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Typepad HTML Email Mike Your response sounds like the typical supporter of tax cuts, but ignores the reality of the totality of the bill. There are a few limitations on largesse for the wealthy in the act.. But I think you are miscasting the entirety of the project and even the comparative impact of the provisions you mention. For example, employee business expense elimination is extraordinarily harmful to low-wage and medium income workers and just a penny-wise nuisance to the wealthy. The SALT provision is costly for people with more expensive homes in high-tax states, but more harmful for ordinary folk in those same states who have taken into account the tax deduction in determining what home they can afford—they may actually lose their homes because of the SALT impact. The limitation on the 20% deduction isn’t a tax increase—you are distorting information when you present it as such. That new deduction is a whole newfangled tax giveaway! So the fact that there are at least some high-end limitations on it just makes it one of the provisions that isn’t quite as awful as it would otherwise be. But real estate developers will be the great beneficiaries, and they are mostly already quite wealthy (and get all kinds of other giveaways from state and municipal governments). You are disregarding truly significant tax breaks for the wealthy built into this law. Of course, there’s the reduction in the top rate on ordinary income—which has been as high as 90% and not so very long ago at 70%.. This bill reduces it from 39.6% down to 37% on the vast majority of most wealthy CEOs and similar wealthy people’s ordinary income. And of course the rate on capital gains stays low—though it is an arbitrary idea inviting arbitrage. Then there’s the change from corporate worldwide taxation to a (very friendly) territorial corporate tax system, along with the elimination of the corporate alternative minimum tax and cut in the corporate (statutory) rate from 35% to 21%--these amount to HUGE cuts in taxes that are mostly beneficial to the wealthiest who own most of the corporate stock that isn’t owned through pension funds. That’s a huge wealth increase for the wealthy. And you are disregarding the estate tax provisions—doubling the exemption rate while leaving in place the windfall benefit for silver-spoon heirs of the step-up in basis. Again, no ordinary worker gets any benefit whatsoever from this $20-30 billion a year tax expenditure that is an exclusive gift to multi-millionaires, and certainly not one whit useful to the most vulnerable amongst us. You are disregarding the changes to the Affordable Care Act (removing the penalty tax) which ultimately will make premiums go up which, again, affects ordinary Americans, not the wealthy. I could go on. The fact is, the few bonuses that a few of the large corporations have been marketing as “sharing” their absurdly huge tax benefit from the act with their workers are a pure farce. Bonuses are a one-time thing and only a tiny chip of the huge reward that the managers and shareholders will reap from the corporate largesse provisions. Even the few companies announcing wage increases (which would have had to happen anyway because of the expansion in the economy that started under Obama) aren’t sharing much of their tax windfall. To be holding even with where workers were 30 years ago, we’d need a federal minimum wage above $15 an hour. All that productivity gain in these extraordinarily profitable multinational corporations has gone to managers and shareholders, not to ordinary workers and certainly not to minimum wage workers. This tax act just continued the largesse for the rich that is the GOP’s only standard economic idea beyond the GOP desire to allow fundamentalist Christians to discriminate in public businesses against customers that they think immoral under their particular religious code. Linda
Typepad HTML Email To Righteous Conservative: Please note that in your comment complaining about the use of “neanderthal” by RJS to describe his neighbor’s attitudes (something most of us would understand as describing someone not very open to new ideas and stuck in old ways), you yourself resorted to the very “denigration to a lower level” that you accused RJS of, in that you indicate that you think that “left leaning individuals like [RJS] are filled with hate.” Nothing in RJS’s comment suggests “hate” or even “namecalling”, since the use of the term “neanderthal” to indicate a back-looking attitude is quite common. In fact, the opposite of what you say about “left-leaning individuals” tends to be true. Most left-leaning individuals are very caring about the vulnerable, the poor, the elderly, the abused, the discriminated against—it is part of the definition of “left-leaning” and “progressive”. I don’t know any progressive that I would describe as “filled with hate” towards anyone or any group of people (and I know quite a few progressives). Speaking for myself, I can say that I often intensely dislike what the right-wing—and especially the so-called ‘alt-right’-- stands for, in particular, because it has lately overlapped with neo-cons, neo-nazis, and other hate groups that have proudly made uncaring arguments about the poor and other vulnerable (often non-white) people. But please note that while I dislike that right-wing philosophy (even perhaps hate that philosophy), I do not “hate” the people who espouse it. Linda
Tax cuts don't "keep more dollars in the economy". Tax revenues spent by government are as much (or more) "in the economy" as tax savings accruing to corporations and wealthy individuals are. That's because the wealthy cannot and do not spend their wealth--they just get wealthier. Their investments are as likely to be overseas as here; as likely to hurt the U.S. economy as help it. Same for corporations. They are most likely to "spend" the excess profits from tax savings (they were already enjoying high profits) by doing stock buybacks for their (mostly) wealthy shareholders, who, to reiterate, have too much to be able to spend it all and are as likely to invest overseas as here. Tax revenues can stimulate the economy by being spent on research, infrastructure, education, etc. Tax cuts can stimulate the economy by being provided to the people who need it most and will use it for food, shelter and other necessities--i.e., the poor and near-poor and, to generally, to the middle class. This is why the tired and many-times-disproven "trickle-down" "supply-side" tax policy behind the GOP tax "reform" is very unlikely to have anywhere near the rosy growth impacts that the GOP soothsayers assume and much more likely to lead to stock market bubbles accompanied by continued stagnation of wages for ordinary folks.
