May 6, 2008
I found a site to check the commonality of names, and apparently, I don’t exist!
Even worse, it finds that there are zero people with the last name Warbiany in the US!
Does this mean I can stop paying my taxes, since I don’t live here?
April 10, 2008
I’ve found something that the government does quickly. When you owe them taxes at this time of the year, they don’t waste time. I owed at the end of this year, and there was maybe a 3-4 day from the time we SENT the check and the day it cleared. That check cleared faster than giving it to a crackhead with a gambling problem…
…which is a lot like government, when you really think about it!
December 18, 2007
The government believes you should use ethanol as a fuel. They have enacted policies to incentivize ethanol production. Those policies, as I pointed out here, have unintended consequences:
But let’s look at what’s happened. First, we started hurting poor Mexicans by threatening their access to affordable corn tortillas, a staple of the diet for the impoverished in that country. Then, it was found that the high cost of feed corn for animals will end up resulting in high costs and lower supply of meat. And now, it’s spreading to milk. You know, full of calcium, the stuff we tell children will give them strong bones? Great work, Congress!
And now it’s hit me square in the gut, in my beer supply:
I’ll explain what’s happened to the price of Malt and Hops and why, what can be done about it, and why you are going to see prices jump likely between 15 and 25% on the retail end for Craft brews in a matter of weeks.
In late September I was told by another brewery that malt was going up about 40% and hops 30 to 40%. I started calling suppliers and they confirmed this was true, and also that they have no prices locked in yet. Additionally, I was informed that many farmers are not honoring their contracts to the fullest extent (don’t blame the farmers please) due to the crazy price situation that’s evolving in crop farming, with corn being twice the price it was last year.
What does corn have to do with it? Our supplier tells us that with Uncle Sam’s push and financial support for ethanol the price of corn has doubled and many farmers grew corn instead of barley this year. In the UK, where the EU has also required ethanol production, rape seed is the crop of choice and again, a lot more profitable than growing barley and wheat. Couple this with bad weather and growing conditions this year and in Europe and you have a crisis in barley supply. We were told this was coming in early summer, but we assumed our malt company might have meant a 10 to 15% increase in price, not this. When we finally got nailed down pricing last week, one malt price was up 45% and the other up 56%.
As a homebrewer, I just felt this pinch. I knew it was coming eventually, but wasn’t sure how soon or how drastic it would be. I needed to buy some malt for this weekend’s brew session, and went to my usual supplier, who usually has the best prices on just about everything. I was shocked to see that malt prices had jumped 30-50% (depending on variety) since my last order in November.
I’ve been further dealing with the effects of a worldwide shortage of hops, as supply has become inconsistent and prices have shot up, but I can at least blame that on the market. There are some very natural supply-and-demand forces that have affected that market over the last decade, and the market will respond to increase supply. And, to be fair, there are weather-related reasons that the barley crop was not as plentiful as past years. But when government steals my tax dollars and uses them to further exacerbate shortages in the things I want to buy, it’s a double-whammy, and it makes me resent them even further. Instead of having natural supply-and-demand, there is entirely unnatural and inefficient government-created demand that is taking away the incentive to supply malt.
The last thing I need is government policies creating additional cause for shortages. It may be rather “unimportant” that I homebrew beer. And after all, as a hobbyist, I’m willing to spend plenty of money on my hobby, as my constant equipment purchases show. But I look at brewing as a potential future career, and watch as struggling breweries are now forced to deal with this shortage and hope that their consumers are willing and able to afford price increases.
For me, this is an annoyance. For some craft brewers, this might be the difference between being able to stay afloat in business and shutting their doors. It may just be beer, but as I pointed out when discussing the milk, tortilla, and meat price increases:
Simply put, look at how the cost of government is affecting your food. In addition to all the farm subsidies, price supports, and all the other nonsense, they decided to make a completely separate mandate regarding ethanol in the energy supply. What happens? Your cost of living goes up, and your standard of living goes down.
They’ve made some lobbyists and farmers very rich with these policies. And being politicians, they’ve been using your money– not theirs– to do it. They take your taxes, use them to create incentives which make what you want to buy more expensive, and then (especially in the example of beer) tax the hell out of the end product anyway.
I realize some of our readers are in favor of government. So please, can you even attempt to justify this? Why should I be paying three different ways for the government to make some farmers very rich?
February 4, 2007
Tonight, the wife and I were working out our taxes using TurboTax. Our taxes aren’t very complex, so I don’t feel the need to employ too much help to understand the byzantine tax code we live under.
Well, I am usually not very good at saving money for rainy days, so I tend to manage my finances to ensure a refund at the end of the year. I still check each time to see how much ends up getting paid to the government. This year, adding in the employer contribution to SS and Medicare, it works out to a pretty sizable 5-figure number. Now, I’m not a rich man. While I make a pretty decent income, my net worth is barely positive. Yet I pay taxes like a rich man, and it makes me angry every year.
