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Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

CO state gov’t profligacy may trigger pot tax refund

Posted by Richard on March 21, 2014

Marijuana legalization is looking better and better. The Colorado legislature, salivating over the prospect of more revenue, imposed high taxes on pot sales. Partly due to that and partly due to improvement in the Colorado economy, state government has lots of money to spend and is eagerly spending it. Good news for pols and their cronies, bad news for the rest of us.

Fortunately, Colorado voters many years ago enacted a constitutional amendment called the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR). Among other things, it limits annual spending growth — unless voters approve of excess spending in a referendum vote, the excess revenue must be refunded to taxpayers. To the Denver Post, this is a troubling prospect:

Colorado voters approved the sale of legal marijuana thinking the revenues derived would go towards areas like schools or treatment for substance abuse. Instead, it’s possible that the money may be returned to them.

A Tuesday economic forecast from the state’s Legislative Council said that state spending is trending higher than previously estimated. If that holds true, under TABOR statutes, the higher spending could trigger a one-year refund on any new sources of revenue — like the taxes on marijuana.

The Post reporter, Anthony Cotton, managed to find both Democrat and Republican legislators who share the Post’s dim view of TABOR and believe there should be no limit on how much of our money the government can seize:

“The idea of having to issue a refund or going back to voters hat in hand is disappointing,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, the vice-chair of the Joint Budget Committee, which hosted the briefing.

“The more I learn about TABOR the less I like it and the more insidious I think it is to state government,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen.

Apparently, the Post couldn’t locate any legislators who disagree with this desire for unconstrained government. I know there are some — but I guess the Post doesn’t have contact information for those kinds of folks.

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Court kills Amazon Tax

Posted by Richard on April 3, 2012

Woohoo! Colorado’s so-called Amazon tax has been ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. District Court in Denver:

In 2010, the Democrats in Colorado, in violation of the state Taxpayers Bill of Rights, passed a variety of tax increases known as the Dirty Dozen.  The state’s highly politicized Supreme Court gave the tax increases a pass around TABOR’s requirement for a citizen vote, but the federal courts are frequently a different matter, and so it has proved with one of the measures, the so-called, “Amazon Tax.”  That tax applied the state sales tax to sales by Amazon affiliates in the state, on the dubious proposition that the presence of a person who either owns a website (which could be hosted anywhere in the world) or who sells web ads constitutes a significant physical presence in the state.

Now, a federal court has decided that the tax violates the US Constitution:

On Friday, the federal court in Denver declared the 2.9 percent tax on purchases unconstitutional on the ground it was tilted unfairly against out-of-state retailers, and that it put an undue burden on retailers to either collect the tax owed by consumers or report consumer purchases to the state.

Judge Robert Blackburn’s ruling noted the legal language of the tax didn’t distinguish between in-state and out-of-state businesses, but the practical effect of the tax did.

“I conclude that the veil provided by the words … is too thin to support the conclusion that the Act and the Regulations regulate in-state and out-of-state retailers even-handedly,” Blackburn wrote.

The court applied what is known as the “negative Commerce Clause,” the notion that if regulation of interstate commerce is explicitly delegated to the Federal government, then it cannot be exercised by state governments. …

After the tax was enacted, Amazon simply terminated all affiliate relationships with Coloradans, so the socialist scum who enacted it gained no revenue as a result.

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It’s not just the rich who’ll pay for Obama’s budget

Posted by Richard on February 15, 2012

According to Investor’s Business Daily, it’s not just the rich who’ll pay for the massive expansion of government envisioned by the latest Obama budget (no surprise; it can’t be just the rich because there aren’t enough rich people). And, typically, the administration is looking for an international way to cram their plans down America’s throat (emphasis added):

Discussing President Obama’s new budget, Gene Sperling, the White House’s top economist, said “we need a global minimum tax” so no one escapes paying “their fair share.”

This idea is not just bad; it’s likely unconstitutional. In any event, it starkly reveals the underlying premise behind Obama’s latest budget plan: To hike taxes massively on all Americans to pay for an unprecedented expansion of federal government.

To pay for it, the president and his aides are using class-warfare to build a case for a big tax hike on “the rich.” But beware: The Obama budget includes a $2.8 trillion jump in total taxes over the next 10 years, $1.5 trillion coming from income taxes alone. That amount is so large it can’t come solely from the well-off. It will require huge new taxes on all Americans.

