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  Quotations - Tax  
[Quote No.36031] Need Area: Money > Tax
"All government spending represents a tax. The inflation tax, while largely ignored, hurts middle-class and low-income Americans the most. Simply put, printing money to pay for federal spending dilutes the value of the dollar, which causes higher prices for goods and services. Inflation may be an indirect tax, but it is very real — the individuals who suffer most from cost of living increases certainly pay a 'tax.' Unfortunately no one in Washington, especially those who defend the poor and the middle class, cares about this subject. Instead, all we hear is that tax cuts for the rich are the source of every economic ill in the country. Anyone truly concerned about the middle class suffering from falling real wages, under-employment, a rising cost of living, and a decreasing standard of living should pay a lot more attention to monetary policy. Federal spending, deficits, and Federal Reserve mischief hurt the poor while transferring wealth to the already rich [because they own more assets that rise with inflation]. This is the real problem, and raising taxes on those who produce wealth will only make conditions worse. Borrowing money to cut the deficit is only marginally better than raising taxes. It may delay the pain for a while, but the cost of government eventually must be paid. Federal borrowing means the cost of interest is added, shifting the burden to a different group than those who benefited and possibly even to another generation. Eventually borrowing is always paid for through taxation. The third option is for the Federal Reserve to create credit to pay the bills Congress runs up. Nobody objects, and most Members hope that deficits don't really matter if the Fed accommodates Congress by creating more money [euphemistically called 'quantitative easing']. Besides, interest payments to the Fed are lower than they would be if funds were borrowed from the public, and payments can be delayed indefinitely merely by creating more credit out of thin air to buy U.S. treasuries. No need to soak the rich. A good deal, it seems, for everyone. But is it? The 'tax' is paid when prices rise as the result of a depreciating dollar. Savers and those living on fixed or low incomes are hardest hit as the cost of living rises. Low- and middle-incomes families suffer the most as they struggle to make ends meet while wealth is literally transferred from the middle class to the wealthy [as inflation drives up the nominal value of their assets]. Government officials stick to their claim that no significant inflation exists, even as certain necessary costs are skyrocketing and incomes are stagnating. The transfer of wealth comes as savers and fixed-income families lose purchasing power, large banks benefit, and corporations receive plush contracts from the government — as is the case with military contractors. These companies use the newly printed money before it circulates, while the middle class is forced to accept it at face value later on. This becomes a huge hidden tax on the middle class, many of whom never object to government spending in hopes that the political promises will be fulfilled and they will receive some of the goodies. But surprise — it doesn't happen. The result instead is higher prices for prescription drugs, energy, and other necessities. The freebies never come. The moral of the story is that spending is always a tax. The inflation tax, though hidden, only makes things worse. Taxing, borrowing, and inflating...in an effort to pay for profligate government spending, can never make a nation wealthier. But it certainly can make it poorer." - Dr. Ron Paul
Doctor and Republican member of the US Congress from Texas, July 18, 2006.
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[Quote No.36066] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[Who said that big business, usually mulitinationals, can't manipulate the current tax system, in the following quote about United States of America domiciled businesses? Therefore it is understandable that ordinary people want a tax system that is more equitable to all, not withstanding the immense contribution to the improving quality of life and standard of living they make through jobs, etc.] ...Then there was this from Accounting Today. A dozen multinational corporations paid an effective tax rate of negative 1.5 percent on billions of dollars in profits while reaping billions in taxpayer subsidies. A new study by the advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice identified the 12 companies as American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, General Electric, Honeywell International, IBM, United Technologies, Verizon Communications, Wells Fargo and Yahoo. Together they reported $171 billion in profits over the 2008 to 2010 period, while getting $62.4 billion in tax subsidies." - Chuck Butler
President, EverBank World Markets. Published in the currency investment newsletter that EverBank produces, called 'A Pfennig For Your Thoughts' [and emailed as 'The Daily Phennig', Friday, June 03, 2011].
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[Quote No.36086] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[Consider the hidden inflation tax on investments, in countries where capital gains on investments in gold bullion, shares, real estate, etc. are not inflation adjusted. In countries where it is adjusted by the average inflation over the ownership period as stated by government figures you only pay tax on the profit above the inflation adjusted price. A useful rule to know to roughly work out the effect of inflation or compound interest is 'The rule of 72'. If you divide 72 by the inflation rate per annum or the compound interest rate per annum over the time period, it will tell you the number of years for inflation or the interest to double the nominal value of the asset. So if inflation were running at 10% per annum on average then in 7.2 years you would need to have doubled your original nominal value just to have the same purchasing power, if it was running at 7.2% p.a. then in 10 years, 5% p.a. then in 14.4 years, 2.5% p.a. then in 28.8 years, etc.] Hidden Gold Taxes: The Secret Weapon Of Bankrupt [inflationary policy setting] Governments: Overview: What if there was a hidden tax that most gold and silver investors were simply unaware of? A tax where the government would take a big chunk of your starting net worth if gold went to $2,000 an ounce, leaving you poorer than you started with? A tax that rises with inflation, so that $100,000 an ounce gold could cripple your net worth? This tax already exists, as we will demonstrate in step by step detail using three easy to follow examples. All but a few investors are unaware of this tax and its devastating implications. Simply put, when we assume that gold acts as 'real money' and perfectly maintains its purchasing power during rapid inflation, then the higher that the rate of inflation rises, the higher the percentage of the average gold investor’s starting net worth that ends up belonging to the government. Knowledge is power. Conversely, a time of severe monetary crisis could be the most dangerous time in our lifetimes to be uninformed. Investors who are unaware of this profoundly unfair tax, or who choose to ignore it, necessarily become helpless victims of the government [that encourages inflation to make it easier for it to pay its debts and future financial promises. For example, by fiscal policies that ran up deficits requiring borrowing or monetary policies from the central bank that involved 'quantitative easing' or money 'printing', or keeping interest rates lower than a free market would set to balance supply and demand]. When investors become aware of perhaps the number one danger to long term precious metals investment, and adapt their strategies to deal with this danger – then they can unlock the true investment power of gold during times of currency crisis. And turn potential $10,000 or $100,000 an ounce gold prices into the once-in-several-generation wealth creation opportunities that they should be. $2,000 An Ounce Gold: In the first step of our illustration, we will consider a situation and how it affects the life savings of two investors. The situation is that 50% of the value of the dollar gets destroyed by inflation [that is the purchasing power nominal value would double in that time. Refer 'The Rule of 72' above]. This is not a radical assumption, as with modern symbolic or fiat currencies the value of money is always destroyed by inflation. The only question is one of speed, and if we look at the United States, 80% of the value of the dollar was destroyed by inflation between 1972 and 2007 as measured by official government statistics. [A period of 35 years which therefore means the inflation rate was 2% p.a. using 'The Rule of 72'.] For this illustration we will assume there is a smaller loss in value of the dollar, but that it happens much faster – because the US is in much worse shape right now than it was in 1972 in some key ways. Kate is well educated, keeps up with the newspapers, and is concerned that the global financial crisis may get worse. So she liquidates her riskier investments, and to play it 'safe', moves her money into a $100,000 money market account. For our illustration we will assume Kate's money is safe – but the value of her money is not protected. Inflation destroys 50% of the value of the dollar. Kate still has her full $100,000, but it will now only buy what $50,000 used to. Kate has lost 50% of the value of her investments to inflation (for simplicity, we’re leaving out assumptions on interim money market interest