to lose my keys when I put them in an obvious place?

11. Is an accidental life insurance policy really an appropriate graduation gift?

12. Why buy life insurance to pay my final expenses?

12b.  Who gets paid first: The tax man or the funeral director? 

13. Have you ever received a check in the amount of 31 cents?

14. Have you ever been *69'd by the suicide prevention hotline?

15. Why do I have to make copies of documents I wish I could destroy?

16. Would you rather be a witness your own birth or your own funeral?

17. Which would you rather be: a homeless person with agoraphobia or a claustrophobic inmate?
 ANSWER: It is far better to be a homeless with agoraphobia than an inmate with claustrophobia.
The homeless person could always commit a crime and get locked up. Problem solved! 

18. Why is it so easy to remember the things I would like to forget?

19. Have you ever used a map so you can't find your way home?   

19B. Have you ever felt lost when you finally get there?

20. Have you ever just asked yourself, "What the Fuck???"
     (~Tom Cruise, Risky Business)

298 slices of life. Fun.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Voter Apathy?


Uploaded by on Mar 1, 2012
Laptop stolen just before the election, turns up at a strip club that got shut down for operating without a license. Voter Apathy or common sense. Wackenhut at it's finest.

Gee—with all the bitching we do about voter apathy, low voter turnout, and then about the people who are ultimately elected by the few who do vote; the media seems to be making an awful big deal about the upcoming primary elections.

The deadline to register for the upcoming primary was today, January 7, 2008.

Yet, in the midst of it all, I just received a letter dated January 2, 2008 along with approximately 370,000. Coincidentally—this is roughly the same number of TennCare recipients who were dropped from the rolls (dis-enrolled due to reform) just a few years ago]] people that my personal information (including my social security number) has been compromised due to a break-in at the Davidson County Election Commission on Christmas Eve in Nashville, Tennessee.


I cannot be the only one who is wondering how this will affect voter registration, turnout, or “apathy” in the future.

Ironically, as an additional side note, the state of Tennessee just happened to pass new, “progressive” legislation regarding identity theft the very same day the “warning” letter was mailed. It is almost too much of a coincidence, don’t you think?

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I am still trying to wrap my head around this one!

Publication: The City Paper; Date:2008 Jan 08; Section:Front Page

From The Powers That Beat

Answering the call by asking the right questions...

Citypaper.comments viewpoints from our
Web site: Nashville City Paper


“…I just received a letter dated Jan. 2, 2008 along with approximately 370,000… people that my personal information (including my social security number) has been compromised due to a break-in at the Davidson County Election Commission on Christmas Eve in Nashville, Tennessee. I cannot be the only one who is wondering how this will affect voter registration, turnout, or “apathy” in the future. Ironically, as an additional side note, the state of Tennessee just happened to pass new, “progressive” legislation regarding identity theft the very same day the “warning” letter was mailed. It is almost too much of a coincidence, don’t you think? Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I am still trying to wrap my head around this one!” — elyssad, in response to “Councilman wants independent audit of Election Commission,” Jan. 7.


Blackberry Meltdown

Uploaded by on Aug 26, 2011
There were twelve in total. Two droids a bricked iPHONE and nCOGNITO... You name it I've Bricked IT.

App Error 200. The White Screen of Death.




Standard YouTube License

#ONE Last Appeal

Uploaded by on Nov 29, 2011

Setting up livestream video so next time the world can see how the Police responded after multiple neighbors called 911 in Metro Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.

Property Management has not even returned a single phone call and I left countless messages to follow up and report FOUR victims of separate felony assault incidents that occurred last week in Metro Nashville, TN.

Attacked twice in my apartment complex?

Police made one arrest for felony assault and released them a few hours later.

TWO of these assaults were direct threats on my life, and that resident has yet to be taken into custody.

Police told me not to leave my apartment until the landlord or MDHA removes the tenant.

That does NOT relieve them of their responsibility to investigate or arrest the man who is admitted he was trying to kill me.

He missed my head by less than one foot perhaps only because the safety glass (which he shattered) slowed the trajectory.