Americans for Tax Reform has just totaled up the tax increases in Obama’s budget. It makes for scary reading:

• ObamaCare alone includes 20 separate tax hikes.

• Tax rates on most small businesses are expected to go up to 39.6% from 35%.

• Tax rates on capital gains, the fuel for economic and job growth, will jump to 23.8% from 15%.

• Rates on dividends surge to 43.4% from 15%.

• The death tax will jump to 45% from 35%.

• Large businesses will take a job-killing $147 billion tax hit as the U.S. double-taxes overseas profits.

• Families will pay a $100 billion energy tax over the next decade as oil, gas and coal companies get hit with new levies that they will simply pass on to consumers.

• The proposed new “Buffett Tax” will hit wealthy Americans with a marginal tax rate of 90% or higher.

Such massive tax increases will cripple the American economy, retarding economic growth and ensuring high unemployment for the next decade. It’s hard to imagine that all the brilliant Ivy-league-educated people in the Obama administration don’t understand that. Either that’s their goal — to preside over the decline of America, to diminish this country — or they simply don’t care as long as their redistributionist goals are achieved.

The current administration and the Democratic Party leadership are going to destroy this country in the name of egalitarianism if they aren’t stopped. If only there were an opposition party leadership and an opposition party presidential candidate capable of passionately, articulately, and with conviction making that point and offering an alternative of freedom, opportunity, limited government, and individual sovereignty. If only there were someone capable of contrasting their own vision of a “shining city on the hill” with the grim future of dependence and shared poverty offered by the leftists/progressives. If only there were another Reagan.

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Happy Tax Day?

Posted by Richard on April 19, 2011

Tax Day is an unpleasant event for some of us, irrelevant for many, and a happy occasion for others. Nearly half of all households (45% this year, down from 47% last year) pay no income taxes.

About 40% of households profit from the income tax system. The earned income credit and other "refundable" tax credits far exceed what little they owe in taxes, so the government sends them a check for everything they had withheld and a bunch extra — a Happy Tax Day!

Today, more than a third of what's called "salaries and wages" is actually government transfer payments, a.k.a. handouts. Meanwhile, the more productive members of society are paying a far larger share of income taxes than their share of income. The top 10% of income earners, who receive 45% of the total adjusted gross income, pay 70% of all income taxes.

Still, our Socialist Democrat in Chief and his leftist friends continue to scream "tax the rich!" The Wall Street Journal pointed out what nonsense it is to claim we can put our financial house in order by making the rich pay, in the President's words, "a little more": 

Consider the Internal Revenue Service's income tax statistics for 2008, the latest year for which data are available. The top 1% of taxpayers—those with salaries, dividends and capital gains roughly above about $380,000—paid 38% of taxes. But assume that tax policy confiscated all the taxable income of all the "millionaires and billionaires" Mr. Obama singled out. That yields merely about $938 billion, which is sand on the beach amid the $4 trillion White House budget, a $1.65 trillion deficit, and spending at 25% as a share of the economy, a post-World War II record.

If the IRS confiscated 100% of the income of everyone earning more than $100,000 a year, it wouldn't cover the Obama budget. And it's not like you can keep coming back and taking 100% of someone's income year after year. They wise up. 

They can preach class warfare and chant "tax the rich" all they want — the only way to balance the federal budget at today's insanely high level (26% of GDP) is to stick it to the middle class. That's where the bulk of the people are, and thus where the bulk of the money is. 

The Heritage Foundation figured out how much tax rates would have to go up to balance the budget without cutting spending. And they did it assuming there were no other tax law changes, so the relative share of revenue from each tax bracket remained the same:

To collect the additional revenue necessary to close the 2010 deficit, income tax rates would have to have been considerably higher than their current levels. Without altering other aspects of the tax code, if Congress collected the extra revenue by simply hiking each income bracket based on its portion of current tax collections, every tax rate would need to more than double.

For a family of four earning $50,000 that takes the standard deduction, its current tax bill of $766 would increase by almost $4,000. A similar family of four that earned $75,000 a year would see its tax liability of $4,500 increase by over $9,000 a year. If the same family earned $100,000, it would pay more than $15,600 above the $8,800 it actually paid in 2010.

The top rate in this scenario would be 85 percent. A top rate at that level would grind economic activity to a halt. Businesses would stop investing and creating new jobs because the tax-diminished returns would not be worth the risk. Many workers would cut back the hours they spend on the job. The end result would be a poorer nation with a bleaker future.

