Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Taxes

Sissel Lawsuit Threatens ObamaCare

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, October 8, 2014: 

After losing an appeal before a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals in Sissel v. US Department of Health and Human Services, the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed a petition for a full rehearing — called “en banc” — on Monday. Sissel claims that the Origination Clause — Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution — was violated at the very birth of ObamaCare (also called ACA, the Affordable Care Act), and since the Supreme Court ruled in NFIB v. Sibelius that the ObamaCare fines are not penalties but taxes, ObamaCare itself must be ruled unconstitutional.

Nearly 100 lawsuits challenging ObamaCare have been filed since it was passed back in March 2010, but only five now present serious threats to its legal existence, the Sissel case being the one with the most teeth. It was originally brought by

Keep Reading…

Stockton Bankruptcy Judge Hammers CalPERS

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 3, 2014:

English: CalPERS headquarters at Lincoln Plaza...

CalPERS headquarters at Lincoln Plaza in Sacramento

All Franklin Templeton Investments wanted was a fair shake. All CalPERS wanted is what it already has: exemption from bankruptcy laws. As attorneys for CalPERS – the California Public Employees Retirement System – tried to defend the country’s largest pension plan from contentions that it was getting off scot-free in the Stockton bankruptcy reorganization plan while other creditors were getting hammered, they sounded rather silly.

They claimed that a combination of state laws and statutes dating back into history protected the $300 billion that CalPERS manages from sharing the pain with other creditors in bankruptcy proceedings. They referred to something called

Keep Reading…

The Kansas Referendum on Reagan’s Tax Cut Policies

This article was published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 24, 2014:

Big government liberals and high spending politicians have converged on Kansas, seeing an opportunity to discredit not only Ronald Reagan’s tax policies but to get even with the Tea Party, which took out a number of “moderate” Republicans in the state Senate over the last two election cycles.

Gov. Sam Brownback (pictured above), a supporter of less government and lower taxes, was able to ride the conservative wave that resulted in tax reform that not only increased an individual taxpayer’s standard deduction from $4,500 to $5,500 but also

Keep Reading…

Welfare State Costs Taxpayers More Than $2 Trillion a Year

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 6, 2014:

 

Following the release of the latest budgetary statement from the U.S. Treasury, Ali Meyer dove into the statistical morass of charts and graphs to determine just how much the welfare state is paying out in benefits. Meyer, writing at CNS News, concluded that beneficiaries received over $2 trillion from the American taxpayer last year, or almost

 

Tea Party Protest, Washington D.C. September 1...

Taxpayers protesting

60 percent of all federal government spending. This included “means-tested” benefits — which require incomes to be below a certain level to quality for them — as well as “non-means tested” benefits such as Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and the like.

Keep Reading…

New York Times Calls Out City’s Pension System

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, Augusts 4, 2014:

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

In a nearly 4,000-word lead article on Sunday, the New York Times clearly articulated exactly what is wrong with the city’s five separate pension plans: too-optimistic investment assumptions, excessive fees, overly generous pension benefits, and political interference. Mere tweaking on the margins will only delay the inevitable Detroit experience: drastic benefit cuts for retirees and higher taxes on taxpayers.

In 2000, the city’s contributions to its five pension plans (general city workers, police, firefighters, teachers, and other school personnel) consumed just two percent of the city’s budget, and the plans were considered to be adequately funded. For instance, the plan insuring the city’s general workers was actually overfunded by 36 percent. Today those pension plans soak up more than

Keep Reading…

Sage Foundation: Wealth “Inequality” Will Continue to Worsen

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 29, 2014: 

LaSalle Mansion

LaSalle Mansion

In another so-called research study about wealth inequality, the liberal think-tank Sage Foundation said in June that while the super-rich have fully recovered from the Great Recession, the vast majority of Americans have not. Specifically their report shows that median household net worth “was $32,000 lower in 2013 that [it was] 10 years earlier,” a decline of 36 percent. It concluded:

Keep Reading…

Santa Clara’s Field of Dreams

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 21, 2014:

Cover of "Field of Dreams (Widescreen Two...

Ray Kinsella, meet the Mayor of Santa Clara, California, home of the brand new Levi’s Stadium where the San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to play their home games starting this fall. And where, it is predicted, their fans will come to watch.

Whether enough of them will is an open question.

Already nearly a third of the 49ers’ season ticket holders have

Keep Reading…

Taxpayers On the Hook for New 49ers Stadium in Santa Clara

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 21, 2014:

A custom San Francisco 49ers GMC Yukon XL at t...

