Opinion | When a Traffic Ticket Costs $13,000 – The New York Times

By Emily Reina Dindial and Ronald J. Lampard

Ms. Dindial is lawyer for the A.C.L.U. Mr. Lampard is a lawyer for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

A motorist waiting as a police officer writes a citation.CreditStan Lim/Digital First Media — The Press-Enterprise, via Getty Images

For most people living in America, transportation is central to daily life. About 83 percent of Americans report that they regularly drive a car multiple times a week. Yet millions of drivers across the country have had their licenses suspended — taking away their ability to drive to work, school, the grocery store or the doctor — essentially because they are poor.

In 2014, Leah Jackson was ticketed for obstructing traffic in Ostego, Minn., after turning left at a red light. That kind of thing happens to many people. But, as Ms. Jackson explained to state lawmakers in 2018 testimony, she had just started a new job and hadn’t yet received a paycheck, so she couldn’t pay the $135 fine right away.

A few months later, she was pulled over, told her driver’s license was suspended for an unpaid ticket and cited for driving with a suspended license — a new $200 ticket. Her job responsibilities as a retail store manager required her to make bank runs and other deliveries, so she kept driving in order to keep her job. In less than a month, she received two more tickets for driving with a suspended license. After accounting for the additional tickets and the resulting increase in her monthly insurance premiums, her debt from the initial infraction spiraled into more than $13,000 over four and a half years.

The criminal justice system too often produces a self-perpetuating cycle, particularly for the poorest people, who can’t pay fines or hire lawyers to make charges go away. In 39 states, you can lose your driving privileges if you’re unable to pay a court fine or fee, for things as minor as a traffic violation. But a bipartisan effort is growing to end the fundamentally unjust practice of wealth-based suspensions.

Apple, Congress and the Missing Taxes – The New York Times

This is one of the best NY Times editorials I have read in several years.

“Apple and the United States are crying foul over the ruling in Europe that Apple received illegal tax breaks from Ireland and must hand over 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion), a record tax penalty in Europe.

But Apple and the United States have only themselves to blame for the situation.Apple has engaged in increasingly aggressive tax avoidance for at least a decade, including stashing some $100 billion in Ireland without paying taxes on much of it anywhere in the world, according to a Senate investigation in 2013. In a display of arrogance, the company seemed to believe that its arrangements in a known tax haven like Ireland would never be deemed illegal — even as European regulators cracked down in similar cases against such multinational corporations as Starbucks, Amazon, Fiat and the German chemical giant BASF.

Congress, for its part, has sat idly by as American corporations have indulged in increasingly intricate forms of tax avoidance made possible by the interplay of an outmoded corporate tax code and modern globalized finance. The biggest tax dodge in need of reform involves deferral, in which American companies can defer paying taxes on foreign-held profits until those sums are repatriated.”

Source: Apple, Congress and the Missing Taxes – The New York Times

The Panama Papers’ Sprawling Web of Corruption – The New York Times

“The first reaction to the leaked documents dubbed the Panama Papers is simply awe at the scope of the trove and the ingenuity of the anonymous source who provided the press with 11.5 million documents — 2.6 terabytes of data — revealing in extraordinary detail how offshore bank accounts and tax havens are used by the world’s rich and powerful to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.Then comes the disgust. With more than 14,000 clients around the world and more than 214,000 offshore entities involved, Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm whose internal documents were exposed, piously insists it violated no laws or ethics. But the questions remain: How did all these politicians, dictators, criminals, billionaires and celebrities amass vast wealth and then benefit from elaborate webs of shell companies to disguise their identities and their assets? Would there have been no reckoning had the leak not occurred?”

Source: The Panama Papers’ Sprawling Web of Corruption – The New York Times