Tag: Taxation in the United States

Steal, Lie, then Steal Again

Earlier this year, I talked about an outrageous government swindle enabled by the Democrats. The IRS was withholding $75 million of people’s tax refunds based on decades-old Social Security overpayments to their parents. In the face of withering criticism, Social Security backed down.

Guess what?

The Social Security Administration, which announced in April that it would stop trying to collect debts from the children of people who were allegedly overpaid benefits decades ago, has continued to demand such payments and now defends that practice in court documents.

After The Washington Post reported in April that the Treasury Department had confiscated $75 million in tax refunds due to about 400,000 Americans whose ancestors owed money to Social Security, the agency’s acting commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said efforts to collect on those old debts would cease immediately.

But although some people whose refunds were seized were reimbursed in recent months, some of those same taxpayers have since received new demands from Social Security, asserting that the debts remain and seeking repayment.

This shouldn’t surprise us. This is what our vindictive greedy government does. When they are caught in outrageous behavior, they back down, wait for the furor to die, and then continue to do it. They’re like roaches who scatter when the light is turned on then come back out when it’s dark. Asset forfeiture efforts slowed after Kelo, then resumed with greater furor. Drug War abuses will be suspended when there is a particularly horrible case, then resume when everyone’s moved on. And this particular Social Security-IRS grave-robbing hid under the baseboards for a few months and then came back. And any attention now will make them back down. And then in six months, they’ll be demanding money again.

Until Congress changes the law, Social Security will continue to hound people like this. It’s not enough to get outraged; Congress needs to act.

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.

Are we paying our fair share yet?

We constantly get told that we are not paying up enough of our fair share to help the liberal wealth redistribution schemes and scams buy them votes, but a new study by the CBO shows something quite different:

(CNSNews.com) – The top 40 percent of households by before-tax income actually paid 106.2 percent of the nation’s net income taxes in 2010, according to a new study by the Congressional Budget Office.

At the same time, households in the bottom 40 percent took in an average of $18,950 in what the CBO called “government transfers” in 2010. Taxpayers in the top 40 percent of households were able to pay more than 100 percent of net federal income taxes in 2010 because Americans in the bottom 40 percent actually paid negative income taxes, according to the CBO study entitled, “The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2010.”

“When refundable tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, exceed the other federal tax liabilities of the households in an income group, those households are said to have a negative average tax rate,” said the CBO study. “In its analysis, CBO measured individual income taxes net of refundable credits,” it said. In 2010, the CBO determined, American households in the bottom 40 percent paid negative amounts in income-tax dollars and a negative average income-tax rate.

Much of the progressivity of the federal tax system derives from the individual income tax,” said the report. “In 2010, the lowest quintile’s average rate for the individual income tax was -9.2 percent and the second income quintile’s rate was -2.3 percent.” “A group can have a negative income tax rate if its refundable tax credits exceed the income tax otherwise owed,” said the CBO report.

The households in the top 20 percent by income paid 92.9 percent of net income tax revenues taken in by the federal government in 2010, said CBO. The households in the fourth quintile paid another 13.3 percent of net income tax revenues. Together, the top 40 percent of households paid 106.2 percent of the federal government’s net income tax revenue. The third quintile paid another 2.9 percent—bringing the total share of net federal income tax revenues paid by the top 60 percent to 109.1 percent. That was evened out by the net negative income tax paid by the bottom 40 percent.

And that skew, the wealth transfer, is going to tilt even more that way when Obamacare goes nuclear on our sorry asses. if you think this sort of highway robbery is a good thing, you are a moron. And why can’t we ever get a breakdown that shows the actual money these people get vs. how much of the money collected gets pissed away by Leviathan’s bureaucracy?

Look at it this way: we have a system where out of a group of 50 people in a room – broken down by the tax demographic shown by the numbers in the CBO above – one of these people pays more than all the others combined. But the injustice doesn’t end there. There are 25 people that not only don’t pay any income taxes, but they get to take away money. So the person getting ripped off and the others that pay some or taxes, but get nothing back, are basically outvoted by the people getting money back. The Greeks figured out that was going to be the end of their experiment with democracy over 2500 years ago.

