Tag Archives: federal income tax

A solution to the fairness question that President Obama and John Brummett want solved.

John Brummett in his article, “Still a taxing issue,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Jan 31, 2012, asserts that the Republcans are on the wrong side of the tax issue and the people support the view that President Obama holds concerning fairness. According to Brummett “…the issue is that the government enhances wealth artificially with tax inequity that consolidates riches while mistreating and eroding the vital middle class….” and he also noted that Rich people are getting off too easy and the secretaries of the world are paying way too much and the rich are paying way too little.

Let me offer a solution. How about lowering the tax rates for the rich so they no longer will seek these tax shelters and also we have much less cheating on taxes too.

Dan Mitchell lays a great case for lowering taxes:

New Academic Study Confirms Previous IMF Analysis, Shows that Lower Tax Rates Are the Best Way to Reduce Tax Evasion

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

Leftists want higher tax rates and they want greater tax compliance. But they have a hard time understanding that those goals are inconsistent.

Simply stated, people respond to incentives. When tax rates are punitive, folks earn and report less taxable income, and vice-versa.

In a previous post, I quoted an article from the International Monetary Fund, which unambiguously concluded that high tax burdens are the main reason people don’t fully comply with tax regimes.

Macroeconomic and microeconomic modeling studies based on data for several countries suggest that the major driving forces behind the size and growth of the shadow economy are an increasing burden of tax and social security payments… The bigger the difference between the total cost of labor in the official economy and the after-tax earnings from work, the greater the incentive for employers and employees to avoid this difference and participate in the shadow economy. …Several studies have found strong evidence that the tax regime influences the shadow economy.

Indeed, it’s worth noting that international studies find that the jurisdictions with the highest rates of tax compliance are the ones with reasonable tax systems, such as Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Now there’s a new study confirming these findings. Authored by two economists, one from the University of Wisconsin and the other from Jacksonville University, the new research cites the impact of tax burdens as well as other key variables.

Here are some key findings from the study.

According to the results provided in Table 2, the coefficient on the average effective federal income tax variable (AET) is positive in all three estimates and statistically significant for the overall study periods (1960-2008) at beyond the five percent level and statistically significant at the one percent level for the two sub-periods (1970-2007 and 1980-2008). Thus, as expected, the higher the average effective federal income tax rate, the greater the expected benefits of tax evasion may be and hence the greater the extent of that income tax evasion. This finding is consistent with most previous studies of income tax evasion using official data… In all three estimates, [the audit variable] exhibits the expected negative sign; however, in all three estimates it fails to be statistically significant at the five percent level. Indeed, these three coefficients are statistically significant at barely the 10 percent level. Thus it appears the audit rate (AUDIT) variable, of an in itself, may not be viewed as a strong deterrent to federal personal income taxation [evasion].

Translating from economic jargon, the study concludes that higher tax burdens lead to more evasion. Statists usually claim that this can be addressed by giving the IRS more power, but the researchers found that audit rates have a very weak effect.

The obvious conclusion, as I’ve noted before, is that lower tax rates and tax reform are the best way to improve tax compliance – not more power for the IRS.

Incidentally, this new study also finds that evasion increases when the unemployment rate increases. Given his proposals for higher tax rates and his poor track record on jobs, it almost makes one think Obama is trying to set a record for tax evasion.

The study also finds that dissatisfaction with government is correlated with tax evasion. And since Obama’s White House has been wasting money on corrupt green energy programs and a failed stimulus, that also suggests that the Administration wants more tax evasion.

Indeed, this last finding is consistent with some research from the Bank of Italy that I cited in 2010.

…the coefficient of public spending inefficiency remains negative and highly significant. …We find that tax morale is higher when the taxpayer perceives and observes that the government is efficient; that is, it provides a fair output with respect to the revenues.

And I imagine that “tax morale” in the United States is further undermined by an internal revenue code that has metastasized into a 72,000-page monstrosity of corruption and sleaze.

On the other hand, tax evasion apparently is correlated with real per-capita gross domestic product. And since the economy has suffered from anemic performance over the past three years, that blows a hole in the conspiratorial theory that Obama wants more evasion.

All joking aside, I’m sure the President wants more tax compliance and more prosperity. And since I’m a nice guy, I’m going to help him out. Mr. President, this video outlines a plan that would achieve both of those goals.

The Flat Tax: How it Works and Why it is Good for America

Uploaded by on Mar 29, 2010

This Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation video shows how the flat tax would benefit families and businesses, and also explains how this simple and fair system would boost economic growth and eliminate the special-interest corruption of the internal revenue code. www.freedomandprosperity.org

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Given his class-warfare rhetoric, I’m not holding my breath in anticipation that he will follow my sage advice.

