Several days after the 2016 US election, president-elect Donald Trump is holding meetings, interviews and starting to build his administration team. His positions on issues such as mass deportation, tax and foreign policy are the cause of speculation; election positions on the ACA are possibly partially rolled back, but against bleak forecasts environmental positions seem to stay as they were, to the concern of scientists. Elsewhere there is discussion of why Hillary lost to Donald, such as James Comey's involvement, rural voting patterns, swing state perceptions or voter rights and suppression, while the Democratic Party consider who should lead them forwards. Meanwhile, protests occur in several US cities, there is speculation about Trump being impeached, the electoral college is under further scrutiny, and Kate McKinnon and Dave Chappelle on SNL. [more inside]
Today, the United States of America will - hopefully - determine its 45th President and 48th Vice President. Going into election day, Hillary Clinton holds a poll lead [YouGov][Time] over Donald Trump. Early voting has been busy, and voting has concluded in three New Hampshire towns. In addition to the presidency, there are elections for the Senate and the House and lots of local ballots - discuss in the "Senators, Representatives, and Referenda" thread. Polling stations close at various times, subject to queues and court orders. It is unclear when a result is likely; blanket coverage includes TV networks, the New York Times, Guardian, BuzzFeed on Twitter, YouTube and the BBC, though many say Pantsuit Nation is where it's at. [more inside]
The Universal Right to Capital Income - "If a universal basic income is to be legitimate, it cannot be financed by taxing Jill to pay Jack. That is why it should be funded not from taxation, but from returns on capital." (via) [more inside]
The government sentced former Swiss banker Bradley A. Birkenfeld to three years in prison for abetting tax evasion. They also paid him $104 million dollars for blowing the whistle on tax evasion. (SLMedium)
From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
Just print money and give it to everyone by Chris Arnade: "The usual answer to why we don't do this is that it isn't politically feasible and there is no precedent. 1) That has never stopped bank bailouts, which often require a great deal of political and regulatory ingenuity to jam through. (TARP cough TARP) 2) It is a symptom of a system built by and for the bankers to benefit themselves. It is the equivalent of saying, 'We can't do it because we have never wanted to do it'. That we don't do it this way isn't just a small economic quibble with no impact. The most visceral anger I hear from voters across the country is directed at bank bailouts, which they see as evidence of a rigged system. They are right. The system is rigged in the sense that our primary method to stimulate the economy also conveniently bails out bankers." (previously; via) [more inside]
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
"One man can move out of New Jersey and put the entire state budget at risk. Other states are facing similar situations as a greater share of income — and tax revenue — becomes concentrated in the hands of a few. New Jersey won’t say exactly how much the hedge-fund billionaire, David Tepper, paid in taxes. But according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha, he earned more than $6 billion from 2012 to 2015 ... [Tepper] is leaving for Florida at an especially opportune time for tax savings." (SLNYT) [more inside]
Elizabeth Warren has a great idea for making Tax Day less painful - "She's taking on TurboTax and other predatory companies." [more inside]
an introduction to fiat money (pdf) by Steve Randy Waldman:* - "Self-reinforcing bootstrap dynamics hold as strongly for a king's token as it would for any other thing, but much more stably so, since the king can reinforce and assure the stability of his token so long as he retains the political capacity to coerce or persuade payment of tax." (via) [more inside]
Helicopter drops might not be far away - "Central banks could be given the power to send money, ideally in electronic form, to every adult citizen. Would this add to demand? Absolutely."
Kim-Mai Cutler: Nothing Like This Has Ever Happened Before - "San Francisco Bay Area poverty rates in all nine counties have increased in the last economic cycle, even with the Facebook and Twitter IPOs and private tech boom. The main transfer mechanism is land and housing costs, as rising rents and evictions push service and other low-wage workers to the brink. [Henry] George's solution was a single land tax that would replace all other government revenue sources. If an owner wanted to develop their property to make it more useful or productive, George argued that they should have the right to keep the value from those efforts. But increases in the value of underlying land were created by — and ultimately belonged to — the public at large." (previously: 1,2,3) [more inside]
For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions -"The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield billions in income." (via) [more inside]
How a tax haven goes bust. Guardian long-read describing the rise and fall of Jersey as an offshore tax haven.
