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Let them eat cake!
November 8, 2004 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Mr. Bush's first big political move. Banning gays? Killing babies to produce oil? No, tax reform! What? Nothing sinister in that, you say! Except he might totally do away with the current system and create a flat tax or national sales tax. Quick, everyone read up on flat taxes, and national sales tax! Blogger's favorite economist Atrios gives his two cents. With everything going on, it is almost nostalgic to see tax reform become an issue.
posted by geoff. (165 comments total)

 
President Bush "absolutely" will use his second term to push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, his top political strategist said Sunday.
posted by Foosnark at 11:46 AM on November 8, 2004


And guess who a flat tax benefits? Hint: not you.

If the Democrats can get their act together, this could be the achilles heel. If I'm understanding correctly, mortgage deductions and tything to churches/parishes would no longer be tax deductible. Talk about annihilation of the middle class.

If anyone has a rebuke of this, I'm all for hearing it. From my simple economics standpoint, the flat tax flies in the face of diminishing returns. $10 to a person make $100 a week is worth more then $1,000 to someone making $10,000 a week. To me it seems simply unfair, but I'm wrong a lot and am open to discourse.
posted by geoff. at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2004


Somewhere, Steve Forbes is smiling.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2004


Killing babies to produce oil?

So that's what "baby oil" is made of!

Ye gods, baby oil is people! Peeeooople!!
posted by jonmc at 11:57 AM on November 8, 2004


I'd love to see simpler tax returns, but making the poor pay more and the rich pay less isn't quite what I had in mind.

A national sales tax sounds like a bad idea too. State sales tax is already a mess with online shopping and whatnot.
posted by Foosnark at 11:58 AM on November 8, 2004


I almost made a post about this proposed national sales tax a few months ago, but I couldn't find any research to support or refute it (I didn't look hard enough though).

Here's the thing I do like about the idea of a flat tax or sales tax: it's simple. I pay taxes fairly for everything my country and city needs, but it's horribly complex. I have to pay an accountant to act as a caddy, telling me the lay of the land, what to expect, and how much to pay. Then you know that the upper class often gets out of paying any taxes at all (Bush even used this as a quip on campaign stops).

What I wish is that we had no need for accountants, and that tax law was ridiculously easy. Something more like "you make x money this year? well then you pay y tax" without filling out a zillion forms.

I'm all ears on flat taxes and national sales taxes because I long for a day when things are simple and as fair across the board as they can be.
posted by mathowie at 11:58 AM on November 8, 2004


I honestly don't know why the Left hates a flat tax. Campaign for $40,000 or $50,000 tax free, and a 20%-25% past those cutoffs. The poor will pay no taxes, the vast majority of loopholes for the rich will close, and the enormous deadweight loss demanded by tax compliance will shrink.
posted by trharlan at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2004


Steve Forbes once wouldn't shake my hand. It might've been the stained khaki pants and the green flannel shirt I was wearing, though.
posted by angry modem at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2004


Has a flat tax ever been a conservative cause? The only person in recent memory that I can remember touting it was Steve Forbes, who didn't really seem to fit in any box. He had an odd mix of progressive and reactionary ideas.

Just curious where the flat tax idea is coming from, or if it's just a trial balloon.
posted by psmealey at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2004


My impression was that his first goal was going to be to reform medical liability law suits. That'll be a super easy one for him to pass.

I think he would very much like to reform the tax code and he's open to a flat tax (which seems easier to get through to me than a sales tax), but that will take a lot longer to build consensus for. It's far from likely to be the first thing he does. In fact, he can probably get more support for partially privatizing social security than he can get for radically modifying the tax code.

For myself, I hope he can get everything he's aiming for passed. This country absolutely deserves to get everything they've foolishly asked for. It's the only way the people who vote with their hearts instead of their heads will ever learn that good feelings don't make for good policy.
posted by willnot at 12:07 PM on November 8, 2004


I'm not oppposed to it either, for the reasons that mathowie and trharlan mention above. Also, what about subsidizing revenue with naval seizure operations just like in the olden days? Maybe there just aren't enough pirates left for that, though, on second thought.
posted by psmealey at 12:07 PM on November 8, 2004


I highly recommend the Tax Policy Center as a reference site, BTW.

Full disclosure: I am somewhat affiliated with TPC.
posted by terrapin at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2004


A pretty good primer on NST and flat taxes can be found in this article [PDF] by Brookings' senior fellow Bill Gale. One of the things that caught my attention in the article is this:
With extremely conservative assumptions about the magnitude of evasion, avoidance, and statutory base erosion, it would require a 60 percent tax-exclusive (38 percent tax-inclusive) tax rate to replace existing federal taxes, and a 26 percent tax-exclusive (21 percent tax-inclusive) tax rate to replace the existing personal income tax. These estimates do not include any allowance for economic growth, but even if the economy grew by 5 percent, which would be an enormous effect relative to existing estimates, the tax-exclusive tax rates would only come down to 57 percent and 19 percent to replace all federal taxes, or the income tax, respectively.
posted by terrapin at 12:20 PM on November 8, 2004


I'm all ears on flat taxes and national sales taxes because I long for a day when things are simple and as fair across the board as they can be.

Congress is absolutely shameless in providing tax breaks as kickback for campaign contributions. I mean, we're at war, drowning in national debt, and they just voted in a loophole for NASCAR track owners. Is there really any chance that the "simplicity and fairness" gained from knocking down the progressive tax could last long?
posted by eatitlive at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2004


I'm totally down with a flat tax for the reaons that Mathowie points out. We can have a fair, simple, flat tax that exempts the poor from most taxes and improves the tax system tremendously.
posted by cell divide at 12:22 PM on November 8, 2004


It will never happen. Who do you think put the loopholes in in the first place?
posted by PrinceValium at 12:28 PM on November 8, 2004


In a perfect world, a national sales tax would be great, and could very well help simplify the tax code. But look at Bush's record. This is not the administration you want messing with the tax code. By all appearances, the influence of lobbyists over legislation has increased over the past 4 years. There's no way tax reform under this administration would be anywhere close to revenue-neutral. Ignore the siren calls of simplicity.
posted by gsteff at 12:29 PM on November 8, 2004


Liberals who worry about alternative tax regimes ought to breathe a big sigh of relief. It will never, ever happen -- and Bush putting effort it would be distracting him from other more doable things.

As trharlan points out, regressive/progressive isn't the issue: one may move around the exemption line (in a flat tax) or the annual fixed refund (in a national sales tax or VAT) to approximate (or even exceed) the progressiveness of the current federal income tax system.

The insuperable obstacle to structural tax reform is that any regime would require the elimination of many or most deductions, allowances, credits and exemptions, in exchange for a lower nominal tax rate.

That will never happen, because every single tax benefit has a ridiculously large and well-funded lobby. Tax simplification has a few guys working on card tables in basement offices. And that's saying nothing of the decent lobby that the tax complexity in itself has ... a hundred or more independent CPAs in every Congressional district who depend upon tax season, to say nothing of Jackson Hewitt & H&R Block.

I suspect that, Blue Ribbon Commissions notwithstanding, Bush will have a much more straightforward agenda of making the 2001-2003 tax cuts permanent. If he goes another step further, it will be to propitiate the banks and bond issuers by making interest payments eligible for the same discounted tax treatment as dividends. (That will be tough to sell, since borrowers don't pay taxes on money paid out in interest, removing the "double taxation" argument applicable to dividend payments.)
posted by MattD at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2004


Yeah, I don't see the funders of Bush's re-election allowing him to flat tax them.

And I don't really see Bush cutting off the level of taxation for those making $40k or more.

But I do like the idea of a flat tax. Just as I also like the thought of Bush tripping down a flight of stairs. Oh wait, on second thought, that would put Cheney in charge. No, I think I'll be praying for Bush's health now.
posted by fenriq at 12:32 PM on November 8, 2004


We can have a fair, simple, flat tax that exempts the poor from most taxes and improves the tax system tremendously.

Call me a cynic, but I suspect that if that was the end result of a flat tax, there's no way Bush would implement it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:32 PM on November 8, 2004


As for the VAT tax or national sales tax, it is incredibly regressive, i.e. low-ealth people pay a much larger percentage of the tax. In fact, here is what the IRS calls it:
A regressive tax may seem to be an equitable form of taxation because everyone, regardless of income level, pays the same fixed amount. In reality, however, such a tax causes lower-income groups to pay a greater proportion of their income than higher-income groups pay.

Think about it, you pay $200 a week for groceries for a family of four making $50,000 a year. At a 10% national sales tax, you pay $1,040 or 2% of your total income on taxes just for groceries.

If you made $200,000 a year and bought the same groceries, you still only pay $1,040 but are spending .05% of your income. Therefore, people who make less, pay more than "their" share comparatively.
posted by karmaville at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2004


I was still living in Canada when the Progressive Conservatives imposed the GST (a national sales tax) in 1991. For those of you who haven't been paying attention to Canadian politics for the last 15 years, the introduction of this tax was one of the main causes of one of the most pronounced drops in popularity of a ruling in Canadian history, and the Progressive Conservative went from 151 seats in Parliament to two. That's right, two. After hobbling along for another ten years, the PC party (which had been around since the country's founding) finally gave up the ghost and was folded into another political party just last year.

So speaking as a left-winger, I think it would be a very good thing for the Republicans to introduce a national sales tax.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2004


If I'm understanding correctly, mortgage deductions and tything to churches/parishes would no longer be tax deductible.