Monday, April 16, 2012

Amazing Grace by Elyssa Durant, Ed.M. © 2012

Amazing Grace: The lives of children and the conscience of a nation. (by Jonathan Kozol)

In Amazing Grace: The lives of children and the conscience of a nation, Jonathan Kozol paints a vivid picture of the conditions in the poorest sections of New York City. During the early to mid 1990’s, Kozol made several visits to Mott Haven in the South Bronx. As he describes in Amazing Grace, the South Bronx is one of the most severely segregated and poorest Congressional Districts in the United States.
The members of this community have been segregated into a hell plagued with sickness, violence and despair. Kozol argues that this strategic placement serves to isolate the rich from the realities they have thrust upon their fellow man. New Yorkers do not stroll through the streets of Mott Haven, and taxicabs take no short cuts through Beekman Avenue. Many taxicabs will not even venture past East 96th Street. Out of sight is out of mind.
As I was reading Amazing Grace, I remember thinking back to my days living in Manhattan, coincidentally around the same time Kozol conducted his interviews in the South Bronx. I lived in what Kozol refers to as Manhattan’s “Liberal West Side,” an area that was undergoing rapid transformation and gentrification at the time Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took office.
There is no excuse for the conditions in which these people must live. No person should be forced into an apartment that has a higher ratio of cockroaches and rats than human beings.
In 1995, the American Sociological Association (ASA) held its annual conference in New York City. Prior to that meeting, they sent out a fact sheet that may be of interest to ASA members. In this sheet, they too described the same social conditions and asked their members to take note of the changes that occur at 96th Street. I can assure you that the conditions Kozol describes in his book were not exaggerated.
These children are desperately in need of the best schools, yet we give them the worst. They have few libraries, few safe havens, few doctors, and few role models. They have every reason to believe that they are throwaway children and we have certainly not shown them anything else. The social services we have provided are a bureaucratic nightmare. People in need are treated as sub-human, and made to feel ashamed of being poor.
These are among the sickest children in the world. Americans claim to be dedicated to the children and fool ourselves into believing that we are doing them a favor by providing them with medical care, public education, and public housing. Yet, the quality of their neighborhoods speaks volumes of our sentiment and intentions.
Shortly after Amazing Grace was published, managed care rapidly moved onto the New York scene. Around the same time, the Mayor announced he would be closing some of the hospitals that served the poorest of the poor because of financial problems associated with payment and large trauma departments.
Kozol makes the point that people could attempt to gain admissions at a better hospital than Bronx-Lebanon; yet, the privatization of Medicaid has now made this completely impossible. Further restrictions on medical care are inevitable as the result of Medicaid managed care. The law is not designed to protect these people, and this was made obvious in a recent conversation I had with a friend who practices medicine in New York.
My friend John works as a board certified trauma physician at a private hospital on the Upper East Side. The last black patient he treated at Beth Israel was famed rock singer Michael Jackson. I asked him if he ever gets any asthma patients in his ER. He knew immediately of whom I was speaking. “You mean the kids from the South Bronx?” he asked. He told me that they know better than to show up at Beth Israel. “But if they do?” I asked, and he replied, “We ship them back.”
This is the reality. The best doctors treat the wealthiest patients rather than the sickest. Schools educate the best students rather than the neediest. It is no wonder that these children perform poorly in school. By every measure, these children are destined for failure. Their home life is less than enchanting, and they do not benefit from enriched environments and educated parents. Certainly, there are many dedicated parents who care about their children, but is that enough? When I was in school, children frequently asked the teacher, how will this help later in life. In my class, there was an unequivocal reply, but it could be argued that what children in the South Bronx need to learn couldn’t be taught in the classroom.
There is no doubt that the prevalence of violence in urban neighborhoods affects the ability of children to perform well in school. There is a large body of empirical evidence that demonstrates the effects of chronic stress on memory and the learning process. Rather than taking the children out of these communities, we have constructed prison like buildings for them to attend school. They routinely have gunfire drills reminding them that danger is never far behind.
Children cannot learn in this environment. This constant stress triggers “hot-memory.” Hot memory can be thought of as learning with your heart and not your mind. It is no wonder children perform inadequately in this environment.
It is bad enough that children live in such conditions, must we educate in them too? If we want underprivileged children to learn and grow spiritually, we must create an environment that allows their cool memory systems to take over.
It is only under these conditions that children will permit themselves to learn and develop their intellectual strengths. We have failed to create a safe home environment for urban children, but we can give serious thought to creating a school environment outside of the community so they have fewer fear-driven hours each day.
Studies consistently report lower academic achievement in urban neighborhoods like Mott Haven in the South Bronx. Children growing up in urban neighborhoods have a much higher incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most researchers believe this to be the direct result of living in stressed communities plagued with street crime and violence. The potential impact of chronic stress on academic performance and achievement is not known, but reading scores in neighborhoods like Mott Haven certainly seem to indicate some type of causal relationship. There is virtually no research on looking at the long-term effects of this inflated incidence of PTSD among urban populations. It is important to develop an understanding of the effects of fear on the academic performance of urban adolescents so we can begin to dismantle the myths regarding school performance and minority children.
Under these conditions, it is not surprising to learn that students also report pervasive feelings of fear and do not feel secure despite the added presence of security personnel on school grounds. For these students, school is a mere extension of the violent communities in which they live.
Since urban communities have many different sources of stress, it is important to examine how school policies contribute to the learning environment in public schools. The quick response has been to install weapons detectors and hire school security for urban schools. The presence of school security certainly affects the climate of American public schools by establishing school environments that focus more on student behavior than student achievement. Together, the urban public school and the community it serves are a constant reminder of the poor living conditions and social reality of urban America.
The secured environment is an indication of the roles students are expected to play later in life. This is a lesson they will not soon forget.
Kozol makes it quite clear that there are several exceptional children in this community. There are probably as many exceptional children here as every other community around the country, yet, so few of them will make it out of the South Bronx. Kozol is careful not to dwell on the exceptional cases of children who successfully navigate their way into the main stream of society. Kozol does this so we do not develop a false sense of hope. If we cling to a few exceptional cases, we may come to believe that what we are giving enough to children like
Anthony or Anabelle. Clearly, we can do more. Failure should be the exception—not the rule. Success should be the norm, and until it is, we should not give up hope for these children.
America claims to be dedicated to equal opportunity, yet equality is not sufficient in a community like Mott Haven. These kids need more. We need to think about equity, not equality. It is not enough to hide them away. These are visions we should never forget.

