Tag Archives | Taxes

Why Are So Many People Renouncing United States Citizenship?

241px-United_States_penny,_obverse,_2002There’s been a massive amount of fretting over the ethics of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s renunciation of his U.S. citizenship (which the Brazilian native gained roughly 15 years ago).

Various scandalized headlines have mentioned that he’s just one of 1,800 other Americans to give up citizenship last year, up from 235 in 2008, while others have speculated that it’s a cynical move to avoid taxes resulting from a massive capital gain when Facebook shares become publicly traded. Saverin has been savaged in the media and on the social web, but in fact it turns out that this cannot be a tax-saving move. Any ideas as to why Saverin and the other ex-Americans gave up the benefits of Uncle Sam’s protections?

Tom Worstall explains why Saverin will actually owe more taxes in Forbes:

Eduardo Saverin, one of the founders and major shareholders in Facebook, has renounced his US citizenship just before the company’s IPO.

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Legalizing Pot Would Raise More Revenue Than Buffett Rule

Medical-marijuana-signPhilip Klein makes a good economic case for legalization of marijuana, writing for the Washington Examiner:

Over the past week, President Obama spent time promoting the Buffett Rule surtax on millionaires and paid a visit to Colombia in which he reiterated his opposition to legalizing drugs. Though the two issues were unrelated, it’s worth remarking that legalizing drugs would actually do more to reduce deficits than implementing the Buffett Rule.

The Buffett tax, which failed to advance in the Senate last night, would have raised $5.1 billion in 2013 (theoretically its first full year of implementation), according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Yet a 2010 study by the libertarian Cato Institute found that legalizing marijuana alone would save the federal government $3.3 billion in reduced enforcement expenditures per year and raise an additional $5.8 billion in revenue assuming it would be taxed. If all drugs were legalized, the study estimated it would save the federal government $15.6 billion a year and raise an additional $31.2 billion in revenue — for a total of $46.8 billion.

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Why Booze Is Barely Taxed

Photo: Clock (CC)

Photo: Clock (CC)

Now you might think that’s a crazy headline, but as Frank Bruni points out in the New York Times, “Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, [and] the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent”! (Disinfonauts outside the US, let us know how alcohol is taxed in your country)

… excise taxes on alcohol have gone down over the last few decades, when adjusted for inflation and measured in terms of the percentage they represent of the wholesale and retail price of a bottle or a can. The federal government and many states long ago set those levies in terms of a certain dollar amount per gallon — and then didn’t tweak them much as the cost of living went up.

Because Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent, said Alexander Wagenaar, a professor at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine who specializes in alcohol research.

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Seven Big Economic Lies

Do tax cuts for the rich trickle down to the rest of us? And does taxing the rich hurt the economy? Is Social security a Ponzi scheme? Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, presents his list of seven popular-wisdom economic claims that are untrue. Feel free to debate.
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Large US Corporations Have Tax Rates As Low As -58%

Day 12 Occupy Wall Street September 28 2011 Shankbone 30And the media wonders why the 99% are angry? From MarketWatch:

The official federal corporate income tax rate in the U.S. is 35%, but plenty of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies are paying no taxes — even getting money back from the government in some cases — in years when they reap big profits, according to a new report.

Thirty of the 280 Fortune 500 companies studied paid zero in federal income taxes or enjoyed tax rebates in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the study by the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington-based nonprofit research and advocacy group, and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group.

And 78 of the 280 companies paid nothing in federal income taxes or enjoyed a tax rebate in at least one of those years. Those 78 companies, including General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) and Pepco Holdings Inc.

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Denmark Becomes First Nation With Tax On Fat In Food

5e75127e132dd772d5690399b691a022Is Denmark’s new fat tax a just response to the societal problems caused by obesity? Or is it sweet, buttery tyranny? Via the BBC:

Denmark has introduced what is believed to be the world’s first fat tax – a surcharge on foods that are high in saturated fat. Butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food are now subject to the tax if they contain more than 2.3% saturated fat.

Some consumers began hoarding to beat the price rise, while some producers call the tax a bureaucratic nightmare.

Danish officials say they hope the new tax will help limit the population’s intake of fatty foods.

However, some scientists think saturated fat may be the wrong target. They say salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates are more detrimental to health and should be tackled instead.

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Warren Buffett: ‘Stop Coddling the Super-Rich’

Photo: Mark Hirschey

Photo: Mark Hirschey (CC)

Billionaire Buffett sounds off in the New York Times:

Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.

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A Tax On Unhealthy Foods?

Source: New York Times

Source: New York Times

The New York Times‘ Mark Bittman proposes a tax on junk food. What do you think – is he right?

What will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.)

Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives.

And — not inconsequential during the current struggle over deficits and spending — a sane diet could save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs.

Yet the food industry appears incapable of marketing healthier foods. And whether its leaders are confused or just stalling doesn’t matter, because the fixes are not really their problem.

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Secret CIA Prisons And Counterterrorism Sites In Somalia

CIASomaliaThere has been news recently of CIA operated secret prisons in Somalia, as well as sites with counterterrorism training for Somali intelligence agencies. Have these secret sites been funded by US tax payers? Via AlterNet:

Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. Adjacent to the compound are eight large metal hangars, and the CIA has its own aircraft at the airport. The site, which airport officials and Somali intelligence sources say was completed four months ago, is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.

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The Final Nail In The Supply Side Coffin

md_horizTaxes are low and corporate profits are high, but nothing is trickling down to the American worker.

If politicians are going to continue kowtowing to every whim of the rich, can they at least think of a new excuse? Via Salon:

The theory of supply-side economics tells us that if you cut taxes on rich people and corporations, the moguls and businessmen will take their windfall and invest it, creating jobs and accelerating the rate of economic growth. The benefits of a light hand on the upper class, therefore, will “trickle down” to the working man and woman.

Ever since Ronald Reagan first attempted to make supply-side economics a reality and proceeded to inaugurate an era of persistent government deficits and growing income inequality, it has become harder and harder to make the trickle-down argument with a straight face. But we’ve never seen anything quite like the disaster that’s playing out right now.

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