It specifically states in the article that interest on mortgage payments are one of a couple deductions that they want to keep.
posted by jbelshaw at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2004


...drops in popularity of a ruling party in Canadian history...
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:37 PM on November 8, 2004


The only person in recent memory that I can remember touting it was Steve Forbes, who didn't really seem to fit in any box

Friday, March 27, 1992
Brown advocates flat 13 percent income tax


In an attempt to strike a chord with voter disapproval of Washington bureaucracy, Jerry Brown's domestic platform proposes new ideas for dealing with the economy.
One of Brown's most innovative ideas is his flat tax rate. Instead of the current federal tax system, all taxpayers would pay a tax rate of 13 percent to promote a fairer and less complex tax structure.
Brown, the former governor of California, would eliminate taxes and all other sources of government revenue and replace them with flat-rate taxes.
"Despite the low rate of 13 percent, federal revenues would be at least as much as they are today and probably much higher if this revamping of the tax code unleashes the business expansion we expect," according to the news release.
The flat tax more specifically means the elimination of the personal income tax, social security tax, corporate tax, gift and estate tax, gasoline tax and federal excise taxes.
Individuals would report all of their income without deductions, exemptions or exclusions with the exception of mortgage interest, rent payment and charitable donations.
In addition, the business income would place a single tax on value added from labor, capital and land. Businesses obtain the tax base by taking its total sales and subtracting its purchases from other businesses that pay taxes.
According to the news release Brown said the plan has great potential.
"The 13 percent flat tax reform is the only new idea to emerge from this year's presidential campaign. With it, the stock market will go through the roof, businesses will thrive and millions of Americans will go back to work," according to Brown's news release.

posted by matteo at 12:37 PM on November 8, 2004


Any "fair, simple, flat tax" from this bunch will be pretty much like "Helping Americans Vote Act", "No Child Left Behind", and "USAPATRIOT."
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:38 PM on November 8, 2004


November 10, 2003
Flat-Tax Comeback
It's gaining popularity worldwide. Why not here?

It is worth remembering that former California governor Jerry Brown ran on a flat tax in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1992, giving his campaign a big boost. According to Gallup, Brown's support rose steadily as he campaigned on the flat tax, rising from the low single digits to about 25 percent of the Democratic electorate, second only to Bill Clinton. Brown was also able to beat Clinton in primaries in Maine, Colorado, Vermont, Connecticut, Utah, and Nevada. He was the only candidate able to challenge Clinton all the way to the Democratic convention.

posted by matteo at 12:39 PM on November 8, 2004


I vehemently oppose simplification of the tax code. If that happens I need to start training for my third career. (I'm currently an accounting major.) Kidding aside, a flat tax or national sales tax would still require a complex code to avoid placing an undue burden on the middle and lower classes. This is just another give away for the rich who spend a proportionatly smaller amount of their incomes on the necessities of life (and thus less tax in a national sales tax model).
posted by AstroGuy at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2004


Ya know, I don't understand why it is so difficult to come up with a tax policy that is simple and accomodating. As far as I can tell, all you have to do to get tax loopholes out is to get rid of all deductions. But that doesn't mean you have to go to a flat tax, or a value-added tax, which are both extremely regressive.

Institute a simple income tax, based on the same progressive scale that we have now, but get rid of all deductions. No rebates for having children, no rebates for charity. No rebates for interest you pay on your mortgage or for student loans. And no rebates on capital gains or dividend income.

Set tax brackets so that the bottom 20% pay 0 in income taxes (which is more or less where they are now); the next 20% pay 10%; the middle 20 pay 20%; the next 30%; and the top 20% of all taxpayers pay 40%.

And it shouldn't matter whether or not the income received is from work or wealth. If you're a rich bastard that gets 50% or your income from trust-fund gains, you're taxed 40%, regardless of whether that income comes from a brokerage account or the sweet VP job you got in your daddy's company. If you are middle class, but get a modest amount of your income from dividends, you're taxed at 20%.

But the most important part is getting rid of the incentives where our legislators have tried to dictate behaviour in both the individual and corporate tax schemes. No more rebates or loopholes, no more subsidies or write-offs. Just a simple, 'this is what you make, this is what you pay.' I mean, really, it's not that hard to come up with a suitable tax code. It's just a matter of getting it past the special interests.
posted by dogmatic at 12:49 PM on November 8, 2004


it would require a 60 percent tax-exclusive (38 percent tax-inclusive) tax rate to replace existing federal taxes, and a 26 percent tax-exclusive (21 percent tax-inclusive) tax rate to replace the existing personal income tax.

Can someone pls. explain this whole inclusive/exclusive thing?
posted by mkultra at 12:53 PM on November 8, 2004


As many people point out, a flat tax would be near impossible to implement because our political system is stacked against it so heavily. If Bush could pull it off, I'd be impressed by the accomplishment. If he even tries it I'll be impressed by his guts in pissing off organizations that support him. Even if Bush created a flat tax that was primarily beneficial to higher income taxpayers, it would be much easier to turn into a good flat tax system (increase the rate and level of exemption) once the biggest step (eliminating the old, special interest fueled system) was already complete.
But maybe I'm just desperate for optimism right now.
posted by Wingy at 12:53 PM on November 8, 2004


Starting a flat tax at any level would still help some people more than others, and generally the people it would hurt would be those who had the least.

Say you start the flat tax at $50,000. Anybody making less than $50,000 doesn't pay any tax, and someone making $51,000 only pays taxes on the last $1,000. That still hurts the guy making $60,000 each year more than the guy making $2 million.

The important concept here is that it takes a minimum amount of money to live under acceptable standards, and that this does not scale up when you become ultra-wealthy. After paying for the necessities of life, you have a certain amount left over to spend in luxuries, and to save. In a flat tax system, the poorer you are, the more of your leftover money is being taxed, and the richer you are, the higher percentage you have left over to invest. So, the old saw holds true: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

That is the justification for a progressive tax system that taxes the wealthy at a higher rate. Until you change the nature of money, "evening out the playing field" does anything but make things fairer.

As for the simplicity argument, I think that that is appealing, but it would never happen. Taxation is not a simplistic issue. If you tried taxing everybody at the same rate, you would soon notice disparities that you would attempt to correct -- like, why should a single person making $51,000 and a family with two kids and a single $51,000 income be taxed the same -- and you would try to fix it by amending the tax law. The minute you start doing that, you begin going down the same road we've always been on, except this time it's founded on an unfair regressive rather than progressive system. Not an improvement in any way.
posted by Hildago at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2004


Hey, why bash HAVA?

It was a bi-partisan bill, and the major change it imposed -- provisional ballots -- was one of the things that actually worked quite well this election.

If you must bash a bipartisan first Bush term bill, please back No Child Left Behind, bad in principal and worse in practice.
posted by MattD at 12:59 PM on November 8, 2004


If you tried taxing everybody at the same rate, you would soon notice disparities that you would attempt to correct -- like, why should a single person making $51,000 and a family with two kids and a single $51,000 income be taxed the same -- and you would try to fix it by amending the tax law.

Why shouldn't they be taxed the same way? Why should we legislate how people choose to live their lives by rewarding them for having children?

This is one of the main things I've never understood about the current tax law -- if a couple decides to reproduce, hey, that's great. But why should I pay more in taxes than they must to help support that decision? If they can't make financial plans accordingly without a government tax break, then they probably aren't fit to raise children in the first place.
posted by dogmatic at 1:01 PM on November 8, 2004


I think all this talk of tax simplification is great,

Thomas Frank was right.
posted by szg8 at 1:02 PM on November 8, 2004


Gynocologists and proctologists everywhere are unable to practice their love, meanwhile our president is trying to mess with the tax code. Evildoer.
posted by bargle at 1:02 PM on November 8, 2004


I am for a flat tax on these conditions:

1. All for-profit corporations are taxed exactly as an individual with the same percentage.
2. One (large) flat dollar amount deduction. Corporations get the exact same deduction as an individual. No special deductions (even mortgage interest payments) whatsoever, except *maybe* an increase in the dollar amount of the deduction based on the number of dependent children.
3. No more tax shelters. (IRA's etc.). All non-monetary benefits are considered income (health, stock options, dividents, all of it). All of it taxable.
4. The only tax relief possible would be the increase of the dollar amount of the deduction.
posted by urlnotfound at 1:04 PM on November 8, 2004


I'm assuming this is all part of Bush's ongoing plan to reduce/abolish taxes of any kind of non-salary (read: investment) income.
posted by tippiedog at 1:05 PM on November 8, 2004


dogmatic: Yes, but a tax code can be more effective as regards getting the social outcomes policymakers want than a standing army.
posted by raysmj at 1:05 PM on November 8, 2004


What would a national sales tax do to a state like Florida, where sales tax is a major fiscal workhorse? Would states have the option to apply a surtax, or would Florida have to adopt a State Income Tax?
posted by Sangre Azul at 1:08 PM on November 8, 2004


Hildago; your first and second paragraphs are incongruent. Someone earning $50,000 or less wouldn't be hurt at all (he'd live income tax-free). The guy making $60,000 would pay a much smaller percent of his total income than the guy making $2 million.

And I think you are misusing the term "progressive." A flat tax with an exemption greater than zero is a progressive tax.
posted by trharlan at 1:09 PM on November 8, 2004


MattD: I got nothing against provisional ballots, but against the restriction of voters to bring suits that HAVA enacted.
For the record, I did already bash NCLB :)
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:11 PM on November 8, 2004


Campaign for $40,000 or $50,000 tax free, and a 20%-25% past those cutoffs. The poor will pay no taxes
posted by trharlan at 8:00 PM GMT on November 8


How do you get a tax allowance on a sales tax?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:11 PM on November 8, 2004


Progressive taxes are no more complicated than flat taxes. As many others have pointed out, it's all the exemptions and loopholes that we have that make the system complicated.

I'm all for tax simplification.

Here's my plan:

You're really poor? You pay no tax. In fact, the government will give you money if you go to school, get educated, etc.

You're sorta poor? Like less than $30K a year? Ok, you pay a really small amount. In fact, you get to get some education as well.

You're in between 30K and 70K? You pay something like 25% of your income.