Typepad HTML Email Not sure I follow you, Mike. Voters on the left have certainly been loud and clear that repeal of the ACA would be costly in terms of their future support, but I haven’t personally seen similar announcements from congresspeople that their major donors told them how to vote on health care. The point of the post is that a congressman essentially admitted that he wasn’t voting on the tax bill because he thought it was good for the nation, but because he thought it was good for him personally. That’s disgraceful though I guess short of treason.
Typepad HTML Email Lampoon. In future, avoid assuming you know more than the person you are talking to—it is condescending and unbecoming of a gentleman (or gentlelady). As it so happens, I am not at all unfamiliar with modern monetary theory (from Friedman to Kelton) and certainly know most of what Greenspan has said (though he was wrong about as often as he was right on many matters, including the bubble that led to the Great Recession). But monetary theory can be used or abused. I agree that our ability to print money provides an escape from some of the impacts of high debt and high deficits, though hyperinflation has to be avoided. But we also have to deal with the real world, in which a large majority (probably a supermajority at this point) of state and federal legislators uses deficits as an excuse to avoid funding social programs and infrastructure. It doesn’t do any good to preach “just print it” if the legislators are ideologically opposed to that view, even while voting tax cuts that create deficits to justify cutting social welfare and infrastructure programs (and to justify selling off our precious publicly owned wilderness areas).
Typepad HTML Email No, Peter. To refuse to allow a Senator speaking on the issue of confirmation of a person as Attorney General to read a statement that clearly exists in the public realm about events that clearly took place in the past and continue reflect on the character of the person is to refuse to allow facts to be spoken. It is your opinion that “redemption” has occurred. Senator Warren had the right—indeed, the obligation—to argue that redemption had not occurred and to use the fact of Mrs. King’s letter in making that argument.
You have innuendo but no evidenced based comment. please clarify. Sent from my Verizon 4G LTE smartphone
So Hobbs, you think sexual assault; cheating of contractors, suppliers, and workers; ripping off of the country through tax scams like his "partnership interest (in a near worthless partnership) for another entity's debt to pretend that you are paying it off and that such a swap allows you to avoid cancellation of debt income"; and every other falsity, bigotry, and suggestion of violence are not MONSTROUSNESS personified? Trump has already suggested that he would just bomb any country he doesn't like. Imagine that stupidity and egocentrism combined with a proclivity for supporting violence as the person with his finger on the nuclear button. It is the most monstrous picture imaginable.
Toggle Commented Nov 8, 2016 on Why You Should Not Vote for TRUMP at ataxingmatter
Trump is a fool, yes, but he is a hideous monster. His condoning of violence, suggestion of forcing another nation to do his bidding, exclusion of anyone who doesn't agree with him, racism, narcissism, bullying, hatred of anybody that doesn't kowtow to his ego are the worst harbingers for decent foreign policy possible. Clinton has been more hawkish than I like on some matters. But she has demonstrated that she can work with others to arrive at solutions, and she has admitted her mistakes--which means that she is an adult who can learn from her past. Trump is stuck in the fearsome fours, a child tyrant who glorifies in insult and loves authoritarianism, a whiner who is extraordinarily vulnerable to manipulation. He will cotton up to Putin because Putin will know how to pull his strings. He will turn on all his supporters if it benefits his pocketbook or his ego. He has no integrity and has no backbone.