Today's 10% bracket would jump to 24%, the 15% bracket would become 37%, and the 25% bracket would need to be 61%. I don't know about you, but I'd make sure I never entered that 61% bracket. 

Then, just for grins, Heritage calculated what it would take to balance the budget at today's level if Obama kept his promise of not increasing income taxes on anyone earning under $250,000:

If, instead of raising taxes at all income levels, Congress collected it from just those making $250,000 or more per year, their rates would have to rise to levels that are not even possible. The top two rates would need to rise to 132 percent and 142 percent.

Of course, it is impossible to tax at a rate over 100 percent. Doing so would require confiscating savings, investment, or even other assets. Moreover, as a practical matter, it is impossible to get even close to 100 percent and still raise revenue because businesses, workers, and investors would simply stop producing, working, and investing as the government came close to confiscating almost every additional dollar they earned. Much of their economic activity would be driven underground.

As a practical matter, it's impossible to raise middle-class tax rates to 61% in a country with such widespread gun ownership. And a good thing, too.

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US leads world in punitive tax rates

Posted by Richard on March 23, 2011

You know all that leftist carping about tax breaks for the rich and the rich not paying their share? As many of us have pointed out all along, it's bunkum. If they want the US to be more like Europe and the rest of the world, they could start by cutting taxes on the rich. According to the Tax Foundation, the richest 10% of households in the US pay more in taxes as a proportion of their share of income than in any other developed country (emphasis added):

The first column shows that the top 10 percent of households in the U.S. pays 45.1 percent of all income taxes (both personal income and payroll taxes combined) in the country.  Italy is the only other country in which the top 10 percent of households pays more than 40 percent of the income tax burden (42.2%). Meanwhile, the average tax burden for the top decile of households in OECD countries is 31.6 percent.

By contrast, column #2 shows that the richest decile in America earned 33.5 percent of the market income in the country in 2005 – the year in which this snapshot was taken, but little has changed since then. But, a few other countries do have a greater or similar concentration of income as does the U.S. For example, the OECD table shows that the wealthiest decile of households in Italy and Poland earn a greater share of their country's market income than do our "rich" – 35.8 percent and 33.9 percent respectively – while the share of income earned by the top decile of households in the U.K. is about on par with those in the U.S. at 32.3 percent.

The table then adjusts for the underlying allocation of income by showing the ratio of income taxes paid to the share of income earned by the top decile in each country. The ratio for U.S. households is 1.35, far greater than the ratio of taxes to income in any other country. Even in the three countries with a comparable distribution of income, the ratio of taxes to income was less, 1.18 in Italy, 0.84 in Poland, and 1.20 in the U.K.

(HT: TaxProf, via Instapundit)

As for that other boogeyman of the left, the corporation — well, the US currently has the second highest corporate tax rate among developed nations. But not for long. Come April 1, we're going to be number one:

According to a study by the Tax Foundation, America’s combined federal and state rate of 39.2 percent is only out paced by Japan’s rate of 39.5 percent – which Japan plans to lower next month. Without Japan in the lead, America’s 39.2 percent will render it the corporate tax rate leader in the developed world, aka the countries comprising the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In recent years, many OECD nations have been lowering their corporate income tax to create more favorable environments for business. The Tax Foundation notes that since 2000 Germany, Canada, Greece, Turkey, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Iceland, and Ireland have all lowered their corporate rates by double-digits.

I'm sure all the Socialist Democrats will celebrate on April 1, chanting "We're number one! We're number one!" as we sink further into a 70s-era stagflation. Or worse.

I suspect Instapundit is correct when he opines that a Carter rerun is now the best-case scenario. 

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Deficit reduction chicanery

Posted by Richard on November 11, 2010

The "bipartisan" deficit-reduction commission has released its preliminary plan, and as many suspected, it spares government profligacy and sticks it to the taxpayers. Rush Limbaugh noted that the 50-page report uses the word "tax" 62 times. Americans for Tax Reform said, "The plan ignores every suggestion submitted by ATR President Grover Norquist to the Commission that would have balanced the budget without raising taxes. In fact, the Commission Co-Chairs refuse to acknowledge the role overspending has played in the economic climate, setting spending at the exorbitant FY2010 levels."

