David Cay Johnston on Taxes

David Cay Johnston on “Taxes: Not What You Think,” October 2012

Listen to David Cay Johnston’s talk (61 MB). The file is large, so please be patient while it loads.

Across the political spectrum people fervently hold many views on taxes, but few of them understand the principles underlying taxes and their role in this, the second American Republic, including who bears the burdens of paying the price of civilization.

Born in San Francisco in 1948, David Cay Johnston began his journalism career in 1968 by talking his way into becoming the youngest reporter at the San Jose Mercury and News, where he covered local governments, student radicals, and land use. After a three-year stint as an investigative reporter with the Detroit Free Press, Johnston spent twelve years with the Los Angeles Times reporting national news, entertainment news, the Los Angeles Police Department and sundry other topics. Beginning in 1988, he reported on the casino industry for the Philadelphia Enquirer and briefly served as assistant business editor before joining the New York Times to cover taxes, tax evasion, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Johnston won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting “for his penetrating and enterprising reporting that exposed loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code, which was instrumental in bringing about reforms.” He had previously been nominated in 2000 and in 2003 was again nominated both for Beat Reporting and National Reporting. That year, he also received recognition by Investigative Reporters and Editors with a Book of The Year award for Perfectly Legal.

In addition to his reporting, David Cay Johnston studied economics at the University of Chicago graduate school and at six other institutions, earning several years of college credits but no degree because he enrolled primarily in upper level and graduate level courses.
Johnston teaches at Syracuse University and lives in Rochester.