Archive for taxes

Tax Reform - DBA: Dead Before Arrival

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Tax Return

We're heading into March, that month where everyone starts to realize they need to do that annual chore that we all hate. No, not spring cleaning. It's the annual financial paper round up, commonly referred to as tax prep. As with spring cleaning, we tend to put it off, find and make excuses to postpone the inevitable. It's got to get done and a deadline approaches.

Part of the ritual is to look for deductions, anything we can even remotely justify as a write-off no matter how tenuous the link may be to our reality. Anything, and I mean anything to lower our reported income to limit the damage inflicted upon us by the IRS. Hey, we have to pay the piper, but that doesn't mean it isn't painful.

Trying to make things easier and even more fair is the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). Yesterday the Republican-led committee released the framework of a complete overhaul of our tax laws to make this process easier. When the dust settled, we got 1000 pages of reform.

Even before this one grand of pages were released, the GOP party came out against it. They obviously hadn't read it because it hasn't been published but they knew they were against it. And the Democrats took a similar stand because "rumors" were that it would touch the third rail, figuratively speaking. It would cap the write-off for mortgage payment interest paid. That's generally the single largest write-off for individuals.

So the bill went from let's look-and-see to DOA. Actually DBA - dead before arrival.

I've got an alternative. Something so easy it's sure to be defeated, but let me offer it anyway. It's the old flat tax plan. A ten percent tax on all earnings. It can even be taken right out of your paycheck. And wait until you see your weekly take-home net received go up. You'll be smiling. Everyone pays the same percent as everyone else, rich and poor.

Oh, and did I add, thanks to Citizen's United where personhood has been blessed upon corporations, they too lose all of their "business related" write-offs. If they're people too, then they get no favored treatment. A straight 10% of revenues received are taxed. If some say that's unfair, a millionaire would be paying more than a pauper, it's all in the way you look at it. Right now a millionaire gets much more favored treatment - they get more write-offs. So that argument falls flat. This doesn't hurt incentive as the more you make, the more you net. And no more phony-baloney write-offs for corporate jets, holiday outings that are really vacations and no incentive to pay executives huge bonuses to lower the tax burdens for companies. They no longer get special treatment. They're people like us. And places like Verizon and GE who paid no taxes would be contributing 10% off the top.

Now wouldn't that increase our tax coffers! You want roads, bridges, modernized energy grids and more military spending. We'll have the funds to to do that and more. And think of all the trees we're saving that we use to make paper for the tax returns. Even our ecological systems will be improved by a simple one page form.

The people whom this hurts most are the accountants and IRS employees. We won't need as many. My answer to that is let them re-train. Isn't that what the GOP has been telling all of those out of work employees whose jobs the Republicans shipped overseas? Retrain the CPAs. Teach them  new skills. And if that's good for the "factory or lower skilled workers" today, why not the accountants and tax men for tomorrow?

Look, collecting tax revenue doesn't have to be hard or complicated. And think of all the cheats and phony write-offs that we won't be shouldering.  We'll actually be getting more revenue and might even be able to lower the tax rate from 10% to something even smaller.

Confession: This idea isn't just mine. It's been around for years. But to make my point more valid, even the most conservative of right wing conservative causes agrees: The Heritage Foundation.

The current tax system discourages saving. It discourages investment. It discourages entrepreneurship. It causes decision makers to misallocate the nation’s resources, limiting productivity gains, wage gains, and the nation’s overall level of international competitiveness. And, it is far, far too complicated. The New Flat Tax is the remedy. It replaces every major tax collected by the federal government. For non-seniors, it is as easy as one, two, three—one rate, two credits, three deductions. For seniors on Medicare, one of the two credits—for health insurance—is replaced by an extra deduction. The New Flat Tax is simple, revenue-neutral, and will allow America to achieve its full economic potential.

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Gays And The NFL - Tax Exempt Status At Stake

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football NFL

When the crazies get going, the going gets crazy. Yesterday there was an article circulating about Jack Burkman, a lobbyist trying to propose a bill that would ban gay players from the NFL.

What's crazy about that? Well everything from the fact that lobbyists can't propose bills, senators and congressmen must introduce them. But putting that behind, the fact that discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by law, this would stand in the way of such a bill. But some bills do pass that are found unconstitutional, then they're struck down.

Think of all that cost. And also think of this: The NFL exists as it does with a congressional granted tax exempt status. The multi-billion dollar industry saves millions because of that designation. You think they want to risk their non-profit status? According to CBS MoneyWatch:

This decision has saved the NFL uncounted millions in tax obligations, which means that ordinary people must pay higher taxes, public spending must decline, or the national debt must increase to make up for the shortfall. Nonprofit status applies to the NFL’s headquarters, which administers the league and its all-important television contracts.

The NFL is already under attack. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) has already introduced a bill to strip tax-exempt status from sports leagues. How many co-signers do you think would jump on that bandwagon if Congress were to even entertain a bill banning homosexuals from participating in the league?