payments)[but in real life this is very important because you want the interest rates after tax to be higher than inflation and then reinvest them to keep up with or better inflation]. Jack also reads the mainstream media, but reads more widely as well, and believes that high inflation is the logical outcome of the financial crisis [and the government's deliberately inflationary fiscal and monetary policy responses]. Jack therefore takes his $100,000 and buys 100 ounces of gold at $1,000 an ounce (using round numbers for ease of illustration). We will assume that gold performs exactly like many investors hope it will. That is, it acts like 'real' money and maintains its purchasing power in inflation-adjusted terms. Now, if the dollar is only worth half of what it used to be, and gold does maintain its purchasing power, there is only one way for gold to do so, and that is for gold to sell for twice the number of dollars per ounce than it did before. Therefore, gold goes from $1,000 an ounce to $2,000 an ounce. Those dollars are only worth fifty cents (in today's terms), so we multiply $2,000 times 50%, and we end up with $1,000. Jack's 100 ounces of gold at $2,000 each will buy exactly same amount of real consumption, of real goods and services, as gold used to buy for him at $1,000 an ounce. Some would say that this is an example of a perfectly successful inflation hedge, where gold has performed exactly like it is supposed to... Adding Taxes: Through placing her money in what is conventionally considered one of the safest possible investments, during a time of high inflation, Kate has lost 50% of her net worth [as measure by its purchasing power rather than its nominal value]. This is terrible, of course, but at least she should be able to get a nice tax deduction out of this $50,000 loss. Except that when it comes time to fill in her tax return, she starts with $100,000 in her money market fund, and ends with $100,000 in principal in her money market fund. As far as the government is concerned -- there is no loss to be deducted [if they don't allow tax-adjustment in calculating tax due]. Kate still has every dollar she started with. Jack decides to lock in his gains by selling his gold investment, redeploy most of his newfound wealth into some new investments, and maybe take a little out to reward himself for having made such a brilliant investment. When it comes time for Jack to fill in his tax return, it shows that he bought his gold for $100,000 and he sold it for $200,000, thereby generating a $100,000 profit. Effectively, the government looks at Jack's having dodged the its destruction of the value of the nation's money, and says 'Great move Jack, you made a lot of money! Now give us our share.' Even in bullion form, gold is currently taxed as a 'collectible' in the US, with a 28% capital gains tax rate, or almost twice the long-term capital gains tax rate on investments that the financial industry and government prefer. We’ll call it 30% to allow for some state capital gains taxes, and to keep the numbers round. However, this rate is not sufficient to cover government spending, as the federal government is currently running enormous deficits, as are the states and municipalities (particularly when we take into account not only declining tax collections but the pension fund crisis)[in the US in 2010]. So it is reasonable to expect potentially much higher taxes in the not-too-distant future, both in the US and other nations. For illustration purposes then, we will assume a 50% future combined capital gains tax rate on gold – which is not unrealistically high from a historical perspective. So for Jack... paying a 50% tax rate on $100,000 in profits means $50,000 in required tax payments, and subtracting those taxes leaves Jack with $150,000. Our final step is to adjust for a dollar being worth 50 cents [of the original purchasing power], so we multiply $150,000 by 50%, and we find that Jack's net worth after-inflation and after-tax has fallen to $75,000 [in the original dollar's purchasing power terms]. When it comes to what matters, the purchasing power of what our money will buy for us, then Jack didn’t double his money, instead he lost a quarter of what he started with. Jack just met what are known as 'inflation taxes'. And they ran him over. Turning Gold Into Lead: From a gold investor’s perspective, $2,000 an ounce gold may seem like a dream come true. And when we look at the results, $100,000 turning into $200,000, gold does look like a great investment. Until we remember that the reason gold went to $2,000 an ounce was because of inflation [at least in this example but some times it could rise faster than inflation due to demand exceeding supply and driving the price up faster in what is called a gold bull market which often becomes a bubble and bursts causing untold financial damage to those who didn't realise they were late to the party and were overpaying] and we adjust our investment results for inflation. We break even. While not a net improvement relative to today, this outcome is highly desirable compared to what happened to Kate. Gold did indeed act as 'real money'. Unfortunately, we then run into one of the most deeply unfair and little understood aspects of inflation and investing in anticipation of inflation. Government fiscal [and monetary] policy destroys the value of our dollars. Government tax policy does not recognize what government fiscal [and monetary] policy does, and is [deliberately?] blind to inflation. This blindness means that attempts to keep up with inflation generate very real and whopping tax payments, on what is from an economic perspective, imaginary income. These taxes turn gold from a shimmering dream to a lead weight around our neck, and mean even a successful inflation hedge can lead to a devastating loss in net worth in after-tax and after-inflation terms. So how do we deal with this lead weight of inflation taxes around our neck, trying to pull us down under the water? Does all of this mean that we just need to swim harder, to try to overcome taxes? $5,000 An Ounce Gold: What if gold goes much higher than $2,000 an ounce? What if the dollar falls in value to twenty cents, and we assume that gold again performs as a perfect inflation hedge, and keeps its value? If the dollar drops to 1/5 its value, then the only way gold can keep up is to rise to 5X the dollar price, which means $5,000 an ounce gold. First let's take a quick look at Kate. She still has $100,000 in her money market account, each of those dollars are now worth twenty cents, and the real value of Kate's 'safe' investment is now down to $20,000. Kate has taken an 80% hit to the purchasing power of her net worth. Meanwhile, Jack has enjoyed some fantastic investment results from his investment acumen. With 100 ounces of gold at $5,000 an ounce, Jack is now half way to being a millionaire! Jack is ecstatic, at least until he tries to spend some of that half million dollars, and finds out what it will buy for him after he has paid his taxes. Let's repeat our chart from above, but with gold at $5,000 an ounce. When it's time to file his tax return, Jack now has a $400,000 profit to report. Jack therefore has to write the government a check for $200,000 for taxes due, leaving him with $300,000. When we adjust for a dollar being worth twenty cents, then Jack's real after-inflation and after-tax net worth, what he can buy in today's dollar terms after paying the government, is down to $60,000 [of his original purchasing power]. The difference between gold going to $5,000 an ounce, and gold going to $2,000 an ounce, is that Jack loses more of his real net worth. Jack loses 40% of the purchasing power of his net worth at $5,000 an ounce instead of 25%. The lead weight of inflation taxes is still around Jack's neck, heavier than ever, trying to pull him and his net worth deeper and deeper underwater. Perhaps Jack just isn't working hard enough, and he is going to have to swim like a wild man if he's going to stay afloat, as he will not only have to outpace inflation, but also inflation taxes. $100,000 An Ounce Gold: Let's explore what happens if there is hyperinflation and a dollar becomes worth a penny. For Kate, the situation becomes even bleaker as the $100,000 in her money market account will now only buy what $1,000 used to. Kate has lost 99% of her net worth [original purchasing power] to inflation. Instead of a comfortable nest egg for retirement, she is impoverished, as are the many millions of others who were not prepared for hyperinflation. If gold (or silver) serves as 'real money', and maintains its purchasing power even as paper money collapses, then to offset a dollar becoming worth 1/100th of what it used to, gold must climb to a dollar value that is 100X greater than what it was. So gold must go to $100,000 an ounce in order to maintain the same purchasing power as $1,000 an ounce gold today. Once again, we're assuming that gold acts as a perfect inflation hedge. Jack's 100 ounces of gold are now worth a cool $10 million! Jack decides to sell his gold, lock-in his profits, and then start enjoying his new status as one of the ultra-wealthy. As illustrated below, Jack sells his gold for a whopping $9.9 million profit. The government looks at his profit, and demands its $4,950,000 share. This still leaves Jack a millionaire multiple times over, as he has $5,050,000 in after-tax proceeds. Until we adjust for that technicality of a dollar only being worth a penny [in relation to his dollar's original purchasing power]. And we find that instead of entering the ranks of the ultra-wealthy, Jack's net worth on an after-tax and after-inflation basis has fallen by almost 50%, from $100,000 to $50,500 [in