A system where people that not only don’t pay taxes, but they get to collect money from those that do, and that gives them equal representation when electing the scumbags that put these sorts of systems in place, is not just evil, it is downright destructive in the long run, because it is simply not sustainable. And we are seeing that happen finally as most modern western nations with such progressive tax & spend collectivist systems are slowly running out of other people’s money to keep them afloat.

That’s why the democrats are turning us into a banana republic. If you have no skin in the game, you don’t care if the game is wrong. That’s why I feel that people that don’t pay taxes, or worse, get money back from those that do, shouldn’t get a vote when it comes to policies that allow them to get even more money from others. We need a flat tax. Everyone should have to pay. It will fix most of our problems with the tax & spenders and their agenda.

When Is A Cut Not A Cut?

When it’s a program we like. A couple of Republicans have proposed a change to the budget — eliminating the sequester on the military in exchange for chained CPI for Social Security. It’s not going anywhere, but it does serve to highlight the cognitive dissonance that defines the Left:

Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) are introducing the Provide for the Common Defense Act on Tuesday. The legislation would cancel out the next two years of sequestration cuts for the Pentagon by putting a heavier burden on senior citizens and federal workers.

Even without the sequestration, military spend will go down under the BCA. But notice that HuffPo gets its math right here: these are actual cuts in defense spending and the Republican are, well, making the cuts smaller — in real dollars. Sequestration is real cutting. In my own work, I’ve seen NASA closing down programs or canceling new ones in response to it.

Now let’s go a paragraph earlier:

A pair of House Republicans have a new bill that would spare the military from sequestration by cutting the Social Security benefits of many Americans who already experience painful federal budget cuts.

Emphasis mine.

These are not cuts. They are changes in the rate of growth of Social Security benefits. Many economists believe these changes reflect actual spending patterns. You can disagree with you want* but you can’t change the language life that.

(*Many fools on the Left want Social Security massively expanded despite its current and swelling fiscal shortfalls. Krugman says that Social Security is the only part of the retirement system that’s working well. All Ponzi schemes work well … until they collapse. My 403b would be working great too if my bank could stock up an imaginary portfolio against expected future investments.)

If the Republican proposal were to increase military spending very slightly, HuffPo wouldn’t call those cuts. But slow the rate of growth of their pet program and it’s “cuts!”.

The Tax Man Politicizeth

Well, knock me over with a feather:

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday said that it inappropriately selected tea party political groups for special scrutiny in the 2012 campaign, an admission likely to fuel long-simmering suspicions among conservatives that the IRS has been singling them out for unfair treatment.

The IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, Lois Lerner, acknowledged at a conference on Friday the actions were wrong and apologized, according to the Associated Press. Lerner said groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status faced additional screening.

In a statement, the IRS said the screening occurred by career employees in Cincinnati who, between 2010 and 2012, were seeking to centralize work related to tax exempt organizations. The agency said that while it made errors, they were not politically motivated.

Sorry, didn’t mean to bold that part. I just spit my Coke all over the computer when I read it. Apparently, it was just a coincidence that the political groups they gave special scrutiny to were conservative.


Keep in mind that conservative groups have been complaining about this for months only to have it dismissed as crazy tinfoil hat black helicopter paranoia by the Left. But this was an extremely plausible accusation from the beginning. it’s not like these groups were accusing Obama of using mind-control rays. They were complaining about a tactic known to have been used by several previous presidents to intimidate opponents. In fact, we were just discussing Watergate, which included allegations of IRS abuse by Nixon.

Sometimes, it seems, they really are out to get you. It helps when you’ve made tax law so invasive and complicated that just about anyone can be targeted.

Internet Tax

Well, it’s semi-official. The Senate has approved the Marketplace Fairness Act. This act, strongly supported by the likes of Amazon.com, would force online businesses to pay sales taxes based on the location of their customer. Supporters say it is critical to bring needed revenue to local and state governments and to protect the brick-and-morter mom-and-pop stores that are losing out to internet sales.

