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For the first time ever, taxes on the 400 richest Americans were lower than taxes on everyone else / Boing Boing
In 2018, for the first time in recorded US history, the 400 richest American households paid a lower rate of tax than any other group of American taxpayers: 23%, down from 70% in 1950 and 47% in 1980.

The data come from a new book, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay, co authored by Gabriel Zucman (previously), the Piketty-trained "wealth detective" who is one of the world's leading experts on tax evasion by the wealthy, and on strategies for forcing them to pay their share.

In their book, Saez and Zucman sketch out a modern progressive tax code. The overall tax rate on the richest 1 percent would roughly double, to about 60 percent. The tax increases would bring in about $750 billion a year, or 4 percent of G.D.P., enough to pay for universal pre-K, an infrastructure program, medical research, clean energy and more. Those are the kinds of policies that do lift economic growth.

One crucial part of the agenda is a minimum global corporate tax of at least 25 percent. A company would have to pay the tax on its profits in the United States even if it set up headquarters in Ireland or Bermuda. Saez and Zucman also favor a wealth tax; Elizabeth Warren’s version is based on their work. And they call for the creation of a Public Protection Bureau, to help the I.R.S. crack down on tax dodging.
1%  billionaire  taxes  wealth  IRS  fraud 
4 days ago by Quercki
Proposition 13 treats all California property taxes the same. Voters could change that in 2020 - Los Angeles Times
Schools would receive most of the new tax revenue, estimated at least $7 billion a year under the earlier version of the ballot measure. That money would be in addition to the funds K-12 schools and community colleges currently receive, estimated at $103.4 billion in the state budget enacted last month. Local governments also would receive a share of the new property tax revenue.

The focus on schools isn’t accidental . Baldassare noted that public support for the idea of loosening the property tax limits on businesses increases in polls by as much as 10 percentage points if voters are told the money will go to education.
Prop13  reform  corporations  taxes 
8 weeks ago by Quercki
Understanding "transfer pricing": how corporations dodge taxes through financial colonialism / Boing Boing
Every day, the world's poorest countries lose $3b in tax revenues as multinationals sluice their profits through their national boundaries in order to avoid taxes in rich countries, and then sluice the money out again, purged of tax obligations thanks to their exploitation of tax loopholes in poor nations.

The secret to all this tax-dodging is a complex grift called "base erosion and profit shifting" (BEPS). Like many of the most important and dangerous things in the world, it's boring, complicated, and very important, and the reason it persists is that the boringness and complexity baffles and bores people so they stop paying attention to it, leaving it to chug along, despite its importance.

At its core, BEPS involves using bookkeeping fictions to transfer your profits to low-tax jurisdictions and your costs to high-tax jurisdictions. BEPS abuses "transfer pricing," which is the pricing of goods and service between multinational companies, by using prices of convenience for transactions within a single company's international divisions.
taxes  scam  loophole  KPMG  Amazon 
july 2019 by Quercki
Microsoft Word - saez-zucman-wealthtax-warren-v5.docx - saez-zucman-wealthtax-warren.pdf
Wealth inequalityOne of the key motivations for introducing a progressive wealth tax is to curb the growing concentration of wealth. The figure below depicts the evolution of the share of wealth going to the top 0.1% of wealth holders vs. the bottom 90% based on the Saez and Zucman (2016) data (updated to 2016). It shows that the top 0.1% wealth share has increased dramatically from about 7% in the late 1970s to around 20% in recent years. Conversely, the wealth shareof the bottom 90% of families has declined from about 35% in the late 1970s to about 25% today. This fall has been primarily the consequence of increased debt for the bottom 90% (through mortgage refinance, consumer credit, and student loans). As a result, the top 0.1% today owns almost as much wealth asthe bottom90% of US families, which includes the vast majority of US families.
wealth  inequality  income  Elizabeth_Warren  taxes 
june 2019 by Quercki
Why Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax Would Work | The New Yorker
In theory, there is nothing to prevent Congress from abolishing the “step-up in basis” loophole and raising the capital-gains tax rate. In 2016, the Obama Administration suggested doing both of these things, but the Republicans who controlled Congress ignored the proposal. Theoretically, we could go even further in this direction, forcing taxpayers to declare their over-all wealth every year on the basis of market prices, and making them pay the capital-gains tax on any increase over the previous year. “That’s the obvious thing to do,” Kopczuk said. “You can go much further in the direction of taxing wealth accruals on an annual basis, compared to what we are doing now.”

As the election campaign moves along, critics of Warren’s proposal are sure to repeat these types of arguments. But the designers and supporters of the Warren plan have already anticipated many of them, including the issue of tax evasion and avoidance. In their written assessment of the Warren proposal, Saez and Zucman assume that “households subject to the wealth tax are able to reduce their reported net worth by 15% through a combination of tax evasion and tax avoidance.” The $2.75 trillion revenue projection takes this level of evasion into account.
Elizabeth_Warren  wealth  taxes  capital_gains 
june 2019 by Quercki
Sen. Nancy Skinner Issues Statement on California’s 2019-20 Budget | Senator Nancy Skinner
Budget Highlights:

$2.4 billion for affordable housing and homeless investments, including $650 million earmarked for cities, counties, and organizations to provide care and services for homeless people and prevent homelessness through legal and rental assistance for tenants facing economic hardship.
Highest level of school funding and per pupil funding in state history
$300 million for full-day kindergarten.
$500 million to improve and expand childcare facilities, improve childcare affordability, and support workforce development for childcare providers.
California’s paid family leave plan increased from six to eight weeks.
No more sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products, like tampons, for two years.
Targeted funding to train law enforcement on de-escalation techniques to reduce deadly use of force incidents.
Close to a billion dollars in Greenhouse Gas Reduction funds for low carbon cars, trucks, and buses, climate smart agriculture, healthy forests, ensuring safe, clean drinking water, and reducing toxic air pollutants.
And a robust reserve of $19.4 billion in case of future economic pressures.
CA  budget  taxes  SD09  Nancy_Skinner 
june 2019 by Quercki
Tax Day 2019: Where Your Personal Income Taxes Were Spent in 2018 - Institute for Policy Studies
Key Findings:

Pentagon & Military — the average U.S. taxpayer pays more to private military contractors than funds that directly support the troops
Nuclear weapons — the U.S. spends more on proliferating weapons of mass destruction than we do on foreign aid and diplomacy, the EPA, or CHIP
Education — the U.S. government spend as much taxpayer money separating families as it does on K-12 education
Health care — this is the taxpayer’s biggest tab, with Medicare and Medicaid providing health care for 1 in 3 people in the U.S.
Climate, Energy, & Environment — many more of your tax dollars go to disaster relief than to investments like renewable energy that could help prevent the worst disasters
Poverty and Low-Income — in the age of growing income inequality, the average taxpayer contributes more to private DoD contractors than to labor and unemployment programs

Download Full List of Tax Report Findings
taxes  government  spending  *** 
april 2019 by Quercki
(67) Brian Bauman - The United States (and most other countries¹), use...
a normal American making $43k per year has no reason to oppose such a tax.
1) They're nowhere close to having to pay it.
2) It's not egregious to those who would have to pay it.
3) It's not a new, untested, or radical policy.