its original purchasing power]. Jack has made one of the most brilliant market timing moves of all time. But the end result is that he loses almost half of his starting net worth in purchasing power terms. What's going on? The Better You Do, The Worse You Do: Something seems seriously, seriously wrong here. Jack bets his net worth that inflation will skyrocket, and he buys an inflation hedge in the form of gold. His prediction comes true, a high rate of inflation does occur, and his gold investment does perform as a perfect inflation hedge. Yet the ending bottom-line is that Jack loses a big chunk of the value of his starting net worth. And the better that the gold performs and the more spectacular his returns -- the bigger the chunk of his real net worth that Jack loses. ...When Jack earns a 100% profit -- he loses 25% of his net worth. When Jack earns a 400% profit -- he loses 40% of his net worth. When Jack earns a 9900% profit -- he loses 50% of his net worth. A Pervasive & Difficult Problem: Inflation taxes are a basic fact of life which investors pay every year when there is inflation. These taxes are entirely real and are deeply painful when we look at the world in terms of what really matters – which is not the dollar amount of our savings, but what our savings will buy for us [their purchasing power]. Real as they are, however, inflation taxes are not a line item on our tax returns. There's no box that we check that says go to form '30236 IT' to calculate our inflation taxes. [Actually in some countries with some investments there are. In Australia the real estate price is adjusted for inflation and any profit above or loss below is taken into account when calculating tax due.] There is no check we write that’s specifically made out to inflation taxes. There's never any discussion in the newspapers or magazines about how much money the average investor pays every year in inflation taxes. So if almost nobody sees inflation taxes or talks about them – do they exist at all? This may be a good time for a pop quiz of sorts. If you are skeptical, the examples of Jack and Kate were kept very simple for a reason. Go back through the basic illustrations, and try to disprove them. Now, you can change how the price of gold moves relative to the destruction of the dollar, and you can change the tax rate – but there’s no room for anything else. Do you agree that the numbers work? This 'quiz' is self-graded, but your 'score' could be essential for your future. Because if our future is one of high inflation, then whether and how you deal with inflation taxes may be one of the biggest determinants of your personal standard of living for decades to come. Inflation taxes are irrefutable. Whenever you look at investment results on an after-tax and after-inflation basis in an environment of inflation, then inflation taxes make their ugly appearance. However, while our illustration of Jack and Kate was not all that complicated to follow, the numbers involved are just sophisticated enough where they are rarely acknowledged in conventional personal finance. That combination of just a slight bit of sophistication, with never explicitly appearing on a tax return, means that likely in excess of 99% of the general population is blissfully unaware of inflation taxes. Let me suggest that a big whopping tax that 99% of voters are blind to represents major opportunity for the government. An opportunity that has been fully taken advantage of by governments, even if the average senator, representative or member of parliament has no better understanding than the general public. Indeed... when we take inflation taxes into account, then the real tax rate on investments in the US has historically been about 256% higher than the statutory rates. History is bad enough, but as we illustrated with Jack and Kate, the higher the rate of inflation – the worse inflation taxes get. Staying ahead of inflation is hard enough. But even trying to tread water, to stay even with inflation, becomes extremely difficult when you have the lead weight of inflation taxes around your neck, pulling you down. The higher the rate of inflation, the heavier the weight of inflation taxes and the more difficult they are to overcome. This is true [in the US] for such traditional inflation hedges as gold and silver. It's also true for real estate. As it is true for stocks. Indeed, almost any traditional inflation hedge has difficulty in reaching the break-even point on an after-inflation and after-tax basis when we take into account the pervasive problem of hidden inflation taxes. Reversing Inflation Taxes & Creating Wealth: There are two very sad aspects to what we covered in this article. Unlike most of their peers, millions of responsible, knowledgeable people are seeing through the soothing, complacent illusions created by the government and Wall Street. They understand the grave threat to the value of their money and their investments. They are moving to the real tangible protection of gold and other precious metals. Unfortunately, in the process, they are setting themselves up for victim status as illustrated in this article. Yes, the 'Jacks' of the world are likely to do far, far better than the 'Kates', but despite the dizzying numbers involved with how high gold can go with a truly high rate of inflation -- when we look to what our investments will buy for us after we've paid our taxes, our status is still that of a victim. The other sad aspect is that this simply doesn't have to be. There are two things that gold does spectacularly well during times of financial and monetary crisis. Using these properties of gold, with a monetary crisis of historic proportions, a gold investor can come to the crisis not just with their net worth intact but possibly even having built wealth on a multigenerational scale. But let me suggest that achieving this result on an uninformed basis, without fully understanding the issues discussed in today's article, will be a matter of rather unlikely good fortune. There is a better path. Study. Learn. Invest in your intellectual capital. As covered in my 'Gold Out Of The Box' materials, let gold do what gold does best. Let gold provide safety and security for you. Unleash the wealth creating abilities of gold during peak inflation to multiply your real wealth. But don't rely on gold as an inflation hedge and don't ignore inflation taxes. To have a chance of beating inflation taxes, we not only have to realize they exist, but we need to thoroughly understand our opponent. Our opponent is an enormously powerful government that is deliberately blind to the effects of inflation. Government fiscal policy destroys the value of our money. Government tax policy is officially blind to inflation. So a crushing hidden tax is created that keeps us from maintaining the purchasing power of our savings, with our attempts to survive the deadly effects of inflation merely acting to increase government tax revenues." - Daniel Amerman
A financial author, Chartered Financial Analyst, MBA, and former investment banker in the United States of America. Published 2010. http://danielamerman.com/articles/GoldTaxes1.htm
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[Quote No.36153] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[Inheritance/estate/death taxes:] Why Do We Allow Inheritance at All? I am a disagreeable person, which is to say that I cannot stand to be in a room full of people agreeing with me. It gives me the creeps. I cannot resist the urge to play devil's advocate, to argue the facts not placed into evidence by group consensus--at liberal events, I'm the psycho conservative, but at libertarian colloquiums, I'm the one arguing that privilege and wealth are real problems that simple rules may simply embed more deeply. So I feel a little thrill of inspiration when Reihan Salam, one of my very favorite writers, says 'I often say that I'm not in the persuasion business. Rather, I'm in the provocation business. Our worldviews are embedded in friendships, loyalty, aspirations, and much else. The kind of person we want to be shapes the kind of argument we're inclined to believe. I think I'm doing my job well when I interrupt the pattern, and prompt a reexamination of received views, partly because I enjoy reading people who prompt me to do the same.' Luckily, I have a bit of contrarianism that I've wanted to air, and a series of Kevin Drum posts on using estates to pay for Medicare that has inspired me to make (drumroll please) . . . the case for the 100% estate tax. No, really, I'm serious. After all, why should kids be allowed to inherit? I know, you are about to say something along the lines of 'I worked hard so that my kids could . . . ' That is a noble emotion. But at the point at which this question becomes relevant, you will be dead. And dead people don't have rights. They don't own property. They don't get to make decisions. Of course, wills are written by the living. But wills are an attempt to give your children stuff at no cost to yourself; they get it only when you can't use it. That doesn't seem so laudable, really. I might admire someone who gives their stuff away while they're alive. But really, there is no such thing as a 'generous bequest'. I don't see by what right people should be allowed to order living people how to dispose of their stuff after they're beyond caring. I think people should be allowed to make generous gifts while they're still alive, without gift tax. (Though I think the recipients of those gifts should have to pay income tax on it; I don't understand why we'd want to tax income people get by working, but not income people get by being born. Being born is about the most tax-inelastic thing you can think of.) But