Not so, said commission member and Sen. Judd Gregg (RINO-NH): 

Sen. Gregg said that overall, federal spending takes a bigger hit in the plan than taxpayers do. The plan's goal is to reduce federal spending and federal revenues to 21% of gross domestic product. Federal revenues currently are projected to be about 19% of GDP in 2015, and outlays about 23%.

It would seek to achieve the pullbacks through a mix of spending cuts and increasing tax revenues—about 75% in spending reductions and about 25% from the tax side.

So it's 75% spending cuts and 25% tax increases? Three times as much in spending cuts as in tax increases? Really? Mind you, I'm not a math whiz like my friend David, who can do calculations in his head that would take me an hour with a calculator and a textbook. But something seems way off with Sen. Gregg's math.

He says the plan will cut spending from 23% of GDP to 21% of GDP. OK, according to the Commerce Dept., GDP is about $14.7 trillion now, so let's just use that number and get out the calculator.

23% − 21% = 2%
2% × $14730.2 billion = $294.604 billion

So the plan cuts spending by about $295 billion (plus 2% of whatever GDP increase there is). Now lets crunch the revenue increase, where they want to go from 19% to 21% (BTW, in the 70+ years of OMB data, revenues have never been as high as 21% of GDP).

21% − 19% of GDP = 2%
2% × $14730.2 billion = $294.604 billion

Hmm, that number looks familiar… Why, it's the same number by which their plan cuts spending! So, taxes go up about $295 billion, and revenues go up about $295 billion (adjusted upward, in both cases, for GDP growth) — yet, somehow, according to Sen. Gregg, the plan is 75% spending cuts and 25% tax increases! How is that possible? Have they magically discovered vast new sources of revenue that don't involve taxing people?

Of course not. This is the statist scam of counting it as a "spending cut" when they reduce your mortgage interest deduction, charitable deductions, and other so-called "loopholes." Just like the 9th Circuit Court in Wynn v. Garriott, the statists on the commission believe that all your income belongs to the government. So a tax deduction or credit is an "expenditure," and reducing or eliminating a tax deduction or credit — that is, letting you keep less of your money — is a "spending cut."

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Stop calling them tax cuts

Posted by Richard on September 17, 2010

I saw a Nancy Pelosi soundbite tonight in which she claimed that Republicans were blocking a "tax cut for the middle class" unless Congress also enacts a "tax cut for the wealthiest Americans." I believe it was Orwell who said that if you let your opponent control the language and define the terms, you'll lose the debate. We're not arguing about cutting anyone's taxes.

The phrase "Bush tax cuts" gets over 10 million hits on Google. I use it myself all the time. But it has distorted the debate, and it's time to reclaim the language. What's on the table is whether tax rates go up or not — not whether they go down.

The Tax Foundation has a nice explanation of why the Bush tax cuts (there I go again) are expiring:

During the legislative fight over tax cuts in 2001, Senate Republicans could not predict with certainty that they would reach the 60-vote threshold of support that would have enabled them to make the tax cuts permanent. As a result, when Congress passed the first of many tax cuts during the last decade in May 2001, it passed it as a reconciliation bill which needs only 51 votes. That was the so-called Bush tax cut, formally known as the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA, pronounced egg-tray).

Reconciliation was devised in 1974 as a way to for the Senate to deal more effectively with budget bills, but it soon became a technique to limit amendments and debate. In 1985, the Senate added the so-called Byrd rule to reconciliation. Named after Senator Robert Byrd, the rule forbids a bill passed under reconciliation from, among other things, altering federal revenue for more than 10 years. Any senator may object that a provision violates that stricture, and if the presiding officer agrees, a vote of 60 senators is required to overturn the ruling.

Overall, 62 senators supported H.R. 1836 as amended by the Senate, thereby sending it to conference. In the end, 58 senators voted in favor of the conference report.  Nevertheless, because the bill was passed under reconciliation, revenues further than 10 years in the future could not be changed. And so, on December 31, 2010, all of EGTRRA will expire and revert to 2001 law.

The 2003 tax cuts mostly accelerated the original tax cuts, but also put in place new tax cuts for dividends and capital gains. The 2003 tax cut, known as the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA) was also passed under reconciliation.

So, in a nutshell, here's what happened: In 2001 (and again in 2003), Congress voted to cut tax rates through 2010 and to raise them again in 2011. Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party members, most economists, and the majority of likely voters are calling on Congress to rescind the 2011 tax increase and leave tax rates as they are today. That's not a tax cut. That's simply maintaining the status quo.

