"[In Finland] My tax form had been one page long, and came prefilled with my earnings and taxes paid, including the calculations for amounts owed or refunded. My job was simply to check that everything was correct and amend it if needed.
During my years as a salaried employee, I mostly just looked it over and did nothing."
the Nordic Theory of Everything, In Search of a Better Life: Anu Partanen
"...one economic matter unites just about every member of the Republican party: support for tax cuts, particularly for those at the
top of the income ladder." Paul Krugman
"Inequality is at an all-time high in this country. And the
reason for it, as much as anything, is the tax code, because folks at
the top have far more money to spend than they ever did. I mean, the
tax cuts in the 2000 decade, most of the estimates say $700 billion
was—the rich did not have to pay. And that went straight into the
deficit. And now people at the top, who fund a lot of these think
tanks, they want to cut Social Security, Medicare, other benefits like
that, because they say the deficit is out of control. Well, one of the
reasons we have the deficit is because of the tax cuts." Democracy
Now interview with Barlett and Steele
“It’s not that taxes are far too high for giant
corporations, as the
lobbyists claim. No, the problem is that the revenue generated from
corporate taxes is far too low.”
"In the United States, many working class voters support
promising to lower taxes on the wealthy, despite the fact that
such tax cuts will arguably deprive them of important government
services." Francis Fukuyama in Foreign Affairs 9/2014
No other industrialised country asks its citizens to jump
through as many hoops to calculate their taxes as ours. NY
When the tax code is redrawn so that hedge fund guys pay
less than you do, or corporate bosses pay a lower percentage than their
secretaries, that's winner take all.
Scott Timberg: Killing
the Creative Class
...history is not going to deal kindly with a rich nation
that will not tax itself to cure its miseries. John W Gardner, No Easy
Something happened between the 1950s and today which can
only be described as a mammoth tax break, giveaway, to the richest
Americans. Their top bracket went from 91 percent to 35 percent,
and as Mitt Romney's recent tax disclosure reveals, people who earn
$45 million a year can get it down to 15 percent, because the
system has been revised to serve the rich. So there's no way out of
the conclusion that over the last forty to fifty years the greatest
beneficiaries of tax cuts in the United States were the richest
Americans. Part of the reason the gap between rich and poor has
become so extreme in the U.S. is precisely because of the success
of the rich in buying the political influence needed to reduce
their tax burdens so dramatically. Occupy
the Economy, Challenging Capitalism: Richard Wolff pg 108
Low Taxes, light-touch regulation, weak unions, and
unlimited campaign donations are certainly in the best interest of the
plutocrats, but that doesn't mean they are the right way to maintain the economic system
that created today's super elite. Christia
"Taxes, after all, are the dues that we pay for the privileges of
membership in an organized society." FDR
This Week's George Stephanopoulos did not challenge
Sen. John McCain's assertion that "history shows every time you
have cut capital gains taxes, revenues have increased -- going back
to Jack Kennedy." Stephanopoulos did not note that, notwithstanding
a potential short-term revenue increase, many economists have
challenged the claim that revenue goes up over the long term as a
result of capital gains tax rates being cut. (Full Story)
Government Accountability Office in August 2008 reported that
behind the corporate cries of pain over the tax burdens they are
forced to bear is a startling truth: Between 1998 and 2005,
two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no U.S. income
taxes - zip." From David Korten's Agenda For a New
Economy pg 127
Over time, the United States has expected less and less of
its elite, even as society has oriented itself in a way that is most
likely to maximise their income. The top income-tax rate was 91
percent in 1960, 70 percent in 1980, 50 percent in 1986, 39.6
percent in 2000, and is now 35 percent. Income from investments is
taxed at a rate as low as 15 percent. The mortgage-interest tax
deduction is most generous, of course, to the affluent, and while
it's small potatoes to anyone who makes a good income, so too, is
the savings incentive provided by 401(k) plans. The estate tax,
meanwhile, has been gutted.Don
Peck's book Pinched.
...American workers are treated daily to a steady diet of
the concerns of the very wealthy, with almost never a mention of the
concerns of average workers. And at the top of the list of concerns
of the very wealthy: taxes. From Thom Hartman's book
Threshold pg 135.