You make 70K to 150K? You're doing pretty well. Your bill will be like 30%.

You make more than 150K? Since this country is so cool, and you've been able to make a lot of money, you get to pay more than other people. Don't want to be a responsible citizen? Fine, move to the Bahamas. Everyone else gets to pay 40%.

Note: that's approximately what we'd all be paying now, except that there are exceptions out the wazoo.

Want to make it even simpler? Remove the education exemption, although the more educated the general populace is the better off the society is.
posted by bshort at 1:14 PM on November 8, 2004


The US has had a 'cheap food' policy for some time. So a flat tax that taxes food, not gonna happen.

No tax break for morgages would mess with the 'ownership' society - having low income people buying homes thing.

Now, if every time you go to the store and see a say, 33% tax every time you buy something VS every 2 weeks you get your paycheck and see 33% gone, perhaps citizens will ask 'what the hell ARE you doing with that 33%?' vs today where every 2 weeks there is grumbling, then a return to ignoring the question "What ARE you doing with that tax money?"
posted by rough ashlar at 1:16 PM on November 8, 2004


How do you get a tax allowance on a sales tax?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you. My comments referred strictly to a flat tax, with no federal sales tax.
posted by trharlan at 1:19 PM on November 8, 2004


It's worth remembering, for those Americans who haven't forgotten that there are other countries in the world, that it was a flat-rate tax that unseated Margaret Thatcher. This was not a substitute for income tax but the so-called 'poll tax', a replacement for a comparatively low-level tax based on the value of the property where you lived ('rates'). Cue massive demonstrations, riots in central London, huge Tory losses in local and by-elections, and eventually the resignation of the most popular British leader since Churchill.

(What people tend to forget is that another flat-rate tax, the sales tax 'VAT', was raised from 15% to 17.5% to lower the first year of poll-tax charges -- disguising the arrival of a very visible tax with an increase in a less visible one. When the poll tax was abolished in 1993/4, to be replaced by the 'council tax', VAT remained at 17.5% and has stayed there. And when I say 'people tend to forget', those people include most of the British citizens who pay it every time they buy something.)
posted by Hogshead at 1:21 PM on November 8, 2004


Oh god, yes ... this would be awesome. This would be the best thing ever. Please, pretty please let it pass.

Many reasons: 1) People actually get to see how much they're being taxed.
2) There's an incentive to save and to not spend -- money you put in your savings account gets saved. Money that you spend on trinkets and stupid shit gets taxed. Basically, you get to *choose* how much you contribute in taxes. If you don't like the government and don't want to pay taxes, grow your food in your backyard and only buy the bare minimum that you need.
3) People who buy more expensive things will get taxed more: Buy a $10,000 car? $3330 in taxes, OK. Buy a $50,000 car? Fine, you get taxed $16500 in taxes.
posted by SpecialK at 1:23 PM on November 8, 2004


why should a single person making $51,000 and a family with two kids and a single $51,000 income be taxed the same

Why the hell not?!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:27 PM on November 8, 2004


FFF: kids eat food. Food costs money. We like having kids around so we give people a tax break so that they can buy food for the kids.

It's not rocket science.
posted by bshort at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2004


My frigging cat eats food, too, but I ain't gonna get a tax break for that.

I already pay tax penalties for not having children, and you want to increase my tax burden? Sweet zombie jesus, I make the responsible decision and get punished for it?

Tell you what: don't use kids as an excuse for a tax break, and I'll continue to pay a school tax.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:35 PM on November 8, 2004


As cute as your cat is, we, as a society, have decided that people with kids deserve our support, and people with cats simply deserve to support the lint brush industry. I say this as a co-owner of two cats and zero kids.

That's what government is all about, protecting, supporting and banding together. We've also decided, that, as a society, we will help fund research into a variety of sciences, some useful, some not so useful.

Don't like the fact that people with kids are given a minor tax break to make sure that they have sufficient food, clothing, etc.? Cool. I bet others don't like it either. Get some voters together and pressure your representatives to change it. But just realize that while some seek to paint government with the broad brush of waste and excess, that's an over simplification, much like the flat tax idea.
posted by bshort at 1:43 PM on November 8, 2004


I make the responsible decision and get punished for it?

Who's to say what the "responsible" decision is? I can see arguements for both sides.

Tell you what: don't use kids as an excuse for a tax break, and I'll continue to pay a school tax.

This is the one I really hate - because of course the quality of your local school district has no bearing on your property value...
posted by jalexei at 1:43 PM on November 8, 2004


No tax break for morgages would mess with the 'ownership' society - having low income people buying homes thing.

I use the standard deduction because the interest on my home is less annually than the standard deduction. Besides, POOR people rarely purchase homes. Low income is a wishy-washy nonsense euphamism. Say it with me. Poor people.

Why, exactly, does anyone think that the mortgage interest deduction is a good idea? I have a better plan. How about a mortgage PAYMENT deduction instead. Instead of encouraging people to sell their homes every 10 years (as their ammortization falls, so do their tax write-offs), we encourage population stability and reduce home price inflation.
posted by urlnotfound at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2004


Can someone pls. explain this whole inclusive/exclusive thing?

From the article [PDF] to which I linked above:

"A key issue is the required tax rate in a sales tax. The first issue is how to define a tax rate. Suppose a good costs $100 and has a $30 sales tax. The tax-exclusive tax rate would be 30 percent, since the tax is 30 percent of the pre-tax selling price ($100). The tax-inclusive rate would be 23 percent, which is obtained by dividing the $30 tax by the total consumer cost ($100+$30). Sales taxes are typically quoted in tax-exclusive terms, but income taxes are typically quoted as taxinclusive rates. For example, a household that earns $130 and pays $30 in taxes would normally think of itself as facing about a 23 percent (30/130) income tax rate. Although there is no single correct way to report the sales tax rate, it is crucial to understand which approach is being used. The tax-inclusive rate will always be lower than the tax-exclusive rate and the difference grows as the rates rise. At a rate of 1 percent the difference is negligible, but a 50 percent tax-exclusive rate corresponds to a 33 percent tax-inclusive rate."
posted by terrapin at 1:47 PM on November 8, 2004


Arguments that childless folks should not be subsidizing people with children should note that without children there is no future.

Those of us making the kids are making the future, those of you without kids are supplementing that effort.

Kids also grow up to become voters. Cats grow up to cough of hairballs. Which is more useful to society?
posted by fenriq at 1:54 PM on November 8, 2004


Thanks MAtteo. Glad to see I wasn't the only one who thought a "progressive" recently called for a flat-tax rate.

I think simplification will consist of abolishing capital gains taxes altogether.
posted by infowar at 1:57 PM on November 8, 2004


"My frigging cat eats food, too, but I ain't gonna get a tax break for that".

in the current US political climate, one could build an entire run for office on this sentence alone. maybe minus the "frigging" part -- you know, "values" and "decency" and stuff
;)

without children there is no future.

I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
...
Because the greatest looooooooooooooooove of all
Is happening to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

posted by matteo at 2:00 PM on November 8, 2004


Nothing at all this administration has done has demonstrated a desire to make the distribution of wealth in this country more equitable. So call me a cynic, but why on earth would they start now? Companies like Halliburton spend billions to set up offices in the Bahamas so they can trade with "forbidden" countries and so they don't have to pay taxes. Closing such a loophole was one issue Kerry campaigned on, and he lost. So I am trying to wrap my mind around why we should believe Republicans would possibly be for something like a flat tax. The American public obviously doesn't care about stuff like that.
posted by sixdifferentways at 2:02 PM on November 8, 2004


If by some freak of nature this managed to happen, what would the fall out be from the loss of accounting jobs. While accountants probably don't number much higher than a hundred thousand or so, i'm sure their total pay is probably awfully high. Also those accounting companies would be out of some serious loot too. I can't imagine the end short term result being good for the economy.
posted by sourbrew at 2:05 PM on November 8, 2004


Also, argument against kids...


"without kids there is no future."

I am personally against the idea that people without children shoot foot the bill for anyone elses kids. Why oh please why did you knock her up if you couldn't afford it? That said i know there are lots of unplanned pregnancies...... again how is that my problem?

\cold and heartless
posted by sourbrew at 2:07 PM on November 8, 2004


Those of us making the kids are making the future, those of you without kids are supplementing that effort.

Sure, a future, but a future of what? Some kids will grow up to cure cancer, others will be a burden on society. If kids only supplemented our future we should all have ten, but we know it doesn't work that way.

At least a cat who coughs up hairballs is a burden only to its owner.
posted by justgary at 2:08 PM on November 8, 2004


Arguments that childless folks should not be subsidizing people with children should note that without children there is no future.

Those of us making the kids are making the future, those of you without kids are supplementing that effort.


You can have kids if you want, but the point is this:

You have chosen to have children. You should have ventured into that decision knowing all of the costs involved with having a child and paying for that child's health care, diapers, clothes, schooling, day care, etc. Therefore, I see no reason why the government should offer you money for making that lifestyle decision and bearing the financial costs that come with raising a child.

I, knowing that I cannot afford to raise children in my current financial situation, get no tax break, and am, in a sense, subsidizing your own decision.

I don't understand your decision to have children is rewarded while mine is not. Because you can look at it one of two ways: either you can afford to raise the child without the government's help, and therefore do not need the tax break; or you cannot afford to raise the chld without the government's help, and you don't deserve the tax break (ie your choice was irresponsible to begin with). Either way, it really pisses me off that my tax dollars are going to you, when they could be spent on universal health care, or -- god help us -- paying down the national debt, two things that would help all Americans, not just the small portion that have chosen to have kids every year.
posted by dogmatic at 2:09 PM on November 8, 2004


No tax break for morgages would mess with the 'ownership' society - having low income people buying homes thing.

