Archive for Taxes

Steyn Explains How Dumb We Are

- Aggie

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iTax

The IRS, never anyone’s favorite jackbooted thugs, isn’t exactly riding a wave of popularity these days.

Which is why the timing of this hearing is so comical:

You almost have to admire Carl Levin’s timing. Amid a furor over politicized IRS tax enforcement, the Michigan Democrat on Tuesday tried to change the subject to a hardy Washington perennial—corporate tax loopholes. Too bad his designated business pinata, Apple, demonstrates instead the insanity of the tax code that Mr. Levin has done so much to write.

Mr. Levin unveiled the results of his months-long investigation into Apple’s corporate taxes and accused the American business success of employing “alchemy” and “gimmickry” to lower its tax bill. What Mr. Levin did not do was present any evidence of anything illegal or even inappropriate. He did prove that Apple has smart accountants and tax lawyers.

Mr. Levin is outraged that Apple subsidiaries in Ireland pay little or no corporate income tax on profits generated from Apple’s international sales. Ireland has a laudably low corporate tax rate of 12.5% to attract jobs and capital, but it turns out that for certain corporations controlled by entities outside Ireland, the deal gets better.

The Apple units are based in Ireland, so U.S. law does not consider them to be U.S. corporations subject to U.S. corporate tax. But since they are managed and controlled by Apple in the U.S., Irish law doesn’t consider them Irish companies and thus they are also not subject to the 12.5% Irish corporate tax. This isn’t alchemy; it’s accountancy.

Quite. To paraphrase another Democrat statist, you have to pass the tax bills to find out what’s in them.

This saying seems apt: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

Levin said that because of the lost revenue, “children across the country won’t get early education form Head Start. Needy seniors will go without meals. Fighter jets sit idle on tarmacs because our military lacks the funding to keep pilots trained.”

Thank you, Apple, for not wasting your profits funding Head Start—which has been demonstrated to be useless!

The kangaroo court did provide one benefit to society: here is one of the greatest displays of oratory in the history of Congress.

I am offended by the tone and tenor of this hearing. I am offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America’s greatest success stories.

Tell me one of these politicians up here that doesn’t minimize their taxes. Tell me a chief financial officer that you would hire if he didn’t try to minimize your taxes legally. Tell me what Apple has done that is illegal.

I am offended by a government that uses the IRS to bully groups such as the Tea Party but I am also offended by a government that convenes a hearing to bully one of American’s success stories.

I am offended by the spectacle of dragging in here executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal. If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress.

I frankly think the Committee should apologize to Apple. I frankly think Congress should be on trial here for creating a bizarre and byzantine tax code that runs into the tens of thousands of pages, for creating a tax code that simply doesn’t compete with the rest of the world.

This committee will admit: Apple has not broken any laws. Yet, they are forced into a show trial at the whims of politicians, when in fact; Congress should be on trial for chasing the profits of great American companies overseas. You haul before this committee one of America’s greatest success stories and you want applause?

I say, instead of Apple executives, you should have brought in a giant mirror, so we could look at the reflection of Congress because this problem is solely and completely created by the awful tax code.

If you want to assign blame, the Committee needs to look in the mirror and see who created this mess, see who created the tax code that drives American companies overseas.

Our corporate tax is more than double Canada’s. I never thought I would be complimenting Canada’s tax code – our tax code is double Canada’s. Our corporate tax is over ten points higher than Europe. Instead of saying theirs is too low, why don’t we set about to work that ours is too high.

I would say what we really need to do is to apologize to Apple, compliment them for the job creation they are doing, and get about doing our job.

Look in the mirror and let’s make the tax code better, fairer, and more competitive world-wide. Money goes where it is welcome and currently our tax code makes money not welcome in our country.

I’m not officially endorsing Rand Paul for president, but surely that’s the kind of language Republicans should be speaking.

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Sore Losers

IRS softball team cancels game with GOP softball team

The IRS softball team canceled its previously scheduled game against Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn’s (R., Texas) office on Friday, as tensions between the IRS and conservatives mount in the face of widening scandal.

“Team Cornyn softball team was scheduled to play the IRS team on Friday, ‘the Cheetahs,’” Cornyn wrote on his Facebook page. “Game has been cancelled by IRS, without rescheduling.”

Were these creeps ever parented? Did they grow up with any sense of rules or idea about how to behave under pressure?

On a side note: BTL, do we need a tag for IRS?

- Aggie

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H&R Blockheads

Is there anyone who didn’t get audited by the IRS?