Believe me, I'm all for really cutting taxes. What the President keeps bragging about doesn't count — those aren't tax rate cuts, they're targeted tax credits with two purposes: behavior modification and rewarding his allies.

But for right now, the subject being debated is whether to allow the largest tax increase in history to take effect on January 1, at a time when unemployment is at near-historic levels and most businesses large and small are already afraid to invest in the future and hire new employees. The subject being debated is whether to administer a potent poison to an economy that's already extremely ill. 

So let's quit talking about "extending the Bush tax cuts" and use more accurate language: we want to stop the tax increases. 

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Stupid leader of stupid party fumbles tax issue

Posted by Richard on September 14, 2010

On ABC's "Face the Nation" this past Sunday, House minority leader John Boehner (SR-OH) totally screwed up on the issue of the impending tax increases, which was shaping up as a big winner for the Republicans. This kind of unforced error is why some of us call his party the Stupid Party, and it reminded me of why I wanted the Republicans to choose Pence over Boehner as minority leader back in 2006.

Here's what Boehner should have said:

"The President doesn't need any Republican votes for his plan to increase taxes on the job creators and small businesses of America. The Democrats have a commanding majority in the House, and there is no filibuster or other procedural mechanism by which we Republicans can prevent the Democrats from passing whatever bill they want.

"The President wants Republicans to abandon their opposition to a tax increase in order to pressure the more responsible members of his own party. Growing numbers of them are disturbed by his class-warfare rhetoric and rightly fear that a tax increase in the midst of a deep recession, while appealing to his far-left base, would do serious harm to this country. Neither I nor any other Republican will help him with his ill-considered, dangerous plan."

That wasn't so hard, was it? If a humble blogger out in flyover country can come up with that answer, why can't the big-shot politico who's supposed to be providing leadership for the party that purports to be for lower taxes, limited government, and fiscal responsibility? 

I'm not a big fan of Sen. Mitch McConnell, but he gets a big shout-out from me this time for attempting to counter the harm done by the bone-headed Boehner: 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said on the Senate floor today that he is introducing legislation "that ensures that no one in this country will pay higher income taxes next year than they are right now."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for McConnell said today that every Senate Republican has pledged to oppose any attempt to extend the Bush tax cuts that doesn't include an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy. McConnell himself has given similar remarks. "That's the kind of debate that unifies my caucus, from Olympia Snowe to Jim DeMint," McConnell said, the Washington Post reports, referring to one of the most moderate and one of the most conservative Senate Republicans.

On the Senate floor today, McConnell said, "Only in Washington could someone propose a tax hike as an antidote to a recession."

If the anti-Democrat tsunami that many are predicting actually takes place (which probably depends on idiot Republicans like Boehner not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory — not a safe bet by any means) and the GOP takes control of the House, I sure hope there's a clean sweep of the leadership. Mike Pence for Speaker of the House!

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Tax cuts for liberals

Posted by Richard on August 6, 2010

Like most Socialist Democrats, Manhattan's Rep. Jerrold Nadler (SD-NY) is adamantly opposed to extending the Bush tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year. If he and his colleagues have their way, January 1 will usher in the largest tax increase in American history. Everyone in America who pays income taxes will be hit with a huge tax increase. Well, almost everyone. 

Nadler and some of his Socialist Democrat colleagues from New York are sponsoring a bill that would "adjust tax brackets proportionally in regions where the average cost of living is higher than the national average." Like the tony New York districts they represent. And districts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California … Oddly enough, most of the regions that would qualify for the Nadler tax breaks are heavily Democratic and represented by Socialist Democrats in Congress.

The higher taxes imposed on those of us in Flyover Country would more than pay for it, of course. The Wall Street Journal called it the "Blue State Tax Preference Act."

It's not news that the Socialist Democrats are big fans of income redistribution, but this is a twist. Instead of redistributing income to help the poor and downtrodden, now they're going to redistribute the tax burden to help rich liberals.

One could argue that this is an implementation — albeit limited in scope — of trickle-down economics. And ironically, this news came just as Christopher Taylor pointed out a couple of recent MSM articles that unwittingly acknowledged the validity of trickle-down theory.

