The Endlessness Of A Temporary Tax

Governments regularly claim that they favour tax reform. When this claim has been repeated so many times that virtually no one believes them anymore, they announce a tax reform, to show that they really mean it. They then reshuffle the existing taxes to give the appearance that taxation will actually be lowered.
When it becomes apparent that the reform is a sham, they often pull a rabbit out of a hat in the form of a ‘temporary’ tax, that’s pre-legislated to end sometime in the future.
Sounds promising.
So, let’s have a look at one such temporary tax and see how things worked out.
The US government introduced the War Revenue Act of 1898 – a tax on telephone use – under the claim that it was necessary to pay for the Spanish American War.
In what way does telephone use pertain to a government invading another country? Well, actually, one has nothing to do with the other. But, let’s leave that discussion for another day and see how this temporary tax played out.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

A Natural Experiment For Philadelphia’s Soda Tax

The city of Philadelphia’s controversial soda tax is providing a lot of material for serious scientists to evaluate the effects of arbitrarily imposing a tax on the distribution of a range of naturally and artificially-sweetened beverages. Since we’re near the end of the tax’s first year of being in effect, we thought we’d focus upon one of the more interesting findings to date.
Consumers are primarily the ones paying the tax
Thanks to the quirks of geography and development, some parts of the terminals at Philadephia’s international airport fall within Philadelphia’s city limits while other parts do not, which means that Philadelphia’s Beverage Tax is imposed in some parts of the airport while not in others. Cornell University’s John Cawley recognized that situation would make for a natural experiment for assessing some of the impact of the tax, where they collected data for soda sales at the airport in the period of December 2016 through February 2017, which provides a window into how both prices and sales changed as the tax went into effect on 1 Janaury 2017. Here’s a summary of the research’s findings:
The research, co-written with Barton Willage, a doctoral candidate in economics, and David Frisvold of the University of Iowa, appeared Oct. 25 in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Philadelphia’s tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages is one of several passed by cities throughout the United States. The goal is to increase prices and dissuade people from drinking soda to benefit their health. These taxes have been controversial; Cook County, Illinois, recently repealed its tax, which had only been in place a few months.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

California renters will come out ahead with new tax plan while homeowners will see a higher tax bill under GOP plan.

You constantly hear that owning a home is a no brainer in California because you will always get major tax benefits. Well the new GOP tax plan is actually going to benefit California renters while California homeowners in crap shacks will see higher tax bills. It is an interesting tax proposal because the typical US household owning a typical $200,000 home is going to come out ahead. This is your bread and butter ‘American’ family. However, Taco Tuesday Baby Boomers and Gen X’rs in California have been getting mega subsidies for buying hyper expensive crap shacks. Every tax bill that comes out seems to favor homeowners. In fact, I haven’t seen one that hasn’t favored homeownership. But the way the tax bill is setup, crap shack owners are going to actually have to pay more and renters are going to benefit nicely from the much larger standard deduction. We are now seeing some scenarios where this is playing out.
Crap shacks getting more expensive
The L. A. Times has a piece where they examine various households in regards to the proposed tax plan. In one example you have a professional couple that bought a crap shack in Redondo Beach (3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms – your standard million-dollar SoCal home). They paid $915,000 for the place back in 2016. They are going to see an increase in their tax bill:

This post was published at Doctor Housing Bubble on December 26, 2017.

Trump’s Tax Cuts: The Good, The Bad, and the Inflationary

At last, tax reform is happening! Last week, President Donald Trump celebrated the passage of the most important legislation so far of his presidency.
The final bill falls far short of the ‘file on a postcard’ promise of Trump’s campaign. It even falls short of the bill trotted out by Congressional Republicans just a few weeks ago. It is, nevertheless, the most significant tax overhaul in more than a decade.
Corporations and most individual taxpayers will see lower overall rates. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, there is also some not so good news investors need to be aware of.
Because no spending cuts will be attached to ‘pay’ for the tax rate reductions, the legislation will grow the budget deficit by an estimated $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. The actual number could end up being smaller…or bigger, depending on how the economy performs. But more red ink will spill.

This post was published at GoldSeek on Tuesday, 26 December 2017.