...Bloomberg dismissed Warren Buffett's call for tax
fairness as "just theatrics", pointing out, "If Warren Buffett made his money
from ordinary income rather than capital gains, his tax rate would
be a lot higher than his secretary's" That's a good point - which
is exactly why Buffett calls for capital gains and ordinary income
to be taxed at the same rate. From Extra! the Magazine of Fair,
April 15, the day when you pay your taxes, gives you a good
index of how democracy is functioning. If democracy were
functioning effectively, April 15 would be a day of celebration.
That's a day on which we get together to contribute to implementing
the policies that we've decided on. That's what April 15 ought to
be. Here it's a day of mourning. This alien force is coming to
steal your hard-earned money from you. That indicates an extreme
contempt for democracy. And it's natural that a business-run
society and doctrinal system should try to inculcate that belief. Power
Systems: Noam Chomsky pg 159
We need revenue to balance the budget. We need sustainable
clean-tech jobs. We need less dependence on Mideast oil. And we
need to take steps to mitigate climate change ... The easiest way
to do all of this at once is with a gasoline tax or price on
carbon. Would you rather cut Social Security and Medicare or pay a
little more per gallon of gas and make the country stronger, safer
and healthier ? It still amazes me that out politicians have the
courage to send our citizens to war but not to ask the public that
Thomas L. Friedman 9/14/2011 NYT
It won't be a trickle down economy, it will be Niagra up.
Republicans in Congress, in order to pass tax cuts for the wealthy, will pass an austerity budget,
probably block grant programs like Medicaid to the States. That’s the Republican health care plan.
So States will need to either take up some of the burden...or remove services from the most vulnerable.
States, like Connecticut, are already under some stress, so very lean budgets will be even more starved.
Finally it will trickle down to the localities and fall on the property tax.
Services will deteriorate at all levels, there will not be much revenue for decaying infrastructure.
Since we are also facing a climate crisis, the best way to deal with these issues would be a stiff carbon tax.
That would be a robust revenue source, and an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions.
This afternoon, February 10, 2016, I happened to turn on
CSPAN, our best view into what Congress is up to.
Rep Pete Sessions (R Texas) said he is improving government.
He worries that government is spending too much. For example,
he thinks the National Science Foundation is wasteful. It is
funding a musical about climate change, and also spending money
on why people cheat on their taxes. He says these are not in
the national interest. Republicans are always trying to make science
fit their ideology.
Of course, country club Republicans are always engaged in
their favorite sport: avoiding taxes and they have many professionals, lawyers,
accountants, and other consultants to help them. Corporations like Pfizer would
migrate overseas and take their earnings with them to avoid taxes.
GE, world-class polluter, gets subsidies from the government
that give it an effective tax rate of -9%. If I remember my high school
civics, the reason the Articles of Confederation was a failure, was
that it did not provide adequate taxes. It was replaced with the Constitution
that we have today.
The problem remains. Tax cheating
is a problem and Republicans are leaders
in exacerbating it. They are still claiming that tax cuts improve revenue, while
the lessons of the past are to the contrary. Are Republicans destroying
this Constitution also ?
Representative Jim McGovern (D Massachusetts) strongly
opposed the bill to “hamstrung the NSF”. Republicans are concerned about
deficit reduction, but refuse to allow the Budget Director to discuss the
President's budget with them. They have shut down the government three
times without regard for the consequences. U.S. infrastructure is in a
deplorable state, will be increasingly expensive to fix, and is likely
to cause trajedy. Republicans prefer an austeritybudget that will not address the problem.
Climate change is most likely
the most serious threat to life on this planet. Very likely we are beyond the point of no return, yet Republicans deny the science and want to
cut spending for the National Science Foundation.
That is consistent with their short-sighted closure of the Office of
Technololgy Assessment some years ago. They blocked the CIA's study of climate as a
" tax systems skillfully so as to tax bad things,
like pollution and congestion, rather than good things like work and
profit. Not to do so is plain, bad economics." Christine
Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF
Corporations are people...but they don't pay taxes
(6/2015) Ct Governor Malloy's determination to repair infrastructure
resulted in spending cuts, and raised corporate taxes, but large
corporations, members of the CBIA, screamed in pain and threatened to
leave the State.
General Electric cried loudest. From 2008 to 2013, GE profits were over
$33.9 billion in United States, it received a total tax refund of more
than $2.9 billion, for an effective tax rate of -9 percent.. In 2012,
GE stashed $108 billion in offshore tax havens. If this practice were
outlawed, GE would have paid $37.8 billion in federal income taxes that
year. GE has been a leader in outsourcing decent paying jobs to China,
Mexico and other low-wage countries. It is also a leading polluter.
