By Doug Porter
It’s time to pay up, people. April 15th is tax day and Uncle Sam is looking for his dough.
The IRS estimates that fifty million Americans (75% of whom will get refunds) will wait until the last minute to file their taxes this year. The perceived agony of the tax paying process will dominate the news media scene today.
Here in San Diego we have several flavors of tax protests scheduled for today.
Tax evaders of the corporate kind will be the focus of the San Diego Light Brigade’s protest outside the Midway Post Office from 8 until 11pm this evening. Here’s the Facebook page for that demonstration.
Our local Tea Party types are having at least two protests today.
The San Diego East Regional Tea Party is calling for people to show up across the street from the Lexington Post Office in El Cajon starting at 5:30pm. And the Liberty Tree Patriots want citizens to show up to protest ObamaCare and taxes at the Carmel Mountain Ranch Post Office from 4 to 7pm today.
The Carmel Mountain Ranch event sounds exciting. Here’s what’s on their flyer: “Remember this is a Peaceful Rally! We accept no responsibility for people or property before, during or after this event.”
The idea of showing up to protest outside post offices on tax day is lame. I guess some people still file their taxes using paper and ink, but they’re disappearing faster than Republicans on the west coast. A smart tax protester would buy one of those Google ads linked to searches for tax information, starting in early February.
“I Like to Pay Taxes”
Famous American on taxes, via Shamus Khan, writing in Time Ideas:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt argued that, “Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”
Supreme Court Justice (and Boston Brahmin) Oliver Wendell Holmes was known to “enjoy” his taxes. According to Felix Frankfurter’s book Mr. Justice Holmes and the Supreme Court, Justice Holmes told a young law clerk who complained about paying them, “I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.”
Over at the New York Times today Rutgers historian James Livingston suggests that’s what really wrong with our system of taxation is that the recognition of corporations as ‘persons’ should be extended to include tax liability:
Indeed, we used to do just that. For most of the 1950s, corporate income at large companies was taxed at 52 percent, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The federal government, meanwhile, collected about a third of its revenues from this source. Today, thanks largely to the “reforms” ushered in by President Ronald Reagan, the ostensible tax rate on corporate income is no higher than 35 percent — and the corporate-tax share of federal revenue has fallen to about 9 percent.
The now-familiar objection to a tax increase on corporate profits is that it will discourage private investment and thus dampen job creation. The retort is just as obvious: since when have tax cuts on corporate profits led to increased investment, faster job creation and higher per capita consumption out of rising real wages? It didn’t happen after the Reagan Revolution, it didn’t happen during theClinton boom of the 1990s, and it sure didn’t happen under George W. Bush.
Nor is it happening now, as corporate profits soar and full-time job creation languishes. American corporations are now sitting on $4.75 trillion in cash, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Aren’t America’s Corporations Taxed Enough Already?
Like everything else these days, some corporations are more equal than others. Paul Buchheit has a terrific piece entitled “How America’s Corporate Overlords Cheat and Screw Us on Taxes” at Alternet. Here’s the intro; follow the link for details:
The modern-day version is the corporate tax filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Navigation through the hellish form is fraught with anguish and pain and bewilderment, causing the visitor to beg for release from its devilish grasp, to shudder when recalling the sign at the entrance: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Bank of America, Citigroup, and Pfizer can be found here. In the last two years each one of them made much of their revenue in theU.S., but they claimed billions of dollars in foreign profits and billions of dollars in U.S. losses.
What You’re Paying….
Figuring out where the US stands in the rates of taxes collected vs. the rest of the world is a tricky subject. Some countries have Value Added Taxes. Others provide vastly more services for tax dollars. None-the-less the folks over at Motley Fool have tried anyway. Here’s what they came with for our country:
*Effective tax rate on $100,000: 26% (7.3% Social Security, 18.7% income tax)
*World rank on effective tax rate of $100,000: 55
*Effective tax rate on $300,000: 30.5% (3.7% Social Security, 26.8% income tax)
*World rank on effective tax rate of $300,000: 53
What You (Should) Get
For anyone who takes a peek at where his or her income tax dollars are going, Tax Day can be maddening. Outsized chunks of our taxes fund the military, rising healthcare costs, and interest on the federal debt. Comparatively tiny amounts go to education, science, alternative energy, and the environment.
Category by category, this is contrary to what Americans want — and what we the people want is pretty clear. Despite near-constant news about how polarized our nation is, a careful look at opinion polls indicates that a strong majority of Americans actually have a coherent to-do list for Washington: we want more jobs, smaller deficits, more education funding, reduced reliance on fossil fuels, higher taxes on the wealthiest, plus — the kicker — Medicare and Social Security benefits preserved. You know, it’s the typical story of wanting to have our cake and gobble it down, too. Right?