Here are a few other dots that may or may not be connected to the IRS’s anti-Tea Party efforts:

• In 2010, as the Jewish Press notes, a pro-Israel group called Z Street sued the IRS “claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was ‘connected to Israel,’ its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny.” As we wrote at the time, defenders of the IRS argued that the IRS’s actions might have been justified under Bob Jones University v. U.S., a 1983 Supreme Court decision that held the IRS could deny tax exemptions on the ground that an organization was “contrary to established public policy.” But Bob Jones did not permit viewpoint discrimination; it was the university’s conduct–racially discriminatory admissions practices–to which the IRS objected. (The first hearing in the Z Street case is scheduled for July.)

• In March 2012, the Puffington Host published a confidential form that the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, had filed with the IRS. The website obtained the document from the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-same-sex-marriage outfit. In a press release issued today, NOM says its analysis of the images “has determined that the documents came directly from the Internal Revenue Service.”

• Last July, our colleague Kim Strassel reported on the troubling case of Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot, who’d donated money to a pro-Romney organization. In April, an Obama campaign website “called out Mr. VanderSloot and seven other private donors by name and occupation and slurred them as having ‘less-than-reputable’ records.” Two months later he received an audit notice from the IRS. Two more weeks later the Department of Labor informed him it would audit his business.

• Last September, the Obama campaign issued an ad demanding that Mitt Romney release more of his tax returns: “What else is he hiding?” Earlier, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, claimed to know, the Puffington Host reported.

While no evidence has surfaced directly implicating the White House in the IRS abuses, it is not unreasonable to think that the pattern of abuse is responsive to the tone set by the man at the top of the executive branch. As Strassel observed:

Entrusted with extraordinary powers, Mr. Obama has the duty to protect and defend all Americans–regardless of political ideology. By having his campaign target a private citizen for his politics, the president forswore those obligations. He both undermined public faith in federal institutions and put his employees in an impossible situation.

Rush helps us remember that this is nothing new:

Did the White House use Romney’s tax returns against him? Was Harry Reid getting his crazy allegations about Romney’s taxes from the IRS? Remember when Harry Reid said, “Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, good friends have told me.”

“Who?”

“I’m not gonna tell you who’s told me.” But it is clear, Austan Goolsbee demonstrates, you could pick up the phone, call the IRS, and they’d tell you what you wanted to know. Somebody at the IRS, it had to be the IRS, told Goolsbee about the Kochs’ tax returns. How did Harry Reid find out about Mitt Romney’s taxes? And we know that all of these Romney donors were targeted for audits by the IRS. We know that what’s-her-face, Janet Napolitano, in a memo to the Department of Homeland Security, warned law enforcement officials to be on the lookout for right-wing extremist grouped who were concerned about illegal immigration, abortion, increasing federal power and restrictions on firearms.

Folks, the fact of the matter is, this administration has targeted right-wing groups from practically every bureaucracy in the government. The idea that it’s something new and uncommon from the IRS is ludicrous. Clinton did it. Clinton had targeted audits of conservative groups. It isn’t anything new. But for some reason the media has joined the chorus of criticism on this one. And I’m convinced it’s because they have to save the IRS, and so it’s a little bit of damage control, among other things.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Under Clinton the IRS went after the NRA, the Heritage Foundation, the National Review, the American Spectator, Freedom Alliance, American Policy Center, Citizens for Honest Government, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, Concerned Women for America, and on and on and on.

Rush should know:

I am audited every year by the state of New York, still, after being gone since 1997. I’m in the middle of a nine-month audit right now for just the last year. I didn’t live there. I didn’t work there. I didn’t earn any money in New York, but it doesn’t matter. They’re so cash strapped they’ve got a division in Albany, I’m convinced, that just follows people who leave and move to no-income-tax states.

Local conservative columnist and radio host, Howie Carr, recalls the time when the administration of Governor Michael Dukakis launched a state audit of him (only to have to cancel it and apologize later). He faced federal audits as well. (Here’s some audio that comes in on the middle of the story.)

Conservatives are a persecuted minority.

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All Your 1040s Are Belong to Us

Two words, Mr. President: Uh and oh.

A federal watchdog’s upcoming report says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups in 2011.

The disclosure contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who repeatedly assured Congress that conservative groups were not targeted. ….

That report says the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups learned that groups were being targeted in June 2011. It does not say whether Shulman was notified.

The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” ”Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says. …

On Jan, 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,” the report says.

While this was happening, several committees in Congress were writing IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to express concern because tea party groups were complaining of IRS harassment.

In Shulman’s responses, he did not acknowledge targeting of tea party groups. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.

“There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman said at the House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing.

All of which prompts this observation:

It now appears that this is one more scandal that the Obama administration managed to keep quiet until after November’s election. One wonders how many more skeletons will come tumbling out of the closet, now that Obama is safely re-elected.

And these questions:

Remember how much Harry Reid was mouthing off about tax returns? Did the White House feed him some inside information, or did the IRS?

