Two Heartening Responses to Seattle’s Self-Destructive Tax Grab

May 4, 2018

There’s hope for Seattle, yet.

International Liberty

I wrote last July about how greedy politicians in Seattle, Washington, were trying to impose a local income tax.

That effort has been stymied since there’s anti-income-tax language in the state constitution (Washington is one of nine states without that punitive levy), but that doesn’t mean the city’s tax-and-spend crowd has given up.

There’s a proposal for a new scheme to impose a “head tax” on successful companies.

The top three percent of the high grossing businesses in Seattle will carry the load of Seattle’s proposed employee head tax. Backers are calling it the “Progressive Tax on Business.” The tax will apply only to those companies with $20 million or more annually in taxable gross receipts as measured under the City’s Business and Occupation tax. The city estimates that will be 500 businesses. …the tax is based on total revenues and not net-income. …Councilmember Mike Obrien has been pushing…

View original post 673 more words


243 years later, the shot heard round the world still echoes

April 19, 2018

(This is a re-posting of something I wrote in 2009, in honor of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. If, however, you want to read an account of the bloodiest battle of that day and its all too human cost, read about the fight at Metonomy.)

I’m a bit red-faced Blushing that it took a British blog to remind me that today is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, generally regarded as the opening skirmish of the American Revolution. Tory Historian points out that both sides claimed victory, but perhaps I can be forgiven a bit of national pride for arguing that we won on points: the advance column withdrew under fire and was considering surrender when it was rescued by Percy’s brigade. General Gage then found himself besieged in Boston. Flag

Regardless of any “Monday-morning generalship,” it is fitting that the anniversary comes just a few days after the Tax Day Tea Parties, a genuine grassroots movement that organized itself to protest Washington’s mad plans to borrow and spend like drunken sailors on pay day — and, inevitably, to make us pay for it all with ruinous taxation.

In 2009, just as in 1775, popular sentiment erupted to send distant masters a message. Thankfully, this time, shots weren’t needed, but the point was made just the same: Don’t tread on me.

treadflag

To update it for the current day, “President Trump” is what you get when the ruling caste spends years not really listening to people: they were trod upon, and the people bit back.

 


Is Trump Right about America Being the “Highest Taxed Nation”?

October 11, 2017

Many of Trump’s policy proposals are good ones, such as lowering the corporate tax rate. Trouble is, with his lack of self-control, he is his own worst enemy.

International Liberty

In my ideal world, we’re having a substantive debate about corporate tax policy, double taxation, marginal tax rates, and fundamental tax reform (plus spending restraint so big tax cuts are feasible).

Sadly, we don’t live in my ideal world (other than my Georgia Bulldogs being undefeated). So instead of a serious discussion about things that matter, there’s a big fight in Washington about the meaning of Donald Trump’s words.

Politico has a report on this silly controversy. Here are some of highlights.

“We are the highest taxed nation in the world,” President Donald Trump has repeated over and over again. …He said it at a White House event last Friday. He’s tweeted it, repeated it in television interviews and declared it at countless rallies. It is his go-to talking point, his favorite line… It is also false — something fact checkers have been pointing out since…

View original post 725 more words


242 years later, the shot heard round the world still echoes

April 19, 2017

(This is a re-posting of something I wrote in 2009, in honor of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. If, however, you want to read an account of the bloodiest battle of that day and its all too human cost, read about the fight at Metonomy.)

I’m a bit red-faced Blushing that it took a British blog to remind me that today is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, generally regarded as the opening skirmish of the American Revolution. Tory Historian points out that both sides claimed victory, but perhaps I can be forgiven a bit of national pride for arguing that we won on points: the advance column withdrew under fire and was considering surrender when it was rescued by Percy’s brigade. General Gage then found himself besieged in Boston. Flag

Regardless of any “Monday-morning generalship,” it is fitting that the anniversary comes just a few days after the Tax Day Tea Parties, a genuine grassroots movement that organized itself to protest Washington’s mad plans to borrow and spend like drunken sailors on pay day — and, inevitably, to make us pay for it all with ruinous taxation.

