The Accounting On This Would Cost More Than The Gains

MSN Money posted an article from The Wall Street Journal today. The article deals with the Democrats’ latest plan to raise taxes on things that are not currently taxed. The Democrats don’t seem concerned with cutting spending–they just want more of your money.

The article explains the plan:

The income tax is the Swiss Army Knife of the U.S. tax system, an all-purpose policy tool for raising revenue, rewarding and punishing activities and redistributing money between rich and poor.

The system could change fundamentally if Democrats win the White House and Congress. The party’s presidential candidates, legislators and advisers share a conviction that today’s income tax is inadequate for an economy where a growing share of rewards flows to a sliver of households.

For the richest Americans, Democrats want to shift toward taxing their wealth, instead of just their salaries and the income their assets generate. The personal income tax indirectly touches wealth, but only when assets are sold and become income.

At the end of 2017, U.S. households had $3.8 trillion in unrealized gains in stocks and investment funds, plus more in real estate, private businesses and artwork, according to the Economic Innovation Group, a nonprofit focused on bringing investment to low-income areas. Most of the value of estates over $100 million consists of unrealized gains, said a 2013 Federal Reserve study. Much has never been touched by individual income taxes and may never be.

Under current law, when stocks and investment funds are inherited, the person inheriting them pays no tax on the capital gains that were accrued during the time the previous owner possessed the stock. At the point of inheritance, new capital gains begin to accrue. For example, if a person of modest means bought five shares of a stock a month over a period of ten years and his $3000 a year investment was worth $300,000 at his death, his heirs would receive the $300,000 worth of stock and pay capital gains when they sold it on the basis of that $300,000. The idea is to encourage people to invest. The Democrats want to change that.

The article reports:

In campaigns, Congress and academia, Democrats are shaping tax plans for 2021, when they hope to have narrow majorities. There are three main options.

President Obama left office with a list of ideas for taxing the rich that might have raised nearly $1 trillion over a decade. The most important was taxing capital gains at death.

The idea was too radical for a serious look from Congress at the time. Now, to a Democratic base that has moved left, it looks almost moderate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate most prominently picking up where Mr. Obama left off, has proposed repealing stepped-up basis. Taxing unrealized gains at death could let Congress raise the capital gains rate to 50% before revenue from it would start to drop, according to the Tax Policy Center, because investors would no longer delay sales in hopes of a zero tax bill when they die.

And indeed, Mr. Biden has proposed doubling the income-tax rate to 40% on capital gains for taxpayers with incomes of $1 million or more.

But for Democrats, repealing stepped-up basis has drawbacks. Much of the money wouldn’t come in for years, until people died. The Treasury Department estimated a plan Mr. Obama put out in 2016 would generate $235 billion over a decade, less than 10% of what advisers to Sen. Warren’s campaign say her tax plan would raise.

That lag raises another risk. Wealthy taxpayers would have incentives to get Congress to reverse the tax before their heirs face it.

Mr. Obama’s administration never seriously explored a wealth tax or a tax on accrued but unrealized gains, said Lily Batchelder, who helped devise his policies.

“If someone’s goal is to raise trillions of dollars from the very wealthy, then it becomes necessary to think about these more ambitious proposals,” she said.

Instead of attacking favorable treatment of inherited assets, Mr. Wyden goes after the other main principle of capital-gains taxation—that gains must be realized before taxes are imposed.

The Oregon senator is designing a “mark-to-market” system. Annual increases in the value of people’s assets would be taxed as income, even if the assets aren’t sold. Someone who owned stock that was worth $400 million on Jan. 1 but $500 million on Dec. 31 would add $100 million to income on his or her tax return.

The tax would diminish the case for a preferential capital-gains rate, since people couldn’t get any benefit from deferring asset sales. Mr. Wyden would raise the rate to ordinary-income levels. Presidential candidate Julián Castro also just endorsed a mark-to-market system.

For the government, money would start flowing in immediately. The tax would hit every year, not just when an asset-holder died. Mr. Wyden would apply this regime to just the top 0.3% of taxpayers, said spokeswoman Ashley Schapitl. Mr. Castro’s tax would apply to the top 0.1%.

The article concludes:

The Constitution says any direct tax must be structured so each state contributes a share of it equal to the state’s share of the population. A state such as Connecticut has far more multimillionaires per capita than many others, so its share of the wealth tax would far exceed its share of the U.S. population. How Ms. Warren’s wealth tax might be categorized or affected is an unsettled area of law relying on century-old Supreme Court precedents.

Still, the wealth tax polls well, and Democratic candidates are eager to draw a contrast with President Trump, a tax-cutting billionaire.

