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The Tax Man Cometh Again

Remember, as you read through these stories, the cardinal rule of government: everything you have is theirs. If you have such a thing as “take-home pay” it’s only because of their generosity in allowing you to take it home. Sort of the way a highwayman might let you keep enough bread to feed your family while stealing everything else.

First, Chicago. The city of Chicago has figured out what every economist knows: when you tax something, you get less of it. This is why, for example, paying for healthcare reform with cigarette taxes never works. People smoke less in response and revenues fall below expectations. Taxes and fees on cars and gasoline are driving some people to ride bicycles. This is a good thing, right? Less fossil fuel use, more people getting exercise. The only losers are people like me who wear out their brake pads trying not to run over these hippie fruitcakes when they cut across a road all of a sudden with NO consideration for anyone else and NO concept of how much momentum a car has and there’s a Goddamn bike lane right there and we paid taxes to build that thing so why don’t you use it, you self-important piece of …

Sorry, lost my train of thought there.

Anyway, Chicago is floating the idea of taxing bikes.

A city councilwoman’s recent proposal to institute a $25 annual cycling tax set off a lively debate that eventually sputtered out after the city responded with a collective “Say what?” A number of gruff voices spoke in favor, feeding off motorists’ antagonism toward what they deride as stop sign-running freeloaders. Bike-friendly bloggers retorted that maybe pedestrians ought to be charged a shoe tax to use the sidewalks.

Chicago is by no means the only place across the U.S. tempted to see bicyclists as a possible new source of revenue, only to run into questions of fairness and enforceability. That is testing the vision of city leaders who are transforming urban expanses with bike lanes and other amenities in a quest for relevance, vitality and livability – with never enough funds.

Two or three states consider legislation each year for some type of cycling registration and tax – complete with decals or mini-license plates, National Conference of State Legislatures policy specialist Douglas Shinkle said. This year, it was Georgia, Oregon, Washington and Vermont. The Oregon legislation, which failed, would even have applied to children.

Don’t mention the shoe tax, guys. They’ll take it seriously.

Second story: you remember how our budget deficit problems result from not being able to raise taxes? Well, welcome to 2014 when a slew of new taxes will be heading your way.

The new taxes and fees include a 2 percent levy on every health plan, which is expected to net about $8 billion for the government in 2014 and increase to $14.3 billion in 2018.

There’s also a $2 fee per policy that goes into a new medical-research trust fund called the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Insurers pay a 3.5 percent user fee to sell medical plans on the HealthCare.gov Web site.

Americans also will pay hidden taxes, such as the 2.3 percent medical-device tax that will inflate the cost of items such as pacemakers, stents and prosthetic limbs.

Those with high out-of-pocket medical expenses also will get smaller income-tax deductions. Americans are currently allowed to deduct expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their annual income. The threshold jumps to 10 percent under ObamaCare, costing taxpayers about $15 billion over 10 years.

Then there’s the new Medicare tax.

Under ObamaCare, individual tax filers earning more than $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000 will pay an added 0.9 percent Medicare surtax on top of the existing 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax. They’ll also pay an extra 3.8 percent Medicare tax on unearned income, such as investment dividends, rental income and capital gains.

Oh, and this morning, I found out about this little gem:

The new year is time for change, even in the service industry. Starting January 1, the IRS will classify automatic gratuities as service charges that are taxable as regular wages and subject to payroll tax withholding. That might sound like a bunch of arcane tax law mumbo jumbo, but what it means is that restaurants have to treat those tips like regular wages.

Typically, the IRS left it up to the waiter or tipped employees to declare that money. But with this new change the waiter won’t see those “tips” until payday—instead of the end of the shift. And restaurants will have to withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on that money, too.

What it means for the diner is that those automatic 18% gratuity charges on tables of 6 or more may well be a thing of the past. The addition has been added onto large parties to ensure that servers are paid for catering to a large group.

That doesn’t mean you should use this an excuse to start stiffing people. Remember, the minimum wage laws here in the states for tipped workers is still at a shocking $2.13 an hour. And, as evidenced by this video, a few extra bucks means a lot to the service workers of America.

What surprises me — actually it doesn’t surprise me — is how much this stuff is going to hit the middle and working classes. Cycling taxes, insurance taxes, tip taxes — these will hit hardest on young people, the working poor and the middle class. This is a running theme in Obama’s America: the plebs get screwed; the elites pat themselves on the back for caring so much. Even when the elites do bad things, they are never punished for their misdeeds, not to the extent the rest of us would be for smoking a joint or chewing a pop-tart into the shape of a gun. It’s enough to make you think the system is broken beyond repair.

Enjoy your new taxes.

8 comments

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  1. AlexInCT says:

    What surprises me — actually it doesn’t surprise me — is how much this stuff is going to hit the middle and working classes.

    Great post Hal, spot on about that assessment, and you managed to avoid the hidden Obamacare taxes designed to destroy the middle class.