Wrong. What’s virtually unacknowledged is that all these things could be done at once. Far from being an impossible set of demands, the collective opinion poll version of the wisdom of the American people is, in fact, a smart set of solutions — or at least it would be, if we had a government capable of following our wishes. That collective wish list would address most of this nation’s urgent challenges, while making us smarter, safer, healthier, less indebted, and better invested in our long-term future.
Aren’t My Taxes at an All-Time High?
I’d like to provide a personalized answer to that question. Via the Atlantic’s Quartz.com here’s a handy dandy calculator that allows you to calculate the taxes you’d pay on your income for any or all of the years since 1913. Just plug in the dollar figures and ‘voila’ you’ll see tax history. And if you’d like to play Mitt Romney, you can plug in his guestimated income and see what’s owed. That is, if you actually kept that money in the US.
Bummer Time in Disneyland
Visits to everyone’s favorite Southern California amusement park this weekend were disappointed to learn that several major attractions were closed for safety reasons. The Disney operation closed them down to address concerns raised by the State of California.
From the Disney Blog, which is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Co:
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA) delivered seven safety violation citations to the Disneylandresort yesterday for Space Mountain. For some reason, this has resulted in three major attractions to be closed at the DisneylandResort today. Those attractions are Space Mountain, The Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Soarin’ Over California. It’s not yet clear if theMatterhorn and Soarin’ are related to the same CAL/OSHA filing. I’ve asked Disneyland for clarification.
The citations were related a 2006 agreement to make improvements and to inspections following recent accidents such as the man who was seriously injured while cleaning the outside of Space Mountain. The findings include simple failures like not having a charged fire extinguisher and more serious ones like failure to protect employees from unsafe ladders or lack of railings preventing a fall hazard. Serious fines of up to $70,000 for each infraction could be levied if Disneyland does not comply immediately with the requests (although appeal is also an option). Total penalties for just the Space Mountain citations could reach over $230,000.
The San Diego Political Shuffle
Matt Potter over at the SDReader reports that the San Diego County Taxpayers Association interim CEO, Chris Cate is planning to run for the sixth council district seat in the 2014 elections. That position is currently held by Republican Lorie Zapf. Here’s where it gets interesting:
As a result of last year’s redistricting, Zapf’s Bay Ho residence is now in the second district, and she reportedly does not intend to move. That leaves her with the option of running for re-election in the new second district, where current GOP incumbent, Kevin Faulconer, is termed out. The shift has triggered a wave of interest in the sixth district seat.
Besides Cate, at least two other prospective candidates, according to filings recently posted online by the San Diego city clerk’s office, have also filed statements of intention to run in next year’s race. They are former San Diego Unified School Board member Mitz Lee and veterans advocate Don Azul.
Stay tuned. This could be fun.
Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues
Samir Naji al Hasan Mogbel, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, has an Op-Ed in the New York Times today, thanks to his attorney, who transcribed it via a phone call. Detainees at the US facility in Cuba have been engaged on a hunger strike off and on for two months now. They are being force-fed as tensions continue to rise.
Many of them have been ‘cleared’ for release but continue to remain imprisoned thanks to a situation more Kafka-esques than anything Kafka ever wrote. Follow the link. Read the story. Please.
I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.
Many Winners, One Loser in Mayor Bob’s Proposed Budget
The pissing match between the Mayor’s office and the City Attorney lives on as UT-San Diego’s Craig Gustafson reports on Bob Filner’s proposed budget:
Filner, who will formally release the budget at 9 a.m. today, is calling for the year-round funding of an emergency homeless shelter, discounted bus passes for school-age children, new computers at branch libraries, additional funding for the arts and financial assistance for some of the city’s oldest retired workers.
The mayor is also setting aside an extra $4 million for public safety spending that will expand the number of police recruits per academy, bolster lifeguard and fire dispatch staffing and acquire a $500,000 cliff rescue vehicle.
Overall, his budget would slightly increase spending over the current year.
Filner’s budget plan avoids any significant cuts with one notable exception. He has proposed slashing $1.4 million, or the equivalent of 13 full-time employees, from the City Attorney’s Office.
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrán, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1912 – The ocean liner Titanic sank in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg the evening before. 1,517 people died and more than 700 people survived. 1947 – Jackie Robinson played his first major league baseball game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Previously he had only appeared in exhibition games. 1996 – In San Francisco, Jerry Garcia’s remaining ashes were scattered near the Golden Gate Bridge. A small portion of his ashes had been scattered in the Ganges River in India on April 4th.
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