The fishermen and the tax man
BP's request for tax records poses a problem for some residents of fishing communities in southeastern Louisiana — the nonconformists who haven't kept records or reported their cash income.
"Man, I wish I'd done a better job of record-keeping," said Michael Turgeau, owner of a small marina, who is usually paid in cash. (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times / May 30, 2010)Reporting from Delacroix, La. —BP's request for tax records poses a problem for some residents of fishing communities in southeastern Louisiana — the nonconformists who haven't kept records or reported their cash income.
The first step for a commercial fisherman or coastal business seeking compensation for losses suffered in the oil spill seems simple enough: Submit copies of a commercial fishing license, proof of residence and tax statements.
But the request for tax records poses a serious challenge to some residents of close-knit fishing communities on the swampy edges of southeastern Louisiana, which for generations have harbored self-reliant nonconformists who don't pay much heed to everyday rules and regulations.
These fishermen live hand to mouth. I know this because I have traveled through plenty of fishing villages in the panhandle of Florida. They live in shacks. They do the best they can.
And these snake lawyers from BP know full well that they don't pay income tax. New York bankers get to drain this country dry and little Timmy Geithner doesn't bother paying income tax but we're supposed to be so concerned about some guy who probably makes twenty grand a year?
So BP's implicit threat to these fishermen is this: "You better have tax returns when you ask us for compensation for ruining your livelihood, or we'll get you in trouble with the tax man."
See how it works around here?