Welcome to America. The Wealthiest Nation in the World.

TennCare Fraud or Identity Theft?

There are a lot of things in the financial world that do not make sense. Such as having my tax return rejected from the IRS because someone had filed a tax return using my social security number.

Countless calls to the IRS, and although they were able to identify the person who had used my number fraudulently, they would not release that information to me so I could file a police report for identity theft (as I was instructed to do by regulatory authorities.) It took the IRS 9 months to send my refund, something that most people receive in less than 2 weeks.

So, after about a decade of this situation, and going through the motions year after year, to provide alternative forms of Income verification, I think I am well within my rights to be a little agitated.

This year I will be fling for an extension, as other related issues are currently under investigation.

Now I don't have much money, in fact I don't have any, but I find white collar crime despicable and repulsive.

When taken into account the substantial cost to society, not to mention the havoc it wreaked on my life, I respectfully think that maybe you should not assume that someone is making false claims just because you don't think it sounds "right."

Lots of things don't "sound right" however that doesn't mean they aren't true. Gotta go now, I have a date with eBay to auction my social security card
To the highest bidder. Clearly, it is not worth anything to me so long as the authorities fail to do their part in ENFORCING the laws associated with Identity theft. Sure, it is easy to blame the victim as being irresponsible or somehow negligent in these situations, however I will refer you to some fascinating research that has been done on the emotional consequences of Identity theft. The cost is far more than just an issue of financial discomfort, it is something that can ultimately leave you questioning your own identity.

It should be noted that Identity theft is a criminal matter, so whatever costs associated with such events, the victim is not reimbursed for any of the costs associated with having their life disrupted by something that is ultimately completely beyond their control.

It happens more often than you think, and it is a complicated, intricate, and time intensive to resolve such crimes, are in more complicated... To be continued...

Edd, Ed.M.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

On Not Being Able To Write

An excerpt....