He is a member of the Business Roundtable, a group that wants
to raise the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security to 70, cut Social
Security and veterans’ benefits, increase taxes on working families,
and cut corporate taxes even further.
As Leonna Helmsley said “Only little people pay taxes” and
these Corporations are not little. The lesson we can learn from this: Not
only can you not tax multinationals, they will threaten to leave
if taxpayers don't bribe them to stay. They can open bidding among
States and localities to see who will make them the best offer.
Wouldn't infrastructure be better funded with a higher gasoline tax ? Wouldn't carbon taxes make sense ?
Change tax policy:
Why is it that unearned income is
taxed at a much lower rate than wage income from hard work ? Tax
unearned income instead of payroll taxes. Eliminate Payroll taxes to
put more money into the hands of lower income people and improve
demand. Without sufficient demand, the number of jobs will not increase.
New financial transactions taxes on
high-speed trading, a Tobin Tax, and others to reduce speculation and
its associated volatility.
Raise the inheritance tax so that we
don't get an aristocracy. The
Walton Family (owners of Wal-Mart) are lobbying
mightily to eliminate the estate tax. They stand to gain
$37 billion dollars if and when it is repealed. Many of
their employees are on food stamps.
A stiff graduated income tax would
damp down income inequality, take
back bank bonuses from taxpayer bailouts, trim exorbitant CEO pay, take
back Social Security from people who don't really need it, and
unburden people who are out of work. We had a marginal tax rate
of over 90% under Ike, and the economy did well.
Stop corporate welfare. The fossil fuel industry should not be subsidized.
Considering the dire warnings of climate
scientists, we need to rapidly reduce use of fossil fuels. Impose a carbon tax. Invest in renewables and energy efficiency.
Even though the deficit is one of their main complaints,
country club Republicans favorite sport is
evading taxes. Their accountants and lawyers rely on that to make
their living, but as in other corrupt countries, tax avoidance is a
large part of the problem with deficits. A stiff graduated tax
would solve many problems: It would take care of the obscene
bonuses that bankers gave themselves after the taxpayer bailouts,
it would damp down hedge fund speculation, and it would make
means-testing Social Security
unnecessary. When Ike was President the top marginal tax rate was
around 90%, highly respected executives worked for a dollar a year.
But things have changed since Republicans took the Grover Norquist
pledge. US leadership has failed.
If there is anything that Republicans
agree on it is that taxes
should be flat,
but keep in mind that any flattening is a cut for
the already wealthy. It is regressive
and it exacerbates our already extreme unfairness in income
distribution. Republicans opposed extending the payroll tax cuts which would help working
people, but favor lowering corporate taxes and capital gains taxes.
They are actually tax dodgers in the pocket of oligarchs.
The simple-minded Republican mantra that lower taxes and
smaller government are always better disguises the reality. It is effective
in accelerating income
disparities to extreme levels, removes the tax burden from the
already wealthy, and makes government an ATM machine for the well
Here's the important thing to notice: earnings from hard work
are taxed much more heavily than financial windfalls. That's why Mitt
Romney and Warren Buffett pay a much lower percentage tax rate than do
the vast majority of workers. It's also one of the reasons that income
inequality has grown so rapidly in the U.S. Almost all of the
productiviity gains of the last few decades have gone to a small
fraction of the 1%. Most people would agree that unearned income
should be taxed much more heavily than wages from hard work.
That many forms of unearned income should be more
lightly taxed than earned income may appear incongruous in a country that, according to
the President, sanctifies the work ethic, but the explanation is not
hard to fathom: wealthowners have more political power in America than
nonowners of wealth. The list of tax privileges that wealthowners enjoy
runs the gamut from the petty to the grandiose. The initial advantage
is that taxes on unearned income are not withheld automatically, as are
taxes on wages and salaries. Unearned income is also exempt from social
security and other payroll taxes, which are the fastest growing federal
For example, high-speed trading is a parasitic activity on the
market. A tax on high-speed trading could damp down some of the
economic volatility we experience, It could raise considerable revenue
Students borrowing to pay for higher education should
not pay higher interest rates than banks or taxes on their wages. In
countries with more successful outcomes, education is free.