Two days ago Jason Collins, an openly gay man, joined the NBA Brooklyn Nets. He played in his first game. And guess what? The league didn't collapse. When number 42, Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the MLB, the league didn't collapse. And when and if Michael Sam is drafted by the NFL, the league isn't going to sputter or disintegrate.

Life goes on. Bigotry must fall.

So before ending this post, it might be interesting to know a final fact or two about Jim Burkman, the lobbyist. Via HuffPo:

WASHINGTON -- A Republican lobbyist, [Jack Burkman], hawking a bill that would bar gays from playing in the National Football League has a younger brother who is gay [Jim Burkman].

“I think the idea that he is pushing legislation that is just hurtful and ridiculous is just plain stupid,” said Jim Burkman. “He is not a legislator and he can’t really push legislation. I don’t think there are any cosponsors for a bill. It is just an attention grab and a media grab to pander to those folks who pay him to lobby on their behalf.

Well, now it's time for the NFL to speak up -- and they should because they have a lot to lose -- millions -- if their tax exempt status should be removed. And if they don't come out as accepting of gays, you can count on their exempt status going the way of the "leather helmet" or "Statue of Liberty" play.

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Sunday Links

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Billionaire Tom Perkins

Billionaire Tom Perkins

Sunday links from The Political Carnival

How One Billionaire (Tom Perkins) ’s Idea To Give Rich People More Votes Is Already In The Works

Ted Cruz’s imperialist fantasy: Why his latest anti-Obama epithet is so dangerous

The Accident That Killed Me

US Drug Policy Fuels Push For Legal Pot Worldwide

15 Ridiculous Things People Say When They Find Out You're Brazilian

Norway Killer Anders Breivik Threatens Hunger Strike For Better Video Games

You Think You Have It Bad? Here's One Of The Snowiest Places On Earth.

Rand Paul ABDUCTED Female Student While In College, Tried To Force Her To 'Take Bong Hits,' GQ Article Alleges

41 Things You Need to Know Right Now for No Reason in Particular

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Cartoons of the Day- A GOP Christmas

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gopxmas1

Mike Keefe

gopxmas2

Pat Bagley

"Central casting" (Mark Streeter/Savannah Morning News)

MStreeter

gopxmas3

John Cole

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You Can Pay At The Pump Or At The Body Shop

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gas pumps

As if the price of gas isn't high enough already comes this news from The Hill:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is introducing legislation that would nearly double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax that is traditionally used to pay for federal transportation projects.

Blumenauer's bill would increase the gas tax by 15 cents, matching a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations.

The legislation would result in drivers paying an extra 33.4 cents per gallon on their purchases, in addition to state taxes.

On the surface, this pisses me off. But then I got to thinking, you know what else pisses me off? Last week I hit a pot hole at night and damaged my car and threw the front tire out of alignment. I got it adjusted, but I was out a hundred dollars.

Streets aren't repairing themselves on their own. And bridges, overpasses, rail lines and runways aren't getting any safer with the lack of action by the 113th congress. They're content with just talking about our need to upgrade infrastructure. They're not willing to do anything about it.

We can't wait much longer. We're paying for it one way or another. If I hit that pothole, how many other people have done the same and how many more will be following behind me?

Blumenauer's bill sounds pricey. But when you come down to it, his proposed increase, along with the current federal tax on gasoline comes to less than 10% of the current price/gallon -- an amount similar to the sales tax in many places right now. But look what we could get for that. Safety on the roads, high speed rail upgrades (currently they exist only in California), repaired airport runways.

I'm not generally down for tax increases, but rather for taxes going down. Yet I'm also not for automobile repairs that are caused by a crumbling infrastructure. Maybe it's better to pay the 10% at the pump than face body shop work or worse, the potential loss of life.

Can we put a price on that? We're already paying in more ways than one. And consider this as well: The last time the federal gas tax was increased was 1993. You don't remember, do you? That's because we learned to live with it. And we didn't suffer irreparably. Prices didn't increase. Productivity didn't go down. People didn't lose jobs. So maybe it's time to pay the piper -- so long as he uses the money to employ the workers to fix the problems. That means jobs which help our economy and that's something we have do have to fix right away.

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Three Men And A Rabbi On Another Government Shutdown

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rabbi

The old story goes, two men are arguing their case to a third man over the disputed sale of a mule. The argument becomes heated until the third man spots the Rabbi walking by and asks him to arbitrate. As a buddy to both, the third man didn't want to risk his friendship over this battle. The Rabbi agreed.

The first man tells his side of the story and the Rabbi nods to him and says, "You're right."

The second man rushes to tell his side of the story. After hearing it the Rabbi says, "You're right."

The third man looks to the Rabbi questioningly, "Bill's right and Dave's right? They can't both be right?"

The Rabbi pauses and say's to the third man, "You're right too."

And for years, the argument continued.

That story is similar to the problem with Congress and their budgetary committees. They're never going to see eye to eye and neither party is going to give an inch. They both know the other has valid points, but they'll never agree despite both being right. We, the public, are left as the third man.

According to the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Since the end of World War II, more than a dozen high-profile bipartisan panels have been convened to tackle the nation's thorniest fiscal problems. Seldom have their recommendations spurred congressional action.