once people are dead, then I can make a pretty compelling case that in a modern economy where extended families are not a major economic unit, there's little justice case for inheritance. To wit: the living person was entitled to dispose of their assets, but they are no longer living, and are not entitled to anything except an undisturbed grave. Since they are out of the picture, we must look to the heirs. Do they deserve to inherit? By virtue of what? Being born? Having parents? Maybe they put up with their parents, and their parents were difficult, even terrible. But if the parents wanted to pay someone to put up with them, they could have done so when they were alive. And no matter how awful your parents were, 'putting up with them' doesn't seem so terrible that it should entitle you to all their stuff, tax free. Even if your mom is Joan Crawford, I can pretty much guarantee that foster care or institutionalization would have been worse. Why not give the stuff to those kids? Because they were unlucky enough to be forced to endure their abuse from poor people? Inheritance not only hands people valuable income in return for something we don't really want to further reward--being born lucky--but also, in doing so, it entrenches the least attractive feature of our economy: the fact that people who are born to affluent parents are much more likely to themselves be affluent than children born to the less well-heeled. Lack of economic mobility is generally regarded as a bad thing that we should combat. Yet so many of our institutions, from the geographic organization of our schools, to the financial distribution of our inheritances, reinforce it. Some of those things are not going away (we should not, and will not, order affluent people to move into poor school districts, or shut down research universities for conferring unfair advantages on the mostly affluent students who have the ability to gain admission). But what are the social benefits that inheritance conveys to offset its drawbacks [including the unexpected consequences - the 'unseen' as Frederic Bastiat said in his 1850 masterpiece, 'The Law']? I think they have to be pretty large to justify letting dead people order us to perpetuate the economic status quo. So I can make a moral case for a 100% estate tax. Which is, in some sense, what Kevin Drum is doing when he advocates 'letting the dead pay for Medicare'. He would make Medicare a senior creditor on estates; the government would get first crack at all the assets until the bill for all the Medicare services consumed has been repaid, or the estate runs out of money. In most cases, the government would take everything. And it's a superficially attractive policy--the idea that you're entitled to free health care from the government, and to leave your children a tidy inheritance, seems faintly ludicrous to me, for all that many Americans embrace it. But there may be practical drawbacks; we might lose any social benefits that inheritance currently conveys. Let's think about the possible problems with our estate confiscation. The first is the bevy of objections about family businesses and farms that is always raised when the estate tax comes up. These are bigger problems than Democrats admit, but they're not insurmountable problems, and they're not really all that common. Facilitate the transfer of these companies while the business owner is alive, or set up a trust with the kids. Or set up a special exemption for the family-owned-and-operated business--which includes a provision that the business has to still be operated by the family five years later, or tax and penalties are owed. Yes, this will create some bad situations--the crippled and broke business owner who can't sell because he'd owe too much tax. But if you discard the assumption that said business owner had a right to get a valuable business for free, this doesn't really seem that desperately unjust. I'm wiling to leave family firms and family farms intact because there's some compelling benefit for society in having them cross generations. I am not willing to do so simply because people like getting stuff for free--this is that great paradox, a truth so universal that it is a completely useless guide to policy. The second is sentimental items: family homesteads, Grandma's engagement ring. I'm not worried about the latter; one way or another, by the time the probate court gets involved, small sentimental items with poor paper trails will have vanished. I'm basically okay with this. The latter is more troublesome, but we cannot build an entire tax policy around the principle that 'nothing sad will ever happen.' In these days of labor mobility and agribusiness, there are very few precious family homesteads that have been in the family for 200 years. Your childhood beach home is no doubt a special place, but I'm not sure there's a policy interest in making sure that your grandchildren, too, can vacation there. The third is disabled kids; many parents want to set up trusts for them. This seems like a job for a large life-insurance policy and a dedicated trust established now. But these aren't the problems that worry me. The practical problems I fret about involve the structure and level of economic activity. Does the estate tax discourage people from working or saving? Does it create distortions in the way that we structure firms, investment portfolios, or our lives? I don't have an answer to that. Without an estate tax, parents probably work harder and longer (Warren Buffett does it just for love, but not so all the owners of 7-11 franchises and button factories). But kids probably work less hard. That's probably a net loss to the economy, since successful parents are on average more productive than their children, but how big is the loss? Could that loss be offset if we used the 100% estate tax to fund dramatic reductions in income or capital taxes? Saving is even more problematic. Kevin doesn't think that many people would spend down their estates to avoid his Medicare tax, but I think he's grossly underestimating the chances. There's already quite a large problem with people structuring their estates to get around Medicaid restrictions to qualify for subsidized nursing home care; we don't see more of it arguably because only a minority of seniors end up in nursing homes, and not all of them are there long enough to make a significant dent in their assets. By contrast, roughly 100% of seniors get Medicare. I think people will make very different decisions about spending, saving, and gifting if they know that there's no hope of leaving anything to the kids. And our economy is already far too heavily biased towards consumption. Then there are the distortions. Life insurance is the obvious one; people might start liquidating their estates to buy insurance. (It's no surprise that insurance companies are heavy lobbyists on the estate tax issue). We want life insurance to be tax free, because it's supposed to take care of dependents who would otherwise be left destitute--it's a replacement for lost income, not a capital gain. But we don't want to funnel all of our nation's assets into terrible whole life policies. And that's the least offensive of the ways that people might start structuring around a substantial estate tax, up to and including renouncing their citizenship. Plus, adults hoping to be left something in the will might be performing valuable services for society, like visiting Mom in the nursing home to make sure that they haven't tied her to a bed and left her to die. (on the other hand, there are the rich people who get tied to a bed and left to die by their heirs so that they won't be able to change the will. Which effect is more powerful?) The trend towards a society based more on interactions with strangers, less on kinship ties, is generally a good one. But the family still serves useful functions that we don't want to get rid of. If we mess with inheritance, are we disrupting an institution that's tremendously important to both individuals and to society? Then there's the question of where the money goes. Do we want the government owning a substantial portion of the nation's asset base? Or liquidating estates at fire sale prices? (Maybe, to the latter; it's not clear that this would make the economy worse off, and it might lead to more efficient allocations of capital that currently languishes inside family trusts or firms.) These are all complicated empirical questions without obvious answers. Most of the really absurdly high estate taxes in the world have been either repealed or ignored. On the other hand, estate taxes long predate capitalism, and capitalism emerged anyway, so modest taxes are fairly customary and obviously not crippling. So while I can make a moral case for the 100% estate tax, I'm more leery of the practical case. We are back at Chesterton's Fence: --- In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away.' To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 'If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.' This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion. It's quite possible that a 100% estate tax--or some near equivalent such as Kevin proposes--would be entirely fine. But I'm not sure I understand all the roles that inheritance is playing in our economy, and our lives--which means that I'm fairly sure I don't know what the effects will be. So I'm hesitant to impose such a tax, even though on principle I think it's a fine idea." - Megan McArdle
She is the business and economics editor for 'The Atlantic'. She has worked at three start-ups, a consulting firm, an investment bank, a disaster recovery firm at Ground Zero, and 'The Economist'. Published in 'The Atlantic', June 6th, 2011.