In 2009, just as in 1775, popular sentiment erupted to send distant masters a message. Thankfully, this time, shots weren’t needed, but the point was made just the same: Don’t tread on me.

treadflag

To update it for the current day, “President Trump” is what you get when the ruling caste spends years not really listening to people: they were trod upon, and the people bit back.

 


The shot heard round the world, updated

April 19, 2016

I’m a bit red-faced Blushing that it took a British blog to remind me that today is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, generally regarded as the opening skirmish of the American Revolution. Tory Historian points out that both sides claimed victory, but perhaps I can be forgiven a bit of national pride for arguing that we won on points: the advance column withdrew under fire and was considering surrender when it was rescued by Percy’s brigade. General Gage then found himself besieged in Boston. Flag

Regardless of any “Monday-morning generalship,” it is fitting that the anniversary comes just a few days after the Tax Day Tea Parties, a genuine grassroots movement that organized itself to protest Washington’s mad plans to borrow and spend like drunken sailors on pay day — and, inevitably, to make us pay for it all with ruinous taxation.

In 2009, just as in 1775, popular sentiment erupted to send distant masters a message. Thankfully, this time, shots weren’t needed, but the point was made just the same: Don’t tread on us.

treadflag

PS: This is a re-posting of something I wrote in 2009, in honor of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. If, however, you want to read an account of the bloodiest battle of that day and its all too human cost, read about the fight at Metonomy.

 


French President Approaches Cliff, Steps on Accelerator

January 19, 2016

France has been dirigiste since Louis XIV centralized all power under him, and the French leadership has been trapped in that intellectual straitjacket ever since. The idea of lowering the burden of government and letting market forces work is probably inconceivable to President Hollande — and most of his people.

International Liberty

When I wrote back in 2012 that France was committing fiscal suicide, I should have guessed that President Hollande would get impatient and push for even more statism.

Sure enough, the BBC reports that France’s President has a new plan. The ostensible goal is to reduce unemployment, but the practical effect is to expand the size and scope of government.

President Francois Hollande has set out a €2bn (£1.5bn) job creation plan in an attempt to lift France out of what he called a state of “economic emergency”. Under a two-year scheme, firms with fewer than 250 staff will get subsidies if they take on a young or unemployed person for six months or more. In addition, about 500,000 vocational training schemes will be created.

Needless to say, if subsidies and handouts were the key to job creation, France already would have full employment.

In reality, real jobs are created

View original post 472 more words


The Value-Added Tax Should Be Political Poison for Advocates of Limited Government

January 15, 2016

Tweeted this last night, but it’s worth its own post. There’s a lot to like about Ted Cruz, but his insistence that his new tax plan doesn’t contain a VAT, thus giving advocates of big government another revenue stream, is an annoying dodge. I wish he’d drop it, and the VAT.

International Liberty

It’s not my role to pick sides in political fights, but I am very interested in trying to make bad ideas radioactive so that politicians won’t be tempted to do the wrong thing.

This is why I’m a big fan of the no-tax-hike pledge. The folks in Washington salivate at the prospect of getting more of our money, but they are less likely to act on their desires if they’re scared that breaking their promises means they’ll lose the next election.

It’s also why I want the value-added tax (VAT) to become a third-rail issue. Simply stated, it would be a catastrophic mistake to give Washington an additional source of tax revenue. Especially since the European evidence shows that it’s a money machine to expand the welfare state.

Given my concerns, I was understandably distressed that two lawmakers (and presidential candidates) who normally support smaller government, Rand Paul

View original post 1,682 more words


The Value-Added Tax: A Nixonian Scheme to Fund Bigger Government

November 21, 2015

The VAT is to me an obviously bad idea, especially as long as there is also an income tax. But why Senators Cruz and Paul would support one is way beyond me.

International Liberty

In early 2013, a reader asked me the best place to go if America suffered a Greek-style economic collapse.

I suggested Australia might be the best option, even if I would be too stubborn to take my own advice.

Perhaps because of an irrational form of patriotism, I’m fairly certain that I will always live in the United States and I will be fighting to preserve (or restore) liberty until my last breath.