I use the standard deduction because the interest on my home is less annually than the standard deduction.


And I have my house paid off, so my property tax is not deductable....being so small.

Low income != poor. If I have 6 million in land and only make 4,000 a year I am low income, but few would say that I am 'poor'.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:16 PM on November 8, 2004


Some kids will grow up to cure cancer, others will be a burden on society.

Yeah, but both of those groups are really really small.

The vast, overwhelming majority of people in this country are law-abiding citizens that are the very backbone of this society.

If anything needs government encouragement, it's kids. Kids need education, kids need 3 squares, kids need a decent homelife.

If they don't get those things they will be a burden on society.

And if they do get those things then we have a nation of happier, healthier people who are better educated and are able to make a positive difference.

Also, it's not like we're deciding that people with kids get to be millionaires or something. We're talking about a fairly small deduction. Suck it up and find something to complain about that has some merit.

Like tax breaks for huge corporations.
posted by bshort at 2:18 PM on November 8, 2004


Adding to that, many people who have children have them because the children bring joy and happiness to their lives. Other people find joy and happiness from gambling, hookers, and muscle cars. Should we give these activities a tax break? Why is having children a morally or economically superior use of one's resources?
posted by trharlan at 2:19 PM on November 8, 2004


Kids also grow up to become voters. Cats grow up to cough of hairballs. Which is more useful to society?

Well, where else are you going to get hairballs? They don't grow on trees, you know.
posted by papercake at 2:22 PM on November 8, 2004


The only thing I would love more than to dance on the grave of the IRS would be to see an end to the War on Drugs in my lifetime.
At least one is looking plausible, now.
posted by darukaru at 2:24 PM on November 8, 2004


Other people find joy and happiness from gambling, hookers, and muscle cars.

Having kids is different from buying piles of hookers. Most people in our society see that. If you don't then maybe you should think about not having kids.
posted by bshort at 2:24 PM on November 8, 2004


I don't mind paying taxes, really. It's not all that difficult. What's annoyingly complex is filling out tax returns. Why doesn't anyone try to make that process simpler? Would a so-called "flat tax" be completely loophole-free? Somehow I doubt it.
posted by tommasz at 2:27 PM on November 8, 2004


Everything Bush wants: to rewrite the constitution to take away rights, to have the government give churches money, to have a flat tax, seems so improbable. For a while I thought these issues were MacGuffins used to distract people from whatever he *really* wanted. I'm more inclined now to believe that he absolutely wants each of these changes made.

He talked about the flat tax during the debates. I think he basically argued that poor people pay more in taxes because rich people know the tax loopholes. As per usual, this is probably the most ass-backward and dishonest way of introducing this idea. It reminds me of when Bush said there needs to more logging, because it helps clean forests and is good for the environment.
posted by xammerboy at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2004


All of this flat tax / VAT / NST stuff is going nowhere.

If you want to work on an issue, work on potential amendments to the 2001-2003 tax cuts.

Examples include modification of stepped-up-basis-at-death and AMT reform, each of which would greatly benefit the upper middle class of "blue" jurisdictions at the expense of heirs of the ultra-rich and "red" state ordinary rich.
posted by MattD at 2:35 PM on November 8, 2004


Why is having children a morally or economically superior use of one's resources?

When those children you are talking about cutting off grow up a little larger and find you one night in a dark alley, I hope for your sake that you are just trolling.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:36 PM on November 8, 2004


Kids also grow up to become voters. Cats grow up to cough of hairballs. Which is more useful to society?

Given the current election results and the rapid degeneration into monoparty rule, the hairballs. Of course.
posted by eriko at 2:37 PM on November 8, 2004


It's going nowhere, but it should definitely be picked up by the Dem's and made into a campaign issue.

"Simplify the tax code: remove the loopholes."

That's pretty simple right there.
posted by bshort at 2:38 PM on November 8, 2004


Also, argument against kids...


"without kids there is no future."

I am personally against the idea that people without children shoot foot the bill for anyone elses kids. Why oh please why did you knock her up if you couldn't afford it? That said i know there are lots of unplanned pregnancies...... again how is that my problem?

\cold and heartless


Well, hell, you know, here you are, having been run down by a truck in the intersection, but it's not really my problem, is it? I mean, it didn't happen to me. Why should I continue to subsidize something like ambulances and health care for other people? Why should I pay taxes so that the roads can be repaired, or that traffic lights can be maintained? I'll take my chances, because it's just me, individual me, that I have to worry about. The infrastructure? Public education? If people want education they can pay for it. If people want to have kids they can pay for that too, and I sure as hell won't because I don't owe anything to anybody. This thing you call 'society', this thing you call 'the social contract', what you might even call 'mutual aid'-- that's just communist bullshit. It's every man for himself, dog eat dog, and if I happen to step over your bleeding body in the middle of the road, hey, man, that's tough. Should have watched where you were going.
posted by jokeefe at 2:42 PM on November 8, 2004


Since wages are indexed to the cost of living, I bet anything that would vastly reduce taxes would be matched by corresponding pay cuts -- why would a company waste money into wages if 25% less is enough to go by at the same comfort level? Sure you would spend and invest that extra money, but wouldn't the company that pay you be doing something more profitable for itself with that extra money?

On kids: I remember something I read in the NYorker a while back. Economists consider kids being a public good/service when they crunch their models: everybody pays and benefits from them.

I am personally against the idea that people without children shoot foot the bill for anyone elses kids.

I'm telling my kids that when they grow up, they'll pay taxes for the benefits of everyone but YOU, YOU and YOU (specifically.) How does that sound?
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:44 PM on November 8, 2004


When those children you are talking about cutting off grow up a little larger and find you one night in a dark alley, I hope for your sake that you are just trolling.

Who said anything about cutting children off?
posted by trharlan at 2:50 PM on November 8, 2004


Also, it's not like we're deciding that people with kids get to be millionaires or something. We're talking about a fairly small deduction. Suck it up and find something to complain about that has some merit.

Like tax breaks for huge corporations.


I'm absolutely against tax breaks for corporations of all stripes, and farm subsidies as well for that matter. The problem is that neither one is going anywhere anytime soon. The basic understanding in Washington is that corporate tax revenue is a dead issue. Due to the nature of the global marketplace, we can no longer realistically expect businesses to pay their fair share -- or any share, for that matter -- of the US tax burden. The truth of the matter is, if we were to do away with the corporate loopholes that plague the current tax system, the best we could hope for is that we'd just NOT be paying gigantic tax credits to companies like Ford and GM and GE and all the rest which actually make money each year on the tax system. The minute that we cut those loopholes out -- and good luck even accomplishing that, with all the major lobbying out there -- you'd see a vast multitude of multinationals become Bermuda residents, which would leave the majority of our 'corporate taxes' being shouldered by small business. And we wouldn't want that.

As for the Child Tax credit -- 51 million children at $1000 per child is $51 billion, hardly a 'small deduction.' At the very least, that's enough to put a dent in the current deficit, and is not exactly a necessary expense.

Also... I notice, bshort, that while you've argued about the 'value of children' in our future, you haven't taken issue with my main premise, which is that (once again) -- those who can afford children don't need it, and those who can't should have planned better or not had kids. Not to throw fuel to the fire, but I would rather have my money go towards sex education, family planning, and even abortions if it meant there was one less child that I would have to subsidize over the next 18 years at $1000 a pop. It's infinitely cheaper and money much better spent over the long run.
posted by dogmatic at 2:52 PM on November 8, 2004


There's certainly room for some reform of the tax system, but the premises flat taxes/sales taxes are shams. All you need to do is live in Europe to realize that they're no panacea. This will go nowhere--promise!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:54 PM on November 8, 2004


The flat tax will never ever ever ever happen. Nor will the amendment against gay marriage. Bush is just blowing smoke up the asses of his supporters.

The current tax code does indeed reward breeders. This does not help my vision of a future earth population capped at one billion. Enough with the kids already!
posted by mrhappy at 2:57 PM on November 8, 2004


this 'tax reform' meme, i figure it to be about as long-lived as the 'going to mars' meme. and here some of you people are discussing it as if it were real.
posted by quonsar at 3:00 PM on November 8, 2004


and even abortions if it meant there was one less child that I would have to subsidize over the next 18 years at $1000 a pop.

Just a note: you make it sound like you're paying $1000/year for some kids specifically.

I know a buch of childless people around me. All by choice. Well, being childless sounds pretty good to me: they managed to buy a house early, both drive nice new cars and they have all the time they want for extra activities (mostly expensive ones), they travel, dine out and party all the time. They also have time to spend on their career for the better of their pay check.

If people weren't encouraged/helped somehow having kids, a lot of people would do just like these childless couples. And soon we'd be in big troubles -- of course you wouldn't resort to counting on immigration to makeup for the deficit wouldn't you?
posted by NewBornHippy at 3:04 PM on November 8, 2004


I really don't think a single person making $51,000 should be taxed at a different rate than the family with two kids earning the same amount: why on earth should there be incentive to breed?

If anything, maybe it should be the other way around, huh? Those of us who choose not to have children have much, much more time, attention and energy to dedicate to the betterment of the planet.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:09 PM on November 8, 2004


If people weren't encouraged/helped somehow having kids, a lot of people would do just like these childless couples.

Would they? I get the feeling that people have kids because they want to, or because they made a mistake/got knocked up. I don't think anyone goes into it thinking, 'Gee, I can't wait till I get that $1000 refund check.'

So my question is, why bother? If people are going to reproduce anyway, let them do it, but not on the government's tab.

As for the whole sex education thing, I'm just pointing out that it's better for the government to help people make informed decisions about whether or not they're ready for the responsibility of having a family than for that information to not reach them, and have the rest of US have to make up for their lack of education and foresight.

And soon we'd be in big troubles -- of course you wouldn't resort to counting on immigration to makeup for the deficit wouldn't you?