Brantley: Republicans will pay for opposing tax increases

Today on the Arkansas Times Blog Max Brantley asserted:

 A growing number of polls show Republican voters think their representatives in Congress are too extreme — opposing any tax increases — and have not done enough to work out the debt ceiling problem.

Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack don’t need no stinkin’ polls.

I do not think that the American people want their taxes raised right now. That may be contrary to what President Obama thinks though. In the article, “Myths of Tax Cuts for Rich, Spending Cuts for Poor,” published on May 3, 2011 by Brian Riedl, the case is made that the rich pay a higher percentage of the total taxes than they have in a long time. He notes, “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the richest 20 percent of taxpayers now shoulder a record 86 percent of the federal income tax burden. By comparison in 1981 it was 64 percent and in 2001 it was 81 percent.

Below is the complete article:

Conventional wisdom becomes dangerous when it contradicts analysis and evidence. On the federal budget, for example, we’re told that the rich are evading their fair share of the tax burden while the poor are seeing their spending slashed.

These assumptions have consequences. The president’s deficit commission — which maintains that everything is on the table — left the $638 billion federal anti-poverty budget virtually untouched. Others assert that finally soaking the rich will close the budget deficit.

Basic government data reveal this conventional wisdom to be flat wrong: Anti-poverty spending is at record levels. The rich are shouldering more of the tax burden than ever. The federal budget is more redistributive than ever.

First, let’s examine taxes. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the richest 20 percent of taxpayers now shoulder a record 86 percent of the federal income tax burden. This is substantially higher than when Ronald Reagan took office (64 percent) and even higher than when George W. Bush took office (81 percent).

How could the tax code become even more progressive after President Bush’s tax cuts? Imagine an income tax cut that reduces Montgomery Burns’ tax from $95,000 to $85,000 and Homer Simpson’s tax from $5,000 to $0. Mr. Burns saves more dollars, but the Simpsons see a larger percentage reduction in their taxes. As a result, Mr. Burns goes from paying 95 percent of the combined tax burden up to 100 percent.

This happened with the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Although Mr. Bush reduced taxes for wealthy individuals, he also cut the lowest income tax bracket by one-third and doubled the refundable child tax credit — taking 10 million low-income families off the income tax rolls. In fact, the poorest 40 percent of households now pay zero income taxes, and many actually receive checks from Washington on April 15.

Examining all federal taxes — including corporate, payroll and excise taxes — doesn’t significantly change the story. In 1980, the richest 20 percent financed 55 percent of all federal revenue. Today, they finance a record 69 percent. In that time, the portion of all taxes paid by the top 1 percent has doubled. The portion paid by the bottom 40 percent has dropped nearly in half.

The data are clear. Nearly every year, the federal tax burden tilts even further toward upper-income taxpayers. Seekers of a more progressive tax policy should answer two questions: If 86 percent of the income tax burden is not enough, how much should the top 20 percent of taxpayers pay? And if the bottom 40 percent paying no income taxes is not sufficient, what is?

The flip side of the “tax cuts for the rich” mantra has been “spending cuts for the poor.” Again, the official government data flatly contradict the conventional wisdom.

According to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, federal anti-poverty spending has soared from $190 billion in 1990 to $348 billion in 2000, and to a staggering $638 billion this year (all adjusted for inflation). The growth since 2000 has been particularly remarkable in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (470 percent), food stamps (229 percent), energy assistance (163 percent), child care assistance (89 percent) and Medicaid (80 percent).

These expansions have been bipartisan: Mr. Bush — unfairly derided as bad for poor people — became the first president to spend more than 3 percent of the nation’s income on anti-poverty programs. President Obama then pushed it above 4 percent. In fact, since 1990, anti-poverty spending as a share of national income has expanded as fast as Social Security, Medicare, defense and education — combined.

So why the perceived “spending cuts for the poor”? Because anti-poverty spending increases (as large as $60 billion annually) occur automatically, and therefore go largely unnoticed. Yet any lawmaker proposing to shave even $1 billion off that growth is loudly attacked for “declaring war” on the safety net.

Missing is any broader context. Also missing is serious engagement with Robert Rector’s research displaying the ineffectiveness of much of this spending.

Washington faces enormous budgetary problems, including trillion-dollar deficits and the exploding costs of Social Security and Medicare. A lack of redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor is not one of those problems.

Brian Riedl is the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs at the Heritage Foundation