Man Who Delivered Gift-Wrapped Horseshit To Steven Mnuchin Compares Himself to Jesus

An LA County psychologist who thinks President Trump’s tax bill stinks to high heaven, compared himself to Jesus after admitting he delivered a gift-wrapped box of horseshit as a Christmas present to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Robby Strong told AL.com he dropped off the box of horse manure at Mnuchin’s house as an ‘act of political theater’ to hammer home the point that ‘Republicans have done nothing for the American worker.’
Boldly taking the Christ-analogy to a place it has never gone before, Strong told SoCal radio station 89.3 KPCC that “what I did, I would like to compare to what Jesus did when he went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers, who were exploiting the people financially in the name of religion.”
‘In the long run, if we don’t do stuff like this, what are we going to have left?’ Robby told KPCC. ‘I feel like that’s what the GOP has done to the American people,’ added the man who, bizarrely, is a psychologist with the LA Department of Mental Health.
Things start to make much more sense, however, once we learn that Strong claims he was an organizer for the Occupy LA movement; predictably he sides with critics of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul who say it favors corporations and the wealthy, CBS Los Angeles reported.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 25, 2017.

The Economic Lessons of Bethlehem

At the heart of the Christmas story rests some important lessons concerning free enterprise, government, and the role of wealth in society.
Let’s begin with one of the most famous phrases: ‘There’s no room at the inn.’ This phrase is often invoked as if it were a cruel and heartless dismissal of the tired travelers Joseph and Mary. Many renditions of the story conjure up images of the couple going from inn to inn only to have the owner barking at them to go away and slamming the door.
In fact, the inns were full to overflowing in the entire Holy Land because of the Roman emperor’s decree that everyone be counted and taxed. Inns are private businesses, and customers are their lifeblood. There would have been no reason to turn away this man of royal lineage and his beautiful, expecting bride. In any case, the second chapter of St. Luke doesn’t say that they were continually rejected at place after place. It tells of the charity of a single inn owner, perhaps the first person they encountered, who, after all, was a businessman. His inn was full, but he offered them what he had: the stable. There is no mention that the innkeeper charged the couple even one copper coin, though given his rights as a property owner, he certainly could have.

This post was published at Mises Canada on DECEMBER 25, 2017.

Mises Explains The Santa Claus Principle

From “The Exhaustion of the Reserve Fund” in Human Action, Chapter XXXVI by Ludwig von Mises:
The idea underlying all interventionist policies is that the higher income and wealth of the more affluent part of the population is a fund which can be freely used for the improvement of the conditions of the less prosperous. The essence of the interventionist policy is to take from one group to give to another. It is confiscation and distribution. Every measure is ultimately justified by declaring that it is fair to curb the rich for the benefit of the poor.
In the field of public finance progressive taxation of incomes and estates is the most characteristic manifestation of this doctrine. Tax the rich and spend the revenue for the improvement of the condition of the poor, is the principle of contemporary budgets. In the field of industrial relations shortening the hours of work, raising wages, and a thousand other measures are recommended under the assumption that they favor the employee and burden the employer. Every issue of government and community affairs is dealt with exclusively from the point of view of this principle.
An illustrative example is provided by the methods applied in the operation of nationalized and municipalized enterprises. These enterprises very often result in financial failure; their accounts regularly show losses burdening the state or the city treasury. It is of no use to investigate whether the deficits are due to the notorious inefficiency of the public conduct of business enterprises or, at least partly, to the inadequacy of the prices at which the commodities or services are sold to the customers. What matters more is the fact that the taxpayers must cover these deficits. The interventionists fully approve of this arrangement. They passionately reject the two other possible solutions: selling the enterprises to private entrepreneurs or raising the prices charged to the customers to such a height that no further deficit remains. The first of these proposals is in their eyes manifestly reactionary because the inevitable trend of history is toward more and more socialization. The second is deemed “antisocial” because it places a heavier load upon the consuming masses. It is fairer to make the taxpayers, i.e., the wealthy citizens, bear the burden. Their ability to pay is greater than that of the average people riding the nationalized railroads and the municipalized subways, trolleys, and busses. To ask that such public utilities should be self-supporting, is, say the interventionists, a relic of the old-fashioned ideas of orthodox finance. One might as well aim at making the roads and the public schools self-supporting.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 25, 2017.

WHEN LEFTIST VIRTUE SIGNALLING GOES HORRIBLY WRONG

On Wednesday, HuffPost writer Andy Ostroy attempted to virtue signal as a progressive liberal by attacking Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina as a token black man and a ‘manipulated prop’ being used to sell the Republican’s newly passed tax bill.
‘What a shocker… there’s ONE black person there and sure enough they have him standing right next to the mic like a manipulated prop,’ Ostroy tweeted. ‘Way to go @SenatorTimScott.’


This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 23, 2017.