... without having found the maturity my "self" needed, I was in danger of falling in love with being in love. This is the kind of love that does not last... young, immature, physical love that frightens the bejeezus out of me.

It is shallow and fleeting, and most often based on physical attraction and chemistry. It is the kind of love tha makes you feel wonderful for a moment in time, but leaves you feeling empty inside. You find yourself wondering how you could have been so wrong about something that felt so right.

kind of love of which frightens me deeply. I am so afraid of that it exists only in titles and words; an ideal that can never be met.

There is an additional danger in that for me... becauise the idea of being lioved unconditionally is so incredibly foreign, it is a concept that I simply cannot that I simply cannot seem to grasp.

I needed to feel self-worth, self-sefficacy, and self-reliance , long before I can begin to cahrter waters unknown.

and of its self so that I can go into a relationship knowing that I bring as much, if not more than I can take. In my loneliness, the thing I "need" and feel tempted to take, is time. This is time that I can easily find myself lost in my words (such as now) or in his or her absence, I find myself needing something, anything, from anyone who is willing to divert my attention from the realities I would rather not see.

In my work, I can forget about everything else. I can feel strong, and I can feel whole, I can feel beautiful, and I can feel love.

You once asked me what makes me feel beautiful.

I do not know what the "right" answer was to that question, but I do remember all th eobvious answers that went racing through my mind.

The obvious ones I thought you wanted to hear... and I remember thinking about the word, "beauty." By far one of the most subjective words in the English language.

I say this for several reason: we have all heard the common adages... beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or beauty isonly skin deep; yet knowing that, why do we spend so much time, money, and energy trying to

why not only do distinction of the physical, external beauty we see in magazines and soap operas, is opposed to the inner beauty we hear of on Oprah. I told you that I feel most beautiful in the Theatre class I TAd for last spring.

We discussed the association between beauty, knowledge, and power. And although I am unsure if I could express the sentiments at the time, I can now clearly see that sitting in front of that Theatre, I did not need to rely on the external.

"So this is what a grad student looks like," you told me upon our first meeting at the Houlihans in Long Island back in the summerof '94. You commented how the boys would eat me up at law school. Isn't that the point?

I do not wish to compromise your peace in any way. Whether you realize this or not, I write these words mostly for myself, as they clearly reflect the ways that I have tried not to define myself through and by my relationships with others, since I believe that reality and identity is something that comes from within. Perhaps that is why I am intrigued by the social context of evaluation, since it is in perpetual conflict with my belief in subjective reality. [On Not Being Able To Write]

So to learn of your incredible distaste for me, which, from my understanding is quite strong; there exists an incredible discrepancy in the relationship we may have had at one point, and your subjective interpretation of events. Though I need no clarification, I will not pretend as though there is no motive beneath this contact.

So in the world of business where there a'int no such thing as a free lunch, you have something I need. I am willing to pay for your time, but not your affections.

[i][Not to be confused with Relative Experience]

Shut Up and RIGHT

Shut Up and Sing?

How very Christian...
How very American...

Music City needs to formally apologize for "banning" the Dixie Chicks.

The CMAs just donated $1 million to MNPS to keep music and
the arts in OUR public schools. We need to teach our children freedom, not

We need a chorus of voices in order to be free.

"To tolerate that which we love, we also must tolerate that which we hate." (quote & author TBN... it's been a long year!)

Girls, will you please come visit our city? Both democracy and the American Education system were designed to allow for diverse opinions to inform and prepare all Americans to be good the citizens.

All the newspapers are gone or going... the least we can do is entertain other methods of new media. Let's build our programs in cultural and media literacy. People told me it was a dumb major when I chose it in the early '90's. I respectfully disagree regarding the value of the research. I might agree when I look at the negative balance in my bank account.

I'm mad as hell, and not ready to make nice!
"Shut Up & Write"
(Media non-professional for hire: Cheap OBO!)

Almost Famous?

associated content rss user 145691

associated content rss user 145691

Reality Bytes: CyberBusted

Reality Bytes: CyberBusted

Fair Warning... the bitch is back

I have to keep my dark sense of humor (dark and twisted as it may be) in order to survive the reality that is soooooo fucked up no one believed me until they saw the paperwork with their own two eyes.  

