Archive for tax loopholes

"Here's what your money is buying right now..."

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gop your money

We have written countless posts about the Supreme Court's terrible Citizens United decision, followed by their latest debacle, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the other appalling Supreme Court ruling that favors billionaires and allows them to influence our election outcomes.

Even Garry Trudeau couldn't keep quiet about it any longer: The Koch brothers can buy anything, including Doonesbury!  As I said in that post, a very few obscenely wealthy individuals are able to spend lavishly on candidates, politicians, and potential votes while, try as you might, your money simply can't compete with the endless supply of cash donated by the corporate big boys.

And with that, another installment of today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Money won't buy you votes," Opinion, April 20

Sure, money won't buy the vote of a regular person, but it sure can buy members of the state legislature or Congress. Here's what your money is buying right now:

Profits on gun sales fund the National Rifle Assn. and ensure that even when little kids get slaughtered at school, universal background checks won't pass the Senate despite the fact that about 90% of the country supports them.

Wealthy people who make money from investments make sure they don't get taxed at the same rates as wage earners.

Money strangles the implementation of banking reform. And it makes sure that no matter how many floods, fires or hurricanes we have, nothing is done about climate change.

Best of all, money buys donors the ability to hide behind "social welfare" organizations so nobody knows who's doing these evil things.

Joanne Zirretta

Aliso Viejo

**

A large war chest doesn't guarantee victory, as Republican Meg Whitman learned in 2010 when voters elected Democrat Jerry Brown governor by a wide margin.

But what money does allow is for the wealthy to buy the loyalty of politicians. The handful of GOP presidential hopefuls who visited billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently offer proof of that.

Most Americans agree that the latest Supreme Court rulings loosening campaign finance rules were steps in the wrong direction.

Kyle Laurent

Newhall

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Republicans Latest Repeal: Offshore Banking Regulations

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off shore banking

John Boehner has often said in the questioning and criticism of his lack of leadership in the House, What are the Republican standards for judging the lower chamber? And he's proudly boasted that his chamber should not be judged on how many bills it's passed, but rather on how many bills it's repealed.

Try and try as the GOP might, they've tried some 46 or more times to repeal Obamacare. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. They've worked arduously on curtailing the effects of Dodd-Frank and most other financial regulatory issues. These are protections from abuse of the super rich banking institutions on the backs and shoulders of the masses.

So what's the latest on their agenda? Just look at this, as reported by Reuters:

(Reuters) - The Republican Party is expected to approve a resolution this week, calling for repeal of an Obama administration law that is designed to crack down on offshore tax dodging.

In what would be the party's first appeal to scrap the law - the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) - a panel was slated to vote at the Republican National Committee's (RNC) winter meetings in Washington, likely approving the resolution on Friday, according to party members driving the repeal effort.

What's this mean? The Republicans want to allow rich individuals and wealthy companies to continue to harbor money in off-shore banks without subjecting these monies to federal taxes.

Approved in 2010 after a tax-avoidance scandal involving a Swiss bank, FATCA requires most foreign banksand investment funds to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about U.S. customers' accounts worth $50,000 or more.

Yup, they want to make the rich richer by allowing them to hide money offshore. What's amazing is that this issue should be of primary concern for the Republicans who are taking a beating in the polls over their income inequality stands. This is just another example of the GOP being out of touch with reality and the public's best interest.

No one is asking the rich to pay unfairly -- we give them all kinds of breaks already -- but to encourage tax evasion seems to be beyond the pale. Just pay your fair share and watch the federal deficit fall -- without giving up food stamp subsidies or long term unemployment benefit funding.

So next time you hear Republicans talking about cutting the deficit, ask them why they're also against everyone paying their fair share? Why they are for tax evasion as opposed to tax compliance.