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[Quote No.36154] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[Inheritance/estate/death taxes:] The Case for Inherited Wealth: Should the government confiscate all wealth from the dead by imposing a 100 percent inheritance tax? Over at 'The Atlantic' [newspaper], Megan McArdle makes the provocative argument for outlawing inheritance. The crux of her argument is that we need not respect the rights of the dead because 'dead people don’t have rights.' 'They don't own property. They don't get to make decisions,' McArdle writes. And since the dead cannot own anything, we need not respect attempts to pass on their wealth to their heirs. My first objection to this is that dead people actually do have rights. Sure, death deprives the dead of certain rights—the right to vote comes to mind. In France, the dead can marry—but almost everywhere else the right to marry or divorce ends with death. But almost every culture everywhere respects the rights of the dead to remain undisturbed. Bans on grave robbing, corpse mutilation and necrophilia all seem to be instances of respecting the rights of the dead. Most people would find the concept of mandatory organ donation gruesome. At least one U.S. court has held that the dead even have reproductive rights. That case arose after a man named William Kane deposited 15 vials of his sperm a month before he killed himself. In his suicide note—which he addressed to Deborah Hecht—William expressed a dying wish: 'I hope you have our child.' William’s children from an earlier relationship did not like the idea of their father posthumously producing siblings. They sued and the trial court took their side, ordering the sperm destroyed. The case was overturned on appeal on the grounds that William had clearly expressed his intent to reproduce posthumously—and that his right over reproductive decisions extended beyond the grave. McArdle might object that the dead do not really have the right to reproduce. Instead, she might say, what we see here is the court respecting the rights of the living William. After all, when he deposited the sperm in the bank he was alive. And when he wrote the note he was alive, too. So he wasn’t really reaching out from beyond the grave to have children. But this same logic applies to inheritance. The dead do not bequeath property to their heirs—the living do. They make decisions about what will happen to their stuff in the event of their death. Inheritance is not about whether the dead own property—it’s about whether the living can give away their property upon the event of their deaths. I suppose McArdle could object that our property rights shouldn’t include a right to dispose of them upon death. Everything we 'own,' in that case, we would merely have a life tenancy in. When our life is over, our ownership ends. It goes back to the state of, well, not the state of anything, I guess. Just The State. This would have all sorts of odd results. If I only possess a life tenancy in my property, what happens when I sell it to someone? Let’s say I sell my house. Obviously, I can only sell what I own—which is a life tenancy. That life tenancy is linked to my life—not the life of the buyers. So the purchaser of the house would lose the house when I die. Imagine what this would do to property rights. We’d all be worried all the time that we could be deprived of our property just because the original owner died. That’s a recipe for chaos and economic stagnation. I know this seems absurd—but the absurdity is the result of the arbitrariness of the limitation of ownership to life tenancy. If we conceive of ownership more simply—as our laws and traditions actually do—we avoid this absurdity. Another reason to reject life tenancy is it conveys rights to our property without consent and without justification. Ordinarily, we acquire property because it is given to us as a gift, because we manufacture it, because someone else consents to give it to us as part of a bargain, or because a court decides we are owed it in light of a violation by someone else of our rights. Let’s say I make a chair out of some lumber I buy. It’s clear how I came to have property rights in the chair—I bought the lumber, I made the chair with it. In McArdle’s world, however, my property right over the chair would end at the grave. And someone else’s property right—namely, the government’s—would start there. So where would the post-life tenancy property right of the government come from? Why did my manufacture of a chair create a property right for someone else in the chair after I am dead? The origin of this property right is mysterious because it isn’t like any other property right that exists. I think that underlying the anti-inheritance position McArdle takes is a disturbingly expansive view of government. It only really makes sense if the ultimate owner of all property is really the government—the rest of us are just tenants, who get to use the government’s stuff while we’re alive. But why should anyone concede that all our stuff is actually the government's?" - John Carney
Senior Editor, CNBC.com , Published, Thursday, 9 Jun 2011. [ http://www.cnbc.com/id/43343027/ ]
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[Quote No.36189] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Like most tax-lovers they talk about people being forced to contribute to society. Because it’s for their own good and everyone else’s. What they really mean is they want you to pay for something they don’t want to pay for themselves." - Kris Sayce
Money Morning Australia. 9 April 2011.
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[Quote No.36312] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The Global Forum on Transparency and Information Exchange for Tax Purposes, set up under the auspices of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development...announced the coming into force of a new convention on tax evasion which OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria urged all countries to adopt. 'The updated convention, which incorporates internationally agreed standards for exchange of information in tax matters, is the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for tax co-operation,' the OECD said in a statement." - tradingroom.com.au
[http://www.tradingroom.com.au/apps/view_article.ac?articleId=2401700 ] 2011-06-02
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[Quote No.36609] Need Area: Money > Tax
"In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through [the deliberate, 'secret' government tax called] inflation. There is no safe store of value." - Alan Greenspan
Economist and former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank.
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[Quote No.36611] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Congress [or any government] can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay." - Milton Friedman
US economist
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[Quote No.36613] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government." - James Madison
(1751 – 1836), James Madison, Jr. was the fourth President of the United States between 1809 and 1817.