The supporters are also full of shit.

There are innumerable problems with the Act as written and the supposed motivations behind it. First, the Act will stifle tax competition, protecting states with high taxes. Second, the MFA is actually very unfair to online businesses because it imposes gigantic compliance costs on them.

Mr. Enzi’s Marketplace Fairness Act discriminates against Internet-based businesses by imposing burdens that it does not apply to brick-and-mortar companies. For the first time, online merchants would be forced to collect sales taxes for all of America’s estimated 9,600 state and local taxing authorities.

New Hampshire, for example, has no sales tax, but a Granite State Web merchant would be forced to collect and remit sales taxes to all the governments that do. Small online sellers will therefore have to comply with tax laws created by distant governments in which they have no representation, and in places where they consume no local services.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s brick-and-mortar retailers will bear no such burden. They will not be required to collect taxes on the many customers who drive across the Maine and Massachusetts borders to shop in New Hampshire. Bill sponsors say it would be too big a hassle to force traditional retailers to ask every walk-in customer where they live, but these Senators are happy to impose new obligations online.

The Enzi plan would require a centralized tax collector for each state or for a group of states that would gather both state and local levies from the online merchants. His office concedes that could still mean 27 or more different auditors of a Web-based business—which is better than 9,600 but hardly qualifies as simplicity.

The Act exempts business with under a million in sales but that’s not really a big exemption (and makes that millionth dollar incredibly expensive; if they tax everything below a million, that’s a marginal rate of several million). No doubt, services will spring up that will allow smaller businesses to simplify the process. But I see no reason why they should be forced to cough up for this services, especially as the services are likely to be provide by Amazon.

Oh, yeah, about Amazon:

For Amazon—the actual target of these laws—[filing state sales tax returns] is trivial. Its staff of crack accountants can probably roll these things out before their Monday-morning coffee break. For a small vendor, however, that’s a whole lot of paperwork. Imagine being a small eBay vendor that has to file a different set of tax returns every quarter or every month, depending on who happened to buy your handmade toaster cozies. The bill makes this slightly easier by exempting the smallest businesses and saying that you only have to file one return per state. But that’s still hours and hours of work per month, for folks who are probably already working pretty damn hard.

This bill, in fact, is good for Amazon—it kills off their small-fry competitors who can’t afford the staff accountants (or the software) to file 46 returns every month. And it frees them up to open warehouses in more states, the better to minimize their shipping costs. Presumably, that’s why they’re in favor of the bill.

It also will likely force more and more businesses to become Z-shops under the Amazon umbrella. It really tells you how mature the internet business model has gotten that the online leviathans are now trying to protect themselves the same way offline ones do: by supporting regulation the destroys the competition.

Let me be clear on one thing: I don’t think internet sales should be completely exempt from sales tax. I do think the retailers have a point (albeit not much of one). Online sellers use the same roads, cops and infrastructure that brick-and-mortar stores do. They should have to pay for it.

So I’m not proposing that internet sellers don’t pay sales taxes. My understanding of the current law is that sales taxes are paid to the customer’s location if the merchant has a physical presence. I’ll revise this if I’m wrong. But wouldn’t a better alternative be to pay taxes to the locality in which the seller resides? If I buy a coat from a seller in Maine, I should pay sales taxes to his local and state governments. It should be the same as if I actually drove up to main or had a friend buy it and ship it for me.

This alternative — taxes based on point of sale — would be everything the MFA isn’t. It would be simple for sellers, requiring zero extra paperwork. It would pay tax money into the governments that are actually supporting the businesses rather than government that are whining about their high-tax regimes. It would create massive tax competition. And it would be straight forward. If the GOP weren’t obsessed with anti-tax dogma, it would be a viable alternative.

I will grant you that my idea does not give Amazon and other large businesses a huge advantage in the marketplace. Nor does it allow them to crush lesser competition. Nor does it allow states to tax without fear. But, unlike all the “fairness” oriented politicians, that’s not my goal.