    Collectivism can not exist outside a system where the great unwashed majority is simply broken, broke, and beholden to an all powerful and tyrannical nanny state run by a clique of elite bastards that simply become the new aristocracy, and are the only ones making serious money in the new feudal system they like to refer to as people’s paradises. And woe anyone that becomes the target of their politically motivated wrath, for they have no compunction of turning the state against those they want to punish and then pretend they did nothing wrong. We are all serfs to be milked dry these days. Soon there will be no more poor people because we will all be poor and nobody will dare tell the people in charge they are the evil things they are.

    I wonder if all the idiots that got bamboozled by the promises of “Hope & Change”, ignoring those of us that told them what these evil fucks really meant to do, now are pissed they are getting fucked in the ass without even the benefit of a reach-around? Nah, given what I usually see from this crowd they will ask for seconds. Or line up to clean up the cock that just butt fucked them with their tongues to show they are true believers. All the while thinking their masters must now truly see their dedication and allow them into the inner circle where they get to help fuck the others over. Only thing is they won’t ever be let in, no matter how often they let themselves be used.

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  2. salinger says:

    As someone who logs about 200 miles a week on a bike I would gladly pay a 25 dollar a year tax – especially if it would chill out the idiots who get so bent out of shape when a cyclist might cost them 30 seconds during their commute to Walmart or whatever important destination lay at their journey’s terminus.

    I would also support testing and a license for cyclist who ride on roadways.

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  3. richtaylor365 says:

    I’m probably in the minority here but I think the bike tax is a great idea. If we look at this from the position that not all taxes are bad, that most are necessary, that some are downright essential, we need to ask ourselves, what is the fairest method of taxation in order to maintain the roadways. Federal excise taxes on gasoline (unchanged since 1993 at 18 cents a gallon) in and of themselves is not sufficient for the job. But even this is piecemeal and not distributed evenly among roadway users. I would be in favor or a highway usage tax whereby the individual motorist is taxed on the amount of miles he drives, and the amount of wear and tear he is causing. Cyclists should not be immune either from paying their fair share since their usage also effects the condition of the roadways.

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  4. salinger says:

    Cyclists should not be immune either from paying their fair share since their usage also effects the condition of the roadways.

    Actually, studies show the wear and tear from bicycle traffic on roadways is infinitesimal to being unmeasurable. So their fair share amounts to almost nothing. But, I too believe a tax on bicycles is not a bad thing – if only to shut up the folks who complain about cyclists – I’d consider it a form of hush money that I would gladly pay. So I guess one could interpret this as the cyclist paying for the inconvenience perceived by motorists who have to give way to them rather than the wear on the road their 20 pound bikes are causing.

    In any event – I would welcome the chance to take the “they don’t pay road taxes” argument out of the equation.

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  5. richtaylor365 says:

    Actually, studies show the wear and tear from bicycle traffic on roadways is infinitesimal to being unmeasurable.

    There is other drags on maintenance and upkeep for the roadways then just measuring what a skinny little tire will do to asphalt. There is an expense incurred for implementing and maintaining bike lanes (or would you rather have cars and bikes sharing the exact same space?), traffic lights and road signs are used to direct and regulate cyclists too, no? If you guys (bikers) use the roadways, pay for them like the rest of us.

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  6. salinger says:

    If you guys (bikers) use the roadways, pay for them like the rest of us.

    We do – most cyclist own cars – we pay taxes for them even when they sit in the drive and we are on our bikes. Also a good portion of local road and infrastructure comes from property taxes – also paid by cyclist. In reality – because of this – cyclists pay more than their fair share of road taxes.

    Also along with the many studies that show cyclists have virtually no effect on roads others show that bike lanes actually save money in the long run due to removing of four wheeled vehicles from the main roadway. But motorists aren’t interested in the facts – they just see that spandex wearing guy in the road that they have to swerve around and they want to bitch.

    So rather than trying to educate these motorists (who refuse to be swayed no matter how much data is piled in front of them) I would rather pay a tax and be done with it myself. Of course that won’t satisfy the guy who thinks the 11 seconds he loses on his commute but at least it’ll take one (misinformed) arrow from his quiver.

    (or would you rather have cars and bikes sharing the exact same space?)

    Personally, I do – (I ride too fast for most bike lanes – it would not be safe) but as I said earlier – I would not be opposed to a licensing process, road test etc. for the privilege.

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  7. Seattle Outcast says:

    Don’t tax bikes, issue hunting licenses for them instead.

    In the end, everyone wins as we thin out the herds of bike-nazi douchebags that plague out cities with things like “critical mass” rallies.

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  8. AlexInCT says:

    Don’t tax bikes, issue hunting licenses for them instead.

    Allow people to score points and qualify for special prizes by running these fucks on the road over! Maybe they can also get points for running all the cocksuckers driving around in their Priuses sniffing their farts out of Cognac glasses off the roads too.

    Driving is hard enough already with all the crazy fucks talking on, or texting from, their cell phones, putting on their makeup, reading something or another, or changing their clothes.

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