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[Quote No.36621] Need Area: Money > Tax
"I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." - Winston Churchill
British Prime Minister
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[Quote No.36625] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[It is not uncommon for governments while reducing taxes with one hand to quietly increase it with the other and then complain about a consequence of that behavior, in this case, poor employment numbers]...At least seven [US] states instituted temporary so-called millionaire taxes [named to deliberately misrepresent their assets as income] during the [2007-9] recession [even though the Democrats explained that they were not anti-business and anti-employment by stopping the Bush tax cut expirations]. Those [state] levies are becoming harder to justify now that state revenues are rebounding. Overall, state tax revenue grew 12 percent in April compared with a year earlier, which may trim $20 billion from estimated state budget shortfalls, according to a recent Goldman Sachs (GS) report. The soak-the-rich drive 'just petered out,' says Joseph Henchman, vice-president for legal and state projects at the Tax Foundation in Washington, a group focused on lowering taxes. 'All of these states are backing away now' [since employment is not rebounding]. Business groups have been vocal opponents of the temporary hikes. The Business Council of New York State has opposed efforts to maintain the tax increase on the grounds that such measures are an indirect tax on business income [which meant that fewer jobs could be created by them]. Most business owners who are paid by partnerships or S corporations report business income on their individual returns. Kenneth J. Pokalsky, the Business Council's senior director of government affairs, says 25 percent of revenue generated from the state's tax on higher earners came from business income. In California, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, whose members include Bank of America (BAC), Apple (AAPL), and Microsoft (MSFT), along with 12 other business groups, have told lawmakers that tax increases should be extended only if lawmakers agree to 'structural reforms' of the [spending to make it more pro-job creation for small business, which employs the vast majority of non-government employees, in the fiscal] budget... " - Steven Sloan
Businessweek.com, June 13, 2011.
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[Quote No.36626] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The tendency of corporate taxes to decrease wages [wage rises and job creation], indeed, has moved a number of prominent left-wingers — most prominently former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich — into the zero corporate income tax camp." - Eli Lehrer
Frumforum.com, June 21st, 2011. [http://www.frumforum.com/lets-scrap-corporate-income-tax ]
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[Quote No.36627] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[Are Taxes Causing the Rich to Renounce Their Citizenship?]...There is growing concern, particularly among the wealthy, about the future financial direction of the country. This President constantly demonizes the wealthy, who undoubtedly are concerned about the tax policy that would emerge in 2012 if a re-elected Barack Obama, unconstrained by re-election concerns, finally confronts the budgetary train wreck that he has done so much to exacerbate." - Paul L. Caron
Charles Hartsock Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. June 13, 2011. [http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/06/13/are-taxes-causing-the-rich-to-renounce-their-citizenship/ ]
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[Quote No.36635] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
(1841-1935), US Supreme Court Justice.
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[Quote No.36770] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The threat of force lies behind every tax dollar the government collects." - Gene Healy
July 12, 2011
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[Quote No.36786] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The history of our tax code, in economic terms, mirrors the course of most addictions: advancing dependence, diminished returns, and deteriorating health of the afflicted." - The New York Times
1909 editorial opposing the very first US income tax.
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[Quote No.36892] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[Tax thresh-holds, not linked to inflation, is another way that taxes are increased 'silently' but deliberately by governments around the world:] In 1984, when the Social Security system faced a funding crisis, [the US] Congress enacted a law to make the wealthiest recipients pay income taxes on their benefits. Specifically, up to 50% of Social Security benefits became taxable when half of these benefits, plus a retiree's other income - including retirement plan payouts and investment income - exceeded $25,000 a year ($32,000 for couples). Back then, only about 10% of retirees had incomes that topped that level. In 1994 a second layer of tax was put in place: 85% of your Social Security benefits became taxable if half of your Social Security benefit plus your 'other' income topped $34,000, or $44,000 as a couple. Once again, none of those crucial thresholds were indexed to inflation; today [in 2011 some 27 years later] the Social Security tax still kicks in at $25,000 [which if inflation over those years were at 2% should now be $43,000 to be equivalent]. As a result, about a third of retirees are now paying federal income tax on their Social Security benefits. A decade from now, an estimated 45% will owe the tax. Don't expect relief from the government on any of those stealth taxes." - Janice Revell
She is a former compensation consultant. Published in Fortune Magazine, July 22, 2011.
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[Quote No.36917] Need Area: Money > Tax
"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." - Thomas Paine
'Rights of Man', 1791.
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[Quote No.36920] Need Area: Money > Tax
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them!" - Thomas Jefferson

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[Quote No.36921] Need Area: Money > Tax
"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." - Robert A. Heinlein

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[Quote No.36922] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Increasingly [indebted and] desperate states will be the greatest risk to your wealth [freedom and personal rights]." - Doug Casey

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[Quote No.36929] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[A society which taxes to redistribute wealth must be wary of creating a class of citizen who becomes so used to welfare to the point of expecting entitlements that their work ethic, entrepreneurial ability to take risks and their morality decays and so the very fabric of the society itself weakens for all.] Covetousness like jealousy, when it has taken root, never leaves a person, but with their life." - Epictetus

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[Quote No.36961] Need Area: Money > Tax
"To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare some others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association – the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." - Thomas Jefferson
The third President of the United States of America
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[Quote No.36972] Need Area: Money > Tax
"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men [and women] free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government!" - Thomas Jefferson
US President
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[Quote No.36997] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give it to those who would not." - Thomas Jefferson
US President
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[Quote No.37051] Need Area: Money > Tax
"When Barbary Pirates demand a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called 'tribute money'. When the Mafia demands a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called 'the protection racket'. When the State demands a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called 'sales tax'." - Jeff Daiell

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[Quote No.37192] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, 'What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.' " - St. Augustine
From his book, 'City of God', published circa 420 A.D.
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[Quote No.37193] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, 'What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor!' " - St. Augustine
From his book, 'City of God', published circa 420 A.D.
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[Quote No.37194] Need Area: Money > Tax
"I am more and more convinced that Man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or a few is ever grasping, and like the grave cries give, give." - Abigail Adams
Letter to John Adams [November 27, 1775]
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[Quote No.37196] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Without a society in which life and property are to some extent secure, existence can continue only at the lowest levels — you cannot have a good life for those you love, nor can you dovote you energies to activity on the higher level." - Alfred N. Whitehead

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[Quote No.37258] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Government cannot give anything to anybody that it doesn't first take from somebody else. Whenever somebody receives something without working for it, somebody else has to work for it without receiving. The worst thing that can happen to a nation is for half of the people to get the idea they don't have to work because somebody else will work for them, and the other half to get the idea that it does no good to work because they don't get to enjoy the fruits of their labor." - Dr. Adrian Rogers
(1931 - 2005)
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[Quote No.37325] Need Area: Money > Tax
"If you tax something more, you get less of it." - Paul Ryan
Chairman of the US House of Representatives budget committee.