RE: Immigration -- why not? It's worked so far.
posted by dogmatic at 3:17 PM on November 8, 2004


dogmatic, sadly enough, I can tell you from my experience doing healthcare outreach to indigent populations, that people absolutely do factor government largess into decisions to have kids.

They're quite savvy and canny about it, actually, as sad as it is for all concerned.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:30 PM on November 8, 2004


Well, hell, you know, here you are, having been run down by a truck in the intersection, but it's not really my problem, is it? I mean, it didn't happen to me. Why should I continue to subsidize something like ambulances and health care for other people? Why should I pay taxes so that the roads can be repaired, or that traffic lights can be maintained? I'll take my chances, because it's just me, individual me, that I have to worry about. The infrastructure? Public education? If people want education they can pay for it. If people want to have kids they can pay for that too, and I sure as hell won't because I don't owe anything to anybody. This thing you call 'society', this thing you call 'the social contract', what you might even call 'mutual aid'-- that's just communist bullshit. It's every man for himself, dog eat dog, and if I happen to step over your bleeding body in the middle of the road, hey, man, that's tough. Should have watched where you were going.

We have enough people that we're not taking enough care of, that we don't need to subsidize the creation of new ones. If you can't afford to raise children properly, you probably shouldn't be having them.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:41 PM on November 8, 2004


dogmatic: it's cool you hate kids and all, but like I've said before, we, as a society, have decided that if you have kids then you're entitled to pay a little bit less in taxes. Of course it's not going to pay for the kid, but it certainly helps make sure that kids are not an undue hardship.

We encourage people to have kids in a minor but hopefully useful way. They're useful and fun to have around and since the majority of the population is made of breeders, it's really really popular.
posted by bshort at 3:45 PM on November 8, 2004


dogmatic: it's cool you hate kids and all, but like I've said before, we, as a society, have decided that if you have kids then you're entitled to pay a little bit less in taxes. Of course it's not going to pay for the kid, but it certainly helps make sure that kids are not an undue hardship.

What makes you think this is about hating kids rather than being responsible for one's actions?

What makes you think that society, or more accurately the state, is right to do this?

What makes you think you have a right to bring someone into the world if you can't support him or her? If everyone exercised this right, who would pay for it?

We encourage people to have kids in a minor but hopefully useful way. They're useful and fun to have around and since the majority of the population is made of breeders, it's really really popular.

How exactly is this useful? Couldn't we get equal or greater utility from, say, subsidizing adoption? And who cares if it's popular? Lots of things are popular: reality TV, the Atkins diet, cigarettes, and so on. Should we subsidize something because it's popular?
posted by me & my monkey at 3:55 PM on November 8, 2004


This is perilously close to becoming "poor people shouldn't have kids", which will then turn into someone, perhaps me, going all Swift on you elitist urbanites.
posted by The God Complex at 3:58 PM on November 8, 2004


The "anti-kids" people don't seem to understand the most basic equation-- if we do not repopulate the country at roughly the same rate, with some level of growth, the economy will basically collapse. Our society and economy are based on the idea that new people will take the places of old people in order to work, buy things, and pay taxes. If that starts to contract, then your old age will be extremely unpleasant unless you are the benficiary of significant private wealth.

You aren't really subsidizing other people's children, you're paying because you're not contributing to the single most important exonomic product-- new workers. So in a way, people with kids are actually subsidizing you.
posted by cell divide at 3:58 PM on November 8, 2004


This will go nowhere--promise!

If anyone knows about going nowhere - it is you PP!
posted by rough ashlar at 4:03 PM on November 8, 2004


This is perilously close to becoming "poor people shouldn't have kids", which will then turn into someone, perhaps me, going all Swift on you elitist urbanites.

Go ahead - why should poor people have kids if they can't afford to take care of them? Why do we think there's some natural entitlement to bring life into the world? What's the quota of how many kids we're all entitled to have, even if we can't support them? 1? 3? 5?

The "anti-kids" people don't seem to understand the most basic equation-- if we do not repopulate the country at roughly the same rate, with some level of growth, the economy will basically collapse.

First, I think you're mischaracterizing people here as "anti-kids." I have nothing against kids. Second, many people can afford to have kids, and there's no reason to think that we can't have sustainable reproduction without subsidizing it.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:15 PM on November 8, 2004


It's good for the economy!

Flat tax result: massive unemployment in the tax-preparation and accounting sectors. Not just lawyers and accountants, but their IT staff, office managers, and everyone else that make up their organizations.

National Sales Tax result: big spending freeze. Consumers become even more cost-conscious in their buying patterns. Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers are all hurt. Consumers get worse products for the same cost. Kind of like what Bush did for gas, only for the whole consumer economy.

Also, what quonsar said. The best thing about Bush is that most of his ideas are way too crazy to get any real support.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:23 PM on November 8, 2004


PP: can you name a European Union member state that has a flat income tax?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:31 PM on November 8, 2004


Flat tax result: massive unemployment in the tax-preparation and accounting sectors.

This is one of those "automobile vs. buggy whip manufacturer" things though isn't it? The tax-prep industry basically exists because our income tax system is broken.
posted by Foosnark at 4:32 PM on November 8, 2004


Arguments that childless folks should not be subsidizing people with children should note that without children there is no future.

I don't recall ever being asked if I thought there should be a future!
posted by kindall at 4:34 PM on November 8, 2004


Who's to say what the "responsible" decision is? I can see arguements for both sides.

I'm to say what the responsible decision is: it's my testicles that are going to supply half the genes and it's going to be my fault with the little rugger grows up to be seriously disturbed and ax-murders your children, so it's me who is responsible for making the very responsible decision to Not Have Children.

If that [birth rate] starts to contract, then your old age will be extremely unpleasant unless you are the benficiary of significant private wealth.

Great. So we'll make it more difficult for me to accumulate that significant private wealth. Thanks a bunch.

Well, being childless sounds pretty good to me: they managed to buy a house early, both drive nice new cars and they have all the time they want for extra activities (mostly expensive ones), they travel, dine out and party all the time. They also have time to spend on their career for the better of their pay check. If people weren't encouraged/helped somehow having kids, a lot of people would do just like these childless couples.

Those people sound like they're happy. Curse them! Tax them to the point that they're as miserable as all those people who had children and then lived to regret the decision!
I'm all for paying my school tax: I understand how education benefits all society. I can't say the same for giving tax breaks for people who popped out a sprog. Hell, we'd all be a lot better off if more people made their decisions about breeding a bit more responsibly.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:36 PM on November 8, 2004


dogmatic, sadly enough, I can tell you from my experience doing healthcare outreach to indigent populations, that people absolutely do factor government largess into decisions to have kids.

Sorry to hear it, but even so, that's perhaps even more reason to do away with it.

You know, it's funny how I've been labelled anti-child, like I'm against procreation. I'm not. I have no problem with other people having children. What I'm against is ME paying for them.

And I'm not against socialization in any sense, when it's needed. For example, I think that the number of uninsured and the amount of waste in the current health care environment is enough for me to suggest, believe it or not, that the government can actually do a better job than the HMOs. (Yeah, I know it's a radical idea to think that government bureaucracy can triumph over private largesse, but bear with me.) I'm also pretty certain that spending federal dollars in a smart way can benefit education programs at the primary and secondary levels for all students, and American society in general. I'm all for worker re-education and welfare-to-work, basically anything that helps people get a leg up from their current situation. And, as I said before, I think it's smart to fund sex ed and family planning to help people make the right decisions for themselves and for society.

That said, I don't understand how we've become a society where breeders have some sense of entitlement to a government subsidy in less than a decade. I mean, listen to yourselves -- 'I'm against corporate loopholes' 'I'm against tax shelters' 'I'm against farm subsidies'... What do you think your tax credit is, but a meaningless subsidy sold as political collateral in some election a few years ago. I mean, come on. People were successfully reproducing long before legislators gave them financial incentitive to do so, and will continue to reproduce long after it's been taken out of the tax code. To pretend that our country's population will suddenly shrink because not enough people are receiving $1000 checks for what they would eventually do anyway is preposterous.

If you're for a simplification of the tax code, be for it. But don't pretend that a meaningless piece of legislation that supports your chosen special interest group (families) is any more important to the future of our country than tax credits given to Exxon Mobil to refine oil, or agricultural subsidies given to farmers to destroy crops. I'm sorry, but the argument that kids are fun to have and are the future of our society, therefore we must fund them is horseshit, and the entire Child Tax Credit is waste, pure and simple.
posted by dogmatic at 4:40 PM on November 8, 2004


Oh man I am praying for a National Sales Tax....Ooooo that would be so sweet.

First thing that would happen is the AARP would have Bush's head on a platter. All those retired people, living on a fixed income, paying no taxes and suddenly having to pay a national tax?!

And the churches would all get a double whammy. Their parishioners would no longer get to deduct their church offerings and the church itself would suddenly be paying tax-- churches buy things too, you know. Choir robes and electricity and hymnals and office supplies and so forth.

And this would be a great big stick to beat up my least favorite people in America-- the Mormon polygamists. All those men who have 4 or 5 wives but don't marry them so that their wives and their 27 children can collect welfare. Take a nice dose of 33% sales tax up the whazoo!

As for me, I'll just buy less.

And so will everyone else-- thereby screwing up our consumerism-gone-amock based economy. The car manufacturers would never stand for it.

It will never happen.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:53 PM on November 8, 2004


I have to say that the "anti-kids" (just useful shorthand, I know you're not actually against children) people still do not get it. You're not funding the life of children. You're investing in the people who will be funding your life when you get older. Contrary to your assertions, rich nations actually do have a pressing need to produce more children if they want to stave off economic disaster.

