Being a business owner offers a lot of advantages. It also presents myriad ways to cheat on your tax returns.
That's the assessment of this week's It's the Economy column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.
The column's authors surveyed 20 accountants, tax lawyers and policy wonks and then "boiled down their arcane knowledge to this short list of things you might want to know" about taxes.
Those nine tax insights are this week's By the Numbers figure. They include:
1. Easiest way to cheat: Run your own company.
2. How often people cheat on their taxes: 14 percent of the time.
3. Most ridiculous loophole: Too many to count, although the article takes a stab at it. Sorry, my fellow NASCAR fans, our sport made their short list.
4. Biggest audit red flag: Tie between travel and entertainment deductions and being rich.
5. Uncle Sam's dream taxpayer: A married, childless renter who earns a decent salary.
6. Most ridiculous attempted deduction: See #3. But FYI, thongs did make the list.
7. Why the tax code is so complicated: Tax rules + exceptions to the tax rules + exceptions to the exceptions = @$%#&! tax laws. That profanity indicator is mine; the NYT writers are much more refined!
8. Greatest accountant of all time: Luca Pacioli, a 15th-century Italian bookkeeper who hung out with Leonardo da Vinci.
9. Do tax cuts pay for themselves? No.
Check out the article for the full explanations of these nine tax issues.
And there's a bonus. The article answers the long-running tax question of just how big is the Internal Revenue Code?
When the modern income tax was created in 1913, the tax code was 27 pages long, according to the column. Last year, it was 5,296 pages.
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