Turmoil Grows Over Disparity In Rules For Prepayment Of Property Taxes

What a mess!
A matter of immediate importance to many property owners – prepayment of property taxes – is rapidly descending into chaos and unfairness.
Can you prepay property taxes before the end of this year or not? You can for purposes of getting a deduction in 2017 under the new federal tax law, but the problem is whether your county will accept prepayment. It varies by county, which is obviously unfair, and reports are very confusing on what the rules are.
If you own in Cook County, try to prepay your 2017 taxes (due in two halves in 2018) and you’ll find that the county is only set up to allow you to pay 55% of the prior year’s tax. The place to do so is linked here.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 24, 2017.

“You All Just Got A Lot Richer” – Trump Confirms The Biggest Problem With The GOP Tax Cut

As we’ve pointed out time and time again, the biggest problem with the Trump tax cuts is that they overwhelmingly benefit the rich. In fact, shortly after the initial nine-page outline of the program was unveiled by Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center released an analysis that showed the wealthiest 1% of Americans would accumulate more than 80% of the benefit from the tax bill.
One need only glance at this chart from JP Morgan to see how shabbily middle- and working-class voters are treated by the tax bill.
This is a big problem – particularly if the administration hopes to come anywhere near the 2.9% rate of GDP growth sustained over the next 10 years, a feat that would amount to the longest period without a recession in US history. That’s because when the wealthy receive tax breaks, they tend to save the money instead of putting it to productive use – at least at first – as we discussed last week.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 24, 2017.

Consumers Are Smarter than Bureaucrats Think

Despite the name of this government agency, Canada’s Competition Bureau lacks an appreciation of the nature of competition. Moreover, the Bureau’s actions can be seen as an insult to Canadians, as it fails to acknowledge the ability of discriminating consumers to recognize uncompetitive offerings. As the Bureau pretends to be the consumers’ guardian angel, it wastes taxpayers’ dollars on counterproductive activities.
The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) operates numerous department stores in Canada. They say they have spent more than US$425,000 and invested more than 6,500 person-hours to produce 37,000 documents in response to the Competition Bureau’s complaint made last February. According to The Canadian Press, the Competition Bureau
is suing Hudson’s Bay Co., alleging that the retailer engaged in deceptive pricing practices for four years …
The Competition Bureau claims HBC misled customers over the prices of mattresses and box springs sold together since at least March 2013 …
‘The regular prices of the sleep sets were so inflated above what the market would bear that sales at the regular price were virtually non-existent,’ reads the filing.
HBC listed a Mount Royal tight top queen sleep set at $1,998 and then a sale price of $788 in 2014, for example, but never sold one at the regular price, the agency says.
So, HBC supposedly ‘engaged in deceptive pricing practices’ which the Bureau defines as misleading customers about prices. Nonsense. The Bureau reveals its own bureaucratic idiocy when it contradicts itself by admitting that no sales were made at the inflated price.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 23, 2017.

Doug Noland: Epic Stimulus Overload

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Credit Bubble Bulletin . To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Ten-year Treasury yields jumped 13 bps this week to 2.48%, the high going back to March. German bund yields rose 12 bps to 0.42%. U. S. equities have been reveling in tax reform exuberance. Bonds not so much. With unemployment at an almost 17-year low 4.1%, bond investors have so far retained incredible faith in global central bankers and the disinflation thesis.
Between tax legislation and cryptocurrencies, there’s been little interest in much else. As for tax cuts, it’s an inopportune juncture in the cycle for aggressive fiscal stimulus. And for major corporate tax reduction more specifically, with boom-time earnings and the loosest Credit conditions imaginable, it’s Epic Stimulus Overload. History will look back at this week – ebullient Republicans sharing the podium and cryptocurrency/blockchain trading madness – and ponder how things got so crazy.
From my analytical vantage point, the nation’s housing markets have been about the only thing holding the U. S. economy back from full-fledged overheated status. Sales have been solid and price inflation steady. While construction has recovered significantly from the 2009/2010 trough, housing starts remain at about 60% of 2004-2005 period peak levels. It takes some time for residential construction to attain take-off momentum. Well, liftoff may have finally arrived. As long as mortgage rates remain so low, we should expect ongoing housing upside surprises. An already strong inflationary bias is starting to Bubble. Is the Fed paying attention?

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 23, 2017.