The fact that you chose not to reproduce means that you are actually costing the state and your society signficant amounts of future labor and tax revenue. It doesn't matter if X amount of kids grow up to be burdens on society, the net benefit of breeding is essential to any society. You may at current pay a slightly higher tax then people without children, but as someone who has not paid into the system by producing more workers, you end up paying less for the services you will (on average) recieve in your old age. In the long run, families who produce children will pay much more tax then yours, because you are not a part of the next generation of tax payers.

The only reasonable position I can see for the childless to take when it comes to tax credits for breeding is to be heavily in favor of mass immigration and/or exporting old people to poorer countries.
posted by cell divide at 4:57 PM on November 8, 2004


Maybe I misunderstand the taxes I pay, but when I get the child tax credit (or any credit for that matter) of $1000 it's only going against my liability, right? I mean, if my AGI is $10,000 and I have a kid, my tax liability then becomes $9,000, right?

But hey, having just had a kid, I sure hope I am wrong.
posted by nramsey at 4:57 PM on November 8, 2004


Dude, it's not like you're writing the poor family down the street a check every month. You're paying taxes. Taxes go toward a lot of good things: streets, utilities, infrastructure, care for the sick, the old, the indigent, defense, education, etc. These things make us all better off because they're good for the society.

If you'd rather have a sickly, uneducated populace, that's great. Move to the third world country of your choice. If you choose to take advantage of the benefits of this society / country, then you have to participate monetarily. That's just the way it works.

One of the ways we have a healthy society is by giving minor support to those with minors. Yeah, it's 55billion a year. So what. We give a bunch of money to old people too so that old age doesn't mean destitution for the overwhelming majority of the population that isn't rich.

Suck it up. Paying taxes is the responsibility we get for having a decent civilization.
posted by bshort at 5:00 PM on November 8, 2004


I'm sorry, but the argument that kids are fun to have and are the future of our society, therefore we must fund them is horseshit

i'm sorry, but the arguments of nullos like you against breeders are demonstratably degenerate horseshit ... if society doesn't take care of its kids, the kids will tear it down and you with it

i think there's some kids on your lawn ... better go yell at them

(nullo=reproductive failure)
posted by pyramid termite at 5:11 PM on November 8, 2004


National Sales Tax result: big spending freeze. Consumers become even more cost-conscious in their buying patterns. Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers are all hurt. Consumers get worse products for the same cost. Kind of like what Bush did for gas, only for the whole consumer economy.


Yeah, national sales taxes sure have run Canada and Europe's economies into the ground.
posted by gyc at 5:42 PM on November 8, 2004


adamgreenfield:
why on earth should there be incentive to breed?

If anything, maybe it should be the other way around, huh? Those of us who choose not to have children have much, much more time, attention and energy to dedicate to the betterment of the planet.


Adam, you've lived in Japan - are you totally ignorant of the problems a rapidly aging society engenders? You may have more time and attention now, but who will have the time and attention for you when you are 85? I don't really think the elder-care robots are going to be a big hit. My kids will be taxed to subsidize your Social Security, and nursing home, and Depends because you don't have kids of your own to share the burden. By your own logic, that is not fair either.

Today's kids grow into tomorrow's taxpayers, who will give back to the system many times what they have taken in the form of credits.

Or maybe we should just do a Logan's run type thing, grow babies in vats, and kill everyone when they hit 30.

Carousel!
posted by bashos_frog at 6:14 PM on November 8, 2004


gyc: don't be obtuse - we're talking about a national sales tax or a flat tax replacing the current system of progressive national income tax.
posted by bshort at 6:15 PM on November 8, 2004


When the human race is in danger of extinction we can all have one big fuckfest and repopulate. Until then, let alone until the world's population stops rocketing upwards, the "
Arguments that childless folks should not be subsidizing people with children should note that without children there is no future." argument is pretty stupid and you should keep your dick in your pants if you can't afford it.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:17 PM on November 8, 2004


I'll gladly give up the child tax credit if they also pass law excluding childless people from Social Security benefits. Why should my kids pay for your retirement?
You should just shoot yourself at retirement, if you can't afford to get old.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:33 PM on November 8, 2004


I wonder what Mr. Godwin would have to say about a discussion topic that eventually degenerates until one participant suggests his opponents kill themselves.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:43 PM on November 8, 2004


Well, we are veering smartly off topic, but as long as we are...

bashos_, I don't think I want to live long enough to have to be taken care of, is the shortest and most concise way of putting it.

I also resent being referred to as a "reproductive failure," unless you mean that in the most icily clinical sense of having failed to reproduce. I chose not to.

Because, hey, you know what? I am anti-breeding. I'm anti-breeding for the sake of those of us who are already here, and I'm anti-breeding for the sake of those who are not. This isn't the most genteel or best-expressed way of putting it, but I think it would be terribly, terribly selfish of me to add another sentient soul to this planet just so I could be halfway guaranteed to have someone around to wipe my ass when I'm 85.

And if the society of which we are a part failed to plan, and if when given a responsible choice and a less responsible choice our society chose the less responsible choice not once but repeatedly, and if there were always those capable of seeing this, and if they were ignored and ridiculed, I can say with a clear conscience that I shall shed no tears when we pass forever from the earth. We had a chance - multiple chances - and we blew it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:43 PM on November 8, 2004


it's going to be my fault with the little rugger grows up to be seriously disturbed and ax-murders your children

I had no idea we held parents liable for their children's criminal acts.

That is shocking!
posted by goneill at 6:44 PM on November 8, 2004


(... over a tax refund, of all things)
posted by Space Coyote at 6:45 PM on November 8, 2004


(boy am I glad the US election is over and we can mix up the sides a bit more)
posted by Space Coyote at 6:49 PM on November 8, 2004


nramsey - you're in luck! and you're wrong. you're confusing a credit with a deduction. the child tax credit is just flat out deleted from what you owe at the end of the year. if you owe nothing, the it's refunded to you.
posted by glenwood at 6:50 PM on November 8, 2004


Tax Code: Tax cuts were just the beginning: the President is signalling a far more radical agenda. by John Cassidy for the New Yorker.

From the article:"In 2002, Ernest Christian, a Republican tax lawyer, circulated a plan to create a flat tax in what he termed “five easy pieces”...: eliminating the estate tax; ending the taxation of capital gains; making all income generated from savings tax free; letting businesses write off their investments in a single year rather than depreciating them over a long period; and abolishing the Alternative Minimum Tax, which originated in a 1969 congressional act to counter tax avoidance by the rich, who sometimes had so many deductions that they ended up paying no tax." I guess the US is around halfway there already.
posted by donth at 6:53 PM on November 8, 2004


You should just shoot yourself at retirement, if you can't afford to get old.

I hope you immediately call up your parents / grandparents / older relatives when you get home to tell them of your new-found disregard for the elderly.

You may find this shocking, but not all of us want to live in a society where the elderly are forced to kill themselves so that they're not a burden on you.
posted by bshort at 6:55 PM on November 8, 2004


When the human race is in danger of extinction we can all have one big fuckfest and repopulate. Until then, let alone until the world's population stops rocketing upwards, the "
Arguments that childless folks should not be subsidizing people with children should note that without children there is no future." argument is pretty stupid and you should keep your dick in your pants if you can't afford it.


my goodness! who'd have thunk this was such a hot topic? i think we're to some degree arguing semantics here. tax laws such as the child credit are in place to encourage behavior that has been deemed by our society to be, well, good for society. trust me (and i have 3 kids) the $3k credit is nice but it really barely dents the overall cost of having kids, it's just a nice little buffer at the end of the year.

adam, you're misanthropy is precious, but you can hardly expect society-at-large to adapt your perky worldview and adjust tax laws accordingly. i mean they'd basically just have to march us all into gas chambers, and i've a hunch you're opposed to that too.
posted by glenwood at 6:58 PM on November 8, 2004


It's simply an argument to go all the way if you want to do this tax simplification thing.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:01 PM on November 8, 2004


It's not misanthropy, glenwood. It's an excess of love, if anything.

But you're right, I am opposed to gas chambers, and you're right, I don't expect society to adopt my worldview, even in part.

I do expect society, perhaps rather foolishly, to make wise choices.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:05 PM on November 8, 2004


Having a kid isn't like going to buy a car. Whether we like it or not, it's a basic human instinct. Peope not financially able to support kids will have kids. That's a fact, it has happened, it will happen, and then would you rather give up your tax cut or see children living in poverty.
posted by geoff. at 7:08 PM on November 8, 2004


You may find this shocking, but not all of us want to live in a society where the elderly are forced to kill themselves so that they're not a burden on you.

you may find this shocking, but not all of us want to live in a society where kids starve on the street because "their parents shouldn't have had them" and you don't want them to be a burden on you

I also resent being referred to as a "reproductive failure,"

and i resent being called a breeder ... if people don't want kids, fine, but "child-free" advocates' obnoxious self-righteousness is something i'm tired of ... especially in a tax thread
posted by pyramid termite at 7:11 PM on November 8, 2004


I'll gladly give up the child tax credit if they also pass law excluding childless people from Social Security benefits. Why should my kids pay for your retirement?
You should just shoot yourself at retirement, if you can't afford to get old.


Gold.

I hope you immediately call up your parents / grandparents / older relatives when you get home to tell them of your new-found disregard for the elderly.