And, more generally, average working people shouldn't concern themselves with protecting the financial interests of people who make in a year (after taxes) what most of the country would be thrilled to retire on. The only way an average person would be affected by such a tax is that the government would have more money for roads, bridges, schools, social programs, and other things that might actually improve the lives of $43k/year Americans all over the country.
marginal  taxes  reference  **** 
january 2019 by Quercki
Detaining immigrants is big business / Boing Boing
how lucrative the business of detaining immigrant asylum-seekers in the United States has become.

“In 2018 alone, for-profit immigration detention was a nearly $1 billion industry underwritten by taxpayers and beset by problems that include suicide, minimal oversight, and what immigration advocates say uncomfortably resembles slave labor,” write the Beast's Spencer Ackerman and Adam Rawnsley.

Excerpt from '$800 Million in Taxpayer Money Went to Private Prisons Where Migrants Work for Pennies' --
immigration  ICE  private  prison  profit  taxes 
january 2019 by Quercki
A quick review of 40 years of investigations into Donald Trump and his businesses - The Washington Post
1991: Trump's father is caught buying casino chips in lieu of giving Trump a loan. At the height of Trump's financial troubles, his father Fred Trump purchased $3.5 million in gaming chips from one of Trump's casinos, Trump Castle, infusing the business with cash. New Jersey regulators deemed the purchase illegal financial assistance, and the casino eventually accepted a $65,000 fine and admitted to violating the law.
Trump  fraud  taxes  lies 
october 2018 by Quercki
New York Times: Trump engaged in 'outright fraud' to avoid taxes - Business Insider
Soon after graduating from college, Trump was receiving the equivalent in today's dollars of $1 million annually from his father, Fred Trump.
That increased to more than $5 million annually when Donald Trump was in his 40s and 50s.
Fred Trump gave millions to his kids in a way that was structured to sidestep taxes on gifts and inheritances. Experts told The Times the methods were suspect, possibly even illegal.
When Donald Trump and his siblings gained ownership of their father's real-estate empire in 1997, they dodged hundreds of millions in taxes by undervaluing the properties at just north of $41 million.
The properties were later sold for 16 times that amount.
The Trump family in 1992 formed what The Times described as "the most overt fraud," a company called All County Building Supply & Maintenance.
Its purpose was to be a purchasing agent for Fred Trump's buildings, but it did not function in that manner, The Times said.
The company instead was used to siphon millions from Fred Trump's empire by marking up purchases that were already made.
Trump  fraud  money  taxes 
october 2018 by Quercki
America’s ‘War on Terror’ Has Cost Taxpayers $5.6 Trillion | The Nation
the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute published an estimate of the taxpayer dollars that will have gone into America’s War on Terror from September 12, 2001, through fiscal year 2018. That figure: a cool $5.6 trillion (including the future costs of caring for our war vets). On average, that’s at least $23,386 per taxpayer.

Keep in mind that such figures, however eye-popping, are only the dollar costs of our wars. They don’t, for instance, include the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably—in these years, almost uniquely—bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called “national security.”
war  terrorism  cost  taxes 
june 2018 by Quercki
Trump lied to me about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400. Here are the tapes. - The Washington Post
Trump wasn’t just poorer than he said he was. Over time, I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all. In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million — a paltry sum by the standards of his super-monied peers — as a spate of government reports and books showed only much later.
Trump  business  wealth  taxes  lies 
april 2018 by Quercki
OHCHR | Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights*
2. My visit coincides with a dramatic change of direction in US policies relating to inequality and extreme poverty. The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans.  The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.  It is against this background that my report is presented.

3. The United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.
poverty  U.S.  U.N.  report  taxes  homelessness  children  dental  healthcare 
december 2017 by Quercki
I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong: Tax cuts don’t equal growth. - The Washington Post
Extravagant claims are made for any proposed tax cut. Wednesday, President Trump argued that “our country and our economy cannot take off” without the kind of tax reform he proposes. Last week, Republican economist Arthur Laffer said, “If you cut that [corporate] tax rate to 15 percent, it will pay for itself many times over. … This will bring in probably $1.5 trillion net by itself.”

That’s wishful thinking. So is most Republican rhetoric around tax cutting. In reality, there’s no evidence that a tax cut now would spur growth.
taxes  economy  false 
october 2017 by Quercki
Prop 13: The Building-Sized Loopholes Corporations Exploit | Feature | San Francisco | San Francisco News and Events | SF Weekly
A business selling 100 percent of its real-estate interest without triggering a reassessment isn't hypothetical — or even an oddity. "These kinds of transactions are being done all the time," says USF law professor Dan Lathrope. "Anyone doing a big real-estate transaction knows what triggers reassessments." It's all perfectly legal — companies can effectively change hands many times over, but never in a way resulting in a deed heading to the assessor's office, and buildings' tax bases remain at levels from the Carter administration.

That's the case even when the line between cunning and devious is breached. In San Francisco, a pair of Fortune 500 companies fraudulently cloaked a change of ownership of One Market Plaza, one of the city's largest office buildings — to prevent a reappraisal that would have upped the structure's value from some $113 million to around $400 million. These firms were caught and made to pay — astoundingly, in retrospect — but not in a manner inspiring hope for nabbing future purveyors of fraud. The scheme was sniffed out not by proactive city employees but private attorneys. Even once the machinations were laid bare, the city repeatedly attempted to go easy on the guilty parties. The case plodded through court for nearly 18 years, spinning such a convoluted web of litigation that, at one point, the city sued itself.
Prop_13  property  taxes  California 
august 2017 by Quercki
Donald Trump's Many Business Failures, Explained
Lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors—Trump’s business career is a long, long list of such troubles, according to regulatory, corporate and court records, as well as sworn testimony and government investigative reports. Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion.

He is also pretty good at self-deception, and plain old deception. Trump is willing to claim success even when it is not there, according to his own statements. “I’m just telling you, you wouldn’t say that you're failing,” he said in a 2007 deposition when asked to explain why he would give an upbeat assessment of his business even if it was in trouble. “If somebody said, ‘How you doing?’ you're going to say you're doing good.” Perhaps such dissembling is fine in polite cocktail party conversation, but in the business world it’s called lying.And while Trump is quick to boast that his purported billions prove his business acumen, his net worth is almost unknowable given the loose standards and numerous outright misrepresentations he has made over the years. In that 2007 deposition, Trump said he based estimates of his net worth at times on “psychology” and “my own feelings.” But those feelings are often wrong—in 2004, he presented unaudited financials to Deutsche Bank while seeking a loan, claiming he was worth $3.5 billion. The bank concluded Trump was, to say the least, puffing; it put his net worth at $788 million, records show.
Trump  money  business  taxes 
april 2017 by Quercki
The Abatement Mural Mystery : Community Rejuvenation Project
In late 2012, Oakland decided to address its tagging problem, which had reached epidemic proportions, with an an anti-graffiti ordinance. This ended up being a spectacularly bad piece of policy, in that it didn’t do what it promised to do – it was basically unenforceable (since OPD doesn’t investigate graffiti), which meant that no civil cases were brought, no fines were assessed, and no Victim’s Compensation Fund ever materialized. The ordinance did succeed in increasing existing fines for property owners, however.