Their ambitious, high-octane reports and recommendations are mostly gathering dust on government shelves.

This doesn't bode well for the current 29-member bipartisan budget panel which faces a Dec. 13 deadline. What's at stake is another government shutdown. The current short-term spending bill is keeping the government running, but only through Jan. 15. The current debt ceiling runs only through Feb. 7. That last $26 billion debacle should have taught us something. But it's very unlikely if history is any indication.

One of the few special panels generally hailed as a success is the 1981-83 Social Security commission chaired by Republican economist Alan Greenspan, who later served for 19 years as Federal Reserve chairman under four different presidents. His panel is credited widely with rescuing the old-age benefit program from insolvency.

The panel quickly deadlocked, with Democrats opposing benefit cuts and Republicans opposing higher Social Security taxes. It came up with its big fix only after the direct, heavy intervention by Reagan and House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill, D-Mass.

The two main participants in that agreement are both dead. And sadly, nothing we can do will bring them back. So we must move on, not die with them.

In 2011, the Simpson-Bowles Act was a result of a wide-ranging proposal that would have generated new revenues and made some social program cuts. But it's sitting, collecting dust after meeting with indifference from both parties.

It failed, Simpson later suggested, because Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike "all worship the god of re-election."

So what will it take to move Congress off the dime and start them on a path to true fiscal leadership?

The answer is actually quite simple. It's a threat.

The threat is for a Congressional clean sweep. Yup, dump the chumps who are gumming up the works. But to get out the bad, remove all of those who are victims of favors they owe or beneficiaries of favors promised by them.

Call it tossing the baby out with the bathwater, but I prefer dump the chump. We'll lose the good with the bad, but if they're really good, they can run for reelection after sitting out a term. Then we'll know who's really dedicated and who's just collecting a check.

Sit one out for the team. Make us miss you and your legislative magic and we'll return you to office.

Until then, fresh blood. No obligations to the gerrymandered farts who don't care about anyone but themselves. They line their pockets with graft and then proclaim they're going to cut unnecessary spending. They will take a cleaver to the fat and sinew in the budget. Sadly they can't distinguish a medallion of fat from a filet mignon.

Fat and gristle to them is defined as spending that doesn't effect them directly. They'll not move an inch to close corporate loopholes but will cut food stamps for the poor. They'll not increase minimum wage or pass a jobs bill which could take hard working people off the food stamp rolls but will enrich farmers and big oil with subsidies -- two places they enrich themselves either directly or indirectly. They favor bridges to nowhere, not roads to deliver kids safely to schools.

It's only a thought, a dream, I know. But movements begin with dreams. And if we're going to face another shutdown, maybe this dump the chump is a dream these elected officials should be hearing before they dig in, entrench themselves and align with the likes of Cruz, Rubio, Paul and the other Tea Party stalwarts. All promoting hard-line stands which will lead to another shutdown.

Let your voices be heard before the shutdown. We can't afford another $26 billion in waste while we're starving millions who live and perish in sickness and in hunger.

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If Corporations Are People Too, Why Do They Get Taxed Differently Than People?

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We the Corporations

Perhaps the easiest way to put the argument to bed as to whether or not "corporations are people, too, my friend," is to pass a clarification law stipulating that corporations are in deed people. (I know, it's crazy and we know they aren't, but let's for a moment say they are.) What would the next step be?

Well, for starters, we would have no, repeat no, federal deficit and individual taxes would drop precipitously. Why? Because PEOPLE don't get the advantages and tax loopholes of the Federal Corporate Tax Rate that allows them to skate on their tax obligations to this country. They would just pay the federal individual tax payer rate, like all of us "people," which they will then be.

Gone would be all those corporate write-offs, jets, yachts, huge parties and outings. Those huge offices and off-shore holding accounts. We could say bye-bye to tax credits for sending business overseas. If individuals don't get those benefits, either will the new "individuals." Oh, and too big to fail? That's gonna be gone too as no individual is too big to fail.

So what are we talking about when when we start saying that corporations are people too? We're talking about the entire rehauling of big business and a simplification of the tax laws. When they start paying their individual taxes they can start enjoying the individual freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.

If they want free speech they won't need Citizen's United. As people, they will have that. If they want freedom of religious beliefs as in the two cases approaching the Supreme Court, then as individuals they will have that. But with those rights, come restrictions and penalties -- including jail and fines for abuses.

Think about how quickly the national debt would turn into a surplus (promoting tax rebates and lower individual rates) if corporations paid their "people" tax rates, not corporate tax rates. In 2012, the following companies paid either ZERO federal taxes or actually got REBATES from the government - Wall Street Journal:

tax avoidance corporations

  • General Motors
  • Verizon
  • Ceasar's Palace
  • Prudential Insurance
  • Ameren
  • Lear Jets
  • American Airlines
  • JC Penny
  • Boeing
  • General Electric

Think about it for a moment. Is something wrong with this picture? Why should companies have all the benefits that people have, but not the responsibilities? People pay their fair share in order to enjoy a fair voice and be protected under the laws.

So big companies, you want to be treated like people, act like it.

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