Death and Taxes: A New Everett Cafe Book Collection

| October 17, 2017

171015_Display_219x365Taxes tend to send us all into a tizzy — whether we are trying to file our own returns, seeking out the help of an accountant, or merely paying up what (always) seems to be due. For some folk, the October deadline for extended returns has just passed — groans muffled stoically to the Government — federal, state, and/or city. Especially in the Big Apple, taxation is overwhelming — citizens on all sides of the political spectrum caught in the web, fraught with forms, constantly scampering — while the iconic National Debt Clock, recently re-located from Times Square to Bryant Park, pulses an ever present reminder.

“Taxes? Who wants to talk about taxes in September? I can tell you who is going to have to talk a lot about taxes in September – people elected to office in Washington D.C. After that, they will follow up with budget conversations. This is why we have decided to focus our next Cafe Collection on understanding taxes and funding.

The current tax reform appears to be focused on reform for corporations. But why should we care if the corporate tax rate is 35% vs 15%? Maybe we should just make the tax code as simple as possible.

How about no taxes? Well, that doesn’t work very well either as proven by Kansas. They recently ended their experiment with no taxes. It was not what some might call successful but it didn’t improve the state’s economy and led to budget shortfalls. Whereas D.C. took a more comprehensive approach and added taxation to some industries, cut the sales tax, and had economic growth.

The push for the current tax reform is to make sure the cuts don’t add to the budget deficit. It is easy to flip that and say with these tax cuts, we also need to cut these programs to balance the budget. This could set off more gridlock in Washington, D.C. ”
— Curator’s Statement

Kaitlin Kehnemuyi is an Innovation Fellow focused on Materials and Services in the Gottesman Libraries. Born in D.C. and raised outside the Beltway, Kaitlin is fascinated by palace intrigue and government machinations.

Death and Taxes offers a scintillating look at the issues and concerns surrounding our national budget, its polices and practices, from both non-fictional and fictional perspectives. Writers such as Jared Bernstein, T.R. Reid, Thomas Piety, Mattea Kramer, Gabriel Zucman, Kenneth Scheve, David Stasavage, G Calvin Mackenzie, Saranna Thornton, David Wessel, David Dodge, and Tony Kushner are featured.

Where: Everett Cafe
When: mid October through November


Benefit_BurdenBartlett, Bruce R. The Benefit and the Burden: American Tax Reform–Why We Need It and What It Will Take. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2012.
By tracing the history of our own tax system and assessing the way other countries have solved similar problems, Bruce Bartlett explores the surprising answers to all these issues, giving a sense of the tax code’s many benefits—and its inevitable burdens. From one of the most respected political and economic thinkers, advisers, and writers of our time, The Benefit and the Burden is a thoughtful and surprising argument for American tax reform.
Cafe HJ2381 .B375 2012


ShowdownBirnbaum, Jeffrey H.  Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform. New York: Vintage, 1988.
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was the single most sweeping change in the history of America’s income tax. It was also the best political and economic story of its time. Here, in the anecdotal style of The Making of the President, two Wall Street Journal reporters provide the first complete picture of how this tax revolution went from an improbable dream to a widely hailed reality.
Cafe KF6289 .B57 1988



Taxes_in_AmericaBurman, Leonard and Joel Siemrod. Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know (r). Oxford; New York : Oxford University Press, c2013.
Despite their passion and fury, contemporary Americans are remarkably clueless about how their tax system works. But with heated debates over taxation now roiling Congress and the nation, an understanding of our tax system is of vital importance. Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know®, by preeminent tax scholars Leonard E. Burman and Joel Slemrod, offers a clear, concise explanation of how our tax system works, how it affects people and businesses, and how it might be improved. Accessibly written and organized in a clear, question-and-answer format, the book describes the intricacies of the modern tax system in an easy-to-grasp manner. Burman and Slemrod begin with the basic definitions of taxes and then delve into more complicated and indeed contentious concerns. They address such questions as how to recognize Fool’s Gold tax reform plans. How much more tax could the IRS collect with better enforcement?
Cafe HJ2381 .B79 2013