My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same level of anger. She looks at our refund (about $2K this year), and thinks “oh well, at least we didn’t have to pay!” We’re planning a trip to Mexico, and she sees this refund as the quick and easy way to pay for the trip. We get $2K back on a total payment of $25K+, and she’s happy about it.
So here’s an idea for all of you readers, or at least those who are married folks who don’t have spouses of libertarian bent. Start claiming too many dependents on your W-4. Work it out so you owe every year. It won’t take long before your spouse is complaining about taxes, when he/she is scrambling to find $2K instead of trying to figure out how to spend the $2K the benevolent government is sending you.
January 9, 2007
I was thinking about this yesterday. Our elected officials love to use money to help the “less fortunate”. They are either “compassionate conservatives” or “progressive”, both of which believe that rich people’s money should be redistributed to poor people.
So how much hypocrisy can we point out if we suggest that in addition to excluding charitable giving from taxable income, we also offer a 25% tax credit for it?
Think of it this way. Let’s assume that the only deduction allowed by law is for charitable giving, and $100,000 of income is in a 30% tax bracket, while $30,000 income is in a 10% tax bracket.
So the guy with the $100K income, assuming no charitable giving, owes $30K in taxes to the government. If he gives $10K to a charity, his taxable income drops to $90K, making his tax bill $27K. Obviously he hasn’t come out “ahead” on the deal, because he’s given $10K to save $3K in taxes.
The guy with $30K owes $3K in taxes. Likewise, the $30K person decides to tithe 10% to his church, or $3K. In doing so, he saves $300, so his tax bill is $2700 instead. Again, he hasn’t come out ahead, because he’s given $3K to save $300.
However, because the richer person is in a higher tax bracket, he gets a greater tax reduction per dollar donated than a poorer person. He reduced his taxes by 30% per dollar he donates, while the poorer person only reduces his taxes by 10% per dollar. What if we added a 25% tax credit (on top of the exclusion of donations from taxable income), in order to help spur on charitable giving? (Note, I’d make the tax credit only apply until you get to $0 taxes paid, not allow you to get a refund for taxes never paid).
So in the first scenario, the rich person donates $10K and thus reduces his tax burden by $5500. Again, he’s still not coming out ahead, but instead of owing $27K in taxes, he owes $24,500. Essentially, by adding a tax credit, he gets a benefit as if he had donated a little over $19K. So from a tax perspective, it’s like slightly less than doubling his donation.
In the second scenario, though, the person who donates $3K reduces his tax burden by $1050, making his final tax burden $1950 instead of $2700. Again, he hasn’t come out ahead, because he donated $3000 to save $1050. But his $3K donation has the same effect on his tax burden as if he had donated $10,500, making the effect on his tax burden of more than tripling his donation.
To make a change like this encourages charitable giving, while giving lower income people greater tax reduction per dollar donated than higher income people. To elected officials who like to play God with our paychecks, while “helping the poor”, this would make a lot of sense.
If our elected officials really wanted to encourage charitable giving, which many of us outside of Congress would argue is much more effective at helping people than letting government have the money, we could get a lot of people in Congress to sign on to this proposal. However, I doubt it will happen. I think our elected officials believe that all money for good purposes should flow through Congress, and the idea of interrupting their own revenue stream in favor of private charity goes against everything they stand for. After all, they’re more interested in power and control than results, as we’ve seen from pretty much every government program ever designed.
PS – Left up to me, we wouldn’t use tax policy to encourage behavior. It is inherently unfair, and that’s without even getting into the argument over whether taxation is theft or immoral. The purpose of this post is to point out government hypocrisy. It is purely a thought experiment, and is not intended as a policy recommendation.
December 8, 2006
A Norwegian appeals court has ruled that striptease is an art form and should therefore be exempt from value-added tax (VAT).
The owners of the Diamond Go Go Bar in Oslo had refused to pay VAT of 25% on entry fees as tax authorities demanded.
The local authority had taken the club to court over its refusal to pay tax.
Lawyers for the club’s owners argued that striptease dancers were stage artists just like sword-swallowers and comedians and deserved the same status.
“Striptease, in the way it is practised in this case, is a form of dance combined with acting,” the judges ruled, according to AFP news agency.
Hey, plenty of Renaissance artists painted nudes, so I’ll buy that it’s an art form.