Murals in Chinatown have beautified the neighborhood and substantially reduced tagging.
The ordinance’s one silver lining was the appropriation of $400,000 in the ’13- ’15 budget for an Anti-Graffiti Mural and Green Wall  program—which came about because the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) and other arts organizations advocated for the benefits of murals at public meetings. Yet that program has been problematic, as well. City Councilmembers and the Cultural Arts Department argued over who was going to administer the program, which led to no projects being commissioned for more than a year.
murals  graffiti  Oakland  city_council  taxes  spending 
april 2017 by Quercki
Lessons California should learn from Oroville dam debacle | The Sacramento Bee
More than 11 years ago, DWR rejected our concerns. This week, we’ve watched a frightening scene unfold as the emergency spillway began to flood and erode, requiring nearly 200,000 Californians to be evacuated from their homes and businesses.

It’s worth noting that we filed our concerns about the spillway a year before the Legislature passed landmark legislation setting targets for reducing climate-change pollution generally.

State leaders and agencies weren’t entirely ignorant about climate change in California. Nor was the public, according to polling at the time. Scientists were predicting a range of changes in rain and snowfall patterns because of climate change, and the agencies and leaders knew that.

Even so, a major state agency responsible for managing dams dismissed a chance to adopt measures that would make Oroville Dam safer as we entered a new climate-affected era.

California rivers bear more than 1,300 dams. Most people agree that the cost-effective places to build dams in the state have been taken.

Read more here:

Read more here:
Oroville  dam  infrastructure  disaster  prevention  taxes 
february 2017 by Quercki
US towns that pandered to anti-immigrant sentiment had to raise taxes and borrow to cover the millions in losses / Boing Boing
Courts also have weakened several states’ illegal-immigrant laws, most notably in Arizona. Michael Hethmon, who is senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute and helped Kobach handle the Hazleton case, said that the local efforts have faced more setbacks than victories but that the towns’ money has been “well spent” in taking a stance. The towns had no data on the number of undocumented residents before or after the ordinances, making it difficult to measure how well the laws worked in driving away that part of the population...

...The law easily won the city council’s approval, but its enforcement was held up by an injunction and a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups, including the ACLU. In court, some of Barletta’s arguments for the law ran into trouble: He said he didn’t know how many undocumented immigrants lived in Hazleton or how many had committed crimes. The town hadn’t studied it.

A federal judge eventually ruled that the law was illegal because it usurped the federal government’s power and would affect not just undocumented immigrants but “those who look or act as if they are foreign.” Other courts upheld that ruling over eight years. Kobach, paid $250,000 by Hazleton, did not respond to multiple requests seeking comment.

In 2015, a federal judge ordered Hazleton to pay $1.4 million to the lawyers who had fought the town.

The city, with a budget of $9 million, took out a bank loan and cut a check to the ACLU, said Joseph Yannuzzi, the mayor who succeeded Barletta.
civil_rights  taxes  penalty  settlement 
january 2017 by Quercki
Trump Foundation admits to violating ban on ‘self-dealing,’ new filing to IRS shows - The Washington Post
The Trump Foundation has existed since 1987. This appeared to be the first time that it had admitted committing such a violation.

Philip Hackney, who formerly worked in the IRS chief counsel’s office and now teaches at Louisiana State University, said he wanted to know why the Trump Foundation was now admitting to self-dealing in prior years — when, in all prior years, it had told the IRS it had done nothing of the kind.

“What transactions led to the self-dealing that they’re admitting to? Why weren’t they able to recognize them in prior years,” Hackney said. He said that, since the prior years’ returns were signed by Trump, that opened the president-elect to questions about what he had missed and how.

Trump Foundation 2015 tax filing

During the presidential campaign, The Post revealed several instances — worth about $300,000 — where Trump seemed to have used the Trump Foundation to help himself. From 2009 until this year, the charity was funded exclusively with other people’s money, an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation.

In two cases, The Post reported, the Trump Foundation appeared to pay legal settlements to end lawsuits that involved his for-profit businesses.
Trump  charity  IRS  illegal  crime  taxes 
november 2016 by Quercki
Warren Buffett Responds to Trump’s Claims About His Taxes | Donald Trump, Warren Buffett : Just Jared
“Answering a question last night about his $916 million income tax loss carryforward in 1995, Donald Trump stated that ‘Warren Buffett took a massive deduction.’ Mr. Trump says he knows more about taxes than any other human. He has not seen my income tax returns. But I am happy to give him the facts,” Warren said in his statement.

“My 2015 return shows adjusted gross income of $11,563,931. My deductions totaled $5,477,694, of which allowable charitable contributions were $3,469,179. All but $36,037 of the remainder was for state income taxes,” he continued. “The total charitable contributions I made during the year were $2,858,057,970, of which more than $2.85 billion were not taken as deductions and never will be. Tax law properly limits charitable deductions.”

“My federal income tax for the year was $1,845,557. Returns for previous years are of a similar nature in respect to contributions, deductions and tax rates,” Buffett added. “I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13. (Though, being a slow starter, I owed only $7 in tax that year.) I have copies of all 72 of my returns and none uses a carryforward.”
Warren_Buffett  taxes  Trump  lies 
october 2016 by Quercki
Your tax dollars subsidized $125m executive bonus for Wells Fargo exec who led massive fraud / Boing Boing
Normally, companies that give "performance pay" to their execs can only write off the first $1M: but when Wells Fargo gave $125M to Carrie Tolstedt (shown above receiving American Banker's 2010 award for being "the most powerful woman in banking") as she "retired" after overseeing a 5-year period in which Wells Fargo's top brass were aware that their employees were opening 2 million fake accounts in their customers' names, Wells structured the payment as a "bonus," meaning that the company took a $78 million off its taxes, pocketing $27m in savings.

This taxpayer-funded subsidy went to an executive who watched as the company fired multiple whistleblowers who reported the fraud, which ripped off and lowered credit ratings for millions of Wells Fargo customers. Under Wells's own rules, the company is entitled to claw back some of Tolstedt's bonus, but they have signalled that they will not do this.
Wells_Fargo  bank  fraud  taxes 
september 2016 by Quercki
House Democrats ask for Justice investigation as New York AG looks into Trump Foundation - The Washington Post
The person familiar with the New York attorney general’s investigation said that inquiry would also examine an incorrect tax return, filed by the Trump Foundation in 2013, which omitted the prohibited gift to Bondi and included a nonexistent gift in its place. The same person said the inquiry would also examine cases of apparent “self-dealing” that The Post reported in which Trump used foundation money to buy both a $12,000 autographed football helmet and a $20,000 portrait of himself.

Aides to Trump have already conceded the donation to Bondi was a mistake stemming from clerical errors. Federal rules prohibit charities from donating to political candidates, and the Trump Foundation did not list the gift in its filings with the IRS in 2013. Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, and representatives for the Trump Organization have said he reimbursed the charitable foundation from his personal account. All of that occurred after news reports and watchdog groups began raising questions.

