Fairer Taxes in Russia Than America?

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts. Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms, which was named PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards. He is the best-selling author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” a book known as an industry “must read.” Torossian is a featured op-ed columnist for The Huffington Post, Newsmax, Wired Magazine and others. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including PR Executive of the Year and is a past semi-finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Torossian lives in Manhattan with his wife and children. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.


Isn’t it the 1 percent of America who is creating jobs and stirring the American economy more than anyone else? So how can it be that just because someone succeeds and makes it by earning more than $400,000 they should be demonized – or penalized for succeeding as the new tax laws delineate.

Growing up in the Bronx in the 1980s, I could have never imagined reading as I did today that Russia has a flat 13-percent tax rate. Could one imagine? The successful in Russia are treated better than the 1 percent that the Obama administration and so many others in America today view as evil.

I grew up in the Bronx in a single-parent household, and attended (bad) New York City public schools. I traveled an hour and a half a day each way to attend the elite public Stuyvesant High School, leaving home at 6:30 every morning and returning often after 7 o’clock, following basketball games and practice. I was a “latch-key kid” because my mother had to work so my sister and I could eat and live. And I started working in a local pizzeria from the age of 12, often 50 hours a week.

We didn’t have money, and it was a struggle: I am a first-generation American, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, who grew up with few relatives or family because my family was wiped out in Europe. My mother always pushed me to make the most of myself, raising me to never take anything from anyone and to work hard.

Growing up, I always swore my children would never want for money, as I did. Today, not yet 40 years of age ten years after opening my PR agency, I am blessed to employ more than 100 people. I worked damn hard to get here – drive, ambition, sacrifice and working long hours is what made my dream come true. I don’t owe a dime to anyone. And now I am being punished for succeeding?

And I am damn angry that I am now going to have to pay more taxes – the highest tax rate since 1979 — because of the ridiculous new fiscal cliff laws. I am not to blame for succeeding and should not be penalized for it.

My office lease for 5WPR runs out this summer in our uber-luxury building, where George Soros, Vornado Realty and other companies also have their headquarters. We have grown too large for this office space, and I now need to rent an office in midtown Manhattan for 35,000 square feet – an expensive proposition. But my taxes are going way up, thanks to the new laws. Is that good for business? What if it’s not? What would happen if I decided to sell or close up shop? What good would that do for my 100+ employees?

Owning a business is often a scary proposition – even today it has been less than 15 years since I was broke and working in a pizzeria. But I succeeded, and will continue succeeding, and creating jobs. My children have a better life and more opportunities than I did, and I will continue building for future generations of my family.

But it’s not my obligation to pay for anyone else’s family. That is surely not the greatness of what America is about.  And it should make every American shudder to realize that Russia has a much better tax program than America. Who’s leading whom?

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  • Rostislav

    "it should make every American shudder to realize that Russia has a much better tax program than America". Please, do not shudder, dear Americans! Because this article's phrase "The successful in Russia are treated better" needs a very important amendment: to be treated better than their American counterparts, the Russian businessmen have to be not only very successful, but very servile to the regime also (with their assets too, if necessary). If you do not believe me, ask Mr. Khodorkovski, who is in prison after honestly paying his wonderful flat tax for many-many years. Rostislav, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

  • Mary Sue

    You know, you'd probably do pretty good in some parts of Canada. Like Alberta, or British Columbia. I wouldn't recommend Ontario or Quebec, however.

    • Guest

      Canada is the new United States.

      This is the Canadian century. After living in the States for 16 years, I returned to Canada, a bit reluctantly because I thought it was still a bed of socialism. But it actually spreads out the tax burden more fairly (unlike the States where the bottom 50% pay less than 3% of all federal income taxes) to everyone, has LESS of a payroll tax burden, and in places like B.C. and Alberta you can actually start a business with less hassle.

      And then there's Canada's deficit and national debt. Thanks in large part to Paul Martin (a Liberal!), we had 11 straight years of a surplus federal budget. We are now, fiscally, the envy of the world.

      Americans fed up with socialist U.S. should consider emigrating to Canada.

  • Ghostwriter

    Well,Guest. Hopefully,we'll get our house in order,most likely AFTER President Obama leaves office.