EppsNet Archive: Taxes

Animal House Tax Policy

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland sued the federal government over the Republican-led tax overhaul Tuesday, alleging the new law championed by President Donald Trump unfairly singles out high-tax blue states. — wsaz.com I thought this was noteworthy in that I can’t remember ever in my life hearing a Democrat say anything about people in high tax brackets other than they are not paying their “fair share.” If a Democrat has ever before said that people in high tax brackets are being singled out unfairly, I can’t remember it. The new federal tax law passed last year caps the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000, meaning that residents of high-tax states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland — and California, where I currently live — will see big increases in their federal tax bill. It reminds me of a scene from… Read more →

A Tolerant and Diverse Society

Read more →

“I Need to Pay Higher Taxes,” Says Bill Gates

If Bill Gates really believed that, he could decide how much he “should” pay, subtract it from what he’s required to pay, and send Uncle Sam a check for the difference. Which he doesn’t do. Gates was talking about taxes in the context of the recent tax bill not being progressive enough for his liking. “People who are wealthier tended to get dramatically more benefits than the middle class or those who are poor,” he said. Bill Gates is as smart as anyone I can think of, so I think his remarks are disingenuous rather than uninformed. People who are “wealthier” (“people with higher incomes” would be more accurate) benefit more from income tax cuts because they pay dramatically more in taxes to begin with (see chart). For example, the top 1 percent of earners pay almost as much into the federal income tax pool (38 percent) as the bottom… Read more →

Soda Sticker Shock in Seattle

Seattle is trying to discourage its citizens from drinking sugary beverages by imposing a 1.75-cent per ounce tax on all sugary drinks sold in the Emerald City. A $15.99 case of Gatorade at the Seattle Costco now has an added tax of more than $10. A case of Coke is now $7.35 more expensive than the Diet Coke or Coke Zero. Sticker shock! What will people drink instead of sugary beverages? Coffee. Seattle drinks a lot of coffee. Is coffee good for you? What if you put sugar in it? Beer. At these prices, it’s cheaper than soda. Diet soda. Are artificial sweeteners better for you than sugar? Fruit juice. Not taxed but contains a lot of sugar. Should there be a tax on all-you-can-eat buffets? How about a tax credit for eating a vegetable? Or maybe — just maybe — the tax code was not designed for and shouldn’t… Read more →

Why Are Black Americans Against School Choice?

Most or all of the people booing Betsy DeVos know little or nothing about her except that they’re expected to dislike her for reasons that they may know are related to her views on public schools and school choice. But why are black Americans against school choice? I don’t want to overgeneralize — my son went to public schools and got a good education — but it’s all on the kids and their families to make it happen. Without school choice, public schools don’t have the right incentives. People running public schools aren’t paid by customers who voluntarily send their kids to those schools and who could choose to send their kids to another school if they wanted to. Public schools are paid for by taxing citizens who may or may not have kids in the schools and regardless of how well the schools actually perform. The funding is independent… Read more →

Carmack on Government

My core thesis is that the federal government delivers very poor value for the resources it consumes, and that society as a whole would be better off with a government that was less ambitious. This is not to say that it doesn’t provide many valuable and even critical services, but that the cost of having the government provide them is much higher than you would tolerate from a company or individual you chose to do business with. For almost every task, it is a poor tool. Given the inefficiency, why is the federal government called upon to do so many things? A large part is naked self interest, which is never going to go away — lots of people play the game to their best advantage, and even take pride in their ability to get more than they give. However, a lot is done in the name of misplaced idealism.… Read more →

Tony Robbins’ Wealth-Building Tips Seem Pretty Useless

Tony Robbins has 6 tips for Building Wealth Now. Let’s look at each of the tips and apply the “would anyone advise the opposite?” filter to assess the value of Robbins’ advice. Don’t lose money. I’m not kidding, that’s the first tip. Would anyone advise “Lose money”? No. So this “tip” is useless. Look for investments in which rewards far outweigh risks. Would anyone advise “Look for investments in which risks far outweigh rewards’? No. Robbins recommends using “the 5-to-1 rule,” in which the potential returns on an investment are 5 times greater than the potential losses. Why 5? Why not 10? Or 100? Where do you find these investments? I have no idea. Don’t overpay taxes. Would anyone advise “Overpay taxes”? No. Diversify. Would anyone advise “Don’t diversify”? Possibly. There’s a couple of schools of thought on diversification: 1) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; and 2)… Read more →