Hopefully someone will ask Boehner why this issue of promoting and harboring hidden money and not paying taxes on it is in our best interest. It may be in this -- that son of a barkeep is a multi-millionaire. We know it was a key loophole for Romney.  How much more of the burden can be put on the public before we break? Remember, we're their foundation. If we fall, they fall as well.

So Mr. Speaker, get ready to tell us again why repealing laws is more important that upholding them? They were voted on and passed for a reason. Maybe you should start pushing for our laws and regulation to be followed, not scoffed at.

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Is Divorce Cheaper For Obamacare

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Divorce and Consent green cover 2

Years ago I wrote a movie for Warner Brothers called Divorce and Consent. It was about a married couple who for tax purposes, decide to take advantage of the tax loophole which allowed them to save about $20,000 in taxes by being divorced. In this romantic comedy, they use the money to take a Christmas Caribbean vacation with plans to return after the first of the year and remarrying. Finding themselves suddenly single and at a romantic tropical resort, the once again single and date-able couple, find their love being tested.

Maybe it's time to dust off that script and make a few changes -- like Reagan to Obama as President, and Federal tax loopholes to Obamacare loopholes. The rest seems to be pretty much the same.

Oh, BTW, the reason this picture didn't get completed is that the studio and the director didn't see eye to eye. And when they finally came to an agreement, the tax loophole had been fixed, and thus the picture lost its true foundation.

The foundation is back according to this story as reported in MailOnline.

divorce and consent couple

Nona Willis-Aronowitz, 29 and Aaron Cassara, 32 got married in 2009 because Aaron needed health insurance. Four years later they might divorce because of Obamacare.

The Brooklyn couple, recently featured on a CBS News segment, would not qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act because they make a combined income of more than $62,0000.Those costs include monthly premium and out-of-pocket costs for things like copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

But if the couple were to divorce, Nona and Aaron could save hundreds of dollars each month on healthcare related costs. That's because if they divorce and live together they could earn over $90,000 and still qualify for Obamacare subsidies.

So, if this story holds water, and it probably does, there are certain issues that need to be addressed.

If you saw my post last week, Reverse Obamacare Horror Story, one woman found that with her subsidies, she was only going to pay $1.11/month for family coverage -- so there's lot's of anomalies. But the point is that it's interesting that this young Brooklyn couple and this Black mother of three would not only find some sort of anomalies in the system, but that they were on the system at all. So the conclusion I'm seeing that the site, battered and bruised as it may be, does work and people are looking into getting coverage. That saves everyone money. Even if it shows other types of subsidy issues, the law is working and people are signing up. We can tackle the subsidy loop holes along the way. Getting people to signed up is the important part.

Wait a minute, come to think of it, I hope they don't plug those subsidy loop holes too soon. First I've gotta get my agent to call Warners and see if he can get them re-interested in Divorce and Consent.

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Yeah, like this will ever happen...

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totes adorbs

This totes adorbs Think Progress headline caught my eye: Senators Seek To End Taxpayer Subsidy For Exorbitant CEO Pay:

With executive compensation at record highs, two senators are trying to end a government subsidy of performance-driven executive pay schemes that cost taxpayers $5 billion per year. Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) proposed a bill Friday that would limit the amount of performance-based pay that can be written off as a tax deduction and bring in $50 billion in tax revenue over a decade.

Isn't it presh how Reed and Blumenthal think Republicans would ever pass any bill ever that would pull support from their ritzy CEO BFFs? Especially one called the Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Corporate Bonuses Act.

But hey, at least they're trying. And who knows? Stranger things have happened...

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ENTIRE VIDEO: Pres. Obama speaks in Chattanooga, Tenn., scoffs at #Keystone, at GOP for having no jobs plan

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Obama Chattanooga Tennesse middle class jobs speech

President Obama's speech starts at about 22:50.

He spoke at an Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga, Tennessee on his "grand bargain" proposal. Despite the GOP's pre-emptive rejection of his ideas, he's trying to break the gridlock over the deficit by cutting corporate tax rates in exchange for job investment to help the middle class.