But while I intend to stay in America, there is one thing that would make me very pessimistic about my country’s future.

Simply stated, if politicians ever manage to impose a value-added tax on the United States, the statists will have won a giant victory and it will be much harder to restrain big government.

But you don’t have to believe me. Folks on the left openly admit that a VAT is necessary to…

View original post 1,184 more words


Governor Jindal’s Bold Reform Plan Slashes Revenue to DC, Abolishes the Corporate Income Tax

October 8, 2015

Of the remaining Republican candidates, Bobby Jindal is perhaps closest to my own policy preferences, at least on matters of entitlements, spending, and taxes. Dan Mitchell takes a look at Jindal’s proposed tax plan and likes what he sees. So do I. Jindal likely won’t be the nominee, but it’s to be hoped he’s an important part of the next administration, assuming the Republicans win.

International Liberty

Give him credit. Most elected officials are content to tinker at the edges, but Governor Jindal of Louisiana actually wants to solve problems.

Look what he’s done, for instance, on fiscal policy.

He sought to abolish his state’s personal income tax, a step that would have dramatically boosted the states competitiveness.

That effort stalled, but he actually has been successful in curtailing state spending. He’s amassed one of the best records for frugality of all governors seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

And he’s now joined the list of presidential candidates seeking to rewrite the internal revenue code.

Since we’ve already reviewed the tax reform plans put forth by Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump, let’s do the same for the Louisiana governor.

Regular readers hopefully will recall that there are three big problems with the current tax code.

  1. High tax rates that undermine…

View original post 659 more words


Utah to raise taxes on the sick to pay for Medicaid expansion?

September 27, 2015
c

Make bees angry, get stung in return

Utah is one of the many states that has so far resisted expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. It’s a smart decision: While the Federal government (read, the entire nations through taxes or borrowing) pays for an initial 90% of that expansion, that percentage goes down over the years and leaves the state more and more on the hook. It’s a delayed budget-buster that would force a state to impose its own ruinous taxation; Medicaid already eats a huge portion of state budgets, and this would make the problem far worse.

So, the Utah legislature has refused to commit fiscal suicide by expanding Medicaid, but the Governor, Gary Herbert, is determined to pull that trigger. So, they’ve looked for a “compromise” that would garner more funding for Utah Medicaid. And what does that compromise entail? I bet you can guess…

New taxes:

According to the few specifics made public, the biggest component of the negotiated framework is to levy a new “assessment” on medical providers in Utah to help pay for the state’s share of expansion. But the so-called assessment is simply a new Obamacare tax on the sick that will not only raise health care costs for all Utahns, but add significantly to the national debt.

Provider Taxes Are Taxes On Everyone

Gov. Herbert says this plan will allow the state to expand Medicaid under Obamacare without the need to “raise taxes” to pay for it. But the proposed provider tax is still a tax – and not just on providers.

Hospitals and other providers won’t pay this tax. Although they may write a check and send it to the state treasury, they won’t bear the burden of a new tax. As Milton Friedman frequently explained: only people can pay taxes. This new Obamacare expansion tax will simply be passed along to Utahns seeking medical care.

Worse yet, this new tax will be borne not just by sick Utahns, but by taxpayers everywhere. This new scheme was designed specifically to draw in more money from federal taxpayers.

Here’s how it works: hospitals and other providers will pay an “assessment” to the Utah government. Utah will then turnaround and spend those dollars in order to trigger federal “matching” dollars for Medicaid expansion. In this case, federal taxpayers will have to kick in an extra $9 or more for every dollar Utah collects from the sick.

And remember: there is no magic pot of Obamacare money to cover those funds. Any federal money Utah spends on Obamacare expansion will simply be added to the national debt.

So, in summary, there are three major things wrong here:

  • Proponents of the measure, including the Governor, are lying to the people of Utah. Call it an “assessment” or a “fee” or even “broiled fish,” a tax is still a tax. John Roberts notwithstanding.
  • They are also lying when they say the tax will be borne by providers. Bullsh… Er… Nonsense. This cost will be passed on to those receiving services: the sick.
  • The federal government will have to borrow money or raise taxes to pay its share if this. Either way, that’s more from you and me.