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[Quote No.37409] Need Area: Money > Tax
"People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can't live within its income." - Robert Half

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[Quote No.37411] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The government deficit is the difference between the amount of money the government spends and the amount it has the nerve to collect." - Sam Ewing

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[Quote No.37412] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the hidden confiscation of wealth [by causing inflation through borrowing and money printing to pay for the deficit]. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process [because it increases in value if the US dollar in which it is denominated is devalued by oney printing]. It stands as a protector of property rights [when used to back the currency because it stops the government spending money it doesn't have and then just printing money and causing inflation, which is a hidden tax, to pay back the loans to the US Treasury]." - Alan Greenspan
Economist and former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve.
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[Quote No.37417] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Much government legislation and regulation requires businesses to spend money unproductively - on advice, material and staff time, rather than on improving competitiveness, sales, productivity, jobs and wages. While some ideas have merit, for example by improving safety, most do not and as such they act as unnecessary 'taxes' that hurt rather than help the businesses, their staff and the economy, regardless of government's good intentions." - Seymour@imagi-natives.com

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[Quote No.37518] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Equality is a hard concept to express in the real world. For example should taxes be flat so that the same percentage of each dollar a person earns, regardless of their total earnings, be the same or equal for all or should taxes be progressive so that the amount increases as a person earns more so that a person who earns more pays more, even if they use government services less? Think of it this way: should a person who earns more pay more for any particular government service than another or for commercial services like going to see a movie, or a loaf of bread, simply because they earn more? Is that equal? For those who see the inequality of progressive taxation and would like to learn more about equal, flat tax and those countries whose government and people think it fairer and more productive to have a flat tax you could start your journey of discovery at the wikipedia.com page on flat tax at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_tax#Countries_reputed_to_have_a_flat_tax ." - Seymour@imagi-natives.com

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[Quote No.37536] Need Area: Money > Tax
"People who complain about tax can be divided into two groups; men and women!" - Old Saying

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[Quote No.37547] Need Area: Money > Tax
"By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens." - John Maynard Keynes
Famous economist. Quote from his 'Economic Consequences of Peace'.
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[Quote No.37564] Need Area: Money > Tax
"A good prince will tax as lightly as possible those commodities which are used by the poorest members of society: grain, bread, beer, wine, clothing, and all other staples without which human life could not exist." - Desiderius Erasmus
(1466 - 1536)
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[Quote No.37587] Need Area: Money > Tax
"I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." - Winston Churchill
British Prime Minister
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[Quote No.37589] Need Area: Money > Tax
"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

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[Quote No.37590] Need Area: Money > Tax
"It can be dangerous to weaken the strong in our attempts to strengthen the weak." - Jim Rohn

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[Quote No.37662] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[Sin legislation, regulation and taxes: - gambling, alcohol, drugs, prostitution:] U.S. states' answer to a weak economy: gambling! As the U.S. economy stubbornly resists stimulus efforts, New Jersey and Maine are among several states betting on a simpler way to fill their coffers: gambling. Both northeastern states are holding Election Day referendums to increase the once-outlawed practice, following states such as Massachusetts and New Hampshire that have already embraced gaming to boost revenue and jobs in tough times. Maine will gauge support for a new casino and slot machines at two race tracks, known as 'racinos', while New Jersey is seeking to overturn a federal law prohibiting sports betting. 'When states experience economic hardship, they turn to gaming,' said Cory Morowitz, chairman of Morowitz Gaming Advisors. 'Post-2008, almost all gaming increases are related to the economic downturn.' A recent push to build casinos and increase slot parlors at race courses, particularly in the Northeast, echoes similar moves elsewhere in the early 1990s when economic recession hit. States whose residents pop over the border to spend - and generally lose - their hard-earned gambling cash, are looking to increase betting opportunities in their own backyard to keep the money in state. This fall, the Massachusetts legislature approved three casinos and one slots parlor in a bill under which 25 percent of casino revenues and about 50 percent of slots revenue would return to the state. In New Hampshire, a House legislative panel last week voted to permit two casinos. The proposal still faces several legislative hurdles. Outside the Northeast, Minnesota lawmakers struggling to find a way to provide public funding for two-thirds of a proposed $1.1 billion Minnesota Vikings football stadium have floated several options to expand gambling in the state. They include permitting slot machines at horse racing tracks, allowing electronic pull-tabs at bars and restaurants and a private casino in downtown Minneapolis. Illinois, which is among the most financially strapped states, in May voted to authorize new casinos that could generate up to $1 billion a year, including one in Chicago. Governor Pat Quinn, worried about the state's reputation for corruption, has threatened to veto the plan unless it is slimmed down and includes more oversight. If the referendum passes in New Jersey as expected, it is just a first step on the long road to making it legal to gamble on professional, college or amateur sporting events by placing bets at casinos and racetracks in the Garden State. That kind of betting is outlawed by federal law except in Nevada and Delaware. Passing the referendum would set the stage for New Jersey to file a lawsuit to overturn the federal ban within its borders too." - Edward McAllister
NEW YORK Nov 5, 2011 (Reuters) [http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/05/election-gambling-idUSN1E7A21SL20111105?feedType=RSS&feedName=bondsNews ]
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[Quote No.37667] Need Area: Money > Tax
"The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much. [And that is because short-sighted politicians, interested in gaining power by creating dependence and greedy cronyism, have inculcated in the populace and business that their security and success really only comes from government. In reality it can only ever come from each individual's service, foresight, competence and effort and that alone should be the focus for government and each group and individual to ensure a country's on-going, long-term sustainable improvement.]" - Ronald Reagan
US President
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[Quote No.37669] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Let's Tax the Millionaires: Ms. Henry wants to tax the millionaires, as if they are somehow sucking the system dry and should 'pay their fair share.' Her answer is to tax them and hire more government workers. But that simply transfers income from one party to another and does nothing to create real wealth. And this has been brought home to me recently in a very personal way. My youngest son, Trey, has been spending a lot of time with a new friend, and I decided I needed to meet his father. I went to their home to check them out. The father, Larry, was from South Africa and had just moved to my neighborhood from Utah. He said he was in software design. We became friends, and one day I probed a little deeper into what he did. It turns out that he had designed a system (and patented it) that automatically triggers a '911' call (the US emergency number) if you are in an auto accident, as long as your (smart) cell phone is on. Yes, the phone can recognize when you are in a vehicle and there is an impact, and that is different from dropping the phone or even throwing it into a wall. It can notify family members (or friends) if there is an accident and tell them where you are. It will work in almost any country. If a button is hit, it can silently call emergency services. It can also track your kids or employees and let you know all sorts of things you ask it, but that's another story. But he was in the middle of a funding crisis. I watched for several months as he struggled for money to finish his project. It was 98% of the way there, with thousands of paying users in 'beta.' It was cheap. It worked. There was demand. But he was losing his funding. Why? His original source had been a wealthy entrepreneur who had a 'liquidity event,' selling his business for a large sum. As part of his reinvestment, he funded, with a small part of his money, a venture capital firm that had the goal of investing in 40 