Tag: "tax"

Americans Say, “Soak the Rich”

After six years of income redistribution, Americans are hungry for more, according to the latest Gallup poll:

Gallup

Despite the growing focus on inequality inrecent years, the 63% of Americans who say that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people is almost the same as the 60% who said this in 1984.

Americans’ agreement that money and wealth need to be more evenly distributed reached a high point of 68% in April 2008, in the last year of the George W. Bush administration, and just before the full effects of the Great Recession began to take hold. Americans became slightly less likely to agree with the idea later that year and in surveys conducted in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Tax Day: Obamacare Comes Home To Roost

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) has released its latest analysis of  “tax complexity”:

This year’s new analysis of tax complexity from National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) found some startling lead figures: a $234 billion cost to the economy due to 6.1 billion lost hours of productivity and $32 billion spent out-of-pocket to comply with America’s insanely complicated tax system.

Looking deeper at NTUF’s research, there is one big reason to think this could be the beginning of a trend in the wrong direction: 3,322 pages of legal guidance for Obamacare (or the ACA) added to IRS.gov (1,077 pages of regulations, 1,377 pages of Treasury decisions, 669 notices, 100 revenue procedures, and 12 revenue rulings).

Essentially, Obamacare is coming home to roost.

NTUF

Will Obamacare’s Tax Dodgers Take Advantage of Special Enrollment?

Those of us who take the time to understand the burdens that the federal government increasingly impose on us might be excused for envying the Obamacare tax dodgers, who got a special enrollment period to sign up for Obamacare if they let the February 15 deadline for enrollment whizz by.

From the Administration on February 20:

For those who were unaware or didn’t understand the implications of the fee for not enrolling in coverage, CMS will provide consumers with an opportunity to purchase health insurance coverage from March 15 to April 30. If consumers do not purchase coverage for 2015 during this special enrollment period, they may have to pay a fee when they file their 2015 income taxes.

These are the folks who, despite massive media coverage of Obamacare (which was signed in 2010) lived in blissful ignorance that the federal government now imposes a mandate on them to purchase a government-certified health plan. When they file their taxes, they will be shocked and appalled to learn that they owe a penalty.

For every other American, of course, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Obamacare is so unpopular, however, that the Administration knew it had to give relief to these folks.

Well, the early figures for the special enrollment are in, and they are pretty laughable: Only 36,000 of 4 million eligible enrollees signed up by March 29. Charles Gaba, an Obamacare advocate and leading expert on estimating Obamacare enrollees, thinks it’s too early to panic: Folks have another month to enroll.

I tend to agree: Someone who has still not figured out – after five years – that Obamacare imposes this mandate is unlikely to file his taxes early – or even on time.

Health Costs in Canada Increased 2.85 Times Faster Than Inflation in the Last Decade

New research from The Fraser Institute shows that health costs in Canada increased 53.3 percent since 2014. During the same period, consumer price inflation increased 18.7 percent and cash incomes rose only 34.7 percent. And the taxes taken to fund the single-payer system have risen significantly:

Health care in Canada is not “free.” Canadians often misunderstand the true cost of our public health care system. This occurs partly because Canadians do not incur direct expenses for their use of health care, and partly because Canadians cannot readily determine the value of their contribution to public health care insurance because there is no “dedicated” health insurance tax.

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Should Taxpayers Spend $250,000 to Give an Uninsured Person 16 Days of Healthy Life?

ObamaCare spends a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere:

money-crossroadsSo, even when we combine the most optimistic estimates of gains in mortality and morbidity, the average uninsured person would gain about 16 healthy days a year…As a comparison, 75-year-olds with foot problems prior to chiropody treatment rate their quality of life at .956. For the average uninsured person, having health insurance coverage provides health benefits that are roughly equivalent to averting the foot problems experienced by typical 75-year-olds.

More importantly, even using the most optimistic assumptions, ObamaCare does not appear to be very cost-effective in relative terms. That is, we could attain the equivalent gains in health status for only 4% of the trillions that will be spent on ObamaCare. Conversely, for the same massive expenditure, we could attain up to 27 times as much improvement in health status. In light of this rather egregious squandering of other people’s money, it’s little surprise that opposition to ObamaCare has been so persistent and widespread.

From: Christopher Conover at Forbes.

Tax Credits Cure Food Sales Tax Complexity. Why Not Use Them in ObamaCare Reform?

California’s tax treatment of food and ObamaCare’s tax treatment of health insurance have something in common. Both sets of regulation are so bad that people buying the same product can be taxed or subsidized differently in ways that are almost impossible to decipher.

As Joe Eskenazi of SF Weekly explains, California taxes the same bunch of carrots differently depending on whether the “buyer is a homeless shelter (no), a racetrack (yes), an ostrich farm (no), or a zoo (maybe).”

Sold in combination, a cup of coffee and a cup of gazpacho are a taxable meal. Sold separately, they are not. Cream-filled donuts are not taxable, but a croissant sandwich is. A cold sandwich with hot gravy poured on it is taxable even if it is cooled to room temperature. So is a previously hot, but currently cold, soup.

At first, the state held that movie popcorn was heated food. The movie theaters disagreed. They claimed that the lights over the popcorn were dehumidifier lamps, not heating lamps. They hired popcorn experts to measure the internal heat of the popcorn piles. Multiple hearings and many dollars later, the California Board of Equalization ruled that the heat in the popcorn was indeed a by-product of those dehumidifier lamps. Movie popcorn became a tax exempt food.

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

Are ObamaCare Taxes Hurting the Medical Device Industry?

ObamaCare imposed an excise tax on medical-device makers that they have been lobbying relentlessly to repeal, arguing it kills jobs. However, according to Alex Lykken of Pitchbook, an information provider that collects and analyzes data on financial deals, ObamaCare’s medical-device tax has not had an impact on venture financing of new medical device companies:

Devices & supplies financings, believe it or not, hit a 10-year high in 2012, two years after the ACA was passed and just a year before the medical device tax went into effect. It seems odd that VC firms, which look several years down the road before investing, would complete more financings and invest more capital in the industry every year right until January 2013.

There is another plausible explanation: Device makers have global markets, and investors are looking to them, not the U.S., for growth.

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

Lying With Statistics?

Scot Winship reviews Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in Twenty-First Century:

The Piketty and Saez data for the U.S. indicate that between 1979 and 2012, the bottom 90 percent’s income dropped by over $3,000.

But this ignores transfer income, such as Social Security. It ignores employer benefits, such as health insurance. And it ignores charges in household size over time.

When I incorporate these improvements using the Census Bureau data, I find that median post-tax and -transfer income rose by nearly $26,000 for a household of four ($13,000 for a household of one) between 1979 and 2012.