More on Tax Reform

The House passed yesterday, 227-205, its version of tax reform, and the next milestone is in the Senate.  The Wall Street Journal is referencing some special interests who are expressing misgivings about it.

Both the House and Senate bills would cut the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%. If that overall tax rate decreases, tax credits and deductions become less valuable.

Well, of course.  Credits and deductions get their value from how much they reduce taxes for the government-favored groups of Americans for whom those credits and deductions are targeted.  With lower overall tax rates, those credits and deductions have less tax value—as any graduate of 3rd grade arithmetic can see.

Another Reason

…to push for lowered State tax rates, empirically observed.

There are signs home buyers in metropolitan New York are pausing to consider the effects of proposed federal tax law changes, setting the stage for a possible chill in the market, brokers say.

The changes, in versions of bills in both the House and the Senate, likely would increase the cost of home ownership and reduce after-tax discretionary income for many mostly affluent home buyers in New York and other states with high state and local income and property taxes, brokers and analysts say.

TPP Light

President Donald Trump, on taking office, pulled the US out of the not-yet-finalized Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involved nations all around the Pacific rim including the US and Canada.  The TPP was far from perfect, but international trade is more about international relations and foreign policy than it is about economics, and it was a mistake to pull out.

The economic and political power of the coalition would have been a powerful brake against an acquisitively aggressive People’s Republic of China; the remaining 11 nations still represent some 17% of all world trade—and 30% of the world’s trade runs on sea routes the go through the TPP’s region—trade that is every bit as critical to the PRC’s economy as it is to Japan’s and the US’.

Death Panels?

The Affordable Care Act required Medicare to penalize hospitals with high numbers of heart failure patients who returned for treatment shortly after discharge. New research shows that penalty was associated with fewer readmissions, but also higher rates of death among that patient group.

Because sometimes readmission is necessary for quality care—whether that readmission was driven by later complications, by too-soon original discharge in the Medicare (which is to say Government) pressure to hold down costs first, or by some other factor—but that Government pressure to push the patient out the door also pushes against the patient’s return.  Even when necessary.

Tax Havens

Christian Reierman, writing for Spiegel Online, thinks tax havens are bad.

He began with the usual false premise, itself as usual unspoken: that Government is owed the money earned by private citizens or their privately owned enterprises, or that Government is somehow otherwise entitled to it.  His proximate vehicle is the Paradise Papers and their exposure of how widespread is the use of tax havens—entirely legal tax havens, mind you—by international businesses.

The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung leaked a vasty number of documents—the so-called Paradise Papers—that exposed

So, What’s the Problem?

Don Peebles, Peebles Corp CEO, is worried about the Senate and House tax reform plans currently on offer.

…the GOP tax bill will have a catastrophic impact on New York City, leading to a mass exodus of business owners and entrepreneurs.


State income deductions and the local pressure on taxes that [Mayor Bill de Blasio] is calling for, an increase in taxes on millionaires and a mansion tax increase. I think that’s also going to be hard on real estate[.]


The Tax Proposals on Offer

The House has one, and the Senate has one.  The Wall Street Journal, oddly, is making out like the differences between the two are enormous.  Yet, here’s the WSJ‘s own chart illustrating these humongous differences.

The big differences the WSJ singles out are these:

The big ways the Senate version breaks with the House plan: the level of top individual tax rates, the number of individual tax brackets, the timing of a corporate tax-rate cut and the particulars of estate tax changes[.]

It’s Not Your Money—It’s Ours!

That’s the attitude of the European Union political elite—especially the ones in charge.  In truth, the attitude isn’t unique to them; we have a similar problem, no less damaging to our economy and individual prosperity.

Documents cited by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday suggested that offshore law firm Appleby, which is based in multiple tax havens, helped the iPhone maker [Apple, Inc] move billions of dollars in revenues collected in Ireland to the Channel Islands to head off increased European Union scrutiny of its tax affairs in Dublin.

This isn’t tax avoidance, though, this is just a legitimate attempt by a business to keep what it’s earned.

Tax Reform and SALT

There are, unfortunately, some Republican Congressmen who don’t get it.  One such is Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R, NY).

I worry about the way this bill erodes the deduction for state and local taxes, which has been in place since 1913.  …  This would compound the already excruciating financial burden that my state’s lawmakers have placed on New Yorkers.

How long the deduction has been in place is only an indication of the age of the error, nothing else.

Federal Tax Reform and SALT

Included in the Federal tax reform plan now on offer is the elimination of the deduction for State And Local Taxes (primarily income and sales taxes; property taxes would remain deductible up to a cap).  Republican Congressmen from high-SALT States object to that elimination, and they base their objection on the premise that these high-tax States actually send more of their States’ citizens’ money to DC than they get back from DC in other funds.

That seems a fair beef to the extent that it’s accurate, which raises a question in my pea brain.