And, on top of it all, Medicaid expansion is still a looming fiscal disaster for the Beehive State.

This stinks to High Heaven. The good people of Utah should contact their legislators and the governor’s office to remind them that a) they do not like even more of their hard-earned money being snatched from their pockets to pay for stupid ideas; and b) elections have consequences, especially for pols determined to do dumb things.


#Obamacare Chronicles: two-thirds of subsidy recipients had to repay the government

April 28, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This should make some people mad:

Nearly two in three Americans who bought subsidized health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges this year had to pay some of the federal dollars back, according to new data from H&R Block.

That’s because they presumably collected more federal aid than their income qualified them for. In that case, consumers must either pay some of it back or — in most cases — the IRS will subtract it from their tax refund.

Policymakers have expressed concern that low-income people could struggle with paying back the subsidies — or suffer if their tax refunds are greatly reduced because of overpayments.

The average amount consumers owed back to the government was $729, cutting their potential tax refunds by almost one-third, said the tax preparation company.

The article also mentions that 25% of Obamacare subsidy receivers received larger refunds because their income was less than expected. Good for them.

BUT… It’s the angry people who will remember this: they were forced to give up policies and medical providers they liked and that met their needs for more expensive policies and more restricted networks that didn’t meet the needs they had and met “needs” they didn’t have. (1) Then they were forced to pay even more, giving back some of the tax refund (2) they thought they were getting, maybe even had already spent. And this will happen again in 2016, an election year.

Angry people have long memories.

Footnote:
(1) Like maternity coverage for elderly couples. Really.
(2) I know you have trouble with the concept, progressives, but the money belongs to the one who earned it. The government just takes it. And so a refund is just giving a person back his own money — without interest.


In the Left’s Orwellian World, Taxpayers Who Get to Keep their Income Are Getting “Handouts”

April 19, 2015

The difference between a conservative and a progressive: the conservative believes the money you earn is yours, and the government should take only the minimum it needs to perform necessary tasks. The progressive believes the money is yours, but government knows best how it should be used and how much you really need.

International Liberty

I’ve sometimes asserted, only half-jokingly, that statists believe all of our income belongs to the government and that we should be grateful if we’re allowed to keep any slice of what we earn.

This is, at least in part, the mentality behind the “tax expenditure” concept, which creates a false equivalence between spending programs and provisions of the tax code that allow people to keep greater amounts of their own income.

Here’s how I characterized this moral blindness when criticizing a Washington Post columnist back in 2013.

Hiatt presumably thinks that the government’s decision not to impose double taxation is somehow akin to a giveaway. But that only makes sense if you assume that government has a preemptive claim to all private income. …Hiatt wants us the think that there’s no moral, ethical, or economic difference between giving person A $5,000 of other people’s money and person B being…

View original post 993 more words


#Obamacare chronicles: People refusing to pay the fine?

February 26, 2015
"Revenge of the angry mob"

“Revenge of the angry mob”

President Jefferson once famously said:

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

And maybe that “good thing” has started?

Taxpayers are already telling their accountants they plan to stiff the IRS on the Obamacare tax, saying they figure the chances the agency comes after them for a few hundred bucks are pretty slim, and it makes sense to take the risk.

Still other taxpayers are recoiling when they find out they owe far more than the $95 minimum penalty for not having insurance in 2014, said Christopher Wittich, an accountant in Minnesota.

“And that’s a big problem for them,” he said. “They don’t have 200 bucks.”

Taxpayers are facing the first round of penalties under Obamacare’s “individual mandate,” which requires most Americans to prove they have health insurance coverage or else pay the tax that the Supreme Court ruled made the law constitutional.

But Indiana accountant Scott Frick said one of his clients, told he would have to fork over $850 for going without insurance last year, thought about the IRS and decided not to pay, just to “see what happens.”

The episodes raise questions for the revenue agency, which is trying to figure out just how far it’s prepared to go to collect the Obamacare tax — and if future administrations will enforce it at all.

