The Tax Attic

Deb & I went to “American Sniper” last weekend. What a great movie. The story of Chris Kyle, credited with over 160 enemy kills, was well-done by Producer Clint Eastwood and actor Bradley Cooper. Navy Seal Kyle possibly had another 95 but that additional number was not verified. Of course, the movie had a very sudden and very sad ending when he himself was shot at a range by a veteran he was trying to help. I wish there had been a better way to end it, but the fact is during any of Mr. Kyle’s 4 tours of duty in Iraq, similar to a number of his fellow soldiers, it could have ended just like that anyway. He had survived getting shot twice and lived through 6 IED explosions so he used up a few lives over there. Philosophically speaking, it makes one wonder how many lives does a person get on this earth before he moves on to the next one? I have used up a couple that I know of, but if I get as many as Chris, I might be writing The Tax Attic for another 62 years. Beth would be pleased but I don’t know about Deb.


Watching the movie brought up memories of Rockford’s only Congressional Medal of Honor winner, John Sjogren. Similar to Mr. Kyle, Mr. Sjogren was credited with a large number of enemy kills. It’s just that John’s all came within a few hours in one intense battle. On May 23, 1945, his unit of the 40th Division was charged with taking Hill 3155, better known to the soldiers as Suicide Knob. No matter, an assault was ordered on the hill so up the hill they went. During the battle, under great personal duress, John took on Japanese soldiers firmly entrenched in pill boxes. He had his men pass up their hand grenades and then John moved into position where he could stuff the grenades into the pill boxes one after another. By the time it was all over, he had taken out 9 pill boxes and was credited with ending the lives of 43 Japanese soldiers. That type of effort was enough to earn John the Medal of Honor and it was presented by President Truman to John on October 12, 1945. The State of Michigan declared Friday, September 14, 1945 as Sjogren Day. As a token of their respect of his accomplishment, the 2000 residents of the City of Rockford and the Chamber of Commerce jointly presented John with a 1946 Ford Super Delux Sedan. Since the Medal of Honor was created during the Civil War, there have been 3,471 recipients. There were 461 Medals given out to World War II soldiers. The majority of the Medals are given out posthumously but John was one of the exceptions. He not only survived the battle for Suicide Knob but lived a long life in Algoma Township, ultimately passing away due to the effects of cancer at the age 71 on August 30, 1987. All of us are extremely proud of those who served our country in the Armed Services but especially thankful for soldiers like Chris Kyle and John Sjogren who went above and beyond the call of duty. To that end, one of the goals of now-retired Judge Steve Servaas is to honor John Sjogren with a statute in Rockford. Of course, the plans aren’t completed as yet, but the goal is a worthy one. I would like to lend whatever help I can to the Judge on this project. John would have been 100 years old on August 19, 2016. That gives a little over a year and a half to get the project completed. A car back then was appropriate but it had a limited life. Now we have a chance to put something together to honor John permanently. A statute might just be the solution. I will keep you all posted.


Something else I will keep you posted on is my take on tax issues. As part of the road funding transportation package, the Michigan House and Senate passed the Main Street Fairness Act which Gov. Snyder subsequently signed last week. It’s important to note that the implementation of the Main Street Fairness Act is not contingent upon the May sales tax vote. I have written previously about the Main Street Fairness Act and I am glad to see that it enacted into law. The Act forces out-of-state retailers to charge Michigan sales tax on purchases made by Michigan residents and provides a more strict definition of which companies have to do the collecting. It’s expected that the Act will mean about $60 million in annual revenue coming to the State of Michigan. Some of the added revenue will flow to schools such as Rockford Public Schools and municipalities such as the City of Rockford. More importantly, the act helps to level the financial playing field of the businesses located in and paying the costs of maintaining brick and mortar buildings on “Main Street” with the on-line businesses. A 6% discount could be gained by purchasing from an on-line business that did not collect sales tax as opposed to buying that same piece of inventory from Great Northern Trading Company or Kimberly’s or Aunt Candy’s. I’m glad to see that the Michigan legislature passed this bill. The ability to escape the imposition of sales tax by buying on-line was not envisioned when the sales tax system was set up. The Main Street Fairness Act makes an effort to correct that situation. This is Jerry Coon signing off.


Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent and a Registered Tax Return Preparer.

He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Dr in Rockford.

Contact Jerry at