Republicans will push back. Rep. Tom Reed (R., N.Y.) says tax increases aimed at the top would reach the middle class. “It easily goes down the slippery slope,” he said. “If it’s the 1%, it’s the top 20%.” he said.

The bookkeeping would be ridiculous. The tax forms would be intimidating. Let’s keep moving in the direction of simpler tax forms and less taxation. The next step should not be more taxes–it should be less spending.

Logic Takes A Vacation

Breitbart posted an article today about the State of New York’s $2.3 billion budget shortfall. Governor Cuomo is blaming the Trump tax bill for the shortfall.

The article explains the logic:

According to Cuomo, it was Trump’s tax cut that caused “many of the state’s richest residents — who pay 46 percent of the state’s income tax — to either change their primary residence or leave New York entirely.”

…What Trump’s tax reform did was to restore fairness to the tax code, was to put an end to the injustice of all Americans — including those in the middle class — paying for the sky high tax rates in states like New York.

You see, before Trump reformed the tax code, all Americans were subsidizing the rich.

It used to be that you could write off every penny of your state income tax on your federal income tax. Trump put an end to this outrage. Here’s how it works…

In the state of New York, if you earn over $1.078 million per year, you pay an income tax to the state of almost nine percent.

In other words,  using round numbers, a New York resident who earns $10 million owes the state of New York close to $900,000 in income taxes. But…

Democrat-run states like New York knew that their rich residents would not feel the sting of that $900,000 tax bill because that $900,000 could be written off of their federal tax bill.

Basically, this was a sleazy way for Blue States to steal money from federal taxpayers, to make all of us pay for their grotesque tax rates. These Democrat-run states not only got all of this tax money, they also avoided getting voted out of office for over-taxing because the federal write-off removed most of the sting for the wealthy taxpayer.

Thankfully, Trump’s tax bill put an end to this shell game. Whereas before there was no limit on the amount of state income tax you could write off on your federal taxes, now there is a $10,000 limit. This means that the poor sap gutted for $900,000 in income taxes by New York, now eats $890,000 of it, which is as it should be.

Hey, if you’re a rich guy who thinks your taxes are too high, instead of making middle class taxpayers subsidize your ass, maybe stop voting for Democrats? Just an idea.

For those who want the rich to pay more taxes, the Trump tax plan has accomplished exactly that in New York and some other states that have excessive taxes.

The article concludes:

The truth, though, is spelled out very well by economist Marty Cantor, who laid it out for a local news outlet.

“The problems here are caused by the governor and his administration,” he told News12, “It’s too expensive to live on Long Island and in New York state. Taxes are too high, people are leaving. It has nothing to do with Trump.”

Here’s the kicker: The $10,000 write-off limit did not go into effect until  2018. So how does Cuomo explain 2017’s $4.4 billion deficit? How did the Orange Bad Man create that one?

Crickets.

The Real Numbers vs The Propaganda

Guy Benson posted an article at Townhall today about taxes.

The article includes the following:

Democrats already have a well-worn, and misleading, talking point about it: 83 percent of the tax cuts go to the wealthiest 1 percent. That’s true for 2027 but only because most of the individual income tax changes expire by then…The important missing context is that the final tax legislation, which President Donald Trump signed into law Dec. 22, allows most of its individual income tax provisions to expire by 2027, making the tax benefit distribution more lopsided for the top 1 percent than in earlier years. In 2018, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent of income earners would glean 20.5 percent of the tax cut benefits — a sizable chunk, but far less than the figure that’s preferred by Democrats. And in 2025, that percentage would be 25.3 percent, with the top 1 percent (those earning above $837,800) getting an average tax cut of $61,090. Just two years later, in 2027, the percentage of tax benefits to this income group jumps to 82.8 percent, “because almost all individual income tax provisions would sunset after 2025,” explains TPC. 

The article explains who pays income taxes:

The much-maligned top one percent paid more than 37 percent of all federal income taxes that year, which is the most recent on record for which we have data.  The top three percent footed just over half of the total federal income tax bill.  And those in the top five percent were responsible for paying nearly 60 cents of every federal income tax dollar collected by Uncle Sam.  If you look at the black lines on the bar graph above, you will see that the federal income tax share paid by “the rich” far outpaced their respective portions of the nation’s overall earnings.  The bottom half of US earners — 50 percent of the country — paid approximately three percent of all federal income taxes in 2016, slightly less than the contributions of the top .001 percent alone.  The Left’s political stories about “fair shares” and “millionaires and billionaires” may pack a potent rhetorical punch in the service of fueling grievance politics and class warfare, but they’re not grounded in facts and omit crucial perspective.  It’s worth noting that in the latest NBC/WSJ poll, the GOP holds a record-high 15 point lead over Democrats on the economy.

