Tag Archives | Taxation

Vatican Told to Pay Taxes as Italy Tackles Budget Crisis

VaticanIf you missed this one, what’s this whole “accountability” thing about when it comes to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? Michael Day reports in the Independent:

After several years of scandal in which the Catholic Church has faced allegations of financial impropriety, paedophile priests and rumours of plots to kill the Pope, the Vatican is now facing a new €600m-a-year tax bill as Rome seeks to head off European Commission censure over controversial property tax breaks enjoyed by the Church.

As the EC heads closer to officially condemning the fiscal perks enjoyed by the Catholic Church and introduced by the Berlusconi administration, Prime Minister Mario Monti has written to the Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, saying that the Vatican will resume property tax, or Ici, payments.

Mr Almunia said in 2010 that the exemption amounted to state aid that might breach EU competition law. A parliamentary proposal by the Italian Radicals party last August to repeal the exemption, with a successful petition on Facebook, upped the pressure.

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With $666,000 in Federal Research Money, Scientists Determined Prayer Could Not Heal AIDS

PrayerTrine Tsouderos reports in the Chicago Tribune:

Thanks to a $374,000 taxpayer-funded grant, we now know that inhaling lemon and lavender scents doesn’t do a lot for our ability to heal a wound. With $666,000 in federal research money, scientists examined whether distant prayer could heal AIDS. It could not.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine also helped pay scientists to study whether squirting brewed coffee into someone’s intestines can help treat pancreatic cancer (a $406,000 grant) and whether massage makes people with advanced cancer feel better ($1.25 million). The coffee enemas did not help. The massage did.

NCCAM also has invested in studies of various forms of energy healing, including one based on the ideas of a self-described “healer, clairvoyant and medicine woman” who says her children inspired her to learn to read auras. The cost for that was $104,000.

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Is Fire Protection a Right or a Privilege?

FirefightingYou might have heard about this Tennessee couple lost their home as firefighters watched. John McQuaid asks in Forbes:

As tax revenues have fallen over the past three years of recession, and austerity became the default policy of local governments, the public sector has been steadily hemorrhaging employees and cutting back on services. This is kind of a shadow recession, its effects lagging behind the first and putting a drag on the recovery. Most of us get by on a patchwork of public and private services, with overlapping responsibilities: the fire department (paid for with tax revenues, usually) will put out the fire, while most homeowners have insurance to pay for the damages. These days, both the public and private ends of this arrangement are fraying badly, and gaps are opening up. As the story notes, this is the second time firefighters in South Fulton have let a house burn because the owner didn’t pay the $75 fee.

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The Gift That (We) Keep(s) on Giving: Through January 2013

“Demand a property tax on idle wealth.  Demand it NOW.” —Liam McGonagle

“Seriously, do you expect a better opportunity to extract concessions from your enemies than when they lay begging, bleeding at your feet?” Liam McGonagle

In case you were in the washroom when ‘Jersey Shore’ was interrupted with this late-breaking newstory:  Ben Bernancke just committed the U.S. to provide the European Central Bank (“ECB”) with an unlimited line of credit.

That’s right, a brand new bailout.  Structurally along the lines that Business Insider had warned us about in September, but much more ambitious; that article had postulated a trifling $1 trillion, not the bottomless pit we’re actually being presented with.

The basic deal is that we hand dollars over to the ECB in exchange for Euros, the value of which, has become highly dubious to say the least. The ECB will in turn invest those dollars in large corporate banks to bolster balance sheets they themselves ruined through reckless underwriting practices and constant pressures for tax holidays and austerity measures.… Read the rest

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Who Wasted $13 Million Policing Occupy Protests?