Funny, though, we used to refer to it in college as going to either the “library” or the “ballet”. I guess going to the “art gallery” makes just as much sense
Hat Tip: Below The Beltway
August 4, 2006
They might, if Rep. Steve Davis has his way:
As some of you may know that this past year I introduced the Georgia Fair Tax, HB 1667, on the last day of the session. I actually had the bill drafted prior to the session and was seeking a fiscal note, however I did not meet the deadline to submit tax legislation to the Department of Audits (freshmen learning). I still tried to get the fiscal note during the session but to no available, but introduced the bill anyway on the last day to open discussion during the off season.
Never the less, I had some time to review it and some time to research other aspects including the impact on the gas tax. I have made some minor changes to the bill and have submitted the bill to the Department of Audits, many months before the November deadline. You can view the new draft legislation here. I have received confirmation(view it here and here) of the request and they are preparing the analysis and fiscal note. I would like to point out this is a piece of draft legislation that will be adjusted during the legislative process and I encourage any and all recommendations from my constituents as well as my colleagues in the General Assembly.
Perhaps if it works extremely well here, the rest of the country may actually take notice. Georgia is already a job-friendly state due to the relatively low cost of living and educated population in the Atlanta area, and this will only help.
Hat Tip: Jason Pye
May 31, 2006
That was the length of General Electric’s 2005 tax return. You heard me correctly, 24,000 pages. Astounding…
The Internal Revenue Service today announced significant progress in its corporate e-file program, including the successful May 18, 2006 e-filing of the nationâ€™s largest tax return from General Electric (GE).
On paper, GEâ€™s e-filed return would have been approximately 24,000 pages long. After filing, GE received IRSâ€™ acknowledgement of its filing in about an hour. The file was 237 megabytes.
â€œHaving GE file electronically shows the program is working,â€ said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. â€œHaving the largest tax return is a major milestone for the corporate e-file program. I appreciate GEâ€™s work to get this done.â€
Yeah, it saved a lot of paper. That’s probably not reflected in the paychecks GE paid their team of tax attorneys to prepare the return, or the boatloads of money the Treasury will have to print (or “loan”) to pay the salaries of all the federal employees who will have to look this one over. My tax return took an afternoon to complete. How man man-years did this take?
It’s got to stop. It’s time for the FairTax.
Hat Tip: The Wrightwing
May 25, 2006
Well, I didn’t quite make it to the FairTax rally last night… Had I thought that there would be an attendance problem, I definitely would have headed over, but early in the day I realized the whole place would be mobbed…
Local news had this to say:
It wasn’t exactly the Boston Tea Party but this modern mob must have made a lot more noise.
About 4,500 raucous tax protesters packed the Gwinnett Convention Center on Wednesday night to hear politicians, musicians and talk show celebrities call for the end of the federal income tax and the creation of a 23 percent national sales tax to replace it.
The size of the “Fair Tax Rally” crowd was so large that event organizers, prodded by a fire marshal, turned away roughly 2,000 rallygoers. Many gathered in the parking lot to listen to the event on radio.
6,500 people for a rally on TAXES. A NYT #1 Best-Selling book about TAXES.
U.S. Rep. John Linder has said for years that only a groundswell among the American people will convince Congress to scrap the Internal Revenue Service and replace it with a national sales tax.
Wednesday night’s rally at a jammed Gwinnett Convention Center in support of Linder’s FairTax bill looked a lot like the popular uprising the Duluth Republican has envisioned since he introduced what has become his signature legislation in 1999.
“The grass roots are working,” said Joseph Gullett of Norcross, motioning to more than 100 people gathered outside the convention center listening to a radio broadcast of the rally because they couldn’t get into the packed building.
“It’s nice to see all these people with the same ideas,” added Richard Trenchik, who drove all the way from Warner Robins only to be turned back from the center after it had reached its capacity of 4,500 people.
And from the national media?
Maybe Boortz is just going to have to take this show back out on the road.
May 16, 2006
As I mentioned previously, I’ve been attending a new church. The theme recently has been the things within ourselves which grow to burden us, and how to avoid them. This week, perfect to be picked apart by someone like me, was greed (link points to the sermon streamed from the church web site).
Some of it was good, some of it was bad. One part that resonates, of course, is that where your treasure (i.e. money) goes, there your heart will go also. The point was made about stocks. When you invest in a stock, that stock doesn’t remain an impersonal company that you really don’t care about. It’s your baby. You’re researching constantly online to make sure the company is comporting itself the way you expect, worrying about their business practices, etc. All of a sudden, you’re not giving just your money to the company you’ve bought a part of, you’re giving them a piece of yourself.
In the sermon, there was a big message about how giving is good, and all that. I’m not too concerned about that at the moment. That’s not to say that I disagree, of course, as I feel very good when I give help and assistance, whether monetary or not, to people I care about. But the morality angle is simply an extension of the idea that where your money goes, goes everything.