Why Monetary Policy Will Cancel Out Fiscal Policy

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,
Good cheer has arrived at precisely the perfect moment. You can really see it. Record stock prices, stout economic growth, and a GOP tax reform bill to boot. Has there ever been a more flawless week leading up to Christmas?
We can’t think of one off hand. And if we could, we wouldn’t let it detract from the present merriment. Like bellowing out the verses of Joy to the World at a Christmas Eve candlelight service, it sure feels magnificent – don’t it?
The cocktail of record stock prices, robust GDP growth, and reforms to the tax code has the sweet warmth of a glass of spiked eggnog. Not long ago, if you recall, a Dow Jones Industrial Average above 25,000 was impossible. Yet somehow, in the blink of an eye, it has moved to just a peppermint stick shy of this momentous milestone – and we’re all rich because of it.
So, too, the United States economy is now growing with the spry energy of Santa’s elves. According to Commerce Department, U. S. GDP increased in the third quarter at a rate of 3.2 percent. What’s more, according to the New York Fed’s Nowcast report, and their Data Flow through December 15, U. S. GDP is expanding in the fourth quarter at an annualized rate of 3.98 percent.
Indeed, annualized GDP growth above 3 percent is both remarkable and extraordinary. Remember, the last time U. S. GDP grew by 3 percent or more for an entire calendar year was 2005. Several years before the iPhone was invented.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

UMich Confidence Disappoints As Bipartisan Divide Weighs On Hope

Hope is fading among Americans…

Consumer confidence continued to slowly sink in December, with most of the decline among lower income households.
Tax reform was spontaneously mentioned by 29% of all respondents, with a nearly equal split between positive and negative impacts on economic prospects.
As usual, party affiliation was the dominant correlate of people’s assessments of the tax legislation.
The long term outlook for the economy was most affected, with three-quarters of Republicans expecting a stronger economy and three-quarters of Democrats expecting a downturn.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Two More White House Advisers Leave As Staffer “Churn” Continues

One week after Omarosa Manigault Newman left the White House under suspicious circumstances – she was reportedly escorted off the property when she tried to enter the residence after being fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly – two more senior Trump staffers are on their way out.
Last night, both Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn and White House National Economic Council Deputy Director Jeremy Katz said they would step down early next year. Dearborn told Fox News that his departure is ‘bittersweet’ because he loves working for Trump. But he said the time was right following the tax bill victory. According to the Washington Post, the departures are the latest indication that the administration is in the middle of a “churn” of senior staffers, although the WaPo is known to have a certain “angle” when reporting on the Trump admin.
Dearborn oversaw the White House’s political operation, public outreach and legislative affairs. An exact date of departure has not yet been set, and he will stay in the position for the first month or two of the next year.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Are Tax Cuts Really Just Undemocratic Exploitation?

Will Wilkinson, the vice president for policy at the Niskanen Center, does not like the tax bill just passed by Congress. Writing in The New York Times, he finds the legislation ‘notably generous to corporations, high earners, inheritors of large estates and the owners of private jets.’
Wilkinson has discovered a surprising source for the legislation he dislikes so much. It is none other than the libertarian idea, promoted by Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand, that taxation is theft. Under their theory of ‘absolute’ property rights, taxation was ‘morally criminalized.’ Democratic majorities, in this view, cannot override property rights.
Wilkinson rejects this account. ‘The idea that there is an inherent tension between democracy and the integrity of property rights is wildly misguided.’ Democracy is a means for the poor and middle class to protect themselves from exploitative elites. Democracy is a relatively recent innovation; in pre-democratic states, ruling elites exploited the ‘lower orders.’ Those not in the ruling elite need the redistributive democratic state for protection.
The fault is no doubt mine, but I find Wilkinson’s line of thought difficult to follow. How does the thought that taxation is morally wrong underlie a tax bill? If you reject taxation, would you not oppose taxes rather than enact new taxes? Perhaps what Wilkinson has in mind is this: in present circumstances, Republicans under nefarious libertarian influence could not proceed all the way to abolition of taxation. The best they could manage is not to tax the well-off as much as Wilkinson thinks appropriate.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 12/21/2017.

Trump Tax Reform Causing Panic in Europe & Asia

While the American press keeps pushing the class warfare along with the Democrats, outside the USA there is a major panic taking place on a grand scale. I have been called into meeting in Europe and even in Asia all deeply concerned about the loss of competition with the United States due to the Trump Tax Reform. Naturally, the American press would NEVER tell the truth how cutting the corporate tax rate will upset the powers that be around the globe.
A German study warns that its economy will be among the losers in the face of the Trump Tax Reform, which they warn will fuel the tax competition between America and Europe, but also the study leader, Christoph Spengel from the Economic Research Institute ZEW, came out and told Reuters:
‘In addition, competition between EU members for US investment will increase; Germany is the loser.’

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 22, 2017.