Death_TaxesDodge, David. Death and Taxes. Nashville: Bruin Books, 2010.
Death and Taxes is the first novel written by David Dodge, who would go on to write some of the finest novels in the mystery genre, including the legendary “To Catch a Thief.” Often compared to Dashiell Hammett, Dodge’s urbane writing style stands the test of time. His novels are fresh, fast-paced and witty. Death And Taxes was originally written on a bet with his wife and it draws extensively from his experience as a tax consultant. Who’d of thought the subject of tax fraud, when mixed with murder, romance and binge drinking, could be so entertaining. Death and Taxes has one of the funniest drinking scenes in all of literature-not to be missed, and Whit Whitney, tax man turned detective in 1940’s San Francisco, is one of the most endearing characters in crime fiction.
Cafe PS3507.O248 D4 2010

Money_Changes_EverythingGoetzmann, William N. Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2016.
In Money Changes Everything, leading financial historian William Goetzmann argues the exact opposite―that the development of finance has made the growth of civilizations possible. Goetzmann explains that finance is a time machine, a technology that allows us to move value forward and backward through time; and that this innovation has changed the very way we think about and plan for the future.
Cafe HG171 .G638 2016



DebtGraeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Melville House, 2011.
Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.
Cafe HG3701 .G73 2011



Perfectly_LegalJohnston, David. Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich– and Cheat Everybody Else. New York : Portfolio, c2003.
Since the mid-1970s, there has been a dramatic shift in America’s socioeconomic system, one that has gone virtually unnoticed by the general public. Tax policies and their enforcement have become a disaster, and thanks to discreet lobbying by a segment of the top 1 percent, Washington is reluctant or unable to fix them. The corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the gift tax have been largely ignored by the media. But the cumulative results are remarkable: today someone who earns a yearly salary of $60,000 pays a larger percentage of his income in taxes than the four hundred richest Americans.
Cafe HJ2362 .J64 2003

Leading_IndicatorsKarabell, Zachary. The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014.
We are bombarded every day with numbers that tell us how we are doing, whether the economy is growing or shrinking, whether the future looks bright or dim. Gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence guide our actions, yet few of us know where these numbers come from, what they mean, or why they rule our world. In The Leading Indicators, Zachary Karabell tells the fascinating history of these indicators. They were invented in the mid-twentieth century to address the urgent challenges of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. They were rough measures— designed to give clarity in a data-parched world that was made up of centralized, industrial nations—yet we still rely on them today.
Cafe HB137 .K36 2014

People-s_GuideKramer, Mattea. A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget. Northampton, Mass. : Interlink Books, 2012.
A Peoples Guide to the Federal Budget is for every American who wants to understand and participate in a process that affects all of us. It serves as a foundation for the novice reader, a reference tool for a more advanced audience, and is perfect for high school and college classroom use.
Cafe HJ2051 .P476 2012




Death-Taxes_KushnerKushner, Tony. Death and Taxes: Hydriotaphia and Other Plays. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2000.
East Coast Ode to Howard Jarvis is a one-man show featuring two dozen characters’ involvement in a tax evasion scheme.






Freedom_AgendaLee, Mike. The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Consttitutional Government. Regnery Publishing, 2011.
“As the federal government crashes through one debt ceiling after another, Americans are facing a grim future of inflation, economic stagnation, and ultimately, national insolvency. Our increasingly desperate situation stems from a broken political system in which Congress brazenly defies its constitutional limits, grabbing more and more power as it recklessly plunges our nation into the abyss.