If the donation were meant to persuade Bondi not to involve her office in any investigations of Trump University — which is the target of several lawsuits by former customers who claim they were misled — that would potentially be more significant.
Trump  University  fraud  foundation  taxes  bribe 
september 2016 by Quercki
How to pay no taxes at all! (if you're Apple, Google or Facebook) / Boing Boing
In only 7 minutes, Australian comedy show The Undercurrent explains exactly how companies like Apple, Google and Facebook use offshore registration, transfer payments, debt loading and tax havens to get a lower tax rate than nurses, starving their host countries like Australia of so much money that they're cutting schools, medicare, public broadcasting, climate change and indigenous services.

In addition to being very, very funny, this is also one of the best financial explainers since The Big Short, worthy of John Oliver -- and it ends with a call to action to pre-boycott the Iphone 7 (whenever it arrives) on the basis that Apple is the best-capitalized company in American history and pays so little tax that the former Chief Economist of the World Bank called it a "fraud."
taxes  video  corruption  equality  profit 
august 2016 by Quercki
Do YOU understand how tax brackets work???
Basically, a HUGE part of the problem with trying to have any rational discussion about tax policy is that there's a huge number of people who don't have a basic understanding of what "marginal tax rates" are.
To put it simply, there's a whole lot of people out there, including some who are very intelligent and/or successful professional types, who believe that if their income nudges them over into the next-higher tax bracket by even $1.00, that this somehow means that the entire amount they owe in taxes goes up to that percentage.
taxes  tax_brackets  explainer  101  *** 
april 2016 by Quercki
James Meek · Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity · LRB 18 February 2016
But a change has come about. The wealthiest and most powerful in Europe, Australasia and North America have turned the myth to their advantage. In this version of Robin Hood the traditional poor – the unemployed, the disabled, refugees – have been put into the conceptual box where the rich used to be. It is they, the social category previously labelled ‘poor’, who are accused of living in big houses, wallowing in luxury and not needing to work, while those previously considered rich are redesignated as the ones who work terribly hard for fair reward or less, forced to support this new category of poor-who-are-considered-rich. In this version the sheriff of Nottingham runs a ruthless realm of plunder and political correctness, ransacking the homesteads of honest peasants for money to finance the conceptual rich – that is, the unemployed, the disabled, refugees, working-class single mothers, dodgers, scroungers, chavs, chisellers and cheats.

In this version of the myth, Robin Hood is a tax-cutter and a handout-denouncer. He’s Jeremy Clarkson. He’s Nigel Farage. He’s Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. He’s by your elbow in the pub, telling you he knows an immigrant who just waltzed into the social security office and walked out with a cheque for £1000. He’s in the pages of the Daily Mail, fingering a workshy good-for-nothing with 11 children, living in a luxury house on the public purse. He’s sabotaging the sheriff of Nottingham’s wicked tax-gathering devices – speed cameras and parking meters. He’s on talk radio, denouncing inheritance tax. He’s winning elections.

This is not a uniquely British phenomenon. The alternative version of the Robin Hood story is heard when left and right clash in Australia, Canada and the United States. An early version was the ‘welfare queen’ legend of America in the 1970s, popularised by Reagan. The ‘welfare queen’ was a mythical woman, usually portrayed as black and swathed in furs, who drove her Cadillac to the welfare office to pick up a dole from the government that amounted to $150,000 a year, tax-free.
taxes  poor  Robin_Hood 
february 2016 by Quercki
Austerity Robin Hood: a billionaire who takes from "scroungers" and gives to "hardworking people" / Boing Boing
A beautiful essay in the London Review of Books traces the twists and turns of the Robin Hood story over time, to the era of austerity, where "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" takes on a completely different complexion.

The Robin Hood of the austerity age defends "employed people with property" from the "conceptual rich" -- poor people who are said to be living fat on the welfare state, living in homes that the shrinking middle class can't afford, receiving benefits payments while the imperiled middle class work ever-longer hours.

The new Robin Hood is a hereditary millionaire like David Cameron or Donald Trump, who promises to defend the "hard working people" from the "unemployed, the disabled, refugees, working-class single mothers, dodgers, scroungers, chavs, chisellers and cheats" -- all the while refusing to ask how it is that the lives of the people with jobs have become so hard that the lives of people on benefits look good by comparison.
taxes  Robin_Hood  poor 
february 2016 by Quercki
California Legislative Analyst's Office - Budget Infographic
November 16, 2015

This infographic presents information about the current state budget (2015-16) and compares the level of spending and revenues assumed in the current budget to historical levels since 1950-51. As a share of personal income—one broad measure of the size of the California economy—state spending has been relatively flat since the late 1970s. Spending on health and human services and corrections programs has generally increased over the period, while spending on higher education and transportation programs has generally decreased. Since 1950-51, the personal income tax has replaced the sales and use tax as the predominant source of General Fund revenue.
California  taxes  budget  spending 
november 2015 by Quercki
Proposition 13 revamp eyed for ballot Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics.
Changing Proposition 13, the landmark, tax-cutting ballot initiative that California voters approved in 1978, is the goal of a constitutional amendment aimed at next year’s ballot.

The plan by two Senate Democrats – Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles and Loni Hancock of Berkeley – would allow commercial and business properties to be regularly reassessed for tax purposes, with an exemption for properties worth less than $500,000. Under current law – Proposition 13 – those properties are only reassessed when there is a change in ownership.

Mitchell and Hancock, both liberals, have a daunting task: Proposition 13 has long been popular among California voters.
Prop_13  property  taxes  CA 
june 2015 by Quercki
Innocent Teen Shot In Face By Oakland Police Reaches Settlement
A teen shot in the face when police wrongly believed he was a robbery suspect has reached a settlement with Oakland, California, officials for $230,000.

An officer followed Frenswa Raynor, 16, and two friends on April 3, 2013, after getting a complaint that a restaurant employee had been robbed at knifepoint by several teenagers, reports. Police accosted Raynor and his two friends, believing they were the robbery suspects.

When Raynor allegedly made a movement near his waistband, Oakland Officer Bryan Clifford interpreted it as a threat, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Clifford, a field training officer, fired because he believed Raynor was grabbing a weapon. The bullet grazed Raynor's jaw, according to CBS Bay Area. He went to the hospital, was arrested and was released the next day with no charges filed.

Later, police said Raynor and his companions had nothing to do with the robbery that night, The Mercury News reported.

Another teen who witnessed the shooting will collect $45,000, reports said.
Oakland  police  shot  teen  settlement  taxes 
april 2015 by Quercki
Citigroup Avoided Paying $11.5 Billion In Taxes Thanks To Tax Shelters
Citigroup is hardly alone in shifting profits to places like the Cayman Islands as a way to lower a tax bill. According to the report, 82 of the top 100 largest publicly traded companies as measured by revenue have set up such shelters -- 2,687 of them, to be exact. All told, they are holding nearly $1.2 trillion offshore.

But even among those that make frequent use of tax shelters, Citigroup is in a special class. The bank is one of 15 U.S. companies that are collectively responsible for two-thirds of this total, according to the report, which is called "Offshore Shell Games."