A carbon tax should replace payroll taxes for everyone
making less than, say, $100,000.
Since US media and elected officials are beholden to big
money, it is a worthwhile investment for large contributors to invest in
the US political process. That is how major corporations
have climbed out from under their tax burdens, how extreme wealth
gets to keep more and more of their stash, why most people (you) will have to pay more, why the
middle class is sinking, and why our government is for the corporations, not the people.
Media, reliably representing the
corporate interest, never mentions advantages of a progressive
tax. The graduated income tax does not burden you when you are
out of work. It can roll back obscene bonuses, improve anemic
demand, level our increasingly poor wealth disparities, damp
speculation, prevent a new aristocracy,
help break politicians dependence on oligarchs, and it is in
the spirit of true Christianity by burdening the already
comfortable and relieving the poor. Under Ike the top marginal rate
was around 90% and the economy was much better.
Both fundamental fairness and sensible economic policy justify
progressivity in the tax code. The progressive income tax lost most
of its progressivity under Republicans
since Eisenhower (the top
marginal rate was round 90%) and the net result has been an
increase in the already poor distribution of income in the US.
elimination of the estate tax (shrewdly labeled the 'death tax' by
Republicans) is yet another tax break for unearned wealth that will
continue our move toward extreme income inequality and aristocracy. This Republican initiative has
the potential to bring back the kind
of feudal aristocracy that this
country's founders abhorred.
Republicans have not made
government smaller, nor have they been fiscally responsible. They
did not pay for the wars that they provoked,
they borrowed massively from third world countries (passing this
debt on to the next generation), and enriched their cronies with
much of the proceeds. How is that different than a banana
Republicans often favor a flat sales tax, sometimes called in
an Orwellian sense the 'Fair
Tax'.. It is backed by very wealthy and, like all other Republican policy, it is
extremely regressive. Be careful what you wish for. It is an
integral part of the Republican scam. We have a distribution of
income worse than that of 1929. Making it worse makes economic collapse more likely and pushes many into debt servitude.
Republican candidates often think that the 'fair tax' (their
words to describe a flat sales tax) is a good idea. It isn't.
It is, actually, a trojan horse for their regressive agenda. It puts tax burden on the
poorest. They would like to 'privatize' Social Security and shred what's left of
the social safety net as well. They ignore the lessons of the great depression. They basically
want to roll back the New Deal.
A financial transaction tax is more fair, stabilizing, and
much better for the economy. More than 40 countries have one. European finance
ministers implemented one on January 1, 2014.
H.R. 1579 proposes a small tax on Wall Street transactions
that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually from banks and
investment firms that recovered thanks to our tax dollars. The tax
would help limit reckless short-term speculation that threatens
financial stability, calm the deficit hawks, and slow the Republican
war on 'entitlements'.
A former Goldman Sachs investment banker pointed out
"High-frequency trades are carried out at 'blinding speeds to the point where 50, 60 or
70 percent are done by 'robo-traders.' This does not give value to the
economy, it damages it."
H.R. 1579 revenue could create jobs, maintain failing
infrastructure, reduce poverty, and even address climate change. We need a different
Congress to pass H.R. 1579.
As inflation proceeds, as it always does, retirees on fixed
incomes find that the value of their homes increase along with their
taxes and pushes them out of their homes especially
quickly along the shoreline. Seniors may have few options for
paying higher taxes considering that inflation in practically
everything else makes the problem worse.
The property tax is regressive, a force for urban sprawl, a
destroyer of undeveloped land, and a patently unfair lever that
forces seniors from their homes. Since the State mandates property
taxes as the main source of school funding, it makes education
dependent on the affluence of each town.
It is no wonder the argument over the town
budget looks like a generational war: Retirees vs
Some Legislators in Florida
have proposed doing away with the property tax as a funding source
for the schools. They have proposed modest increases in the State's
sales tax to provide for school funding. Actually, the sales
tax is fairly regressive also. It hits everyone whether they are
earning or not, so it can depress consumption. Look at it this
way: a relatively poor person will need to spend a large percentage
of his income and his consumption taxes will be much higher by
percentage than the very wealthy who need to consume only a small
part of their income.
The best solution, although at State level, would be to
eliminate the property tax as a funding source for the
schools by replacing it with the graduated income tax. The
income tax hits only people who actually have income...not students
or seniors, and when it is graduated it can put the burden on
those most able to pay. Considering the obscene CEO salaries that
we often hear about, it is only reasonable to tax high earners at
high percentage rates. We used to do this, but Republicans changed it.