As one of Congress’s leading budget hawks, Senator Mike Lee argues there is only one way to defuse our fiscal time bomb and permanently force fiscal responsibility on Congress: adopt a balanced budget amendment.” — Book Description

BuckingMackenzie, G. Calvin and Saranna Thornton. Bucking the Deficit: Economic Policymaking In America. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1996.
Political scientist G. Calvin Mackenzie and economist Saranna Thornton combine forces here to clear up some of the mysteries of contemporary economic theory and practice. They take us on a sweeping tour of the economic turning points in our national history and then go on to discuss what it will take to make sound economic policy and, ultimately, good government for the twenty-first century.
Cafe HC106 .M23 1996


end_the_IRSNorquist, Grover Glenn. End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America.
The strength of Americans resolve is still unrivaled, and Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, knows that once liberty-loving Americans learn the truth behind the oppressive and prosperity-stifling taxes we face today, they’ll rise up again.
Cafe HJ2381 .N67 2015




CapitalPiketty, Thomas. Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality. The main driver of inequality―the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth―today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.
Cafe HB501 .P43613 2014

Fine_MessReid, T.R. A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System.
In A Fine Mess, T. R. Reid crisscrosses the globe in search of the exact solutions to these urgent problems. With an uncanny knack for making a complex subject not just accessible but gripping, he investigates what makes good taxation (no, that’s not an oxymoron) and brings that knowledge home where it is needed most. Never talking down or reflexively siding with either wing of politics, T. R. Reid presses the case for sensible root-and-branch reforms with a companionable ebullience. This affects everyone. Doing our taxes will never be America’s favorite pastime, but it can and should be so much easier and fairer.
Cafe HJ2381 .R45 2017

Taxing_the_RichScheve, Kenneth and David Stasavage. Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe.
Taxing the Rich draws on unparalleled evidence from twenty countries over the last two centuries to provide the broadest and most in-depth history of progressive taxation available. Scheve and Stasavage explore the intellectual and political debates surrounding the taxation of the wealthy while also providing the most detailed examination to date of when taxes have been levied against the rich and when they haven’t.
Cafe HJ4653.R6 S34 2016



Federal_BudgetSchick , Allen. The Federal Budget: Politics, Policy, Process.W ashington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, c2007.
This revised and significantly expanded edition of The Federal Budget concerns the politics and processes of federal budgeting and the policies that emerge from them. It describes how budgeting works at each stage of executive and legislative action—from preparation of the president’s budget through the appropriation and expenditure of funds—and assesses the impact of budget rules on policy decisions. It explains how the budget was transformed from deficit to surplus over the past five years and discusses various proposals to change the rules. It analyzes the changes in the appropriations process, friction between the president and Congress, and the reliance on omnibus legislation to resolve budget impasses. In addition to vital statistics and extracts from important documents, the book also features case studies that dramatize contemporary budgetary politics, providing readers with a “you are there” appreciation of how budgeting decisions are made in Washington.documents, the book also features case studies that dramatize contemporary budgetary politics, providing readers with a “you are there” appreciation of how budgeting decisions are made in Washington.

Red_InkWessel, David.  Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget. New York: Crown Business, c2012.
Wessel looks at the 2011 fiscal year (which ended September 30) to see where all the money was actually spent, and why the budget process has grown wildly out of control. Through the eyes of key people, including Jacob Lew, White House director of the Office of Management and Budget; Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office; Blackstone founder and former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson; and more, Wessel gives readers an inside look at the making of our unsustainable budget.
Cafe HJ2051 .W427 2012


Hidden_WealthZucman, Gabriel. The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens. Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan.
We are well aware of the rise of the 1% as the rapid growth of economic inequality has put the majority of the world’s wealth in the pockets of fewer and fewer. One much-discussed solution to this imbalance is to significantly increase the rate at which we tax the wealthy. But with an enormous amount of the world’s wealth hidden in tax havens—in countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands—this wealth cannot be fully accounted for and taxed fairly.
Cafe HJ2336 .Z8313 2015




At the Everett News Cafe, you’ll find a new book collection every few weeks that relates to current affairs, education, or learning environments.