Citigroup has the ninth-most money parked offshore, the report found. (The top three companies, in terms of tax avoidance, are General Electric, Apple and Pfizer, which collectively held $263 billion offshore as of 2012.)
taxes  avoidance  shelter  bank  money 
april 2015 by Quercki
Alameda County Jail Population Drops, Supervisors Consider Reducing Sheriff's Budget | East Bay Express
Tomorrow, at its 9:30 a.m. meeting, the board of supervisors will vote on a realignment budget proposal (agenda item 37.1) that would essentially maintain the same spending ratios that have been in place over the last several years. Out of a $34.6 million total budget, county officials have proposed allocating $18.5 million to the sheriff's office and $3.9 million to community services. You can read the full proposal here, and here's a summary of the proposed budget: 

click to enlarge

That proposal, however, is for 2014-15 — the fiscal year that is already more than half way over. And though this 2014-15 proposal maintains the relatively low rate of spending on community-based services, Supervisor Keith Carson has proposed shifting the funding priorities in 2015-16 to meet the 50 percent demands of the Jobs Not Jails coalition.

Carson's proposal, also on the agenda tomorrow (item 16.1), is to designate 50 percent of the 2015-16 budget to "community based organizations that work with the reentry population." If the board approves this proposal now, it will give officials several months to work out the details in advance of the 2015-16 budget, which would begin in July, Carson noted. You can read that full proposal here. 
JobsNotJails  Alameda  county  prison  budget  taxes 
march 2015 by Quercki
529 Plans: Questions and Answers
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529 Plans: Questions and Answers
Q. What is a 529 plan?
Answer. A plan operated by a state or educational institution, with tax advantages and potentially other incentives to make it easier to save for college and other post-secondary training for a designated beneficiary, such as a child or grandchild.
Q. What is the main advantage of a typical 529 plan?
A. Earnings are not subject to federal tax and generally not subject to state tax when used for the qualified education expenses of the designated beneficiary, such as tuition, fees, books, as well as room and board. Contributions to a 529 plan, however, are not deductible.
Q. What is new this year with 529 plans?
A. A qualified, nontaxable distribution from a 529 plan during 2009 or 2010 now includes the cost of the purchase of any computer technology, related equipment and/or related services such as Internet access. The technology, equipment or services qualify if they are used by the beneficiary of the plan and the beneficiary's family during any of the years the beneficiary is enrolled at an eligible educational institution.
Q. What does “computer technology or equipment” mean?
A. This means any computer and related peripheral equipment. Related peripheral equipment is defined as any auxiliary machine (whether on-line or off-line) which is designed to be placed under the control of the central processing unit of a computer, such as a printer. This does not include equipment of a kind used primarily for amusement or entertainment. “Computer technology” also includes computer software used for educational purposes.
Q. Is this
IRS  529  taxes  Rory 
march 2015 by Quercki
Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center
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Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center
Tax credits, deductions and savings plans can help taxpayers with their expenses for higher education.
A tax credit reduces the amount of income tax you may have to pay.
A deduction reduces the amount of your income that is subject to tax, thus generally reducing the amount of tax you may have to pay.
Certain savings plans allow the accumulated earnings to grow tax-free until money is taken out (known as a distribution), or allow the distribution to be tax-free, or both.
An exclusion from income means that you won't have to pay income tax on the benefit you're receiving, but you also won't be able to use that same tax-free benefit for a deduction or credit. 
 You can use the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine if you’re eligible for educational credits or deductions, including the American opportunity credit, the lifetime learning credit and the tuition and fees deduction.
IRS  taxes  education  Rory 
march 2015 by Quercki
Taxpayers pick up the tab for violent, abusive, murdering cops 99.8% of the time - Boing Boing
99.8% of the $735 million paid out by in 9,225 large-city police misconduct settlements came from tax revenues; 0.2% was paid by the officers who committed the infractions. In more than 80 small/mid-sized cities studied, police officers contributed nothing to settlements for their misconduct.

This comes from Police Indemnification, a paper in NYU Law Review by Joanna C. Schwartz, an assistant professor at the UCLA Law School.
police  misconduct  fines  taxes 
december 2014 by Quercki
Wyoming can give homeless a place to live, and save money -
— December 3, 2013
Wyoming is nearly a decade behind its neighbor Utah in doing something to end its chronic homelessness problem, but it’s never too late to start. There are many people to help and a lot of public money to be saved, in a humanitarian way.
In 2005, Utah set out to do something very different than the typical strategy of getting the hard-core homeless off drugs and alcohol, and making them jump through enough bureaucratic hoops to obtain some state assistance and finally get what they need most: permanent housing.
Utah started a pilot program that took 17 people in Salt Lake City who had spent an average of 25 years on the street and put them in apartments. Caseworkers were assigned to help them become self-sufficient, but there were no strings attached – if they failed, the participants still had a place to live.
The “Housing First” program’s goal was to end chronic homelessness in Utah within 10 years. Through 2012, it had helped reduce the 2,000 people in that category when it began by 74 percent. Lloyd Pendleton, director of Utah’s Homeless Task Force, said the state is on track to meet its goal by 2015, and become the first state in the nation to do so.
- See more at:
homelessness  solution  taxes 
december 2013 by Quercki
Training Resources - Earn It! Keep It! Save It!
Additional Resources
Helpful website with tools to ensure success!
Great interview video- watch and learn the way to properly interview at client at your tax site. Click here to view
2012 Publication 4012 - new and improved for the 2013 season.
2013 edition will be available in November…
VITA  taxes 
december 2013 by Quercki
Hullabaloo - Obamacare raises taxes on wealthy
up until Obamacare, the truly wealthy in our society, that passive income crowd that dodged the top tax bracket by getting their compensation in capital gains and such, was EXEMPTED from the Medicare portion of FICA.

This tax (2.9%) went up .9% for incomes over 250k under PPACA. .9%'s not that bad, of course, but for those living on passive income, the hit is much larger.

Until now, this law, they were exempt from that tax.

Now they're not.

Take a guy like Romney - he makes $20,000,000 a year, most if not all of it in the form of passive income. So he was paying at the 15% rate, thanks to the special treatment for such "special" income.

That went up to 20% when parts of hte Bush tax cuts expired in 2012.

And now, to add insult to that injury, Romney's income is subjected to that dastardly Medicare tax (which, unlike the Social Security portion of FICA, doesn't cut off at $106,000, or $133,000, or whatever it is this year).