The Property Tax should be minimal. It is unfair, subject to
inflation, contributes to urban sprawl, and it is highly
regressive. The graduated income tax falls most on the comfortable
and is, overall, fairest and best for the economy.
Graduated Income Tax
Many States have an income tax that is a percentage of
Federal. The graduated income tax is the fairest and best one to pay
for the town's schools or other State expenses. It is an economic
stabilizer, so it is also best at national level.
It doesn't hit you when you're not working.
It is heaviest for the people who are most comfortable.
It is a solution for those obscene CEO salaries, and
outsized bonuses. Don't conflate greed with incentive. In the Eisenhower
years marginal tax rates could exceed 90 percent. Our finest CEO's,
at that time, were happy to work for $1 a year. Broadcasters then
understood public service obligations.
It leads to more robust demand. The wealthy don't have to
spend as much, by percentage, as the rest of the people do. The
Republican story that they are the 'job creators' ignores the facts
that more jobs have been exported than created by corporate
It puts a damper on the natural tendency to oligarchy and aristocracy.
Excessive speculation creates volatility in the economy and is one
of the causes of cycles of boom and bust. In the 1930's there were
steps taken to damp it down. The Glass-Steagle Act protected
taxpayers from excessive banking risk, but that was rejected in the
zeal to deregulate.
The Tobin Tax
is a tax on speculator's currency transactions. It is a good idea.
Republicans won't hear of it.
Howard Zinn on Taxes and Class War
Invisible Rich By Sam Pizzigati, Too Much: A
on Excess and Inequality Politicians can't seem to
wealthy people when deciding whom to tax. Read more »
Federal Budget Priorities
The Federal budget is probably the
strongest statement of US priorities that we have. In a democracy, It should reflect the wishes of
the people, but, according to polls,
it doesn't. Much better results would result from the People's
Budget, which has been endorsed by Paul Krugman, Dean Baker,
Jeffrey Sachs and even Forbes magazine.
Here's what we have:
Percentage of US discretionary budget spent for military: 57% (since the wars on
Afghanistan were funded in supplementary budget requests, they must
be added to that!)
US Military Budget as a percent of World total military
Percentage of US discretionary budget spent on education
and other social services: 8%
Number of Americans classified as "food insecure" in 2004: 38 million
Number of Americans without health insurance: 45 million
Total direct aid to Israel 1948-2006: $255 billion
Total Cost of US Support for Israel: $1.688 trillion (not
counting money and lives lost in Israel-propelled wars like Iraq,
not counting loss of $trillions in business with the rest of the
world because of US support for Israel etc)
Federal aid for each resident in Louisiana in 2002 (from
their taxes): $1,500
Direct U.S. aid for each Israeli citizen in 2003 (per
capita income in Israel-$16,710; they do not pay taxes to the US): $581
Direct U.S. aid for each Ethiopian citizen in 2004 (per capita income in Ethiopia - $110): $2.50
Percentage of U.S. foreign aid that goes to Israel: 27%
Population of Israel as percentage of total world population: 0.1%
Number of Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces (2000-2007): 814
Total number of Palestinians injured or killed (September 2000-April 2007): 31,296
Number of bullets fired by Israeli security forces in the first week of the second Intifada: 1,300,000
Number of unexploded Israeli bombs strewn across South Lebanon after the 2006 war: 1,000,000 or 1.4 per resident
Not Broke (1 hour and 20 minutes) Watch it free on-line.
America is in the grip of a societal economic panic. Lawmakers cry
“We’re Broke!” as they slash budgets, lay off
schoolteachers, police, and firefighters, crumbling our
country’s social fabric and leaving many Americans scrambling
to survive. Meanwhile, multibillion-dollar American corporations
like Exxon, Google and Bank of America are making record profits.
And while the deficit climbs and the cuts go deeper, these
corporations—with intimate ties to our political
leaders—are concealing colossal profits overseas to avoid
paying U.S. income tax.
WE’RE NOT BROKE is the story of how U.S. corporations have
been able to hide over a trillion dollars from Uncle Sam, and how
seven fed-up Americans from across the country, take their
frustration to the streets . . . and vow to make the corporations
pay their fair share.