A custom San Francisco 49ers GMC Yukon XL at team headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

Last Thursday every politician, every bigwig, every banker, every individual with any interest whatsoever in the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, showed up for the invitation-only celebration of its grand opening. The beer was flowing, the confetti was flying, and self-congratulatory exuberance was on every lip.

Present were Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York, John York (Jed’s father and co-chairman of the team), 49ers president Paraag Marathe, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, and some of his star players including Patrick Willis and Joe Staley. In the background were executives from Levi Strauss, who paid big bucks to name the stadium.

The only people not in the audience were the ordinary taxpayers, who could find themselves on the short end of one of the most massive financial disasters in modern history.

In a toast to the fans who are expected to fill the 70,000-seat extravagance starting with preseason games in early August, Jed York said, “You deserve to have the best stadium in the world. And now you have it!” 49ers president Marathe added, “You can feel the difference [here] and you know the fans are going to feel the difference.”

At one point in the ceremony, noted Mike Rosenberg, a writer for the San Jose Mercury News who attended the affair,

Hundreds of workers wearing white “I built Levi’s Stadium” shirts and hard hats marched down two red-carpeted giant staircases. Thousands of white, red and gold pieces of confetti burst into the air at the end of the event, as dozens of cheerleaders waved their pom-poms and guests rushed to take selfies in front of a giant screen on stage.

The deal has been in the works for years, with initial plans to demolish Candlestick Park and replace it with an updated version in its parking lot. Financial squabbles and traffic glitches finally deep-sixed those plans, and in 2006 the team’s new owners announced they were moving 40 miles south to the tiny burg of Santa Clara, home of the 49ers’ administration offices.

Negotiations with the city council began in earnest the next year, with promises that no new taxes would be needed and that the huge stadium would bring in additional revenues without liability. Free money, in other words.

On June 8, 2010 Measure J was passed, with 15,000 voters in favor and 10,000 against. Those voting for it were persuaded by the language in the ballot which said, in part:

No use of City General or Enterprise funds for construction; no new taxes for residents for stadium; private party pays all construction cost overruns; no City/Agency obligation for stadium operation/maintenance.

Within a year that ballot language had already been breached: Twelve percent of the cost of the $1.3 billion stadium was provided by the city, with another $330 million to be borrowed by the city’s Stadium Authority. Goldman Sachs headed up a consortium of banks that provided some $850 million in construction financing (with Goldman taking its usual 10-percent fee) while Levi Strauss ponied up another $200 million to be paid out over the next 10 years. The NFL itself loaned the Stadium Authority $200 million to help out, expecting to be paid back out of gate revenues, seat leases, trinket and beer sales, and so on.

The assumptions underlying the project are mind-boggling: First, it is assumed that the 49ers will continue to have a winning team for as far as the eye can see into the future, drawing fans from not only San Francisco but also other cities within a 100-mile radius of the stadium. That expectation, however, is already flawed, as more than 30 percent of those loyal fans in San Francisco holding season tickets have given them up, as the 40-mile drive each way and the potential traffic jams on game day were just too daunting.

Second, the interest rate on the financing is short-term, and most of the loans will have to be refinanced no later than 2015. Even a small uptick in short-term interest rates could put debt service requirements out of reach of the authority.

Third, the cost of subsidies negotiated to bring the 49ers to Santa Clara haven’t been measured but include the NFL’s requirement that all revenue from its events “be exempt from sales, amusement or entertainment taxes or other surcharge obligations.”

Judith Long, who teaches urban planning at Harvard, concluded that even these costs are usually underestimated when proposed to the taxpayers:

Governments pay far more to participate in the development of major league sports facilities than is commonly understood due to the routine omission of public subsidies for land and infrastructure, and the ongoing costs of operations, capital improvements, municipal services and foregone property taxes.

Adjusting for these omissions increases the average public subsidy by $50 million.

That would bring the taxpayers’ cost for the “free” Levi’s Stadium to more than $200 million, not counting any obligation incurred by the Stadium Authority. Another part of the risk is that Santa Clara itself is such a small town, with such a small tax base. Even adding in the county, its population is just 10 percent of the 17 million populating metro San Francisco. No matter how one does the math, the town is making a massive bet on everything turning out just right. As writers Darrell Preston and Aaron Kuriloff of Bloomberg expressed it, “The city is taking what may be the largest per-capita risk for any municipal sports facility [in the country].” The budget for the city itself is just barely $140 million a year.

Roger Noll, a retired professor of economics at Stanford University, looked at the numbers and came to the same conclusion:

The thing that makes this such a dog is that Santa Clara first of all is a small town. There’s some amount of financial hit the city could probably pay [if things don’t pan out as projected], but the probability that it’s going to exceed that is certainly not zero.

