As the soon-to-be-furloughed tax director Shay added, "It's always better if your tax collector is closer to the people paying the taxes." He explained that this proximity makes it easier to catch cheating, and also easier to help taxpayers when there are problems (like mine). Just one example: figureing out one's local tax bill can be complicated -- for example, someone who works in nearby Philadelphia, and pays a 4% tax to that city, can have that payment deducted from the local bill, thus wiping out any local tax completely, but this can be hard for a number-challenged resident. The friendly tax staff at the township were always happy to do the work right in front of you at the counter -- for free. Berkheimer isn't even located near the township, and offers only a website to work with.
So what's ahead? Republican legislatures are mandating privatized tax collection for local taxing authorities. We already have privatized prisons, privatized schools, privatized highways, privatized police. Will things move upwards now to the state and federal level? How long before the Berkheimer-type companies are collecting our state taxes? And with some Republicans pushing for an end to the IRS, how long before some Berkheimer clone gets the gig for collecting our federal taxes?
By then, I would suspect that when you call the company with a complaint about your taxes, you'll get someone with a strong Indian accent calling him or herself Richard or Marilyn answering from a phone center in Bangalore.
DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, LORI SPENCER, LINN WASHINGTON, JR. and CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found atwww.thiscantbehappening.net
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