Why, of course, do our money and our hearts follow each other so closely? To understand, we need to understand what money is. Money is the physical representation of our time. Time, not money, is the most precious resource in the world. Short of major life-lengthening medical breakthroughs (which will probably happen within 20-50 years), we’ve only got a century or so to get it all done. So what is money? Money is the value of our time when we’re working. Why do we want raises? Because we think our time should be more valuable than it is.
Ben Franklin said that “Time is Money“. But money is also time. Money is what we earn for spending our time, and money is normally required to be spent to enjoy our time. Money is freedom: an unlimited supply of money ensures that we have complete control over our time. When we give our money to another fellow human being, we feel like we are investing in that person, and have a vested interest in seeing them succeed. When we have our money taken by our government, we have a feeling not that we’re working for ourselves (or even for our fellow man, most of the time), but that we’re working for our government. And when our government forcibly takes part of our money, it makes us feel like they’re forcibly taking a part of our freedom.
This, of course, tends to be the most crippling aspect of debt. Once you figure out what debt is doing to you, it creates a pit in your stomach. You look not at the money you earn as paying for the things you want or need, you see it paying for the privilege of borrowing money for what you wanted or needed months or years ago. For every dollar you borrow, you pay interest. Each dollar of that interest is the quantifiable punishment for a bad mistake you’ve made with your money in the past.
On the flip side, of course, is what happens when you have savings. When you have savings, you’re paying yourself for your time, and you’re earning interest on those payments. You feel a great sense of self-worth when your actual monetary worth is in the black. You have the feeling that you have built something, and what you have built is an investment in yourself.
I find myself in a strange conundrum between these two situations. I’m a poor handler of monetary affairs, and tend not to have much self-control when it comes to spending. So I’ve got a fair amount of credit card debt, when hangs over my head like a dagger. Yet at the same time, I’ve been contributing to 401k for a few years, and have built a nice little start to a nest egg. At the moment, if I liquidated the 401k, I could pay off most (if not all) of the debt, and since the debt carries higher interest than I earn on the savings, it might even make some economic sense.
Yet I can’t bring myself to do something like that. The savings I’ve built are an accomplishment. And given the emotional state of money, they are an accomplishment in building myself. Would there be some sense in starting over at square one, clearing the debt? Maybe, but I can’t bear the thought of seeing those savings disappear, even if there was a tangible benefit in another area. That is money I’ve paid to myself. That is my “fit hits the shan” fund. That is the reminder to me that I’m doing at least something right financially.
Some have said that the love of money is the root of all evil. Perhaps the love of money itself might be, as the love of money itself leads one to do anything to achieve it. But the love of what money represents— personal accomplishment and personal freedom— can lead one to pursue greatness. I don’t desire to be rich to throw my success in the face of others, I desire to be rich to increase my own ability to live freely.
May 8, 2006
I threw up a post over at The FairTax Blog about how it will be enforced… Check it out. I think it answers some questions that aren’t addressed elsewhere.
Catallarchy ATL Libertarian Blogger Meetup – May 20th. The wife will be out of town that weekend, so I don’t have to worry about dragging her someplace she’ll be bored to tears meeting freaks like me. So I’m going to make it down to this… For any of the regular readers in the Atlanta area, swing on by.
Atlanta FairTax Rally – May 24. I’m 90% sure I’m going to be there, if I can muster up the ability to deal with traffic long enough to head up to Gwinnett. If anyone else is planning on heading over, let me know.
April 5, 2006
My good friend (and former contributor) Wilson is a Boston resident, although he’s getting closer and closer to being fed up with the insanity. He told me recently that Massachusetts is the only state who is actually losing population year-to-year. States like California are losing a lot of people, but there is a net increase due to immigration. Not so with Massachusetts, it’s a net decrease. This morning, I spoke with Wilson, and he sent me this story… It’s about time for the exodus to get worse:
Massachusetts is poised to become the first state to provide nearly universal health care coverage with a bill passed overwhelmingly by the legislature Tuesday that Gov. Mitt Romney says he will sign.
The bill does what health experts say no other state has been able to do: provide a mechanism for all of its citizens to obtain health insurance. It accomplishes that in a way that experts say combines methods and proposals from across the political spectrum, apportioning the cost among businesses, individuals and the government.
“This is probably about as close as you can get to universal,” said Paul B. Ginsburg, president of the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington. “It’s definitely going to be inspiring to other states about how there was this compromise. They found a way to get to a major expansion of coverage that people could agree on. For a conservative Republican, this is individual responsibility. For a Democrat, this is government helping those that need help.”
The bill, the product of months of wrangling between legislators and the governor, requires all Massachusetts residents to obtain health coverage by July 1, 2007.
I don’t have time today to truly study this. But I can say, without a doubt, that it will have unintended consequences and will end up hurting the state of Massachusetts. Wilson is furious, because he knows exactly who will be paying for this: him.
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