As I pointed out in another post, these people just finding out their 2014 penalty Shared Responsibility Payment may already owe for 2015. Surprise!

Also, I had forgotten that, as the article points out later on, the IRS is forbidden from laying criminal charges or liens against people who don’t pay the penalty. All they can do is lower their future refunds. You can bet there will be many people willing to pay that price, rather than shell out for the more expensive “affordable care” policies.

Regardless, this refusal to pay strikes me as a good thing, a sign that our spirit isn’t dead yet. I hope it catches on, and that everyone refuses to pay.

Somewhere, Mr. Jefferson smiles.

via Michael Walsh


#Obamacare Chronicles: If you paid a penalty for 2014, you may already owe one for 2015

February 24, 2015
"2014 voters"

Paid their Obamacare penalty.

I wrote before about how the Democrats are increasingly frightened of the angry mob that might rise against them once the non-coverage penalties in Obamacare start to be enforced. People who didn’t obey the mandate in 2014 will likely find themselves with smaller refunds than expected, or maybe even owing Uncle Sam. That makes for unhappy voters, who will be looking for someone to hurt. Probably the congresscritters (All Democrats) who voted for Obamacare.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s another problem. The administration’s enrollment period just ended on February 15. So if people haven’t signed up for Obamacare already, they’ll be stuck paying the higher penalty for 2015.

By the way, Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.

Except that it’s easier to inflict theoretical pain than actual pain. Tax filing season is enlightening many Americans for the first time about the “mechanics involved” in Obamacare’s fee structure, Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on December 29. “Many taxpayers will see the financial consequences of their decision not to enroll in health insurance for the first time when they make the Shared Responsibility Payment.”

And the penalties get even larger in 2016 for those recalcitrant serfs who still refuse to obey their Betters in DC. Estimates of those range from 3-6 million people.

So Congressmen Doggett, Levin, and “Baghdad Jim” McDermott implored the administration to create a supplemental “open enrollment period” so people who didn’t buy by the 15th could do so and escape the 2015 “Shared Responsibility Payment.” And so the Democrats could escape the angry mob. This exemption comes with a stringent qualification standard, however: You have to be willing to say “I didn’t know,” and you will be magically cleansed of your sins.

The administration has done this before, granting exemptions and delays ex machina for the employer mandate with no legal authority to do so. (The ACA is very clear about its deadlines.) Now it’s an extension for open enrollment. Let’s be frank: none of these illegal waivers were granted because of sympathy for the victims. Their sole purpose is to help Democrats avoid the consequences of ramming this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law down the throat of a nation that didn’t want it. By delaying the mandates and punishments past election day or simply granting exemptions to the latest group to complain (Oh wait! Here’s another enrollment period!), they hope to avoid the electoral whipping they so richly deserve.

That didn’t work in 2010 or 2014. Per Byron York again, no matter how it’s delayed, the voters hate the individual mandate:

The individual mandate has always been extremely unpopular. In December 2014, just a couple of months ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 64 percent of those surveyed don’t like the mandate. The level of disapproval has been pretty consistent since the law was passed.

And there’s very little chance the individual mandate’s approval numbers will improve, now that millions of Americans are getting a taste of what it really means. They’re learning an essential truth of Obamacare, which is that if you don’t sign up, the IRS will make you pay.

It’s not going to work for them in 2016, either.

PS: Oh, and since we’re talking about angry mobs, let us not forget the IRS sending the wrong tax information to nearly 1,000,000 people receiving Obamacare subsidies.


#Obamacare chronicles: government sends wrong tax information to nearly 1,000,000 people

February 20, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

What was it Ronald Reagan said? Oh yeah:

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

Happy to help, America:

About 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers got the wrong tax information from the government, the Obama administration said Friday, and officials are asking those affected to delay filing their 2014 returns.

The tax mistake is a self-inflicted injury that comes on the heels of what President Barack Obama had touted as a successful enrollment season, with about 11.4 million people signed up.

California, which is running its own insurance market, on Thursday announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state.

