Minimum Wage in San Francisco

City Supervisor Jane Kim, in a recent Letter to the Wall Street Journal Editor sang huzzahs for the city’s $15/hr minimum wage and touted a tax on robots that were replacing those low-skilled workers priced out of the labor market by that minimum wage.

The minimum wage isn’t a pathway to the middle class; it is a safety net to prevent destitution.

And

[A] “robot tax” is a practical way to smooth the transitions caused by automation….

She’s wrong.

I’m sure the robots and kiosks that are replacing those low-skilled workers appreciate being saved from destitution.

How Close Are the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills?

See the table below, from The Wall Street Journal.  While the Left and its NLMSM emphasize the differences, and the Progressive-Democratic Party denizens rail at the claimed iniquities in their manufactured dudgeon, the tax reform bills on offer from the House and the Senate are remarkably similar.  The agree right down the line on the goals of tax reform, and they agree right down that same line on the means of achieving those goals.  The differences between the two bills are matters of degree, details bordering on trivial.

Tax Reform and SALT

The Wall Street Journal Friday opined that a House-Senate conference on the tax reform bills passed by the House and then-on offer by the Senate (since passed, with some changes to the on-offer version) could improve on the two bills and produce a better one for final passage and President’s signature.  The Editorial Board is right as far as it goes.

Notably in the context of their piece and this post, one of those changes to the Senate’s version that was included in what finally was passed was a change to their complete removal of State and local taxes: the Senate-passed version now includes the House’s deductibility of up to $10,000 in property taxes paid.

It’s Only a Few

It’s only a few Americans that we don’t like—the despicable 1% (actually the 0.2%).  That’s the Progressive-Democratic Party’s excuse for insisting that the death tax be kept in place in the current tax code reform effort.

The estate tax affects a very small—and very wealthy—number of Americans.

Only the estates of about 2 out of every 1,000 Americans who die face this tax right now.

Besides, repealing the tax, the Progressive-Democrats claim, would

unfairly provide more benefits to the wealthy over low- and middle-income Americans.

A State Runs a Budget Deficit

Louisiana, run by Progressive-Democrats since Bobby Jindall was term-limited out of office, is facing a $1.5 billion deficit as “temporary” tax increases implemented earlier begin to expire.  Jay Dardenne, the center-left Republican Commissioner of Administration, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards’ chief budget officer, says that “devastating” spending cuts would be necessary absent a renewal of the tax increases or enactment of other tax increases.

Law Be Damned

The city of Seattle passed a law earlier this year that levied an income tax on the city’s wealthiest—all in the name of equality of outcome and so…fairness.

It turns out that tax was contrary to the State’s law, which said that only the State can levy an income tax and, explicitly, cities cannot.  The question also was raised regarding whether the Seattle law was even contrary to the State’s constitution—illegitimate—as well as illegal, but the judge avoided the constitutional question.

King County Superior Court Judge John Ruhl ruled in a Wednesday that Seattle did not have the authority to impose the tax because state law prohibits tax on net income.

Soros Puts His Money in a Tax Shelter

And Stephen Moore’s knickers are in a twist.

Congress is still scrambling to find ways to pay for its tax cut, so perhaps it should pay closer attention to last month’s news that George Soros had transferred $18 billion of his fortune to a private charity that he controls. There it will be sheltered from the Internal Revenue Service forever. This may be the single biggest tax dodge in US history, yet no one on the right or left seems to have raised an eyebrow.

Missing the Point

In a Letter to the Editor last Thursday, one letter writer had this to say about a Wall Street Journal op-ed, The Great Progressive Tax Escape:

[T]he problem of interstate tax competition, like the continuing bids to draw Amazon to pick a favorable second headquarters, isn’t strictly speaking a problem of high progressive taxes, as your editorial asserts. Better to view it the other way, as a problem of low-tax jurisdictions using these devices to compete in a way that erodes the tax bases of other states. That is exactly what is happening globally as well, when Ireland, Panama, Malta, etc. make rock-bottom offers to global companies to do business there. Developed states and countries cannot run governments at the discounted prices offered by these tax havens….

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.