In any case, this Act needs to go down in flames in the House. While I think innumerable lawsuits will spring up, I think it unlikely the Court will overturn it. The only way out of this potential nightmare is for Congress to act with some common sense.


In the end, all you need to know about this act is the title. Any piece of legislation with word “Fairness” in it is bound to be a piece of shit.

High rates make it easier to sell favors.

Robert Samuelson has an opinion piece at the WaPo dealing with death tax reform. This is one of the main taxes that the rich tax hike proponents like Buffet wants to go up. In Buffet’s case the reason is blatant: that’s so his insurance company can make a killing selling policies to fat cats that need protection from the confiscatory fleecing government will impose on their property before the body is even cold.

There were a couple of important and critical revelations that I got from this piece. The first discusses why the left wants the hike:

For Obama, the obsession with raising top rates (from today’s 33 percent and 35 percent to 36 percent and 39.6 percent) seems an exercise in political symbolism. He wants to be seen as vanquishing the rich — and Republicans. Otherwise, why not accept Boehner’s means (loophole closing) to achieve his policy ends (higher taxes on the rich)?

No, it doesn’t “seem” like political symbolism: it is political symbolism. This is about image. Obama wants to tell the people that love and believe in that class warrior nonsense that he won one for them. Even if the hike is all but symbolic, the purpose is to allow the left to open the door to raising taxes on everyone. “We stuck it to the rich, but it is not enough, so you are next, sorry.”

The second point, and this one is the one that I find critical, is the argument about closing the loopholes. From the piece:

The White House claims that loophole closing can’t raise enough revenues. This is bogus. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has estimated that capping all itemized deductions at $17,000 for couples and $8,500 for singles would produce $1.7 trillion in added taxes over a decade. To be sure, there would be practical problems; some tax increases would fall on households under Obama’s income thresholds of $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for singles. But these could be managed with adequate political will.

Of course the WH’s claims that closing loop holes is not going to produce enough revenue is bullshit! I am certain that the WH’s own accountants came to the same conclusion about revenue. Their resistance to loophole closure is because of another reason. The pertinent point is well made in the article:

As important, many politicians support tax breaks for favored groups (the elderly, the poor, small business) and causes (homeownership, attending college, “green” industries). This enhances their power. The man who really pronounced the death sentence for the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was Bill Clinton, who increased the top rate to 39.6 percent rather than broadening the base. As the top rate rose, so did the value of generating new tax breaks. Ironically, many of the people who complain the loudest about Washington influence-peddling and lobbying are the same people who support higher tax rates, which stimulate more influence-peddling and lobbying.

Who is really surprised that the class warriors, those that want jacked rates, are also the ones that stand to gain the most from selling favors, huh? This stuff is not rocket science: the higher the tax rate, the more people that want special favors – those loopholes the WH says won’t make a difference in revenue – will have to pay politicians to get it. Jack up the rates, and sell the favors. Remember Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare exemption list? This logic applies to all forms of taxation, BTW.

It is not a mistake that the left loves higher rates. It allows them to make a killing selling loopholes. They get to grand stand and pretend that they “HAVE” to do it to help the little guy, engage in social engineering – the practice of picking the winners and losers – and do it all while they make a personal fiscal windfall as well as drastically increase their clout & power. Low rates don’t force all but a few to look for ways out of paying. High rates however, will make most want a break of some kind. And the politicians know this. Especially the class warrior pols which are doing whatever they are doing for their own benefit, first and foremost.

As usual, the people losing out on this stuff will be the American tax payer and the American economy.

The left doesn’t understand economics.

Looks like a NYC hallmark business has closed it’s doors:

The famous Stage Deli in Manhattan has closed. Visitors on Friday were greeted with a hand-written sign on the door that said “Thanks for 75 years!” The deli, on Seventh Avenue near 54th Street, got its start 75 years ago. It was known for overstuffed sandwiches named for celebrities. It was popular with Broadway audiences. Co-owner Paul Zolenge says the dining landmark had been struggling for some time. He told The New York Times that yet another rent increase was expected when the lease ended in a few months.