There Are Four Ways You Can Spend Money

There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40%… Read more →

The Public School Monopoly Provides Little Incentive to Supply Good Education

[The public-school monopoly] is yet another scam that inflicts disproportionately great damage on people who are the poorest and least advantaged. How could it not? Those who run K-12 government schools aren’t paid by customers who voluntarily send their children to those schools and who could easily choose to send their children elsewhere. Instead, these teachers and officials are paid by governments that tax citizens regardless of how many children those citizens have in schools and regardless of how well the schools perform. Therefore, with funding that is independent of customer choice — and with each child assigned to a particular public school — public-school officials have little incentive to supply good education. — Donald Boudreaux Read more →

A Spectacularly Bad Job of Rigging the System

If you nevertheless believe that the capitalists have been busily rigging the system in their own interest, you’ve got to admit they’ve done a spectacularly bad job of it. How else to explain the quintuple taxation of capital income, where you can invest a dollar that was taxed the day you earned it, then pay corporate income taxes, dividend taxes, capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes on the income it throws off? Surely any concern that the rich are calling the policy shots should melt away in the face of actual policy. — Steven Landsburg Read more →

One Percenters

“Progressives” love to complain about the alleged unfairness of the amount of income earned (“Progressives typically use misleading terms such as “claimed by”) the top 1 percent of income earners. Why not complain instead about the unfairness of the amount of tax revenues received by the top 1 percent of net-tax-revenue recipients? Why are the annual tax-receipt incomes of this small group less worthy of condemnation than are the annual pre-tax market-earned incomes of “the 1 percent” who are the regular objects of criticism, envy, and childish populist moralizing? — Don Boudreaux Read more →

IRS Refunds $4 Billion to Identity Thieves

The Internal Revenue Service issued $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds last year to people using stolen identities, with some of the money going to addresses in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Ireland, according to an inspector general’s report released Thursday. The IRS sent a total of 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania, and 343 refunds went to a lone address in Shanghai. In the U.S., more fraudulent returns went to Miami than any other city. Other top destinations were Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Houston. — Associated Press Hmmm . . . aren’t there some sort of sanity checks built into the IRS system? Doesn’t a warning bell go off when 655 tax refunds are sent to a single address in Lithuania? Does this erode your confidence in the federal government’s ability to manage complex systems and gigantic sums of money? I’m sure they’ll do a much better job… Read more →

Aside

NY Times: Across U.S. Companies, Tax Rates Vary Greatly – Interactive Feature

Things That Scare Other People’s Dogs Do Not Scare Our Dog

We went out to watch the city of Irvine fireworks show. Best use of our tax dollars since last year’s show! As we drove back to the house, I said, “I hope the fireworks didn’t scare Lightning.” He was asleep on his bed. He’s not scared of anything. Read more →

Drive Me to the Junkyard in my Cadillac

Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac — Bruce Springsteen, “Cadillac Ranch” Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor’s office visit. They are likely to become luxuries of the past. . . . Then blame — or credit — the so-called Cadillac tax, which penalizes companies that offer high-end health care plans to their employees. — High-End Health Plans Scale Back to Avoid ‘Cadillac Tax’ – NYTimes.com You’re probably thinking: “So what? I don’t have a high-end health care plan. I’m a working stiff. Let the Wall Street fat cats pay their Cadillac tax.” Actually, because the plan cost that triggers the Cadillac tax is not indexed for inflation, Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, estimates that as many as 75 percent… Read more →

eEconomics – Tax Inequality in America

Read more →

Tax Rate Hike and Increased Unemployment Payments on the Same Day

According to this White House press release, the federal government is ringing in the new year by simultaneously raising tax rates (i.e., penalizing people for working) and extending payments to two million people who do not work (i.e., rewarding people for playing Xbox). Has this ever happened before at any time in the history of the U.S. (or anywhere else in the world for that matter)? — Philip Greenspun Read more →

Next Page »