How I Fell Face First for an Epic IRS Scam: I received a call on my home phone recently from someone who identified himself as Officer Jason Dean with the Investigative Bureau of the Department of Treasury. He said an arrest warrant had been issued in my name for failure to respond to IRS Notice CP503 — a third reminder — informing me that I owed $5,347 in back taxes. He said my home and cell phones were being traced and I should not attempt to leave the city. [more inside]
Rewrite the rules to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy - "If there's one thing Joseph Stiglitz wants to say about inequality, it's that it has been a choice, not an unexpected, unfortunate economic outcome. That's unnerving, but it also means that citizens and politicians have the opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse." (via) [more inside]
As debate rages about whether to introduce a sugar tax, this is the story of how Mexico defied its own powerful fizzy drinks industry to impose a tax on soda. [more inside]
The Strange, Short Story Of Washington State’s Income Tax
People were so excited about the income tax that they voted twice. First, they changed the state constitution to allow the tax. Then voters approved the tax – 70 percent in favor. In the time between the two votes, something significant happened: People had received their income tax forms in the mail. Suddenly the tax wasn't just a theory. The form was daunting, and newspapers suggested people might need professional help to fill out the form.
Social network giant Facebook paid just £4,327 ($6,643) in corporation tax in 2014, its latest UK results show. Its most recent Companies House filing shows the company as making a pre-tax loss of £28.5m last year, but the firm also paid its 362 UK staff a total of £35.4m in share bonuses.
H&R Block lobbied for a longer, more complicated Earned Income Tax Credit schedule, to encourage lower-income households to use their services. (SLVox) [more inside]
In which John Oliver expounds on how televangelists raise income for necessities such as a private jet or two, his faux-penpal correspondence with such a televangelist, how easy it is to set up a church for tax-exemption purposes and, with the assistance of Sister Wanda Jo Oliver, this inevitably happens...
Joe Stiglitz on Inequality, Wealth, and Growth: Why Capitalism is Failing (video; if you don't have 30m, skip to 20m for discussion of political inequality, wealth, credit and monetary policy) - "If the very rich can use their position to get higher returns, more investment information, more extraction of rents, and if the very rich have equal or higher savings rates, then wealth will become more concentrated... economic inequality inevitably gets translated into political inequality, and political inequality gets translated into more economic inequality. The basic and really important idea here is that markets don't exist in a vacuum, that market economies operate according to certain rules, certain regulations that specify how they work. And those effect the efficiency of those markets, but they also effect how the fruits of the benefits of those markets are distributed and the result of that is there are large numbers of aspects of our basic economic framework that in recent years have worked to increase the inequality of wealth and income in our society... leading to a society which can be better described, increasingly, as an inherited plutocracy." [more inside]
H & R Block's lobbyists shaped the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors. Now they're advertising heavily on the premise that "no one can understand" the ACA (aka Obamacare) tax filing requirements. [more inside]
Let Us Face the Future - "All parties pay lip service to the idea of jobs for all. All parties are ready to promise to achieve that end by keeping up the national purchasing power and controlling changes in the national expenditure through Government action. Where agreement ceases is in the degree of control of private industry that is necessary to achieve the desired end. In hard fact, the success of a full employment programme will certainly turn upon the firmness and success with which the Government fits into that programme the investment and development policies of private as well as public industry." [more inside]
NPR's Planet Money explains the history of the sales tax in the United States by tracing what kinds of sandwiches get taxed and why: How the Burrito Became a Sandwich. Bonus: In-N-Out Burger history in the podcast.