Well his grandparents had his parents, and his parents had him.. So they're obviously NOT childless, right? That's the POINT.
posted by VeGiTo at 7:12 PM on November 8, 2004


space coyote i think you're right. if we're arguing about a flat or national sales tax, with no loopholes, then the only way that idea works or is fair at ALL if if there are absolutely no deductions, no loopholes. that would include the child tax credit.

but it's maybe a little short-sighted to say that breeders are placing a burden on society, when we're producing more lil taxpayers, which is what a stable so-ciety kinda needs. it's over simplifying to just say we make kids so we'll have someone to wipe our ass when we're 85. clearly that's not the motivation, but it is, in a sense, metaphorically the pay-off.

personally, i want to live just long enough to be a burden on my children.

i kid, i kid.
posted by glenwood at 7:12 PM on November 8, 2004


The problem with all this tax talk is that no matter how they get it the Republicans still control what is done with your money. The issue shouldn't be how they get it - it should be what they do with it once they have it. I believe that this should be the Democrats major issue for the mid-terms in '06. Howard Dean says it best, "I think Democrats have a better message. First, we are fiscally responsible, and deficits hurt America. There is nothing moral about passing on our debts to our children. You cannot trust Republicans with your money. This week another increase in the debt ceiling is to be voted on, the Democrats need to stand fast for fiscal responsibility."
If Democrats can stick to this message in a time of soaring deficits we've got a true opportunity to take back the House and/or Senate.
posted by fresh-n-minty at 7:14 PM on November 8, 2004


What the hell ever happened to that whole "Mars, bitches!" thing, anyway?

Wait a minute... red planet... blue planet... I think there's a good plan here somewhere...
posted by majcher at 7:17 PM on November 8, 2004


This won't happen, because of the deductions. It's far more likely they'll just chip away, and stop taxing investment income, etc (things benefiting Bush's class), and make his previous cuts permanent...and not at all touch the corporate deductions and loopholes. There are corporations that pay 0 every year and still receive millions/billions in govt. money--if they were just held accountable, we'd have no Social Security problems or anything, i believe.
posted by amberglow at 7:18 PM on November 8, 2004


pyramid_, it may not be self-righteousness. It certainly is not out of place in a tax thread if there can be demonstrated to be a relationship between high rates of childbirth for some and high tax burdens for others.

That's why the topic arose in the first place, right?
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:42 PM on November 8, 2004


What if they keep the deductions, er loopholes and tax us all at the same rate?
posted by goneill at 8:42 PM on November 8, 2004


Guys - you don't need to have kids to keep a society going. You just need to relax immigration control. There are LOTS of people in their prime working years who would just love to come here and keep our society going. There will probably be lots in 40 or 60 years too. Now, whether the US will be a country they'll want to come to.... Well, I guess that gets us closer to being back on topic. I think they probably will though, and they'll probably be eager to work for a lot less than your hypothetical kids would have anyway, so it's a win-win really*. You can enjoy freedom now with a productive workforce later.


*That's mostly a joke. Don't go getting all pissy about exploitation of the brown man or whatever. Normally I wouldn't say anything, but there are already lots of people upthread reading all kinds of sarcastic remarks as genuine.
posted by willnot at 8:45 PM on November 8, 2004


having children is a privilege not a right, now unless you want those privileges revoked, you better shape up.
posted by Satapher at 8:59 PM on November 8, 2004


A long ways up thread, trharlan said:

"Hildago; your first and second paragraphs are incongruent. Someone earning $50,000 or less wouldn't be hurt at all (he'd live income tax-free). The guy making $60,000 would pay a much smaller percent of his total income than the guy making $2 million.

1. I never said someone earning 50k would be taxed. In fact, I specifically said he wouldn't. I said someone making 51k would be taxed on the last 1k.

2. Again, the percentage of total income is not what is in question. It is the percentage of income above what is necessary to live that is the real issue, and in that respect a 60k income is being taxed at a much higher relative rate than a 2m income.

3. My understanding is that a progressive tax system provides a higher tax rate for those with more wealth than for those with less wealth. Wikipedia agrees with me. Where in my message is this not clear?
posted by Hildago at 8:59 PM on November 8, 2004


bshort, your sarcasm detector needs new batteries. "Shoot yourself..." was a response to Space Coyote's "keep it in your pants..." remark.

adam, I never said anything about failure. It's a valid choice.

I just think it is absurd that those who choose to remain childless fail notice a simple fact. They benefit from others breeding.

Adam seems unable to see, that even if he doesn't need someone to wipe his ass, he will need someone to pick his food, pump his gas, work the factories and mines and do all the other stuff. He would like to get all of this benefit without providing assistance to those doing the work of raising that next generation.

willnot, good point. Immigration can go a long way to keeping a society going. But it can't go all the way - immigrants get old, too. Part of Japan's problems stem from the fact that they are not having enough kids, and not allowing enough immigration. BUt this is propelling them to make great strides in robot technology. Apparently elderly Japanese would prefer being cared for by a machine, rather than a a person from the Phillipines.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:07 PM on November 8, 2004


The child tax credit is actually a pretty new phenomenon, introduced in 1997. Instead of the child tax credit, why not increase exemptions?

That's what the flat tax does, by the way; here is an actual example of a flat tax form (based on the 1997 Shelby-Armey flat tax proposal).
posted by calwatch at 9:18 PM on November 8, 2004


I'll gladly give up the child tax credit if they also pass law excluding childless people from Social Security benefits. Why should my kids pay for your retirement?

What you describe, then, is an unsustainable pyramid scheme.

I had no idea we held parents liable for their children's criminal acts. That is shocking!

Actually, ass, I was referring to my belief that between my genetics and uneven parenting skills, I'd end up causing them to become mental cases.

Would you rather give up your tax cut or see children living in poverty.

You know full well that there are a lot of children living in poverty, and that the tax breaks make NO difference as to whether they're impoverished or well-off.

Here's a generous offer: eliminate the child tax credit for everyone earning more than poverty income, and use the extra monies to actually make a difference to those poverty-line kids.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 PM on November 8, 2004


What you describe, then, is an unsustainable pyramid scheme.

So, am I to infer then that you completely support Bush's plan to privatize Social Security? After all - the current setup is just a pyramid scheme. Forced savings accounts, perhaps?
posted by bashos_frog at 9:33 PM on November 8, 2004


Hildago, you wrote that The minute you start doing that, you begin going down the same road we've always been on, except this time it's founded on an unfair regressive rather than progressive system. Not an improvement in any way.

But the flat tax, with an exemption greater than zero, is a progressive tax. It may not be as steeply progressive as you'd like, but it's progressive nonetheless.

You also wrote that My understanding is that a progressive tax system provides a higher tax rate for those with more wealth than for those with less wealth.

That may be true in a state (or State) that taxes wealth, but in most places, where income taxation is the norm, wealth is irrelevant. I'm not trying to pick nits; the distinction is important.
posted by trharlan at 9:45 PM on November 8, 2004


So, am I to infer then that you completely support Bush's plan to privatize Social Security? After all - the current setup is just a pyramid scheme. Forced savings accounts, perhaps?

You're being dishonest or obtuse. I don't know which.
posted by trharlan at 9:47 PM on November 8, 2004


Maybe I'm obtuse. Feel free to enlighten me.

My understanding is that when I retire, in 2034 or thereabouts, the people who are working at that time will be contributing the money used for my benefits. The benefits do not come out of my contributions because those already went to the current crop of retirees.

My son will be in his peak earning years at that time. His money will go to SS beneficiaries whether or not they spent time and effort raising kids of their own to contribute.

Therefore, the children of us breeders will be paying the SS benefits of the altruistic non-breeders.

Is this any more fair than the child tax credit? And why is the SS system, which works as I've described it, a pyramid scheme?
posted by bashos_frog at 10:14 PM on November 8, 2004


That's if there is such a thing as social security for the elderly in 2034.

There was an interesting article in History Today a few weeks back by a noted historian of the Poor Law (not sure what the US equivalent is). Based on past historical population trends, his prediction (the only way to make this add up) is that the state pension would be means-tested to death within a generation or so... so that anybody with savings or a significant income would not be eligible for it at all. If so, we all pay into National Insurance (or whatever the equivalent is) our whole lives and few of us have anything to show for it in old age.

It's difficult to tell how much of the talk of the 'pensions crisis' is scaremongering or not.
But I sense that some of the hostility over this issue (not necessarily just here, but in general) may come down to fear that this or something not dissimilar is a real possibility.

(However, this being the case, we'll actually need more children - and more immigration - in developed countries, in order to pay for all of our pensions!)
posted by plep at 10:53 PM on November 8, 2004


Jay-zus. Breeders, non-breeders, and all sorts of arguments in between.

The point that continues to be lost in the noise is people will continue to repopulate this country WITH or WITHOUT the child tax credit. I know it's hard to believe, but people in the United States were having children before 1997, when this legislation was introduced. And I know some of you can't imagine how they could possibly get by without that spare $1000 lying around, but they toughed it out, and GOLLY GEE! ya know what? They somehow managed to raise children, and in some cases, EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL children, despite the economic hardships bestowed upon them in those pre-enlightened times. Why, it will probably come as a shock, but did you know that some of our nation's most important leaders came out of the abyss that was the US socio-political realm pre-child tax credits? Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan -- why, even our President and Vice President somehow managed to survive the economic hardships that were entailed by their parents, and now they rule the entire free world!

Yeah, I joke, but the fact remains -- you breeders have yet to explain why this piece of legislation has become so must-have in the past decade, when centuries of American families survived without it. When we have half-trillion dollar deficits, something's gotta go, and I fail to understand how an arbitrary, un-targeted $1000 handout qualifies as a necessary deduction from our federal tax revenues.

Please, someone explain to me how we have ensured the sanctity of our great union with this tax break we were able to survive without for so long, or how we can guarantee that money is being spent towards the greater good of our society*, or even just make up some shit about how it wasn't pushed through to help one representative or another during the 1998 mid-term elections. Anything but this 'I believe the children are our future'** bullshit.

* Full disclosure - My father built a pool with the money he got from his last refund check... (From my two younger siblings, not me -- sadly I was borne into the dark ages of child rearing) Is this ensuring the improved quality of life that will make my sisters very important taxpayers? I sure hope so!!!!!