Back in 2009, everyone from my Congressman to my councilman was trying to figure out what the fuck happened and why no one picked up on it earlier. My Congressman (Representative Jim Cooper) who gave me an A- when I took his course at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University confessed to me that my case was so complicated that he could think of an attorney who would be able to understand the myriad of legal complexities as well as I could; and therefore could not make a referral-- nor could he help me find any resolution to this unprecedented comedy of errors.

So these are the things I write about... very funny to watch or listen to but a very painful reality to live with, thus the name Reality Bytes.

I actually got a parking ticket once for not parking between the lines.  How many people can say that?

So the events of my life are unfolding down to the tiniest detail such as the fact that my social security number was reissued in another state four years after I was born.

So even if it is all in my head, or I'm making it up to test a new screenplay, I can say that whoever gets the story, it is a win-win.

Because if it is true, it is a wild fucking story of power and corruption and the real cost to the average citizen like myself.  If it's not true, then it is such a good story anyway that nothing else matters,

Instead of being silenced or accused of being crazy and delusional, I will be celebrated for being creative and brilliant. But even the most brilliant among us would have to be either pretty resourceful or pretty bored to construct such a detailed and compelling story.

Many people have heard my story or read bits and pieces; and maybe it touches them for a second or two.  Others become obsessed with the finest details of my life from what I'm wearing to what I am watching on TV that they lose sight of the fact that I am a real person dealing with real issues and not a muse or comic book character here for their entertainment.  People have sold T-shirts with my name on it, created fake podcasts and many people are profiting off my name, likeness, and original works. 

That makes me sick. 

So many people think I am a fictitious character, and others have created fake accounts using social engineering and fake identities with complete disregard to how it effects ones life to have 65 fake ELyssaD's posing for webcams and creating fake identities to promote their own agendas, albeit money, entertainment, or just for the Lulz. They don't know what it is like to see all of your accomplishments and professionalism turned into joke and seeing fake notices of your death or finding that all publications are systematically being destroyed to cover up for their reckless and ILLEGAL behavior. TAX DAY FOR THE 501(C) LULZ


But I don't see anyone being held accountable for destroying my intellectual property, my reputation or my credibility.  SOCIAL ENGINEERING FOR LULZ

Ultimately, it doesn't make a difference to the casual observer what it actually feels like to be living with this knowledge and grave injustice day in and day out year after year with no end in sight.POLICE CORRUPTION: THE CRIME THAT WON'T GO DOWN

So for those of you who are taking a moment to walk in or out of my life, take a deep breath and thank your lucky stars for whatever family, friends, or neighbors you have in your life to keep you safe. Jew for Justice: Finding my Religion

And maybe, just maybe, you will appreciate your world and your life just a little bit more today by taking a glance into mine.

SO, I will leave you with that little bit of insight into the one (and only) ELyssa Danielle Durant in the United States of America today because I am tired of people asking all the wrong questions, and both disgusted and bored by those who can't tell the difference between me and the countless fakes that have been created online to discredit me and entertain the blind masses.

In reality, people are overly concerned with the most insignificant, fictitious, or inconsequential things they have read or heard online or from the many people who claim to "know" me that I sometimes wonder if anyone really knows me at all with the exception of maybe one or two people that see me for who I am and what I represent. WRITING WRONGS

 So let's be real for a minute... many of you see me as a casualty, or desperately cling to any faults I have: real, imagined, or manufactured. Others are desperately hoping I am either crazy, stupid, or somehow so far from normal so you can go on believing that I somehow got what I deserved. The Really, Really Giving Tree

But most of you need to believe that I am somehow profoundly different from what you see in the mirror, because chances are I am smarter, prettier, and better educated than the majority of people reading this. 

And the very thought of someone who comes from a wealthy, well educated, well respected, well known family who attended the best schools and the best parties, could fall so far from grace scares the living crap out of you. 

I am the 1%. CIA: THE COMPANY

So don't leave me insincere messages or send me e-vites to rooftop parties or any of that other bullshit. 

Because I remember each and every single one of you and I don't remember too many of you lifting a single finger to help me when I was diagnosed or needed a ride to surgery when they found the lump in my breast or the 14mm tumor on my spine. 