That last is my emphasis. The rent increase comes as a direct result of raising fed and local taxes, and it comes in an economy that has been in the tank for 4 years, and looks to be staying there for at least another 4 more years. Check out the comments and see how the libs all think the problem here was that this guy had to pay rent in the first place, or did not know how to run a business, despite the fact that this business was around for 75 years, and blame the business’ fail on the evils of capitalism. Genius!

Maybe someone can petition the WH to bail them out like the did GM and are thinking of doing to Hostess.

Collectivist policies have consequences…

Fiscal policy intended to separate people from their assets/wealth, because we need to spread that wealth around, you know, by stupid government entities thinking they can play Santa Clause with other people’s money, has consequences. Always! Nobody is going to just accept the loss of their wealth that these wealth redistribution schemes assure, and even the LSM is forced to report that’s what’s happening right now:

For many of the wealthy, 2012 is becoming a good year to sell.

They’re worried about the “fiscal cliff,” which is when tax cuts expire and spending cuts are set to go into effect at the end of the year.

Fearing an increase in capital gains and dividend taxes, many of the rich are unloading stocks, businesses and homes before the end of the year.

Wealth advisors say that with capital-gains taxes potentially going to 25 percent from 15 percent, and other possible increases in the dividend tax, estate tax and other taxes, many clients are selling now to save millions in taxes.

“Under almost any scenario, it makes sense to take the gains this year,” said Gregory Curtis, chairman and managing director of Greycourt & Co. “Clients aren’t selling willy nilly. But if they can and they have a huge gain, they’re selling now.”

If the Bush-era tax cuts expire, taxes on capital gains would revert back to its previous rate of 20 percent from its current 15 percent. Another 5 percent may be added from health-care levies and changes in itemized deductions, bringing the rate to 25 percent for many high earners.

Taxes on dividends could go from 15 percent to over 43 percent. And the estate tax could go from 35 percent on estates worth more than $5 million to 55 percent on estates over $1 million. (Read more: CEO Sends Out Raises, Not Pink Slips After Election)

As a result, the wealthy are taking a close look at all of their assets to see what could or should be sold off now to avoid potentially higher taxes next year.

The runoff to sell assets and avoid a higher confiscation rate is just natural instinct. What seems to go unreported is how many hardcore leftists, often the same ones pretending to support and love these wealth redistribution schemes and the fools that propose them, are rushing to sell and secure their cash. For example, George Lucas, a huge leftist squirreled away his nuts. Anyone with large capital gains of any kind and a need to keep their wealth liquid, is also doing the same.

The next time you hear some rich liberal tool say they don’t mind higher taxes, remember that what they are telling you is that they don’t mind higher taxes on you. Their accountants sure as hell will provide ways for them not just to avoid the tax increases, but to make out like a bandit from these business and economy killing collectivist ventures. Yes, collectivist policies have consequences. The problem is that it is rarely the people that support these stupid policies that pay for the unforseen and forseen consequences. But if you are stupid enough to believe fucking idiots that want you to think they are in government to “help” the little guy, and not to just steal as much wealth as they can for themselves, then you deserve the rape, without even the courtesy of a reach around, they have planned for you.

Elections and policies have consequences. Enjoy the ones heading our way…

The Newest Obama Tax Hike


The Congressional Budget Office has just released new estimates of the number of people who will be subject to the individual mandate penalty tax for failing to obtain qualifying health insurance in 2016. According to CBO’s new analysis, the penalty tax will be paid by six million people. The penalty tax will generate an estimated $7 billion for the U.S. treasury and 80 percent of those paying the penalty tax will earn less than 500 percent of the poverty level. (For reference, the poverty line for a family of four is $23,050 in 2012, according to HHS.)

Now remember something, kids. This “penalty” is a tax. The Supreme Court said. Barack Obama says so as of about two months ago. All the Democrats are saying this is a tax since that was the only way the Supreme Court would uphold it.

So … Barack Obama has a tax increase planned for about five million poor and middle class families. Granted, it won’t kick in until he’s a lame duck in a hypothetical second term. But it’s a tax hike, nonetheless. And not on the rich.