3.8% of $20,000,000 is $760,000 dollars in taxes. That has to sting that generational wealth plan Romney was hatching.
affordable_care_act  taxes  republican 
december 2013 by Quercki
Joint Committee on Taxation - Publications
JCX-14-13 (October 16, 2013)
Modeling The Distribution Of Taxes On Business Income

JCX-13-13 (June 25, 2013)
Estimated Revenue Effects Of H.R. 2289, Scheduled For Consideration By The House Of Representatives On June 25, 2013

JCX-12-13 (June 18, 2013)
Estimated Revenue Effects Of H.R. 475, Scheduled For Consideration By The House Of Representatives On June 18, 2013

JCX-11-13 (May 10, 2013)
Estimated Budget Effects Of The Revenue Provisions Contained In The President’s Fiscal Year Budget Proposal

JCS-3-13 (May 06, 2013)
Report To The House Committee On Ways And Means On Present Law And Suggestions For Reform Submitted To The Tax Reform Working Groups

JCX-10-13 (April 22, 2013)
Present Law, Data, And Analysis Relating To Tax Incentives For Residential Real Estate

JCX-9-13 (April 15, 2013)
Present Law And Background Information Related To Selected Tax Procedure And Administration Issues
taxes  government  report 
october 2013 by Quercki
Trusting Women Is Good Policy For Texas: Austinist
Without Medicaid, Minor and Rohena could not pay out-of-pocket for the $4000 fetal reduction surgery and so had no choice but to carry all four fetuses to term. The result was the birth of their quadruplets 10 weeks early and a hefty Medicaid bill. It can cost $3500 for each child for every day they are in the neonatal intensive care unit. The Houston Chronicle reports that “the state-federal tax-funded health plan could end up paying $1 million or more to provide Minor's complicated prenatal care, which included six weeks of hospitalization, and care for babies.” A fetal reduction would have probably increased the length of Minor’s pregnancy, reducing the time the infants spent in the NICU, reducing the cost of Minor’s prenatal care, and sparing the family the task of burying two of their children.
This comes at a time when Governor Rick Perry is fighting the Medicaid expansion attached to the Affordable Care Act (a fight that has led some people to heckle the Governor). With the expansion, by 2022, 1.8 million more Texans would fall under the Medicaid umbrella, no small number when 6 million people in the state are currently uninsured (the largest percentage in the country). According to the Texas Tribune, Texas would pay about $15 billion and could receive as much as $100 billion from the federal government.
abortion  forced_pregnancy  trust_women  pro-life  $  cost  taxes 
february 2013 by Quercki
Occupy Oakland Mass Arrest Leads to Only 12 Charges | NBC Bay Area
The largest Alameda County mass arrest in 30 years has led to only 12 criminal charges.

A total of 409 people were arrested Saturday during an Occupy Oakland demonstration that devolved into clashes between police and protesters. Of those, only 12 were charged with crimes by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, according to the Bay Citizen.

These are the mug shots of those who were charged with criminal offenses and stay away orders.

Eleven demonstrators were slapped with stay away orders, which means they face legal action if found within 300 feet of Oakland City Hall or the shuttered Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, which was the focal point of Saturday's protest. Four felony charges were leveled -- including charges for assaulting a police officer -- and eight misdemeanors, the Bay Citizen reported. None of the alleged felons are Oakland residents, according to reports.

Ahimsa Wind-Thunder of San Francisco appears to be in the deepest and direst straits: he faces eight felony counts of assaulting and officer and one count of wearing a mask to conceal his identity. He remains in jail on $400,000 bail.


Oakland Protests Port

Mug Shots: Occupy
Oakland Protesters Busted
More Photos and Videos
Defense attorneys say that the stay-away orders, which have the full support of Mayor Jean Quan and interim Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan, are unconstitutional and violate free speech rights.

It appears that the mass arrest -- the biggest in the Easy Bay since 1982, when 1,200 people were taken into custody during an anti-nuclear demonstration -- will do very little to dampen revolutionary spirits: a reading of a list of 90 names of those arrested who will not be charged was punctuated by a call of "f*** the police," the Bay Citizen reported.
Occupy_Oakland  20120128  police  taxes 
february 2012 by Quercki
The Nonprofit Quarterly | @npquarterly | Donations of Foreclosed Homes Skyrocket
December 12, 2012; Source: USA Today | USA Today is reporting that donations of homes—many of which have been foreclosed—have increased significantly in the past year. I am not sure whether we are supposed to be happy about this. For instance, Bank of America donated 150 homes in 2011, and plans to donate 1,200 next year. Wells Fargo is ahead of the curve, having donated 1,120 homes this year—up from 295 last year. These two paragons of charity were cited by the treasury department in June, along with JPMorgan Chase, for poor performance in the federal HAMP loan restructure program. In short, they made the process so unwieldy that people would be foreclosed on while still in a miasma of negotiations with the same bank that was foreclosing. Kafka anyone?
forclosure  bank  taxes 
january 2012 by Quercki
The Double Taxation of Corporate Profits and Other Fairy Tales | Beat the Press
The usually insightful Steven Pearlstein swallowed a big one today in pushing the line that the taxation of corporate profits when they are paid out as dividends amounts to "double taxation." The problem with this story is that the corporation really is a distinct entity from the individual who receives dividends. In fact, according to the Supreme Court, they are actually distinct persons.

This is not a philosophical question; it is a very concrete economic one. No one is forced to organize a business as a corporation. Anyone can operate any business as a partnership. Partnerships do not pay a separate tax, the partners only pay tax on the profits as individuals.

In this sense, the corporate income tax is 100 percent a voluntary tax. It is paid only because people consider the benefits of corporate status to be worth more than the taxes that they must pay.

This removes any logical possibility of double taxation. The corporate income tax is effectively the fee that stockholders pay for the benefits of corporate status. By holding stock, they have voted with their feet to pay this tax. Their income, and the tax on it, should be treated as distinct from the corporate income. If individuals are not paying tax on their dividends and capital gains then it is not taxed.  

[Stuart Levine offers well-taken correction below. Only closely held partnerships avoid taxation. Any partnership that had publicly traded share would be subject to taxation. Of course, this is still a choice made by owners of the partnership.]
corporations  taxes 
november 2011 by Quercki
Corporate TAxpayer & Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-2010
NEW REPORT: 280 Most Profitable U.S. Corporations Shelter Half Their Profits from Taxes.

“These 280 corporations received a total of nearly $224 billion in tax subsidies,” said Robert McIntyre, Director at Citizens for Tax Justice and the report’s lead author. “This is wasted money that could have gone to protect Medicare, create jobs and cut the deficit.”

30 Companies average less than zero tax bill in the last three Years, 78 had at least one no-tax year.

Financial services received the largest share of all federal tax subsidies over the last three years. More than half the tax subsidies for companies in the study went to four industries: financial services, utilities, telecommunications, and oil, gas & pipelines.

U.S. corporations with significant foreign profits paid tax rates to foreign countries that were almost a third higher than they paid to the IRS on their domestic profits.
taxes  corporations  corruption  Occupy_Wall_Street 
november 2011 by Quercki
Why do so many Americans pay no income taxes? | Keith Hennessey
Today many are discussing how many Americans do not owe income taxes. The traditional debate splits along partisan lines. Many Republicans and conservatives argue it is both unfair and politically dangerous to have (almost half / more than one-third, depending on who’s measuring) of Americans not owing any income taxes. Many Democrats argue the rich should pay more, and that it’s good that low and even moderate-income people owe no income taxes.

I wonder how many Republican Members of Congress remember that they are, in large part, responsible for this outcome?

