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Posts Tagged ‘Taxes’

Here’s a cheerful story I saw linked on Drudge, which shows that sometimes rich people are not guilt-ridden statists and instead stand shoulder to shoulder with ordinary people to fight bad government policy. In Australia, the leftist government wants to impose a class-warfare tax on the mining industry, but the scheme is backfiring as opponents point out such a levy will undermine national competitiveness.

It was, by any measure, a most unusual rally. Many of the placard-waving protesters gathered in a Perth park wore suits and ties, and impassioned speeches were delivered from the back of a flat-bed truck by two billionaires, including Australia’s richest woman.

Gina Rinehart’s pearls glistened in the sunlight as she bellowed through a megaphone: “Axe the tax!” Ms Rinehart has a personal fortune of $4.8bn (£2.7bn). Andrew Forrest, in monogrammed worker’s overalls, told the well-mannered crowd that Australia was “turning Communist”. Mr Forrest is the country’s fourth richest person, worth an estimated $4.2bn.

…Now Kevin Rudd’s Labour government is planning to levy an extra tax on the mining industry, and the industry is furious. The issue has dominated the political agenda for weeks, and is even threatening to torpedo Mr Rudd’s chance of being returned to power at an election due to be held before the end of this year.

Labour, which had an unassailable lead over the conservative Liberal-National Party coalition six months ago, is now trailing by six percentage points, according to a poll this week. If that were translated into votes on election day, Mr Rudd would become the first prime minister for nearly 80 years to lose office after just one term.

…[T]he mining companies, led by the multi-nationals BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, claim the tax will reduce their competitiveness and threaten thousands of jobs. Amid much fanfare, they have already shelved a number of projects. They have also launched a major advertising campaign. The government has responded with its own advertisements, using $38m of public money. Before coming to power, Mr Rudd promised to curb taxpayer-funded advertising on political issues.

So far, the miners appear to be winning the argument. A poll commissioned by the industry, and conducted in nine marginal seats, found 48 per cent of people opposed to the super tax, with 28 per cent in favour. Nearly one in three said they were less likely to vote for Labour because of it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/australian-billionaires-take-to-the-streets-for-tax-protest-1997284.html

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This story from Philadelphia, which I saw on Reason’s Hit and Run blog, is one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of government bureaucrats bilking taxpayers. The City Manager, who already receives an absurdly extravagent salary and hasn’t even been on the job for 2-1/2 years, was able to get a guaranteed $50,000 annual pension in exchange for a one-time cost of less than $125,000. Unless she is already in her 80s, that means she will get an astoundingly high rate of return. I’m too lazy to do any calculations (and I would need her age anyhow), but I’d be surprised if she’s not getting a 20 times higher return than the rest of us peasants are receiving on our IRA(s and 401(K)s

Camille Cates Barnett will get nearly $50,000 annually from the city pension fund for the rest of her life after June 30, when she leaves her post as Philadelphia’s managing director after two years, five months, and 24 days. On the same day that a City Council committee moved to close the loophole that allows short-time employees such as Barnett to buy credit in the city’s pension fund based on public service elsewhere, the Board of Pensions and Retirement revealed that Barnett had done just that. Barnett has paid $122,303 to become vested in the pension plan, according to the Mayor’s Office and the Pension Board, a privilege unionized employees are entitled to only after serving five years. …Barnett could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. She previously declined to comment on her plans. Barnett’s salary this year is $181,693, making her one of city government’s highest-paid public officials. Mayor Nutter has not named her successor.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20100603_After_2_years_on_job__Camille_Barnett_gets_city_pension.html

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I may as well confess that I have a man-crush on Governor Christie. It’s not nearly as bad as Andrew Sullivan’s fixation on Obama (and it certainly hasn’t involved me changing my views), but this video and the excerpt below are two examples of a politician actually doing the right thing and giving intelligent and coherent explanations to justify his actions. The video shows him taking on the teacher unions and the story is about his veto of a class-warfare tax bill. Christie may wind up “growing in office” and becoming a squish, but so far he is the nation’s most impressive Republican politician. That’s normally damning with faint praise, but not in this case.

It took about two minutes from the time Senate President Steve Sweeney certified the passage of the millionaires tax package for Gov. Chris Christie to veto the bills at his desk. “While I have little doubt that the sponsors and supporters of this bill sincerely believe that the state can tax its way out of this financial crisis, I believe that this bill does nothing more than repeat the failed, irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal policies of the past,” wrote Christie in his veto statement. “Now is not the time for more of the same. Ultimately, another tax increase will punish the state’s struggling small businesses and set our economy further back from recovery.”
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/05/nj_gov_christie_vetoes_million.html

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I have a question for my friends who support a national sales tax. First, some background. Beginning with the defeat of Woody Jenkins in his Louisiana Senate race back in the 1990s, various versions of the national sales tax have caused political headaches for GOP candidates. Even candidates from conservative states, such as Sen. DeMint in South Carolina, have been put on the defensive because they said good things about the FairTax. The latest example comes from the Pennsylvania special election for Rep. Murtha’s seat. As this Wall Street Journal column points out, the winning Democratic candidate hammered the Republican because of his support for the FairTax. So even though I have said very nice things about a national sales tax, testified about the virtues of the national sales tax, and debated in favor of a national sales tax over the current system, I am increasingly convinced that the flat tax is the only plan that is sufficiently immune to demagoguery. Can anyone give me a persuasive argument about the political viability of the FairTax?