Boy, did I blow this one. I thought four Americans dying at the hands of Islamist savages would cripple this presidency. Silly me. Obama’s like Al Capone: of all his manifest crimes, it’s the tax abuse that will bring him down.

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How To Become An Illegal Alien

There’s a movement afoot to help all of us get those tax breaks!

Dear Senator Harkin,

As a native Iowan and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stems from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for only three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.
Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I’m excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2008 and 2009.

Additionally, as an illegal alien I could begin using the local emergency room as my primary health care provider. Once I have stopped paying premiums for medical insurance, my accountant figures I could save almost $10,000 a year.

Another benefit in gaining illegal status would be that my daughter would receive preferential treatment relative to her law school applications, as well as ‘in-state’ tuition rates for many colleges throughout the United States for my son.

Lastly, I understand that illegal status would relieve me of the burden of renewing my driver’s license and making those burdensome car insurance premiums. This is very important to me, given that I still have college age children driving my car.
If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal (retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would be most appreciative. Thank you for your assistance

Your Loyal Constituent, (hoping to reach ‘illegal alien’ status rather than just a bonafide citizen of the USA )
Donald Ruppert
Burlington , IA
Get your Forms (NOW)!!

For all of you who have high school seniors graduating this spring and wonder how in the heck you’ll ever pay for college, consider this wise approach.

- Aggie

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Pestered by Sequester

Won’t you please help these poor Democrats before they lose all hope?

Opponents of sequestration are losing hope that the across-the-board cuts to federal spending will be reversed this year.

Republicans and conservative groups see the White House as having “caved” this week on the FAA cuts, and are digging in their heels to keep the level of spending reductions in place.

“I think Democrats are in a corner,” said Andy Roth of the conservative Club for Growth. “It is a case-by-case deal now.”

GOP leaders in the House said they have “no plans” to bring up broad legislation to replace sequestration, according to a leadership aide. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Friday told his troops they are winning the argument over the need to cut federal spending.

“Consider that the Democrats opening position was they would only replace the sequester with tax increases. By the first of this week Senator Reid proposed replacing the whole sequester with phony war savings. And by last night, Senate Democrats were adopting our targeted ‘cut this, not that’ approach,” Cantor said in memo to his colleagues.

Conservatives said Obama’s decision to accept the FAA fix — which transfers money from airport improvements to pay for air traffic controllers — shows his attempt to pressure Republicans into accepting tax increases has failed.

“Without this crisis at hand, the Democrats are conceding that they have lost the battle over spending cuts,” said GOP strategist Ron Bonjean.

“On taxes, I suspect his leverage was slim even before the FAA fix. Now, I’d say it is nearly non-existent,” said Dan Holler of the conservative Heritage Action for America.

Democrats without tax hikes are like Christmas without Santa Claus.

I can’t go on. It’s just too sad!

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Obama’s Budget Collects Twice As Much In Taxes As Claimed

Surprise!

President Barack Obama touted a proposal this week to collect $580 billion in new taxes from the wealthy to reduce the nation’s escalating deficit.

But his budget plan proposes new taxes and fees totaling nearly twice that amount – and not all from the wealthy. In total, Obama proposes to raise $1.1 trillion over 10 years in new revenue from dozens and dozens of sources.

Go to the link for the break-down.

- Aggie

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Wealthy Germans To Pay For EU Bailout

I’m sure that they are graciously accepting this…

Senior advisers to Chancellor Angela Merkel are pushing for better-off households to pay towards the cost of any future bail-outs for the weaker members of the single currency.

The proposals, from members of Germany’s council of economic experts, raise the prospect of taxes being imposed on property in a country like Spain if its government was forced to seek a bail-out.

The council, known as the “Five Wise Men”, is often used to test new policies that are later adopted officially.
The German suggestion is the latest sign that Berlin is intent on imposing even tougher rules on weaker southern euro members in exchange for using its economic might to support their finances.
As well as inflaming tensions between Germany and its smaller southern partners, the suggestion could also mean that Britons with holiday homes are dragged deeper into the eurozone crisis.

Around 400,000 Britons live or own homes in the south of Spain, which is suffering a deep recession that is hampering Madrid’s attempts to balance the public finances and stave off a bail-out.
Senior figures in Germany are now arguing that some richer home owners in countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece have so far avoided paying their fair share to rescue the euro, leaving Germany paying too much.
Taxes on property or other assets would mark a significant change in Europe’s approach to funding bail-outs for eurozone members. Until now, the cost of rescue packages for countries like Ireland, Greece and Portugal has fallen largely on people who invest money in either those countries’ bonds or – in the case of Cyprus – bank accounts.
Prof Peter Bofinger, an adviser to Mrs Merkel, said that levies on bank accounts are the wrong way of funding bail-outs, because rich people are able to shift their money out of the country.
“The resourceful rich just move their money to banks in northern Europe and avoid paying,” Prof Bofinger told Der Spiegel, a German magazine.
Instead of taxing cash, European Union governments should in future target property and other, less mobile assets, he said.