Toggle Commented Nov 8, 2016 on Why You Should Not Vote for TRUMP at ataxingmatter
You are right, Robert. Some complexity is necessary, and some simplification is possible. But the sound-bite approach to tax policy is doomed to lead to foolish policy choices. I fear that good policy will elude us until we spend more on real education so that the voting public has a deeper understanding and can rebuff the stupid ideas from know nothings like Trump and self-servers like Ryan. Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone
Typepad HTML Email Yes, Jerry, the IRS (not IRA) is the agency that administers the tax code and, under the Treasury Department, interprets it when there are ambiguities. It does not write the tax laws. Congress writes the laws. We should not get rid of the Internal Revenue Code but should redirect some of its provisions to 1) raise the revenues needed to run the government and protect the people and the environment (including public infrastructure) and 2) raise those revenues in ways that do not favor, as so many do now, the wealthy elite, corporate managers, and ‘old’ fossil fuel industries. I heartily agree that we should replace quite a few of the current members of Congress. I’d like to see real progressives replace the stuck-in-the-mud “free marketarianism” gospel group. Linda
Typepad HTML Email If an administrator performs poorly (such as writing off something that isn’t minor as though it were minor), the administrator should be fired. It is quite stupid to penalize an entire agency for a few bad apples (if indeed there were bad apples). Especially when that agency is critical to the functioning of the government. The idea of cutting funding for the IRS has much more to do with the right wing desire to cripple government than it has to do with any desire to improve management. It’s like the stupid iterative investigations of the Secretary of State over Benghazi, compared to the quick death of any investigation into the much worse incidents under Reagan.
Typepad HTML Email If only it were that easy to bring joy everywhere! Thanks, Dan
Typepad HTML Email You are of course right about the point of the appeal. I wasn’t convinced by the petition for certiorari that this case has presented a winning argument for declaring the Tax Court an Article III court. And I think that the jurisdiction at a pre-payment rather than refund stage is a significant detractor from the potentiality of that status.
Typepad HTML Email Glad you are amused. At least you are reading it. Who knows—perhaps someday you will start actually thinking about what is said here. Guess what-- nobody voted in huge numbers in this election! Turnout was abysmally low across the nation and reflects our poor understanding of citizenship—among both Democrats and Republicans, as well as independents. We got the result that those voters voted for, in gerrymandered elections where incumbents have huge advantages merely from the way the districts are set up, under the influence of enormous amounts of money poured in –with the floodgate-opening Citizens United decision--anonymously from the oligarchic interests who are quite keen on protecting their economic interest (i.e., on electing Republicans) by misleading and misinforming as much as possible. That’s no mandate in terms of “the people” voting Republicans into power.
Toggle Commented Nov 26, 2014 on Election Puzzle at ataxingmatter
Typepad HTML Email It’s possible but just as likely a result of being misinformed about “crime and national security”. Look where George W. Bush landed us—the quagmire of the ill-considered invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, including thousands dead, thousands wounded, and major costs to taxpayers. The Reagan tripartite stool of tax cuts (for the well-off), deregulation, and militarization remains the Republican’s main platform, and it continues to inflict damage .
Typepad HTML Email Very good point. There are few reporters on national media who are competent to report understandably on fiscal and tax issues, and there is much mouthing of purported “economics 101” truisms that have been, in fact, clearly disproved by actual events. The Wall Street Journal (especially in its editorial pages) repeats ad nauseum assertions derived from Chicago School economic ‘theory’, even if there is an article running at the same time demonstrating that the opposite position has in fact been the more accurate one. And on and on. Of course it is not just the lackluster performance of the media in this area. It is also the lackluster performance of our educational system. One of the best education reforms that schools could and should undertake is the introduction of basic tax courses and government fiscal policy courses at the 7th grade level and on up through high school. I tire of trying to help people understand the difference between a government’s debt burden (which can be eased by printing money, cutting spending or voting more taxes, depending on the overall economic context) and an individual’s or family’s debt burden (which can only be eased by cutting back on other spending or getting a promotion or new job at higher pay). Of course, the right-wingers use this lack of understanding constantly to argue for cutting social welfare programs (but usually not for cutting the tax expenditures that benefit the rich, such as the preference for capital gains, the oil and gas industry subsidies, the lack of a single-payer health care system, etc.). Linda
Toggle Commented Nov 24, 2014 on Election Puzzle at ataxingmatter
Typepad HTML Email I’m not an Ayn Rand fan, as you may imagine, but you have a point, at least on a superficial basis, about the post. The problem with arguing that “Oh, I vote in the country’s best interest” is that, at least on an anecdotal evidence level, many of those voters do claim to be voting in self-interest. Further, on some level voting for “what’s best for the country as a whole” is merely a more accurate way to vote in one’s self-interest, when a broader perspective permits (appropriately, I would say)the voter to understand that we are a community for which sustainable policies (economic, environmental, jobs, what-have-you) are critical.