Apparently, trickle-down economics is a good idea for the constituents of Socialist Democrats, but the rest of us are out of luck. 

Once again, I'm reminded of George Orwell's Animal Farm: "Some animals are more equal than others."

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LeBronomics

Posted by Richard on July 9, 2010

Mark J. Perry thinks he knows at least one reason why LeBron chose to go to the Miami Heat:

Based on a $96 million, five-year contract, here's an estimate of what LeBron James would pay in state income taxes:

New York: $12.34 million

New Jersey: $10.32 million

Ohio: $5.69 million

Florida: $0.00

In an update, Perry acknowledged that that's an oversimplification. For away games, players owe taxes to the state they're visiting. But still … 

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Massive tax hikes are coming

Posted by Richard on July 6, 2010

Administration spokespeople and their shills in the MSM are starting to whine that businesses are to blame for the failure of a trillion dollars in stimulus spending to actually stimulate the economy. Businesses aren't expanding or hiring or ramping up production like they should, the argument goes. Well, the reason they aren't is because they're scared!

Given the current climate in Washington, business owners fear what new regulatory burdens will be imposed on them next. And they know that on January 1, they're going to get socked with the first wave of massive tax increases. Would you invest your money to expand your business and hire new people when you don't know what new barriers and hurdles you face, and you do know you're going to pay much higher taxes in the future? No, you wouldn't. You'd hunker down and adopt a defensive posture. Which is just what American businesses are doing.

Most small businesses (the backbone of the economy and the source of most employment) are taxed at the top personal income tax rates. And those, among other taxes, are set to go up significantly when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year. Americans for Tax Reform has the gory details (emphasis in original): 

Personal income tax rates will rise.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

– The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
– The 25% bracket rises to 28%
– The 28% bracket rises to 31%
– The 33% bracket rises to 36%
– The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family.  The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax.   This year, there is no death tax.  For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors.   The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.  The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.  These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.

And that's just the first of three waves of tax increases that we face next year. Go to ATR to see details of the other two waves, which may be even worse. 

If the President really wants to revive the economy, he should declare his support for extending the Bush tax cuts in their entirety. And he should propose a moratorium on major new business regulations, backed with a promise to veto any bill enacting such regulations. 

But I doubt that he'll do either of those things. Because I doubt that reviving the economy is really his goal.

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Great day, great Tea Party in Denver

Posted by Richard on April 16, 2010

It was a beautiful spring day in Denver, sunny and mild — a perfect day to spend 3 hours amidst thousands of small-government, pro-liberty people having a great time at the State Capitol. Best use of a vacation day I've made in some time.

I only caught bits and pieces of most of the speakers because I did a lot of wandering around, looking at the crowd, the signs, and the handful of counter-demonstrators across the street. Bumped into several old friends. I did listen to Jimmy Lakey's speech, and wow, he is as his website bio says, "a gifted communicator."

I didn't see any outrageous signs or other indications that there were "Crash the Tea Party" infiltrators in the crowd. Didn't even see the dead fetus signs that the anti-abortion folks usually bring to every rally, no matter what the cause or sponsor.

One of the counter-demonstrators had a sign that read "Lynch Palin" — thus proving that Tea Parties do attract misogynists who advocate violence against women.

Most of the local media are citing a crowd estimate of 2,000. Last year's event was estimated at 3,000, and I'd say this crowd was comparable, if not larger. But at least no one I'm aware of is calling it "dozens."

One TV station followed the "downplay the Tea Party" script. 9News has a video on their website from their noon newscast in which the reporter on the scene, Brooke Thacker, was asked for an estimate. She said hundreds, even while the brief crowd shots in the accompanying video made a liar out of her. The AP story posted adjacent to the video says 2,000.

It got worse. 9News didn't air any of the speakers or interview any of the organizers — just a clip of some realtor saying that the housing market was really bad. Thacker gave a cursory, shallow description of why people were there. But after the remote from the rally, anchor Kyle Dyer explained that they wanted to present "the other side," so she did a phone interview with the Democratic Party chair, who was allowed to rattle off all the Democratic talking points at some length. Epic journalistic fail, 9News.

The People's Press Collective streamed the whole thing live, and at one point they announced that over 6,000 people were receiving the stream — I think they should all count as virtual attendees. 🙂 PPC has some video and pictures posted already, and I understand video of all the speakers will be available this evening. Check out that Jimmy Lakey speech.