How long before Baby Boomers with nice homes or other assets are taxed on their properties in order to fund this or that nonsense? Europe already has a VAT tax, which is supposed to be a panacea, yet it obviously isn’t enough. Do you have a nice little mountain/beach/lake getaway? Uncle Sam might want a yearly piece of it. Ditto your lovely home or condo. We’re not there yet, but we have adopted European social policies and we are slowly developing a European economy.

- Aggie

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Get a Shotgun

Maybe we can get this tightwad doofus to show some charity at the point of a gun barrel:

Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden gave just 1.9 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity last year, far less than that donated by the Obamas and even below what the average American gives.

The Bidens reported an adjusted gross income of $385,072 in 2012 but gave only $7,190 to charity, a pittance for a couple earning so much and an incredibly small amount for a politician who probably hopes to run for president in 2016.

What’s more, $2,000 of what the Bidens donated didn’t come out of their income at all – it was old stuff, including “exercise equipment,” “boots,” “kitchenware,” “furniture,” toys,” bicycles,” “clothing,” and even “pottery.”

In the decade before his nomination to be vice president, Biden and his wife donated about 0.2 percent of their income, averaging a measly $369 in annual donations.

To their credit, the Obamas give a lot. What’s with BiteMe? And who tries to get a write-off for used boots? Ew.

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Obama To America: We Need Your Retirement Accounts.

Elections have consequences.

How many times have you read financial-advice stories lecturing you to max-out on your IRA, save as much as you can in your 401(k), and even pay taxes now to change your regular IRA into a Roth IRA that will be tax-free until you die?

Well, be careful how much you save.

That’s the message in President Obama’s budget for fiscal 2014, which for the first time proposes to cap the amount Americans can save in these tax-sheltered investment vehicles. The White House explanation is that some people have accumulated “substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.” So Mr. Obama proposes to “limit an individual’s total balance across tax-preferred accounts to an amount sufficient to finance an annuity of not more than $205,000 per year in retirement, or about $3 million for someone retiring in 2013.”

Thus do our political betters now feel free to define for everyone what is “needed” for a “reasonable” retirement. Not to be impertinent, but does this White House definition include being able to afford summers at age 70 at Martha’s Vineyard near the Obamas?

The feds may think $3 million is all you need after a lifetime of work, but that’s roughly the value of a California police sergeant’s pension if she works for 30 years, retires at age 50 and lives to normal life expectancy.

So much for “the millionaire next door”, working hard, saving, leaving something for the kids. We need that money for ObamaCare, for any number of useless programs, to pay the Chinese back for the “stimulus”. Need it.

I’ve never been able to read Ayn Rand because she bloviates. But she was onto something.

- Aggie

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What, We Cynical?

Can you blame us?

Governor Deval Patrick said today he is open to the state Senate’s transportation financing plan, comments that could signal the beginning of the end of a tense dispute between the governor and legislative leaders over taxes and transit funding.

The governor said the $805 million Senate bill could be a middle ground between his $1 billion tax increase for transportation and the $500 million tax hike that the House passed earlier this week.

Patrick has vowed to veto the House bill, calling it insufficient, but issued no such threat toward the Senate legislation.

“Well, it’s definitely moving in the right direction,” Patrick told reporters in a State House hallway. “It’s a very, very hopeful movement in the right direction.”

An optimist reads this story and sees savings of $200,000,000. A pessimist sees spending of $805,000,000. Count us among the pessimists.

But it’s for transportation, you say—roads, bridges, commuter rail!

This is why we’re pessimists:

The state’s taxpayer-funded commuter rail service is lavishing extravagant raises, “signing” bonuses and other plum perks on its engineers and conductors, according to a scathing new report that also slams the debt-ridden MBTA for its own “excessive” labor costs that far outpace other state agencies.

The report — compiled by the Pioneer Institute, a conservative fiscal watchdog, and obtained by the Herald — called on Gov. Deval Patrick and Beacon Hill Democrats to rein in Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail and MBTA salaries and benefits before raising taxes to bail out the cash-strapped transit agency.

You should be pessimists too:

Those numbers mean a $100 million MBTA spending hike this year alone, and almost 30 percent more since Patrick took office.

But nobody’s talking about how the MBTA budget has gone up twice as fast as inflation — even as household incomes in Massachusetts have fallen.

As Richard Weir and Margery Eagan reported in the Herald yesterday, the MBTA has a “secret pension system,” and the Democrats on Beacon Hill oppose forcing the T’s retirement board to reveal how much we’re paying former MBTA employees not to work.

So we have to pay more, but you won’t tell us how you’re spending it?

Forget it, Jake, it’s Massachusetts.

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