Democrats turned the table and ran against Mr. Burns on taxes. The GOP businessman had flirted in the past with supporting the FAIR tax, a version of a national sales tax that supporters want to replace the income tax. Mr. Critz’s ads blasted Mr. Burns for supporting a 23% sales tax increase without mentioning the income tax elimination, and the GOP seems to have been caught flat-footed. Republicans can rightly complain that this is unfair and that Mr. Critz will vote to raise taxes when Mrs. Pelosi gives the order. But they need a real-time campaign answer to the tax-hike charge. Whatever the merits of the FAIR tax in theory, we’ve long thought it is a political loser because voters figure they’ll get the sales tax without losing the income tax. At a minimum, FAIR tax supporters shouldn’t have left Mr. Burns defenseless on the subject. By the way, this is also a political warning to Republicans inclined to fall for the Democratic trap of agreeing to a new value-added tax in return for lower income-tax rates.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703691804575254181251201818.html

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Richard Rahn’s Washington Times column makes several key points about corporate taxation, including the fact that excessive taxation of capital (the corporate income tax being just one example) is extremely foolish such taxes impose the most damage – per dollar collected – when compared with other forms of revenue. To add injury to injury, the U.S. corporate income tax is especially destructive in a competitive global economy.

The majority of taxaholics are particularly addicted to the most destructive taxes, being the taxes on capital. Up to a point, perfectly sound arguments can be made for taxing tobacco, alcohol, gasoline, etc. However, taxing capital at high rates or double or triple taxing is nothing more than self-destruction. Capital is what business people use to hire workers and purchase new plants and equipment. Taxes on corporations, capital gains, dividends and interest are primarily taxes on capital – and the heavier the tax, the fewer new jobs. In a new report published by the Cato Institute, international tax experts Duanjie Chen and Jack Mintz at the University of Calgary in Canada state that the U.S. “statutory corporate income tax rate is one of the highest in the world…which harms the economy and encourages companies to shift investment and profits abroad to lower-tax jurisdictions.” (See attached chart.)  The authors estimated effective tax rates for 80 countries. (Effective tax rates take into account statutory tax rates plus tax base items that affect taxes paid on new investment, such as depreciation allowances.) They found that the “U.S. effective corporate rate is 35.0 percent, which is much higher than the 80-nation average of just 18.2 percent.”
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/11/taxaholics/

For a more detailed explanation of why the corporate income tax should be reduced, see the very first video produced by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. It was supposed to be a test for internal purposes, and the production values are not as advanced (hopefully) as more recent videos, but the message is worth sharing.

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We’ve looked at this issue before, but this new CNN article fleshes out the awful IRS rules in the new healthcare bill:

The massive expansion of requirements for businesses to file 1099 tax forms that was hidden in the 2,409-page health reform bill took many by surprise when it came to light last month. …The result: A blizzard of new tax forms that the Internal Revenue Service will begin rolling out next year. …Starting in 2011, financial firms that process credit or debit card payments will be required to send their clients, and the IRS, an annual form documenting the year’s transactions. …The 1099 changes attached to the health care reform bill are another kettle of fish. These massively expand the requirements for filing the “1099-Misc” form, which companies use for recording payments to freelance workers and other individual service providers. Until now, payments to corporations have been exempt from 1099 rules, as have payments for the purchase of goods. Starting in 2012, that changes. All business payments or purchases that exceed $600 in a calendar year will need to be accompanied by a 1099 filing. That means obtaining the taxpayer ID number of the individual or corporation you’re making the payment to — even if it’s a giant retailer like Staples or Best Buy — at the time of the transaction, or else facing IRS penalties. …SMC’s survey found that extending 1099s just to services purchased from corporations would push that number to at least 200 filings per year for a typical small business — adding an estimated $6,000 to the cost of preparing the average tax return. And that’s without even accounting for the requirement that 1099s be filed for purchases of goods, a provision that Henschke’s group didn’t see coming when it conducted its survey last year. “These folks are doing their paperwork in the evenings and on the weekends already,” he says. “This certainly adds to the burden substantially.”
http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/21/smallbusiness/1099_deluge/index.htm

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As noted in this blog back in August, the end of Labour rule in the U.K. will not mean the end of big government in that country.  The new coalition government has already proposed a large tax hike on capital gains:

At present investors only pay CGT of 18pc on gains cashed-in of more than £10,100 each year. Only 200,000 currently pay the tax. But under the new regime gains cashed-in will be taxed at a person’s highest income tax rate, up to 40pc.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/article-1278532/Capital-gains-tax-hike-trigger-big-sell-off.html?ito=feeds-newsxml#ixzz0nwRJTgeL

 And not surprisingly, investors are acting rationally and changing their behavior to minimize their tax bills:

 Investors are expected to start selling shares and second homes ahead of a rise in capital gains tax (CGT) signalled by the new government this week…Investors who were planning to sell their assets during the next year are being advised by Cazenove Capital to bring sales forward to crystallise capital gains at the current rate, while Deloitte said it expected “lots of clients” to sell assets now.“Clients with large capital gains should think about enjoying the current CGT rate while it lasts – ie sell,” said Charlie Hoffman, head of HSBC Private Bank. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/4ee31052-5f7b-11df-a670-00144feab49a.html

 If the British system of tax revenue forecasting is anything like the one in America, look for these increases to produce substantially less revenue than expected.

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