start-ups, mostly in high tech, which was where he had made his original money. I talked with the manager of the fund. The story was typical of others I have heard. ...Starting a business is more than just having technical knowledge or skills. It is a host of things, and it is very hard to make one work. But the good news is that optimism triumphs over reality, and as a society we all benefit from those who take the risks and figure it out. And jobs get created. The rich entrepreneur who funded Larry's start-up? His basic business and investments hit a bump in the recession. He had to reduce his funding commitments, and one of those casualties was Larry, who went into scramble mode when his next source also went upside down. ...The point? The entrepreneur with his venture capital firm is one of those millionaires that some want to raise taxes on. If you take another 5% from him, that is 5% less that he can invest. I am somewhat like him, on a much, much smaller scale. I am a serial entrepreneur. I can't help myself. (Is there a 12-step program?) I won't pretend that if my taxes go up 5% from where they are today, I won't start or invest in a business if the right opportunity comes along. But that is 5% less that I have to use for risk capital. At some point along the tax curve the risk is not worth it. And that 5% may actually represent 30-50% of the annual growth in my risk capital, as venture capital is the very last part of my residual capital and income that gets allocated. Multiply that by one million potential entrepreneurs, just in the US. There is a certain portion of the human breed that is by nature and instinct entrepreneurial. They see opportunity and look for ways and means to make it happen. Family, friends, and so-called 'angel' investors fund these start-ups. More and more we see quasiformal networks of angel investors forming. They often go in together and mentor and help start-up companies and businesspeople. These are the millionaires who are somehow not paying their fair share. Yes, there are Wall Street bankers and some professionals that make large salaries, but most of the high-income earners in the US are owners/founders/investors in small business, or got that way as a result of a small business that became larger and successful. Some become Bill Gates or Steve Jobs – the billionaires. But those successes are rare, very rare. (Sidebar: I am so tired of hearing about Warren Buffet's low tax rates. Berkshire Hathaway pays billions in taxes. Which, since Warren owns a chunk of BH, are essentially paid by him. Since he doesn't require that much to live on, his effective tax is in the 1,000%-plus range. Therefore he pays a lot more than his secretary. ) " - John Mauldin
FrontlineThoughts.com November 5, 2011,
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[Quote No.37875] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[When governments have over-borrowed to make up the difference between chronic fiscal deficit spending and tax revenues, usually in order to buy political support from either the rich minority or the poor majority to stay in power, and thereby raised their debt to GDP levels beyond the critical 90% of GDP making further borrowing or economic growth more difficult, they will often either resort to increasing taxation or if that is politically difficult to raising the 'hidden tax' of inflation. The latter is usually done while keeping interest rates below the real inflation rate in what economists euphemistically call 'financial repression', rather than what it really is 'a tax on spending and saving'. This hidden tax actually hurts the least wealthy the most as they spend a higher proportion of their income each week while they own fewer assets that rise in price with the inflation. The following article by the Liberation News, the website for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, goes into the details about how this is covered up by changing the 'official' measure of US inflation which is used in many employment and welfare contract adjustments, to reduce the likely political outcry:] 'Super committee' plots to hide cost-of-living increases: A bipartisan 'super committee' in Congress is considering adopting a new way of calculating the Consumer Price Index [CPI], which is used to calculate cost-of-living raises for many federally funded programs including Social Security. The new CPI calculation is intended to result in lower cost-of-living raises. This is the latest of a series of changes in how the CPI is calculated—the previous one implemented during the Clinton administration—aimed at moving the index away from being an accurate measure of the cost of living needed to maintain a constant standard of living, thereby reducing benefit and wage increases indexed to inflation. (shadowstats.com) On Nov. 8, the Associated Press reported that the new method of calculating the CPI would lower the expected income for Social Security recipients by at least $136 a year and in some cases by as much as $560 a year. Programs that could be affected by the proposed changes include, in addition to Social Security, veterans benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, school lunch programs, as well as pension plans for both federal workers and military personnel. This new method of calculation is called the chained CPI. It is predicated on the assumption that, as the prices of certain items go up, consumers will switch to lower-cost alternatives. Therefore, according to this argument, the CPI in use currently overstates the increase in the cost of living. The example given in the AP article is this: '[I]f the price of beef increases while the price of pork does not, people will buy more pork. Or, as opponents mockingly argue, if the price of home heating oil goes up, people will turn down their heat and wear more sweaters.' (Associated Press, Nov. 7) The Congressional super committee, composed of six Democrats and six Republicans, has been charged with producing a plan to reduce the government debt by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Adopting the chained CPI would get them one-sixth of the way there. Another effect of the chained CPI would be that people in lower income brackets would over time be moved into higher-taxed income brackets [called 'bracket creep'] and lose their eligibility for federally funded assistance such as food stamp programs, school lunches and Medicaid. The plan is a stealth way of increasing taxes and lowering public funding; the authors of this plan hope it may not be noticed or felt until some years have passed. The super committee seeks to craft raised taxes on the poor and fewer services in ways that will not be noticed immediately. They know that if they came right out and openly stated, 'Hey folks, we are going gradually to raise taxes and by the way, decrease all services over the next decade or so,' they would be met with resistance. At the same time, there is no indication that the super committee is considering slashing funding for bank bailouts, corporate tax breaks or imperialist wars and occupations. Nowhere is there any mention of raising taxes on the rich, nor is there any thought of increasing the funding for social services. This only goes to underscore that Congress is well aware of who their masters are: the corporations and the 1 percent, not the increasingly impoverished 99 percent. [This is why US capitalism is getting a reputation world wide as not having real capitalism but a form of corporatism or sometimes called 'crony' capitalism, where the competitive basis of real free market capitalism which keeps companies productive and their prices down, is blunted in order to protect the profits of powerful vested companies and maintain the political status quo.] Attempting to reduce Social Security payments is a particularly heinous move. Social Security is a benefit that came out of the sharp class struggle of the 1930s during the Great Depression. Not only did it take the militant struggle of workers and unemployed people to wrest this benefit from the grudging hands of the corporate elite, but the money in the fund is in fact put in there directly from the incomes of the people receiving it. Social Security is supposed to be a government-managed savings account to be apportioned out during retirement in amounts transparently related to the amount of money paid in during the lifetime of the recipient from that recipient’s paychecks. That... at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable elements of the working class can only be characterized as a form of theft. ...What kind of democratic system is this?" - Andy Freeman
LiberationNews.org - Party for Socialism and Liberation, Nov. 17, 2011. [http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/super-committee-plots-to.html ]
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[Quote No.37925] Need Area: Money > Tax
"[It's interesting to note that writers of tax law have two main routes to a given revenue total: low rates without deductions, exemptions and credits, or high rates with them. To date they have chosen the latter course. An article in The Wall Street Journal of January 29, 2011 marked down this choice to pure politics:] Why did [Roosevelt's high tax rates] last so long ...beginning their long steady decline only during the Kennedy administration? ...In part to fund the Korean conflict and the Cold War, but also to grease the skids of modern politics. Lawmakers were able to blunt the effect of high statutory rates by handing out tax preferences to their friends, constituents and contributors. Steep rates preserved the appearance of progressivity [and, to be fair, some of the reality], while supplying politicians with their stock in trade: favors." - The Wall Street Journal
January 29, 2011
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[Quote No.37926] Need Area: Money > Tax
"Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon." - Winston Churchill
British Prime Minister
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