The errors mean that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their income tax refunds this year. And they could also affect the size of those refunds.

Another 50,000 or so who already filed may have to resubmit their returns.

My late father, a sharp man in many ways, once taught me something about handling employees:

“You can do almost anything you want to people who work for you, but you never, ever screw with their money.”

The same holds true for government and taxpayers; the Fed and California just broke that rule big-time.

Consider: We are all required by law (1) to have health insurance. If we do not, we will be punished. If our insurance is not provided by an employer, we are required, again by law, to buy it on the Obamacare exchanges. In order to afford those policies, now more expensive thanks to the “Affordable” Care Act, the government offers subsidies, the amount of which is determined by various factors, such as income and number of children. And that information has to be provided to the IRS on our tax forms, including whatever information the government provides on these new “1095” forms.  And that information in turn helps determine whether we get a refund, what size it is, or if we wind up owing the government money.

And the government gave out the wrong information.

To a million people. smiley d'oh!

It’s bad enough that people who wanted to file their return and who have almost most certainly scheduled their appointments with overworked tax-prep people will now have to delay their filings (For how long? Can they reschedule with the accountant?), but what about those who have already filed? Now they have no idea whether they get a refund or owe Uncle Sam — surprise!!

And you can bet a good portion of these one million taxpayers, most of them voters, are going to be royally ticked off about this and looking for someone to blame as we get into election season. (2)

Dad was right.

via Iowahawk:

Footnotes:
(1) This anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, that is.
(2) That would be the Democratic Party. Not a single Republican voted for this. In fact, we were screaming like Cassandra that this was a fiasco waiting to happen. Please remember that on election day.


Welcome to tax season, now prepare to give your #Obamacare subsidy back

February 2, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This item has been sitting in my files for a while (1), but, since we’re deep into tax season, it’s still relevant — especially so for people relying on that federal subsidy to help pay for their “affordable” health care:

As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm.

H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal.

While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680).

But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports.

If, like a lot of people, you’re used to getting some sort of a refund, you probably already have an idea of how much you expect and how you plan to spend it. Imagine then how happy these many millions of people will be when they’re told they’re either getting less of a refund, or that they in fact owe money. And, on top of that, their subsidy for the next year will almost certainly be lower, so even more of their money will go to the insurance companies by force of law for coverage that probably isn’t as good as they had before, or at least isn’t what was promised.

That, my friends, is a recipe for angry voters. And, oh, there’s a presidential election warming up, too. Fancy that.

If anything good comes of this fiasco, it will probably be the hard-learned lesson that government is poorly equipped to do more than a certain few tasks and running a huge, massively complicated healthcare system isn’t among them.

Call it another “teachable moment.”

Footnote:
(1) Ancient by Internet standards — a whole month!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Case Against the IRS and the “Progressive” Income Tax

December 16, 2014

Tax reform along the lines of some sort of flat tax or a national sales tax, along with reduction in the size of government, would go a long way towards generating prosperity here again. It would also make statist heads explode — a win-win situation!

International Liberty

Genuine tax reform would be the second-best fiscal policy reform to boost economic growth.*

With a simple and fair tax system, we could get rid of high tax rates that penalize productive behavior. We could eliminate the double taxation that discourages saving and investment. And we could wipe out the rat’s nest of deductions, credits, exemptions, preferences, exclusions, and other loopholes that bribe people into making economically unwise decisions.

When pushing for tax reform, I normally cite the flat tax, but there are many roads that lead to Rome. I’ve also pointed out that other tax reform plans have similar attributes. Here’s what I wrote, for instance, when comparing the flat tax and national sales tax.

In simple terms, a national sales tax (such as the Fair Tax) is like a flat tax but with a different collection point.the two plans are different…

View original post 1,238 more words


Theater of the Absurd: taxes force Spanish theater to sell porn to stay open

December 5, 2014

“Detrás de la puerta verde?”