He suggested boosting natural gas production (as well as solar and wind energy) as long as we "protect our air and our water." Elaborate, please, Mr. President, because fracking is already hurting our air and our water.

And then he came to my favorite part:

I am laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot in a 21st-century economy. Now it’s time for Republicans to lay out theirs. If they’ve got a better plan to bring back more manufacturing jobs, or create jobs rebuilding our infrastructure for the long run, or help workers earn the high-tech skills our businesses demand, let’s hear ‘em. But gutting protections for our air and water isn’t a jobs plan. Gutting investments in things like education and energy isn’t a jobs plan. Putting all your eggs in the basket of an oil pipeline that may only create about 50 permanent jobs, and wasting the country’s time by taking something like 40 meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare isn’t a jobs plan.

Waitwhat? Did he just imply that he may very well reject the Keystone XL tar sands Pipeline disaster-in-waiting project? Oh pleaseohplease make it so.

And the mockitude of the GOP was entertaining, too.

Here are a few more excerpts from the speech as written:

We’ve seen a faction of Republicans in Congress hurt a fragile recovery by suggesting they wouldn’t pay the very bills Congress rang up, and threaten to shut down the people’s government if they can’t shut down Obamacare. Then, rather reduce our deficits with a scalpel in a way that promotes growth – by cutting programs we don’t need, fixing ones we do, and making government more efficient – this same group has left in place a meat cleaver called “the sequester” that harms growth, hurts our military, and guts the investments in education, science, and medical research we need to make this country a magnet for good jobs.

So here’s the bottom line: I’m willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs. That’s the deal. [...]

[From the delivered speech, off script:] I get it, I'm not popular in Tennessee. But I've run my last campaign, so I don't need to spin. The truth is...  [and then he went back on script]...

The very last part of the speech got a lot of cheers. Check it out.

mitch mcconnell gridlock obstruction

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Senators promise colleagues 50 years of secrecy in exchange for suggestions on tax reform, "making secrecy a priority"

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what's the big secret

You know, the one thing I've been wishing for is more secrecy from our elected officials, because gee, who really needs transparency anyway? Especially when it comes to tax reform and being aware of which U.S. Senator supports which policies.

Yes, by all means, the more secrecy the better. America first!

weeee smaller

The Hill:

The Senate's top tax writers have promised their colleagues 50 years worth of secrecy in exchange for suggestions on what deductions and credits to protect in tax reform.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), have assured lawmakers that any submission they receive will not be released by either the committee or the National Archives before the end of 2064.

Deeming the submissions confidential, the Senate’s top tax writers have said only certain staff members will get access to a senator’s written suggestions. Each submission will also be given its own ID number and be kept on both password-protected servers, with printed versions kept in a locked safe.

The promise of confidentiality was revealed just two days before the deadline for senators to participate in the Finance Committee’s “blank slate” process, which puts the onus on lawmakers to argue for what credits and deductions should be preserved in a streamlined tax code.

The piece goes on to say that Baucus and Hatch were "trying to prove to colleagues that they were making secrecy a priority."

A priority. Of course. Forget about allowing the rest of us in on what you're up to.

Keeping the submissions confidential for a half century, the aide added, was “standard operating procedure for sensitive materials including investigation materials.”

Okay, I get that their motivation was to get all the senators engaged, but providing fifty years of secrecy doesn't do much to instill confidence in the honesty and intentions of our Congress members. And as The Hill noted, "blowback from interest groups and businesses" is a concern.

How about ignoring the lobbyists, just this once? How about showing some spine and concern by unambiguously standing up for the welfare of all Americans? Rhetorical, and yes, I know, I know, totally unrealistic. But sometimes that pesky wishful thinking just slips out.

wishful thinking fingers crossed smaller

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Bonus Cartoon of the Day- IRS Picking On Conservatives?

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irspick

Monte Wolverton

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