It really is time to consider a flat tax, where deductions are very limited and everyone pays the same percentage. Our current tax code is demotivational–it does not encourage prosperity. However, in reality we need to fix the spending–that will eventually fix the tax code.

 

Things To Notice

On October 15, The Wall Street Journal noted:

The U.S. government ran its largest budget deficit in six years during the fiscal year that ended last month, an unusual development in a fast-growing economy and a sign that—so far at least—tax cuts have restrained government revenue gains.

The deficit totaled $779 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up 17% from $666 billion in fiscal 2017, the Treasury Department said Monday. The deficit is headed toward $1 trillion in the current fiscal year, the White House and Congressional Budget Office said.

Deficits usually shrink during economic booms because strong growth leads to increased tax revenue as household income, corporate profits and capital gains all rise. Meantime, spending on safety-net programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps tends to be restrained.

In the last fiscal year, a different set of forces was at play as economic growth sped up. Interest payments on the federal debt and military spending rose rapidly, while tax revenue failed to keep pace as the Republican tax cuts for both individuals and corporations kicked in.

What you just read is totally misleading. The statement that ‘ tax revenue failed to keep pace as the Republican tax cuts for both individuals and corporations kicked in” is absolutely false. The two major parts of the problem are Congress’ lack of ability or willingness to cut spending and the fact that when the federal reserve raises interest rates, it increases the interest the government pays on the current debt, thus increasing the deficit. As far as the tax cuts are concerned, the facts are quite different from what The Wall Street Journal reported.

On October 16, Investor’s Business Daily reported:

Critics of the Trump tax cuts said they would blow a hole in the deficit. Yet individual income taxes climbed 6% in the just-ended fiscal year 2018, as the economy grew faster and created more jobs than expected.

The Treasury Department reported this week that individual income tax collections for FY 2018 totaled $1.7 trillion. That’s up $14 billion from fiscal 2017, and an all-time high. And that’s despite the fact that individual income tax rates got a significant cut this year as part of President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan.

True, the first three months of the fiscal year were before the tax cuts kicked in. But if you limit the accounting to this calendar year, individual income tax revenues are up by 5% through September.

Other major sources of revenue climbed as well, as the overall economy revived. FICA tax collections rose by more than 3%. Excise taxes jumped 13%.

The only category that was down? Corporate income taxes, which dropped by 31%.

Overall, federal revenues came in slightly higher in FY 2018 — up 0.5%.

Spending, on the other hand, was $127 billion higher in fiscal 2018. As a result, deficits for 2018 climbed $113 billion.

The underline is mine.

It’s the spending, stupid! We need a Congress that will curb spending and a Federal Reserve that will move slowly.

Slowly Moving Ahead

The Independent Journal Review is reporting today that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Senate’s 2018 $4 trillion budget resolution, providing a boost to President Donald Trump’s push for tax reform.

The article reports:

While 20 Republicans opposed the bill, it narrowly passed with a 216-212 vote amid tensions over the budget’s impact on deficits and the debt.

The House endorsed the budget without changes after it passed in the Senate last week.

President Donald Trump promptly tweeted his excitement over the big next step on the way toward tax reform, a goal Republicans have been pushing to accomplish for years.

I am still looking for a list of people who voted for and against the budget. I am sure the list will be at Thomas.gov tomorrow.

The article lists some of the comments made by the Representatives:

However, some House Republicans voiced their reservations over the budget, with Rep. John Faso (N.Y.) stating he couldn’t support the bill due to the elimination of the SALT deduction.

“We must provide middle-class tax relief and lower the burdens on job-creating small businesses. I could not, however, vote in support of a budget resolution that singled out for elimination the ability of New York families to deduct state and local taxes,” Faso said.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) called the bill’s passing a “legislative runway for pro-growth tax reform.”

“Our successful vote will allow us to move forward quickly on delivering the first overhaul of America‘s tax code in more than three decades,” Brady added.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said the planned tax cuts “will not a create an economic boom, but will instead lead to a higher concentration of wealth among the rich, while dramatically increasing deficits and debt.”

I would like to make a comment on the elimination of the SALT (state and local taxes) deduction. Why in the world should fiscally responsible states be subsidizing fiscally irresponsible states? That is what the SALT deduction does. As for the Democrats’ constant cry of ‘tax cuts for the rich,’ the rich are the people who pay taxes, why shouldn’t they get a tax cut? As I have reported numerous times, the top 10 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income over $138,031, pay about 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. About 1.7 million Americans, less than 1 percent of our population, pay 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. These numbers come from actual IRS data. If you are cutting taxes, it is logical that those people paying the taxes would be affected.

Let’s just cut everyone’s taxes and cut the size of government in Washington.