Typepad HTML Email Hi DryDiggins: David Roberts’ tweets are right on point. And I may blog on Charles Blows’ op-ed later, since it to is prescient. Clearly, it has become more and more obvious that the progressive left is caught between a rock and a hard place—defending the principles of a public polity working for the public good (we lose against amoral right intent only on power and willing to adopt any means to achieve it) or adopting the same tactics as the right (we lose by becoming equally amoral). Meanwhile, the conservative right either doesn’t care about the long-term harm that it is doing, or wants power so badly that it has blinded itself to the long-term harm that it is doing and convinced itself that its seriously flawed policies are working even though the results are disastrous (as in Sam Brownback’s ‘experiment’ with drastic tax cuts resulting in economic stagnation and real detriments to infrastructure, education, etc. --especially once the fact that $700 million of reserve funds have vanished in the short span the revenue cuts have been in effect, and won’t be there to stave off deep harm in the future). Linda
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2014 on Election Puzzle at ataxingmatter
Thanks to all of you who have expressed your support here and through emails in response to my 'returning to blogging' post. Encouragement does wonders for one's psyche. Linda
Toggle Commented Oct 21, 2014 on Return to Blogging at ataxingmatter
Typepad HTML Email By that criteria, the rather boring, predictable, and obnoxious Nancy Grace—who has a national television audience for her newsopinion programming —must be considered to “get it.” But all she gets, as far as I can see, is that blabbing on and on about her own views on highly charged criminal cases gets her celebrity status.
Typepad HTML Email Kessler’s article is little more than an opinion piece outlining the emotions of the ex-pat community that wanted the anonymous bank account system to continue forever. She assumes that there are very few ex-pat tax cheats but lots of citizens put into an emotionally charged choice of moving assets to relatives’ names or renouncing citizenship. FATCA deals with a real tax evasion problem. Lawyers who represent ex-pats who were holding assets offshore in order to evade taxes tell me that there were many many of these accounts and that most accounts were quite large and had existed for the express purpose of avoiding US taxation. Many of the banks rejecting American deposits are ones that are or think they may be in trouble for the way they have mishandled those accounts (even under the earlier reporting requirements, pre-FATCA, such as the “qualified intermediary” “know your customer” rules). Again, it may be that in some cases American ex-pats find themselves in worrisome positions vis-à-vis their banking choices. But It’s not surprising that an ex-pat abroad might find financing on better terms for a US purchase from a US bank. In many ways, the ex-pat clamor seems to be another version of the radical libertarianism that the elite so often use to justify continuing their lifestyle-- “we liked it the way we had it; we don’t like paying taxes on our capital income”.
Typepad HTML Email Suzanne Laws aren’t perfect, and rules always leave somebody in an awkward situation. That’s part of the price of citizenship. While I can understand anyone’s frustration when they have to pay attention to administrative headaches or have to pay more than they personally think they ought to have to pay, I’m not sure that justifies changing the laws to let everyone in that situation off the hook.
Typepad HTML Email Sorry, Mike. You are the one in the box.
Typepad HTML Email Mike Citizenship carries both benefits and responsibilities. So renounce. Fine with me. But til you do, all I ask is that you comply with the law. As for the exclusion for foreign earned income, one could easily see how the person staying at home could find it unfair that someone from their company working broad for 2-3 years and earning the same or more in gross income from the firm would pay taxes on a very small portion of that. Like the “active business exception” to offshoring company assets, the exclusion acts as an incentive to encourage working abroad and results in tax discrimination against those who don’t do so.