First, here’s a quick refresher on the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit:

Suppose you make $60,000 per year. If you donate $5,000 to charity, you get a $5,000 deduction. You pay income taxes on only $55,000.
Suppose a married couple finds they owe $12,000 in income taxes before accounting for the child credit. If they have three kids, they get a $1,000 tax credit for each child, for a total of $3,000 in tax credits. They subtract this $3,000 from their $12,000 of income taxes owed, leaving them owing $9,000 after accounting for the child tax credit.
Suppose this same family owed only $2,500 in income taxes before accounting for their three children and the child tax credit. Since the child tax credit is refundable, the $3,000 credit wipes out all of their $2,500 of income tax liability and they get $500 from Uncle Sam.
The reason so many Americans don’t owe income taxes is because we have two big tax credits in the code: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the child tax credit. I hope the above explanation shows the power of a tax credit: one dollar of tax credit wipes out one dollar of tax liability. So if you provide a big tax credit to someone who owes only a small amount of income taxes, you’re probably going to move them into the non-payer category.

The EITC benefits low-wage earners. Legislative support often splits roughly along party lines, with most Democrats wanting a bigger EITC, and many Republicans wanting a smaller (or, at least, no bigger) EITC. Republicans like to complain about the EITC on a day like today.
taxes  46% 
october 2011 by Quercki
Surprise! Who's not paying federal income tax? –
Question: So the reports that half the U.S. doesn't pay taxes are true?
Answer: No, they're not. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C., 46% of tax filers will owe no federal income tax this year. But when you figure in payroll taxes — such as those for Social Security, Medicare and unemployment — more than 80% of tax filers pay some kind of federal tax. And that doesn't include sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, gas taxes, etc., which catch just about everyone.
Q: But almost half the filers don't pay federal income tax. How come?
A: It's because of the way the tax code is written. In 2010, a married couple filing jointly didn't have to pay any income taxes if their income was less than $18,700; couples older than 65, if their income was $20,900 or less. And even if you make more than that, the standard deduction — which goes up each year — and a myriad of other deductions and tax breaks reduce income tax exposure. In 2009, the most recent year for which Internal Revenue Service data is available, filers with adjusted gross income of less than $30,000 made up 83% of all the nontaxable returns. According to the Tax Policy Center's calculator, a couple with two kids younger than 13 that makes $30,000 would get $5,000 back under current laws.
taxes  46% 
october 2011 by Quercki
TPC Tax Topics | Who Doesn't Pay Federal Taxes?
Claim: 46 percent of households pay no federal income tax at all.

Fact: Around 82 percent of Americans pay income or payroll taxes, and those who don’t are mostly elderly people.

Ignoring payroll taxes presents a particularly misleading picture for middle income taxpayers.
In fact, according to the independent, non-partisan Tax Policy Center, around 82 percent of Americans pay income or payroll taxes.
As confirmed last week in a “Reality Check” article by the Washington Post, of the remaining 18 percent, 10 percent are elderly people who generally don’t earn salaries or wages, and 7 percent are people with incomes under $20,000 per year. As the article explains, of the people who pay no federal income or payroll taxes, “most are low-income workers or elderly living only on Social Security.”
46%  income  taxes 
october 2011 by Quercki
TMF: Value of mortgage deduction to homeownership / Macro Economic Trends and Risks
I see a lot of debate about the importance of being able to deduct mortgage interest related to homeownership. LEAVING THE POLITICS ASIDE, I wanted to understand what effect it would have in the nominal case. So I built a model with the following parameters:

Family of four (2 adults, 2 children)

Median family income $50,221 (Actual number from 2009 census for whole US)

Median home price $184,300 (From 7/20/11 National Association of Realtors report)

Fixed 30 year loan, assuming 3% down, like it is a FHA mortgage, 4.775%

2010 tax rates and deductions apply

No other itemized deductions for the family, other than mortgage interest

A few observations:

1) The median income family should NOT be purchasing the median house in the US. The housing to income ratio is too high at 3.67. My opinion is that this indicates some combination of too high house prices and/or too low family income. But for the time being, let’s ignore this and assume the family somehow gets the loan.

2) With ZERO itemized deductions, the family tax bill for 2010 was a REFUND of $4. This is because of two items: a $2,000 child tax credit and an $800 “Making Work Pay Credit.”

3) If you think it is NOT valid to count the $800 “Making Work Pay Credit”, then we can assume that goes away. This leaves the family federal income tax liability at $796.

4) The standard deduction for this family is $11,400. Until the sum of mortgage interest, real estate taxes, charitable contributions etc. exceeds that, there are ZERO tax savings.

5) The total first year interest payments on this loan are $8,476. So by itself, the mortgage interest deduction saves ZERO dollars of taxes for this family, any way you look at it within reason.

6) We all know that the interest payments go down as the loan ages, i.e. principal goes up. So it is pretty reasonable to assume the family will get ZERO financial savings from mortgage interest over the full 30 years of the loan.

7) If the family got some type of ARM, the starting interest rates are lower, which exacerbates the lack of tax savings.

8) BOTTOM LINE number 1 is that the median family buying the median home gets ZERO benefit from having mortgage interest deductible in today’s environment. If interest rates were to rise, then it might be produce a savings. But if that occurs, the family could only afford a less expensive house.

9) BOTTOM LINE number 2 is that the mortgage interest deduction is only worthwhile for higher income and higher mortgage cases. The mortgage deduction saves about $100 billion per year in income taxes, so clearly some folks are able to take advantage of it, they just are not in the bottom 50% of family incomes.

10) BOTTOM LINE number 3 is that mortgage rates are INFINITELY more important in housing affordability than the mortgage interest deductions. Some of us recall when mortgage rates were 10%+ plus back in the 1980’s. If the goal of Treasury and the fed is to encourage home ownership, they are doing exactly the right thing by forcing down interest rates. (Yes, I am going to leave out the unintended consequences of artificially low rates)

If anyone is interested, I will upload the hypothetical tax return.


mortgage  interest  deduction  taxes 
july 2011 by Quercki
TMF: Planting Season, 1589 B.C.E. A sojourn. / Macro Economic Trends and Risks
Our Agricultural Network is highly productive and at the same time, extraordinarily energy inefficient. It receives government subsidies that discourages efficiency. Most importantly, the link between food and energy prices is unbreakable. And although it's hardly described as such, total Non-Discretionary Consumer Expenditures on Food and Fuel, in reality is a function, dependent on those two variables.

Here's why : Our agricultural network has four inter-competitive supporting cornerstones at the base of a 'food price pyramid'. The sides of this pyramid lead up to the consumer spending apex. The four cornerstones are : Foreign exports, biofuel production, consumer food production and fertilizer (and feed) production. Let's walk around this pyramid and see what's inscribed on each cornerstone.

On the first cornerstone is carved the single word exports

The United States supplies half of the entire planet's grain demand. But recent natural disasters, as in Russia, Australia and other places have constrained global supply in the face of growing global demand: "...High food prices were among the triggers of street protests that recently swept North Africa.... Egypt is the world's biggest importer of the grain.....China is gobbling up nearly a quarter of the U.S. soybean crop in order to fatten hogs and chickens....U.S. wheat exports are up 46% from last year because weather problems knocked competitors.... out of some markets..."---WSJ

In spite of strong demand, U.S. farmers receive subsidies, a policy that began during the dust bowl days. Soybean is in the top five of US farm subsidized crops, representing at least $610 million dollars per year and 7.6% of 'farm income stabilization' funds. In a sense, taxpayer and government debt are being used to balance the trade deficit. Domestic consumption must compete with foreign demand during this period of constrained supply.