** I believe the children are our future, too. But they'll be our future with or without a $50 billion drain on our tax revenues. Need I say it again?

posted by dogmatic at 10:55 PM on November 8, 2004


A flat tax with a properly set exemption should provide more relief to lower income families than the current child tax credit does except in the cases where people are getting back more than they pay in. In those cases, the focus should be on schools, health care, and other social services, not writing a check for a measly thousand dollars per kid once a year.

I don't think anyone is saying that they don't want their tax dollars going to programs that benefit kids; they just don't see the need for a tax break for people who have kids. And I agree. There are better ways to make sure kids in families of all income levels have what they need, and I really don't think people need to be bribed into breeding.
posted by Nothing at 11:20 PM on November 8, 2004


Also, more on topic, I agree with the people who said that a simple tax need not be flat. Just remove all the exemptions and loopholes and shift the scale so that the poorest 20% pay nothing.
posted by Nothing at 11:28 PM on November 8, 2004


When we have half-trillion dollar deficits, something's gotta go, and I fail to understand how an arbitrary, un-targeted $1000 handout qualifies as a necessary deduction from our federal tax revenues.

I have no complaint with this reasoning. My beef is those people who say the child tax credit is somehow unfair, when it is no more unfair than any other bit of the tax code.

Personally, if we need to reduce the deficit (and it's not really an if at this point), I'd rather see the money come out of the corporations, and the extremely wealthy, than taking $1000 away from all the single mothers out there.

James Carville had a good idea in one of his books, regarding corporate tax. Basically he pointed out that the same corporations that show huge profits in their annual reports often turn around and tell the IRS that they're actually losing money so as not to pay income taxes. He proposed a "you say it, you pay it" flat corporate tax on declared profits. I think this makes sense. IIRC just applying it to the largest 100 companies would make a huge dent in the deficit - much larger the the $50 billion from the child tax credit.

He also proposed stakeholder accounts for families with children, which I think is a better idea than the tax credit. Every child born gets $6000 to invest in an account which can only be used to pay for their education or their first home. Cheaper than the tax credit, and probably more effective for improving the economy.
posted by bashos_frog at 12:42 AM on November 9, 2004


When the human race is in danger of extinction we can all have one big fuckfest and repopulate.

Binge and purge, man, binge and purge. Because the best time to do something about an impending low-quality event is when it's right about to happen.

Guys - you don't need to have kids to keep a society going. You just need to relax immigration control. There are LOTS of people in their prime working years who would just love to come here and keep our society going. There will probably be lots in 40 or 60 years too.

Isn't this pretty much the way things work right now? Birthrates in most industrialized nations are declining...population explosions are often among recent emmigrants?
posted by weston at 12:57 AM on November 9, 2004


I'd like to see a progressive taxing system with a high lower rung and NO loopholes. Given the simplification of collection, verification, and enforcement once the stack o' laws higher than me are gone you should be able to give everyone a "break" and still haul in more.

I generally am against a national sales tax as it would tend to focus it's burden on lower classes as their "consumption" purchases would tend to be a far greater portion of their overall income than for higher income individuals.
posted by RevGreg at 1:10 AM on November 9, 2004


Binge and purge, man, binge and purge.

War and famine are a great solution to overpopulation, and it's quicker, and more effective than trying to control birthrates.

It's kind of like abortion vs. abstinence.

/darkhumor
posted by bashos_frog at 3:02 AM on November 9, 2004


There's no evidence that tax benefits affect people's choices to have kids. The child tax credit ought not be thought of a tax incentive, but rather as a need-based tax cut, a way of making the system more progessive by taking degrees of disposable income into account, not just gross income.
posted by MattD at 5:44 AM on November 9, 2004


I always assumed the point of a tax credit for children was based on the idea that, while spending more for necessary goods for the child, the employee was working less (for money, that is) because they have to take care of it, yet while still benefiting the economy with their consumption. The deduction balances out the risk of spending less, so to speak.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:42 AM on November 9, 2004


There's no evidence that tax benefits affect people's choices to _____.

Great! Increase the top marginal tax rate!
posted by Ptrin at 7:42 AM on November 9, 2004


The point of a tax credit for children is that it buys you votes. (Bush's pre-credit checks mailed in the summer of '03 was political genius -- that probably guaranteed his re-election more than anything else.)

The US tax code is a political animal. Any logic or fairness is completely accidental.
posted by mrhappy at 8:47 AM on November 9, 2004


So, am I to infer then that you completely support Bush's plan to privatize Social Security? After all - the current setup is just a pyramid scheme. Forced savings accounts, perhaps?

SS is a forced savings plan. And it will be completely bankrupt by the time I'm old enough to need it, because those asshole baby boomers (sorry, Dad) are going to consume every freaking last dollar of it.

So here I am, paying into SS, and I'm gonna get nothing out of it. Meanwhile, my taxes are significantly higher than they should be, because us minority of childless have to make up $51 billion in tax rebates. How the hell am I going to be able to save up for retirement when my wallet is being sucked dry by both the young and the old?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 AM on November 9, 2004


FFF - I had no idea you were such a whiner. $51 billion is around 2% of the total receipts taken in by the government. 2 percent is not sucking you dry.

If you want to have the services that go along with living in this country then pay your taxes and stop trying to shirk your civic duties. Want to pay less? Cool. Move to a wide array of third-world countries that are happy to tax you less.

Otherwise, STFU.
posted by bshort at 10:49 AM on November 9, 2004


Today's kids grow into tomorrow's taxpayers

Today's kids grow up to be TODAY's resource users. The first and most important issue confronting the world--not just the US--is overpopulation. Nearly ALL of societies other problems arrive directly from too many people.
posted by terrapin at 10:58 AM on November 9, 2004


Otherwise, STFU.

Nice, real nice.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:49 AM on November 9, 2004


shift the scale so that the poorest 20% pay nothing.
posted by Nothing

A-HA! Now I see your dastardly plan. Diverting tax revenue to yourself...
posted by kindall at 12:19 PM on November 9, 2004


I still have to read up this long thread, so if this has already been mentioned, please don't mind:

I've done Canadian and US income taxes (yes, I have to pay both, on a grad student's scholarship) - and the complexity is not in the tax code. It's in the form design. The Canadian tax code is just a complicated (more so for students, since we actually have some excemptions unique to us), but the FORMS are much easier to deal with. I do my Canadian taxes easily, just following along in the book. The US ones I needed a computer program to figure out.

So before they go playing about with the tax code, why don't they just hire a few consultants who know something about forms and ergonomics?
posted by jb at 8:43 PM on November 9, 2004


Oh - and add colour. That helps a lot. Blue for federal, pink for provincial state.
posted by jb at 8:44 PM on November 9, 2004


Having just looked at a T1, have you considered that it might be that you're just used to them, familiar with them? They don't seem obviously easier than a 1040A to me, but I'm not an ergonomics expert.

A 1040A will certainly tell you to do weirder things... okay, count these up, and then multiply by $3050... but that's a function of the tax code, and as long as you don't think about *why* you're doing that, you're fine. Even with the education tax credit, I've never had to spend more than ~20 minutes doing my taxes. Last few years, with only 1 W-2 and standard everything, it took maybe 5.

last I checked, federal tax forms *did* have at least some color. not the pdfs you can download though.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:00 PM on November 9, 2004


Rou - It may be the familiarity, but I was thinking back to my first time doing my taxes. It may be also the the supporting guidebook is clearer. I know that finding out what my student deductions were was easier for my Canadian taxes than finding out what my personal deduction was in the US. (These being my primary issues.)
posted by jb at 11:39 AM on November 10, 2004


Evangelicals are crediting God with securing re-election victory for Bush

God wants a flat tax and no Social Security?
posted by amberglow at 11:46 AM on November 10, 2004


Bush: "Look, the war!"
American People: (look)
Bush: (sneaks out another billion)
posted by sophist at 4:17 PM on November 10, 2004


Whoa, what a trainwreck.

You people accusing others of baby-hating should go read Tragedy of the Commons.

The decision to have kids entails a huge social responsibility since the modern society requires putting a huge amount of resources into every child. This amount will increase, and talk all you want about freedom and morality and benefits, sooner or later having kids will not be your decision alone, and having kids while being unable to afford to raise them well will be punished. And guess what, like any other resource restriction, the poor will be hit harder by this than the rich simply because they have fewer resources at their disposal to get around the restriction.

Here's what I think: want more kids? Go adopt an orphan from a third-world country. Think an absolutely increasing amount of kids is necessary for the economy or whatever? I laugh at you. This world already has way more people than it can reasonably support, and unless we (the global we) learn to live with an older demographic, there might not be a demographic to live in pretty soon.
posted by azazello at 10:49 PM on November 10, 2004


Please do not read "Tragedy of the Commons" by Hardin. There are probably lots of good books on the problems of overpopulation, but that particular essay is based on completely false assumptions about how common resources have been historically managed, for one thing, he believes that commons weren't managed (patently false). Hardin was a good scientist, but a very bad historian. It's an essay with major flaws that gets way too much air time over much better scholarship.
posted by jb at 11:56 AM on November 13, 2004


jb: Hardin's scholarship may not be perfect, and the essay is certainly excessively alarmist in places, but that does not invalidate the vast majority of his ideas and warnings. The commons have limited resources, they are not being wisely managed, and we are continuing to accelerate the rate of our consumption of natural resources instead of decreasing it. This will, within my lifetime, pose problems which can only be alleviated by, among other things, restricting our reproductive rights or greatly tightening environmental impact controls.

I found Hardin's comments refreshingly lucid, even though he does overstate some aspects of the problem. In fact, I had not read an account of the problem (not restricted to overpopulation) as lucid and as concise as Hardin's and think it unlikely that I will encounter one in books on the topic. If you know of materials comparably lucid and more accurate than Hardin's, cite them.
posted by azazello at 11:14 PM on November 28, 2004


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