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Attend your local Tax Day Tea Party

Posted by Richard on April 14, 2010

I hope you'll take some time away from work and/or last-minute number crunching tomorrow to attend a Tax Day Tea Party in your area. Tea Party Patriots lists over 750 such scheduled events, and you can find one near you by city, state, or ZIP code.

I'm taking the day off to attend the Denver Tea Party. Like all good Denver rallies, it's at the State Capitol, and it's scheduled for 10 AM to 1 PM. If you're going, too, look for me and say hi — I'll be the, um, "mature" fellow with a beard wearing an "Infidel" t-shirt.

If you've never been to a Tea Party rally, you'll be amazed at how friendly, good-natured, and diverse the crowd is. But keep your eye out for leftist "Crash the Tea Party" infiltrators pretending to be Nazis, bigots, and yahoos in an effort to discredit the movement. You might want to bring a pocket videocam to capture the fun — and the truth.

Remember what the left taught us: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." So get out there and be patriotic! 🙂

UPDATE: Ann Althouse has some good advice on dealing with leftist tea-party crashers. Some good comments, too, like this by Fred4Pres: 

I have been to a few tea party events and they are about as edgy as a Rotary or Lions Club meeting. If someone is making a complete jackass of themselves, I am going to conclude that person is a Kos Kid.

(HT: Instapundit)

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Help the rich pay more taxes

Posted by Richard on April 10, 2010

This weekend, I'm finally working on my taxes. But after several hours of getting paperwork together and entering data into H & R Block At Home (the new name for TaxCut), I had to take a break. So I've been catching up on neglected reading, like the past week's posts at Mark Perry's excellent Carpe Diem.

There, I learned that a group of millionaire leftists (it's a much underappreciated fact that most of the very wealthy are also very liberal) has been loudly complaining about being undertaxed. Mark Perry suggested that they don't have to wait for their tax rates to be raised to pay more. They can, for instance, make a gift to the U.S. Treasury or simply not itemize deductions, which would likely increase their tax liability significantly. 

Of course, they're not interested in doing such things — they're posturing for ideological reasons. And their goal isn't just to increase their own taxes, which they could do easily (and privately), but to increase other people's taxes, too. 

But in case there's a millionaire out there who sincerely is looking for ways to pay more taxes (and happens to be reading this blog), I've got another suggestion: you can pay other people's taxes. It would be a double whammy of altruism — you'd be not only doing more to support the commonweal, you'd also be performing acts of charity for those less fortunate than you. 

Of course, your charity would have to go to those who actually pay taxes. And according to this other Carpe Diem post, that eliminates almost 50% of households. So these charitable gestures would largely have to be directed toward middle-class taxpayers. Of which there are many.

Since I came up with the idea, I think it's only appropriate that I volunteer to be the first recipient. 

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Obama the agnostic

Posted by Richard on February 12, 2010

On countless occasions before and since his election, President Obama has repeatedly and forcefully made statements like this one

"I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 per year, will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." – Candidate Barack Obama, Sept. 12, 2008, Dover, N.H.

Of course, he broke that pledge early in his presidency, as the Heritage Foundation among others pointed out. And he spent most of his first year fighting for a government takeover of health care that, in both the House and Senate versions, would impose a plethora of indirect taxes (such as on medical devices like crutches) in addition to a massive middle-class mandate that some would argue amounts to a tax. 

But now Obama has officially embraced tax agnosticism. Which means, I suppose, that the President is going to vote "present" on tax increases.

Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform had these comments:

You might have seen today that President Obama is now officially "agnostic" about whether a bi-partisan tax increase/deficit commission should raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.  A few things here:

  1. This would directly contravene his campaign promise (repeated again and again throughout the campaign and during his first year in office) to not raise "any form" of taxes on these families, "not one dime."  ATR has maintained a full database of this tax promise

  2. As Jim Pethokoukis of Reuters has pointed out, this could be a subtle signal that Obama is paving the way for a value-added tax (VAT).  ATR maintains an Anti-VAT Congressional Caucus
     
  3. An agnostic is someone who lacks the conviction of either an atheist, or a believer.  It seems pretty clear that President Obama is actually rather zealous in his faith that higher taxes across the board (including for non-affluent households) is the correct public policy goal.

Yeah, the Obama administration is about as agnostic about higher taxes and bigger government as the average New Orleans resident is about the Saints.

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