Here’s another wonderful example of the ridiculous situations created when a bloated, unsustainable social welfare state forces politicians to tax anything and everything they can think of in order to feed the beast. In this case, a Spanish theater that presents the plays of Spain’s “Shakespeare” has to sell pornography to reduce its crippling tax burden:

Crippled by colossal tax rates and falling ticket sales, the Spanish cultural sector is taking creative action to cut its tax bill, including one theatre which has changed its main business to pornography to avoid having to pay high taxes.

The tax charged on cultural performances in Spain has shot up from eight to twenty-one percent since 2011 as the government attempts to balance the books, and has drawn a broader range of products into the local VAT-like ‘sales tax’. Some have noted the uneven application of the new higher taxes, which have hit high culture but not erotica and magazines.

Theatre director Karina Garantivá said: “It’s scandalous when cultural heritage is being taxed at 21 percent and porn at only at 4 percent. Something is wrong”. Her company, which performs works by the “Spanish Shakespeare” Pedro Calderón de la Barca has decided to circumvent the new, punitive taxes by registering as a distributor of pornographic magazines – and is offering free performances.

Punters buying €16 worth of hardcore-swingers magazine Gente Libre from the company receive a ‘free’ ticket to a performance of the highly regarded 17th century comic drama El Mágico Prodigioso.

Garantivá said the law as it stands made theatres feel as if they were “in a straitjacket, suffocated”, and that “We want people to ask what kind of a society makes this kind of decision. That they compare pornography and Calderón … and reach their own conclusions”.

A tax on “cultural performances?” That might make even gentry liberals here howl in outrage.

Ms. Garantivá asks the right question in the above highlight, but I have to wonder if someone raised in Spain’s all-encompassing social welfare system could easily come to the right answer? The problem is welfare statism itself, which spends far more than it can afford and faces continual pressure to spend even more to support an aging population, while dealing with a declining birth rate. The government’s increasing tax demands thus fall on a shrinking tax base, taking more per person. It’s a recipe for economic stagnation at best and collapse at worst. It’s a growing problem confronting much of Europe, but the people most burdened by the taxes often shriek the loudest at any effort to cut taxes and benefits to more rational levels. And we’re not all that far behind.

Meanwhile, you also have to wonder about politicians who tax “Shakespeare” more than smut.


The Overwhelming Case against Capital Gains Taxation

November 2, 2014

How we shoot ourselves in the foot through the punitive taxation of capital gains. In the end, it hurts working people.

International Liberty

According to the bean counters at Ernst and Young, the United States has one of the highest capital gains tax rates in the world.

But if you don’t trust the numbers from a big accounting firm, then you can peruse a study from the pro-tax Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that reaches the same conclusion.

But does this really matter? Is the United States harmed by having a high tax rate?

The Wall Street Journal certainly makes a compelling case that high tax rates on capital gains are self-destructive.

And this remarkable chart shows that workers are victimized when there is less investment.

Let’s add to all this evidence.

Jason Clemens, Charles Lammam, and Matthew Lo have produced a thorough study for the Fraser Institute about the economic impact of capital gains taxation.

A capital gain (or loss) generally refers to the price of an asset when it is…

View original post 857 more words


Canada Shows How to Eliminate the Tax Bias against Saving

October 24, 2014

This will drive lefties who like to point to Canada’s health system as a model for the US crazy, but they’re much more free market-oriented than we are these days in other areas, and they treat savings in a more intelligent fashion. There are some very good ideas in here we should emulate, as well as looking at the Australian and Chilean national pension models as a replacement for the failing Social Security.

International Liberty

Since all economic theories – even Marxism and socialism – recognize that capital formation is a key to long-run growth, higher wages, and improved living standards, it obviously doesn’t make sense to penalize saving and investment.

Yet that’s exactly what happens because of double taxation in the United States, as can be seen by this rather sobering flowchart.

So how can we fix the problem? The best answer, particularly in the long run, is to shrink the burden of government spending so that there’s no pressure for punitive tax policies.

Good reform is also possible in the medium run. Policy makers could implement a big bang version of tax reform, replacing the corrupt internal revenue code with a simple and fair flat tax. That automatically would eliminate the tax bias against saving and investment since one of the key principles of the flat tax is that income…

View original post 1,120 more words