That is how a retired college professor says that Santa Clara is taking a huge risk. Within the next three to five years, after “normalization” about attendance, winning games, traffic congestion, interest rates, and maintenance expenses, the taxpayers will know.

Now that the stadium is finished, all the people behind the massive project are counting on those fans to come. Just because they built it doesn’t mean they will.

Keep Reading…

House Slashes IRS Enforcement Budget Almost 25 Percent

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 16, 2014:

English: Anti-United States Internal Revenue S...

Earlier this week the House of Representatives took up the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act to fund the government for the next 12 months. In the process it took advantage of the opportunity to savage the IRS by cutting its funding severely, specifically its enforcement budget dedicated to “assisting” taxpayers to stay in compliance with its 74,000-page tax code.

Thanks to Lois Lerner (former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS and potential future inhabitant of a federal penitentiary for her role in ordering the illegal scrutinizing and delaying of conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status and then covering up those orders by conveniently losing potentially incriminating e-mails), members of the House had a field day piling on amendments to the bill. Along the way they relieved themselves of some of the frustrations they have felt as the IRS has rebuffed and stalled them during various House committee investigations into those matters.

Keep Reading…

The New Third Rail: Cutting Government Spending

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 14, 2014:

 

Historical government spending in the United S...

Historical government spending in the United States from 1902 to 2010

Back in February the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the deficit for the 2014 fiscal year would be $514 billion, or about 3 percent of the total economic output of the country. Since this was a nearly 27 percent drop from last year, the implication is that all is well, nothing to see here, move along please. After all, the perception has been that the White House has been spending money faster than at any time in history, running up deficits and the national debt to staggering levels. Half a trillion? Is that all? Pocket change!

Greg Valliere, the chief political strategist for the Potomac Research Group, said at the time that this guaranteed that there would be no pressure for any sort of entitlement reform this year. Jack Lew, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, said the numbers bought some time: “We have a little time to deal with the long term.”

Last week both the White House and the CBO revised downward even further the expected deficit, with Obama taking full credit for the result:

Keep Reading…

Tax Cuts of Kansas Already Improving the State’s Economy

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 14, 2014:

Kansas City Skyline 1

Kansas City, Missouri’s Skyline

When Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law the first of several reductions in his state’s income taxes back in May 2012, he wrote:

Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy. It will pave the way to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs, bring tens of thousands of people to Kansas, and help make our state the best place in America to start and grow a small business.

By cutting the top tax bracket by 25 percent and eliminating taxes on small businesses altogether, he expected great things to happen:

Keep Reading…

Katrina Mayor Fails to Make Worst 10 Mayors list

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 11, 2014:

U.S. President George W. Bush and Nagin meet t...

U.S. President George W. Bush and Nagin meet the week after Hurricane Katrina, September 2, 2005.

When his sentence of 10 years in federal prison for corruption while mayor of New Orleans was announced on Wednesday, some wondered if Ray Nagin would make it into the top ten most corrupt mayors in history.

No way.

He might have done better if the court was giving out prizes for play-acting innocence or for hypocrisy. When he learned where he was going to be spending the next 10 years, Nagin claimed he was framed:

Keep Reading…

Texas 7, California Nothing

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 9, 2014:

Moving Day.

Moving to Texas from California

One would think the good doctor is running for Congress from Texas, but he’s not. He’s running to boot a hard-left Democrat who’s been representing the 24th District in California for 15 years by touting all the good things Texas has been doing compared to California. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Brad Allen, a pediatric heart surgeon from Paso Robles, wrote:

As a Californian, I am pained to say that three of the nation’s five fastest-growing cities – and seven of the top 15 – are in Texas.

Keep Reading…

Texas Beats California: No Income Tax, Booming Economy, Friendly Folks

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 8, 2014:

texas our texas

Texas, Our Texas!

Following Toyota’s announcement April 28 that it would be consolidating its three American business headquarters and moving them from California to a new $300-million campus in Plano, Texas, the debate over why has heated up once again. Toyota follows Occidental Petroleum (which is leaving Los Angeles for Houston, after being there for a hundred years), Raytheon (which is moving its El Segundo headquarters to McKinney, Texas), and Legal Zoom (the largest legal-issues website in the world, which has already moved from Los Angeles to Austin). In the past 18 months more than 50 companies have made the same decision to move from California to Texas.