What I do remember are the whispers behind my back after I lost my home, my job, my car, and any respect I ever had for those of you who didn't think to call me or lift a finger to help.  

People of privilege, people on the "A list" people who knew me for fifteen years or longer found it easier to believe that I had lost my mind rather than pick up the phone or come see me when my story went public.  

People in mansions and penthouses who couldn't even help me by taking in my cat until I found a safe place to live... or people who were too busy to call me, but NOT to busy to ask for my support [publicly] to further their political careers.  

So,  let's face it, unless you are prepared to help find me a job, or donate a few hours of tech support, or look me in the eye, don't expect me to donate money or my time to your campaign. I'd rather cash in on a tell all book about all you fuckers who still think it can't happen to you.

So to all of you A-listers, guess what... I'm back. And worse... I moved into your little gentrified neighborhood. I remember everything, so here's to you Mrs. Robinson.... 

So ask me no more questions about what happened, or where I disappeared to for the last three years while I fought tooth and nail to stay alive in the very worst of circumstances in a city that is so corrupt, it makes LA and Philly look good.  POLICE CORRUPTION: THE CRIME THAT WON'T GO DOWN

Besides, unless your prepared to help me find work or have the authority to fix whatever it is that is broken in the "system" that allowed this to happen IN YOUR BACKYARD, then you really have no business questioning my actions or motives.  CIA CORRUPTION IN TENNESSEE

See you soon....   let this be your only warning.  You know how to reach me. You just don't know how to reach inside yourself.

^ed over and out.

NOTE TO SELF: don't edit simple blog posts on tax day! ;)

ps The book deal WILL be scandalous. So unless your initials are JY, RB, AD, EK, RLC, DD, JK, GA, GP, FH, BT,  good luck with that.... paybacks are a bitch, and so am I! *WINK* 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)

April 17, 1995
Edition: FINAL
Page: F01



Today is tax day. Listen to how easy it was for one man to rip off the Internal Revenue Service:

My Company filed a total of 9,000 returns in 1992, for tax year I 991, which netted my customers approximately $8 million in total refunds. Of that total, I would guess that roughly half of the returns contained false information about dependents, wages, or filing status. That year . . . I recognized how easy it was.”

Richard M. Hersch, a tax preparer from Ardmore, kept his scheme going for two years.

Testifying this month before a U.S. Senate committee, Hersch gave a glimpse of the opportunities for fraud just in the IRS’s electronic filing system: “In all modesty, it would take several hours for me to share with you the virtually endless possibilities.”

Hersch is a big fish in the murky pond of tax deception. He has plenty of company, and they come in all sizes.

Tax cheats inhabit every neighborhood and economic stratum, and they have endless ways of paying less than they owe. They are your doctor, your neighbor, your lawyer, your favorite waitress at the corner tap. Even your Aunt Betty is ripping off Uncle Sam.

“The number of criminal prosecutions is rising. The number of cases we are working is rising,” said Steven J. PeterseII, a Criminal Investigation Division chief in the IRS’s Philadelphia office. “One could assume there is pIenty of it.”

The tax gap - the difference between what the government collects and what it is owed - runs about $127 a year, according to IRS estimates. A 100 percent collection rate for just one year could make a big

The federal budget deficit, which stands at $200 billion.

Not to mention what it could do for the legions of honest taxpayers: If everyone woke up tomorrow and deckiec~ to play it straight with the IRS, Congress could cut tax rates across the board.

Peter R. Merrill, an economist in Price Waterhouse’s Washington office, concluded that rates could go down by as much as 10 percentage points. He came up with that number by dividing the tax gap by the amount the government would collect if everyone suddenly started paying his or her fair share. human nature being what it is, though, that is not likely to happen.

“I think most people are honest - and most people practice tax avoidance,” said Jeffrey M. Miller, the Center City lawyer who represents Hersch. “Most people try to pay as little tax as they can.”

Miller declined to discuss Hersch, who pleaded guilty and is to be sentenced later this month. But he was willing to share observations gleaned during seven years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and 17 as a criminal defense lawyer. Tax avoidance takes all forms, Miller said. “Some are legal, some are illegal, and some are questionable.”

