Tax Rates and Tax Credits

One illustration of the value of the relationship between the two is provided in Laura Kusisto’s piece, Tax Overhaul Threatens Affordable-Housing Deals, in a piece in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

The possibility of a tax-code overhaul is casting a shadow over the $10 billion affordable-housing industry, which receives tax credits so valuable they often determine whether or not projects get off the ground.

Members of Congress and President Donald Trump have proposed reducing the corporate tax rate to 15% to 20% from the current 35%, dimming the allure of a credit investors such as big banks and insurance companies receive to offset income taxes.

The Trump Tax Leak

Host Rachel Maddow said the two-page summary of Trump’s federal return for that year was first obtained by journalist David Cay Johnston, who gave MSNBC a first look at the documents.

It is unclear who leaked them. Johnston, with the website DCReport.org, said only that he found the documents “in the mail.”

If you believe that the leaked return just sort of showed up like that, maybe you’ll believe that I have some beachfront property north of Santa Fe to sell you.

Tax Credits in the Obamacare Replacement Proposal

In the main, I’m opposed to these on a couple of grounds.  One is that it’s just more welfare; we need to find a way to move folks off welfare and into the labor force and jobs rather than keeping them trapped in the welfare cage—like we did when we originally reformed the food stamps program by requiring recipients to get a job or lose the stamps.  That reform not only reduced overall unemployment, it put recipients back into jobs (and off that welfare program).  These weren’t make-work jobs, either; net prosperity for those recipient families increased.  (Then the Obama administration withdrew the work requirement, and we got record numbers of folks back on food stamps).

Hysteria or Hypocrisy?

You pick ’em.  The latest example of irrationality (which is a superset of both hysteria and hypocrisy) comes via V the K at GayPatriot.

Recall that the Progressive-Democratic Party that runs Philadelphia passed a massive sugar tax to be levied against soft drinks sold in the city.  Recall, too, the high school economics teaching that if you raise the price of something, demand for that something falls off.  Finally, recall that applying a tax to that something is the same as raising its price.

The [soda] tax is huge, amounting to a 45% to 100% increase in the final consumer cost of typically affected beverage products.

Foolish

Bill Gates, the co-founder of  Microsoft and world’s richest man, said in an interview Friday that robots  that steal human jobs should pay their fair share of taxes.

He said, and he was serious,

Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, Social Security tax, all those things.  If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.

Evil Tax Deduction for Trump Businesses

The Wall Street Journal has decided to put its collected knickers in a twist over a Trump tax-overhaul proposal that would preserve millions of dollars in savings for companies controlled by his family.  True.  His proposal would preserve the ability of companies to take a tax deduction for interest payments on company debt.

Companies that are part of the Trump Organization pay more than $20 million a year in interest on their debts, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of financial disclosures and other public information about the companies’ outstanding loans and their interest rates.

The Journal‘s estimate of $20 million is conservative, meaning Mr Trump’s or his companies’ tax savings from being able to deduct interest payments from taxable income might be higher.

Polemics vs Reasoned Argument

As the Congress considers import taxes as part of its general tax reform agenda, toy sellers are expressing their concern: they import most of what they sell; their products are manufactured overseas.  Import taxes are surely a thing worth discussing and debating thoroughly, whether they’re essentially cost of goods sold neutral, as Doug Holtz-Eakin argues (the dollar will rise from the tax change and economic growth, and so the dollar cost of imports will fall; the cost of goods sold will simply emphasize taxes more and import costs less), or they’re dangerously like protectionist tariffs, as others argue.

Oil-and-Gas Industry and Tax Breaks

Here’s another post comes from a Wall Street Journal debate/point-counterpoint piece.  This time, though, I think the question itself is too narrow, limited as it is to oil and gas subsidies.  The imbalance in the WSJ question is illustrated by this claim from President-On-The-Way-Out Barack Obama (D):

Not only has President Barack Obama repeatedly called for a repeal of much of the oil-and-gas industry’s favorable tax treatment, his budget proposal for fiscal 2017 included a new $10-a-barrel fee on oil to help fund low-carbon infrastructure projects.

Tax Rates

James Pethokoukis had a piece on this at AEIdeas, but I want to focus on just a small part of it.

[W]hat would be the economic case for lower rates for the 0.1%?

Pethoukis doesn’t object to these lower rates; he just has other job-growth priorities.

I have, though, two questions in answer to this question: what would be the economic case for excluding this or that group of Americans from an otherwise general tax policy?  And the obverse: what would be the economic case for forcing inclusion of this or that group of Americans into an otherwise limited tax policy?

Fair Share

Here, via AEIdeas, are some more data on the relative shares of income taxes members of various economic strata pay. 

The 1,400 citizens in the top one-thousandths of one per cent of income tax payers paid 30% more in taxes across the class than did the 70 million citizens in the bottom 50%.  Singling out the top 400 for special consideration, they paid 78% of the total that those in the lower half paid in aggregate.

It works out, too, to $35.6 million per Privileged One compared to $540 per Poor Downtrodden one.