For a rough idea of how much goes towards what follow this link :
farm  taxes  subsidy  foodsecurity 
april 2011 by Quercki
t r u t h o u t | Thom Hartmann | Roll Back the Reagan Tax Cuts
So why is it that Americans have come to believe that tax cuts are good for everyone? The answer is that for decades now the überrich have relentlessly spent money to make Americans believe that lower taxes are the answer to all of America’s problems. They’ve done this partly through the media they own and partly through funding “think tanks” that legitimize their Great Tax Con.
corruption  economy  taxes  policy  Thom_Hartmann 
november 2010 by Quercki
A letter to my students « The Reality-Based Community
Excellent comments!

Swindle–what happened? Well, before you were born, Californians now dead or in nursing homes made a remarkable deal with the future. (Not from California? Keep reading, lots of this applies to you, with variations.) They agreed to invest money they could have spent on bigger houses, vacations, clothes, and cars into the world’s greatest educational system, and into building and operating water systems, roads, parks, and other public facilities, an infrastructure that was the envy of the world. They didn’t get everything right: too much highway and not enough public transportation. But they did a pretty good job.

This deal held until about thirty years ago, when for a variety of reasons, California voters realized that while they had done very well from the existing contract, they could do even better by walking away from their obligations and spending what they had inherited on themselves.
california  college  community  infrastructure  politics  taxes 
october 2010 by Quercki
TMF: Re: Charitable deduction question / Tax Strategies
found THIS buried in the fine print, "Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law [huh?] except for $7.05 ,the fair market value of teddy bear..."

"Fullest extent of the law" refers to three issues: First, you can only deduct charitable contributions if you itemize your deductions. Second, your deduction for charitable contributions is limited to 20%, 30% or 50% of your AGI depending on what you've donated and what type of charity receives the donation. And finally, you can't deduct the contribution if it's a Qualified Charitable Distribution from an IRA. (The provision for QCDs expired at the end of 2009.)

taxes  deduction  charity 
august 2010 by Quercki
Phil Witte
"Tax the rich, certainly, but leave the super-rich alone!"
taxes  politics  policy  cartoon 
june 2010 by Quercki
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR): The Estimated Cost of Illegal Immigration
[Note that only legal immigrants are currently eligible for subsidized housing and "food stamps"]

The former Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated that the illegal alien population was increasing by about half a million aliens per year in 2000.

The Huddle Study
Because the number of illegal aliens can only be estimated, similarly the fiscal cost (government budget outlays) for those aliens can only be estimated. Dr. Donald Huddle, a Rice University economics professor, published a systematic analysis of those costs as of 1996 (see table below). The study also estimated the tax payments of those same aliens.
alien  immigration  taxes 
april 2010 by Quercki
Daily Kos: Your Work Life Revealed - A Chart Extravaganza
via Lisa Hubbell:
of charts on income distribution, taxation, wage inequality,
unemployment, etc. U.S. ranks very poorly among developed nations, and
comparisons between conditions during Democratic and Republican
presidencies are quite stark.
economy  GDP  government  healthcare  economics  taxes 
october 2009 by Quercki
How I hate misleading graphs « The Eclectic Hedonist
How I hate misleading graphs
August 5, 2009 by Stephen Malczin

Note to redditors who have linked to my article and are whining about how it supports the tea partiers, it does NOT. Let me be clear. Thesis: The graphs from the Tax Foundation are misleading. The trend in tax burden is perfectly reasonable given the data and not unfair. My own personal opinion: Income has become more stratified and the top 1% are making a ridiculous portion of the total income.

Lord. Read, folks! This article explicitly states how the graphs from the Tax Foundation on personal income tax are misleading. It specifically states that it is perfectly reasonable for the top 1% to be paying more taxes than the bottom 95% because of the increase in the percent of total national income they account for.
taxes  politics  graphs 
august 2009 by Quercki
Shakesville: Feminism 101: On Language and the Commodification of Sex Via Humor
may I humbly suggest replacing "I love you and want to have 10,000 of your babies" with the blissfully unoppressive and yet devastatingly tantalizing "I love you and want to do your taxes free of charge."
Love  taxes  sexism  humor 
july 2009 by Quercki
06intop400.pdf (application/pdf Object)
IRS Statement of Income for the top 400 AGI taxpayers
taxes  wealth  rich 
january 2009 by Quercki
TMF: Re: Is this fund an Index Fund? / Index Funds
With my limited financial vocabulary my interpretation is that you're saying that the indexing principle is that capital appreciation on average will outperform actively and constantly picking stocks and selling them at profit (as in an actively managed fund).

Let's start with this, because you basically do have it correct, except you need to add "after taxes and expenses." Before taxes and expenses, average is average: an index represents the average returns; a low-cost index fund is expected to return slightly below that average (due to the small costs, although Vanguard does things like lend shares to short sellers to get returns better than index minus expense ratio); the sum total of active funds and other active traders will get average returns minus their taxes and expenses.
taxes  investing 
january 2009 by Quercki
Total tax revenue | The Economist
Tax revenues have risen as a share of GDP across the OECD over the past 30 years. In 2007 Denmark’s government collected nearly half its GDP as taxes, making it the most heavily taxed among all the rich countries. The Danes narrowly edged out Sweden, the previous year’s most heavily taxed country. France, Norway and Italy also have tax revenues of more than 40% of GDP. At the other end of the spectrum, America and South Korea are relatively lightly taxed, with ratios of under 30%. However they are not as lightly taxed as Mexico, where the government’s tax revenues are barely a fifth of GDP. In general Europe is the most heavily taxed region in the OECD and taxes are lowest in the Americas.
taxes  data 
november 2008 by Quercki
Family Security Matters » Publications » Exclusive: Obama – ‘Spread the Wealth Around’ Reveals Socialist Plan for America
JOE WURZELBACHER: Initially, I started off asking him if he believed in the American Dream and he said yes, he does – and then I proceeded to ask him then why he’s penalizing me for trying to fulfill it. He asked, “what do you mean,” and I explained to him that I’m planning on purchasing this company – it’s not something I’m gonna purchase outright, it’s something I’m going to have to make payments on for years – but essentially I’m going to buy this company, and the profits generated by that could possibly put me in that tax bracket he’s talking about and that bothers me. It’s not like I would be rich; I would still just be a working plumber. I work hard for my money, and the fact that he thinks I make a little too much that he just wants to redistribute it to other people. Some of them might need it, but at the same time, it’s not their discretion to do it – it’s mine.
taxes  politics  election  obama 
october 2008 by Quercki
Welcome to
what the government is really doing with your money. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act) requires a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes for each Federal award:

1. The name of the entity receiving the award;
2. The amount of the award;
3. Information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, etc;
4. The location of the entity receiving the award;
5. A unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.
taxes  spending  politics  statistics 
october 2008 by Quercki
TMF: The 15% Solution / Retire Early Liberal Edition
Save taxes by retiring into a lower tax bracket
retirement  taxes  15% 
july 2008 by Quercki
Quick Tax Reference
tax tables, deductions, phase-outs
february 2007 by Quercki
The Concord Coalition
Federal deficit, balanced budget, etc.
taxes  reference 
november 2006 by Quercki
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