How incredibly sad. Ray Nagin, the former Mayor of New Orleans and front face in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption.

According to the NY Times, Mr. Nagin, a Democrat, was found guilty in February on 20 counts, most relating to kickbacks from contractors looking for city work. He was arrested in January 2013, nearly three years after he left office. He was charged with taking kickbacks in the form of cash, cross-country trips or help with the family-run granite countertop company; the bribes were handed out by men looking for city business ranging from software supplies to sidewalk repair. Many of the schemes, though not all, took place after Hurricane Katrina, when contractors crowded into the city for rebuilding work.

Mr. Nagin is not alone. All across America each year, local government officials try to beat the system. They try, because the system is generally circa 1950.

This must have been the case in Dixon Illinois. Rita A. Crundwell was the comptroller and treasurer there from 1983 to 2012, and the admitted operator of what most believe to be the largest municipal fraud in American history. She was fired in April 2012 after it was revealed that she had embezzled nearly $53.7 million over the 22 year period year to support her horse breeding operation. Really? How the hell does a city of roughly 15,000 miss $53 million dollars? Where is the accountability and transparency?

We can do better. turnKey Taxes is a web app that acts like an online bank statement. All revenue streams (taxpayers and transactions) for all properties, businesses and residents are imported into the app. Monies are compartmentalized. What’s collected is posted. There is no fraud. Missing payments are quickly identified.

At some point, America will awaken and realize that the same standards we demand in the ‘real world’ should be implemented within our government sector. Accountability and transparency will be the primary mechanism to tax reduction.

Of course that will come too late for Mr. Nagin. For the next 10 years, he’s being cared for at the expense of honest taxpayers. And that’s the real shame.

Mark Schuster, Partner
turnKey Taxes