VC for the people - "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
Free Money for Everyone - "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via) [more inside]
Want to get away with not paying taxes but don't have the money to make your own offshore company in the Cayman Islands? Fret not - you can hijack an existing offshore company starting from the low low price of 99 cents! [more inside]
The return of "patrimonial capitalism": review of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st century (pdf) - "Thomas Piketty's 'Capital in the 21st century' may be one of the most important recent economics books. It jointly treats theory of growth, functional distribution of income, and interpersonal income inequality. It envisages a future of relatively slow growth with the rising share of capital incomes, and widening income inequality. This tendency could be checked only by worldwide taxation of capital." [more inside]
Beware of Gangsters Filing Tax Returns. Florida gangbangers have found a new path to illicit riches: tax refund fraud.
Grantor retained annuity trusts are a method that the ultra rich use to avoid gift taxes. Many lawyers insist that these trusts are a cornerstone of any sound estate plan.
This shift in how companies are governed and raise money is bringing with it a structural change in American capitalism. That should be a matter of great debate. Are these new businesses, with their ability to circumvent rules that apply to conventional public companies, merely adroit exploiters of loopholes for the benefit of a plutocratic few? Or do they reflect the adaptability on which America’s vitality has always been based? - Rise of the distorporation - how changes in the way companies are financed and managed is changing the wealth distribution of America.
Walter Hickey at Business Insider looks at when you should buy a Powerball ticket and whether to take the lump sum or annuity if you win.
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
"The country has cheaper medical care, smarter children, happier moms, better working conditions, less-anxious unemployed people, and lower student loan rates than we do. And that probably will never change." In The Atlantic, a comparison of some of the socio-economic aspects of Finland and the USA. [more inside]
On Friday afternoon, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) apologized to conservative non-profit 501(c)4 groups for singling them out for heightened scrutiny during the 2012 campaign season. While the abuses were initially blamed on "low-level" workers in the agency's Cincinnati office, new questions were raised Saturday with a report that senior IRS officials were aware of the practice as early as 2011. That senior IRS officials knew of the politically-selective practices "seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner." [more inside]
As the tax deadline approaches in the United States, ProPublica investigates why the promise of free and simple tax filing has yet to be fulfilled.
Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
From April 2013 all working-age housing benefit claimants will experience a reduction in their benefit if their home has what is termed a 'spare bedroom'. Some people have a problem with this, and it is believed it will plunge 95,000 Britons into poverty. Prime Minister David Cameron has defended the tax saying it is important to "get control of housing benefit". Some who voted for the tax claim to have never heard of it, even though there are some high profile cases in the media detailing how people will suffer. The Bedroom Tax might be targeting the poor, but there may be a Mansion Tax in the planning stages to help balance the scales -- or not. It's a modern Window Tax!
An explanation of how hard it is to boycott Amazon, even when you are an organisation calling for the boycott of corporations like Amazon While the organisation UK Uncut is calling for the boycotting of organisations that don't pay their fair share of tax, even they are using Amazon (though Amazon is not a company currently listed on their website, it is one of the most talked about in the UK for not paying corporation tax) The first linked article goes beyond the technical aspects of Amazon and cloud hosting and talks about a re-analysis of capitalism.
So you make less than
$250,000 $450,000 and think the fiscal cliff deal doesn't affect you? Think again: the payroll tax holiday has been allowed to expire. Here's a helpful table outlining how much more you'll be paying this year. (Previously)
Income based repayment is touted as a solution to rapidly rising college costs in the US. But there is a hefty tax bill looming for people who take advantage of this program.
In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Six years later more than two hundred colleges charged that amount. What happened between 2003 and 2009 was the start of the recession. By driving down endowments and giving tax-starved states a reason to cut back their support for higher education, the recession put new pressure on colleges and universities to raise their price. When our current period of slow economic growth will end is anybody’s guess, but even when it does end, colleges and universities will certainly not be rolling back their prices. These days, it is not just the economic climate in which our colleges and universities find themselves that determines what they charge and how they operate; it is their increasing corporatization. If corporatization meant only that colleges and universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on[more inside]
"The head of HM Revenue and Customs is to be grilled by MPs over revelations hundreds of tax evaders are to avoid prosecution and being named publicly after striking immunity deals with the taxman." [more inside]