OWS & NYPD

Photo: David Shankbone (CC)

Natalie W and Aaron Cynic write at Diatribe Media:

At present, estimates from various cities across North America have highlighted various operational costs of policing Occupy movements in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. According to officials surveyed by the Associated Press, Occupy Wall Street has cost New York City a reported $7 million, Occupy Oakland $2.4 million, Occupy Portland at least $785,000, and those numbers continue to grow as cities continue to deploy riot police to raid or destroy various Occupy encampments. Some may argue that the nationwide Occupy movements waste taxpayer money by tying up police resources in attempts to assemble in public spaces. The argument is flawed, however. City administrations make the choice to spend money on policing Occupy protests.

The mass arrests at peaceful demonstrations prove how removed government is from the needs of its people and how determined it is to silence or ignore the very people it has been created to protect.… Read the rest

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Congress Starts Pushing an Online Sales Tax

Tax FreeTen U.S. Senators are now proposing a “Marketplace Fairness Act,” which creates a new system letting states collect sales taxes from purchases made online. “It’s about closing a tax loophole,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, part of a bipartisan coalition which has already introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Strangely, Amazon has just issued a press release saying they support the bill, calling it “a win-win resolution,” according to one Kindle blog, though they may just be hoping to lobby for exemptions from each individual state.

“Instead of a national sales tax, these new taxes will only be imposed at the individual discretion of each separate state legislature, and that’s an area where multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon can still exert a lot of pressure.… Read the rest

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OccupyWallStreet Protesters Start March To Washington, D.C.

Occupy CongressReports the AP via NPR:

Flanked by police scooters, about two dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters started a two-week walk from New York to Washington on Wednesday.

The activists left Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, marched past the World Trade Center site and boarded a ferry to New Jersey. They plan to walk through Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland and arrive in Washington by Nov. 23 — the deadline for a congressional committee to decide whether to keep President Obama’s extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Protesters say the cuts benefit only rich Americans.

Michael Glazer, 26, an actor from Chicago, smiled as he boarded the ferry across the Hudson River, cheered by supporters shouting, “Thank you!” Walking in well-worn boots, he said: “I’ve had these for years and years, and they’ve served me well for many miles of marches.”

They hope to pick up other participants along their 240-mile march and have likened the effort to long-distance walks during the civil rights era.

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Occupy Wall Street: Protesting Taxation Without Representation?

Gadsden FlagJohn Atcheson writes on CommonDreams:

When government gives banks and Wall Street some $12.8 trillion of the taxpayer’s hard-earned money in direct funds, guarantees and near zero interest loans, and the fat cats turn around and spend it on bonuses and high-risk investments rather than fixing the real economy for the 99% who have been affected, don’t ask why people are angry.  Especially when not a single bankster or speculator has been busted for a plethora of real crimes, while people lose their homes to improperly documented foreclosures.When the one-percenters and their bought-and-paid-for government pass a faux financial reform bill that doesn’t actually change the way things are done in the Banks’ boardrooms or on Wall Street and people take to the streets, how can that be a mystery?

And yes, that means you, too, Clinton, Obama and the Democratic Party.  Your abject collusion with the one-percenters, while spouting populist rhetoric every four years, is in some ways more worthy of disdain than the Republicans’ outright embrace of the 1% Doctrine.

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First U.S. State Capital Ever To File for Bankruptcy: Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PAAmerica (in this case, Pennsylvania), Fuck YA! AFP via Google reports:

Pennsylvania’s state capital Harrisburg has declared bankruptcy, according to a court filing seen on Wednesday, raising the specter of a string of local defaults across the United States.

The city — whose finances have been ravaged by the costs of upgrading a once-mothballed trash incinerator — filed late Tuesday to seek protection from creditors. The city reportedly owes around $310 million.

According to the Bankruptcy Court filing, Harrisburg has between one and 49 creditors. It also reported a roughly equal amount of assets and liabilities, in the range of $100-500 million.

The state of Pennsylvania had tried to force Harrisburg to sell off those assets in order to pay bondholders, but the city council reportedly voted by a margin of four to three on Tuesday to opt for bankruptcy. The result is a rare, but not unexpected, US municipal bankruptcy amid a faltering economy.

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