Archive for the ‘taxes’ tag
It’s wonky and probably — to most — pretty boring, but I think Nate Silver makes a good point:
The question, of course, is why there isn’t a millionaires tax bracket now … or even a multi-millionaires tax bracket. I haven’t run the numbers, but I’m guessing that if you established a new tax bracket at, say, 40.5 percent, that started at incomes of $1,000,000 or more, this would bring in as much revenue to the government as restoring the $250K tax bracket (which is really $360K now given indexing to inflation) to 39.6 percent, as it was under Clinton.
Paul Collins decides that Amazon.com’s conspicuously uncharitable ways are not without philosophical merit — and left-leaning defenders — but finds the company’s reluctance to defend them disappointing.
His actual beef with the company — one with which I sympathize — is that it’s still fighting against collecting state-mandated sales taxes.
Robert Frank points to new evidence he was right all along:
According to a new survey by Prince & Associates, voters worth $1 million to $10 million are favoring Sen. John McCain, while voters worth $30 million or more are favoring Sen. Barack Obama. …
The reason? Taxes.
Today, in the regularly-provacative Ideas section of the Boston Globe, lurks a piece to warm the hearts of “tax-and-spend liberals” (and will no doubt lead to at least one smug declaration of “That’s what I’ve said for years”). A sampling:
Lindert’s work surveyed a century of data across numerous countries and found that high taxes and social spending did not slow the growth of productivity or GDP. Statistically speaking, Lindert found no relationship between the level of social spending and economic growth. High tax nations like Norway grow rapidly and produce high standards of living. Even the income per hour of work in nations like France and Germany is equal to or even exceeds America’s.
Citing Leona Helmsley’s generous-sounding donation to dogs, Ryan Madoff take offense at something most people happily forget:
The charitable deduction enables people to donate as much of their assets as they like for charitable purposes without paying a tax. While some choose to contribute to broad public goals, the law does not require it. In recent years, charitable status has been recognized for organizations with purposes as idiosyncratic as promoting excellence in quilting and educating the public about Huey military aircraft. Indeed, Mrs. Helmsley might have limited her beneficence to the Maltese breed of dogs she favored, and that, too, would have been allowed as a “charitable” purpose.
If this were only a matter of Leona Helmsley wasting her own money, no one would need to care. But she is wasting ours too.
The charitable deduction constitutes a subsidy from the federal government. The government, in effect, makes itself a partner in every charitable bequest. In Mrs. Helmsley’s case, given that her fortune warranted an estate tax rate of 45 percent, her $8 billion donation for dogs is really a gift of $4.4 billion from her and $3.6 billion from you and me.
To put it in perspective, our contribution to Mrs. Helmsley’s cause equals approximately half of what we spend on Head Start, a program that benefits 900,000 children.
Everyone knows the role of supply and demand, but this Explainer column offers a number of interesting factors that make for differences is price both across states and within them. One of the many things I hadn’t considered:
Retail gas prices can vary depending on state and local environmental requirements. Urban areas with particularly dirty air are required by federal law to sell “reformulated gas” for all or part of the year, and because the cleaner-burning fuel is refined through a special process, it tends to be a little more expensive than regular gas.
In a bit more tax-day fun, Richard Coniff argues for the abolition of taxes:
I propose we stop saying “taxes” and start calling them “dues.”
Yes, this is a little sneaky. Some conservatives may even call it Orwellian, and they ought to know. But the word “dues” also plays into the psychology of group identity, and that can work to the benefit of conservatives and liberals alike. Consider that “tax” comes from the Latin for “appraise” with punitive overtones of “censure” or “fault,” as if wage-earners have done something wrong by their labors. “Dues,” in contrast, is rooted in social obligation and duty.
As people across this country rush to complete their taxes and assure that the big bad IRS, Mark Gimien offers a piece that should have been called “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the IRS.”
But the IRS I have come to view with something approaching affection. For each of the last several years, I have owed the IRS money at tax time. And each time, rather than hauling me off to prison, the IRS has done its best to make my life easier.
I’ve heard this argument made before, but never seen it in print. Now the New York Times editorial board has printed it.
The result is a substantial increase in the number of working-age people paying taxes, but a relatively smaller increase in the number of retirees who receive benefits — a double boon to Social Security’s bottom line.
We’re not talking chump change. According to the report, the taxes paid by other-than-legal immigrants will close 15 percent of the system’s projected long-term deficit. That’s equivalent to raising the payroll tax by 0.3 percentage points, starting today.
It should come as no surprise that the United States has essentially the lowest “environmental taxes” — as a percent of total tax revenue — of the OECD, an organization of mostly rich countries. I was surprised that New Zealand “beat” the US, and that Australia was solidly in the middle of the pack.
These details from Eduardo Porter depress me.
Americans are not less generous than Europeans. When private charities are included, they probably spend more money for social purposes than Europeans do. But philanthropy allows them to target spending on those they personally believe are deserving, instead of allowing the government to choose.
Mr. Glaeser’s and Mr. Alesina’s work suggests that white Europeans support a big welfare state because they believe the money will probably go to other white Europeans. In America, the Harvard economist Erzo F. P. Luttmer found that support for social spending among respondents to General Social Survey polls increased in tandem with the share of welfare recipients in the area who were in their own racial group. A study of charity by Daniel Hungerman, a Notre Dame economist, found that all-white congregations become less charitably active as the share of black residents in the local community grows.
Speaking of (things I’ve been ignoring+Slate)… Slate’s economics columnist Daniel Gross does his best to eviscerate McCain.
By virtue of his history as a deficit hawk, a foe of earmarks, and an opponent of the Bush tax cuts—not to mention the presence of reality-based advisers like Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office—McCain deserves some benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, the brains behind the economic operation seems to be former Sen. Phil Gramm, the Texas A&M economist-turned-senator who confidently forecast in 1993 that the Clinton program of spending cuts and tax increases on the wealthy would be “a one-way ticket to recession.” And the sections on McCain’s Web site about domestic policy reveal, as Matt Yglesias noted, “a nearly astounding level of vacuity.”
This isn’t so much news as a reminder of long established facts. Americans can love driving far more than anyone else because gasoline here is so much cheaper than anywhere else.
The Economist has put together a pretty interesting graph of the personal tax burden in OECD — generally “rich” — countries. The United States and Canada are both near the middle of the pack, though Canada’s lower (which surprised me).
At Slate, economist Steven Landsburg argue that Mike Huckabee’s FairTax plan is actually good. The highlights of the plan, for those who don’t know, are an end to the IRS and income taxes, and an introduction of a 30% sales tax. The piece contains a fair bit of shirking-conventional-wisdom-because-I-can, but maybe the revisionism is necessary for a plan that has been so universally criticized (even by me).
Bottom line: Unlimited IRAs, coupled with somewhat higher tax rates, have advantages and disadvantages, but the advantages are bigger. And whatever can be said about unlimited IRAs coupled with somewhat higher tax rates can equally be said of a national sales tax.
The answer is no. Poll taxes were abolished by the 24th Amendment. Pole taxes remain legal. And Texas now has one.
THERE is a new price to be paid for looking at naked women in Texas. On January 1st the state’s strip clubs began imposing a $5 surcharge for each visitor. The “pole tax,” as it is commonly called, is expected to bring the state an additional $40m in revenue each year. Most of the proceeds will go to programmes that support victims of sexual assault.
So I want to know, is this good government or and insane idea from the Texas’s legislature?