* A man buys a house at the Shore with four bedrooms. In one of them, he puts a desk - and writes off one-quarter of the cost of the house as a business expense.

* A video shop owner makes a deal with her workers to pay half their salary in cash; nobody declares the full amount, and both employer and employees get a break on their taxes.

* A waitress, on her feet till 2 in the morning, earns $150 in tips. She has three kids at home with their noses pointed toward college. For income tax purposes, those tips become $15.

*A contractor withholds taxes from his workers’ pay, but puts the money back into his business instead of in the mail to the IRS. At tax time, his workers file for refunds - and get them - even though their boss never actually paid taxes on their behalf.

Mom and Pop at the deli down the block take in $7,000 cash a week, and tell the IRS it is $4,000.

“Next time you go into a store and buy something, see if it gets rung up,” said Martin Enterlin, another criminal investigation chief at the IRS. “If not, that’s a pretty good indication it’s not going to get reported.”

Penalties for those who get caught range from fines to jail time.

And the IRS, some say, is not bad at catching them.

Marc Durant, a Center City lawyer who represents white-collar criminals, said the IRS’s criminal investigators are competent and well-trained, with strong accounting backgrounds.

John B. Stine 2d, a tax partner at Price Waterhouse, said that the IRS’s computer programs are increasingly sophisticated, and that, as a result, the reporting of stock sales, real estate sales, on-the-side income and dividends and interest has improved.

But the tax gap suggests that there are plenty of evaders out there, particularly those in cash businesses.

Durant, like Miller, worked as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office before switching to criminal defense.

“Economic sociopaths” is what he calls the big tax cheats, the schemers. “They will steal from anybody at any time. The rest, he said, “are really basically just regular people.”

 And many of them don’t think of themselves as criminals.

In a country jaded by tales of government waste, fat-cat favoritism, and crooked congressmen, taxation based on the honor system is a tough sell.

“The system depends on taxpayers’ willingness to comply,” Durant said. “The whole sense of the public . . . That the government does not deserve their faithful compliance.

“I’m near certain that the incidence of tax evasion in World War II was a . . . fraction of what it is today,” he said. “I’m certain, intuitively, that there is more tax evasion today. During World War II, people felt the country needed the money.”

Today, they are more likely to feel that the government will throw it away on $600 toilet seats or some congressional perk, like the publicly subsidized hair salon for legislators that only recently was eliminated.

“People are struggling,” Durant said. “I think they feel that the money goes to better use to them than to the government.”

He remembers one case in which a business owner kept two sets of books - one with actual revenues, the other with what he reported to the government - for the sheer joy of knowing how much he was getting over on the IRS.

When he got caught, the evidence was overwhelming.

"I don’t want to sound like an apologist for these people,” Durant said. “I’m not an apologist. I’m just telling you the kinds of things I hear.”

Miller hears the same thing.

“Everybody who pays taxes thinks about the guy who is not paying taxes.”

And they come up with ways to keep more for themselves.

The IRS, in its efforts to stop them, devises new measures to detect cheaters. And just as quickly, the tax cheats come up with ways to circumvent them. “Fraud perpetrators . . . adapt continuously to new fraud controls,” IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson recently told Congress.

Hersch, the Ardmore tax preparer, rode to riches on electronic filing and the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refund for the working poor, which he dubbed “Easy Income for Tax Cheats.”

Big-time schemers like Hersch are often brought down when a relationship goes awry. Someone with an ax to grind - disgruntled employee, ex-spouse - goes to the IRS.

“Despite how straightforward my schemes were, I was caught only because several employees of my company became informants and went to the authorities,” Hersch told his Senate audience. “I am confident that if the employees had not turned me in, the IRS would never have caught on and that I would still be in business today.”

Illustration: PHOTO


1. Martin Enterlin (left) and Steven J. Petersell, employees of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, at the Philadelphia office.

2. Marc Durant, a Center City lawyer, says IRS investigators are well-trained and have strong accounting backgrounds. He said big tax cheats are “economic sociopaths” who “will steal from anybody at any time.” The rest “are really basically just regular people,” he said.

(The Philadelphia Inquirer VICKI VALERIO)


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