Some say it’s because of the lower cost of living in Texas. The cost of living in Plano is about a third lower than in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area where Toyota is currently located. As calculated by the Dallas-based conservative think tank National Center for Policy Analysis, “People of all incomes will save in Texas,” according to Pamela Villarreal, a senior fellow at the institute. Some will save a little; others will save a lot by moving to Texas to keep their jobs with Toyota. As Villarreal explained, the calculation takes into account property taxes “which are pretty high in Texas” — about twice what they are in California for equivalently priced homes. Once real estate taxes are factored in, a single woman in Texas making $75,000 a year will have about $14,000 more in discretionary income than she would if she lived in California, but married workers making $150,000 a year who move from California to Texas would not see as dramatic a jump in discretionary income.

The Manhattan Institute says it makes sense for California companies to make the move to Texas, owing to California’s high taxes, oppressive regulations, expensive electricity, union influence, and the high cost of labor. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the cost per kilowatt-hour for commercial establishments in California is 13.11 cents while it’s only 8.2 cents in Texas — a saving of almost 40 percent. For industrial users, the savings are even greater: 10.72 cents per KWH in California versus just 5.86 cents in Texas. That cuts a heavy user’s energy bill in Texas nearly in half. Advantage: Texas

The advantage enjoyed by Texas is reflected in the states’ comparative economic growth rates: nearly four percent last year in Texas versus half that in California. In job growth, Texas regained the jobs it lost during the Great Recession by May of 2011 while California just made it back to even by May of this year — a three-year difference in favor of Texas. Since May 2011, Texas has added more than a million new jobs, while California has added barely 25,000 new jobs since this past May. Advantage: Texas

According to the blog 24/7 Wall Street, Texas ranks eighth among the country’s most quickly growing states with GDP growth jumping by $1.5 trillion in 2013. Its population continues to grow as well, with unemployment below the national average. California is well off the pace. Advantage: Texas

Bradley Allen, a pediatric heart surgeon in Paso Robles, just announced his candidacy for Congress in California’s 24th district, and in the process noted the difference between California and Texas in an opinion article at the Wall Street Journal: “Texas has no state income tax, while California’s 13.3% marginal rate is the highest in the country. Electricity rates are about 50%-88% higher compared to Texas due to the Golden State’s renewable-energy mandate, and its gas is 70-80 cents per gallon more expensive because of taxes.” Advantage: Texas

Allen’s opponent is incumbent Lois Capps, who sports a dismal Freedom Index rating of just 21 out of 100 on constitutional issues. Out of California’s 53 congressional districts, 18 of them have FI ratings of 20 or lower, while just one has an FI rating of 80 or higher. In Texas, by contrast, just three representatives have a rating of 20 or less out of the state’s 36 districts, with one, Rep. Steve Stockman, holding an FI rating of 95. Advantage: Texas

One of the best measures of the difference between the two states is just how much a Californian would have to pay to move his family to Texas. In November 2012, a Californian living in San Francisco would pay $1,693 to rent a 20-foot U-Haul truck and drive it San Antonio. On the other hand, a Texan in San Antonio moving to San Francisco would pay just $893 for the same truck. (Since then the numbers have become even more favorable: A Californian moving his family on August 1 from San Francisco to San Antonio would have to pay $1,890 for the same truck while a Texan moving the other way would pay only $737.) Advantage: Texas

However, David Horsey, writing for the Baltimore Sun, noted that Californians moving to Texas will leave an awful lot behind:

California has Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Texas has oil and gas.

California has Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi. Texas has Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert.

In California, billionaires get taxed more to pay for programs for the poor. In Texas, billionaires get to keep their money, and the poor go without health care.

[California Governor Jerry] Brown got voters to approve a tax hike to balance the budget and fund education. [Texas Governor Rick] Perry balanced the budget by slashing spending on education.

In lots of places in California, it’s tough to live on a middle class family budget. In lots of places in Texas, it’s hard to live outside a church-going, football-loving, white, heterosexual lifestyle.

Absence of snarky, politically correct, bitter liberals. Advantage: Texas.

 

Medtronic Announces Largest “Tax Inversion” deal in move to save taxes

Ten-dollar bill obverse/reverse

The announcement earlier this week that Medtronic is buying up Covidien in a $43 billion “tax inversion” deal confirms that momentum is building for more and more companies to use this strategy as a way to avoid high US corporate tax rates. Medtronic, a huge medical device maker headquartered in Minneapolis, will buy Covidien, a smaller company in the same business. Although Covidien is run out of Mansfield, Massachusetts, it has been incorporated for tax purposes in Ireland since 2009.

Once the deal is complete, a new company will emerge with a much lower income tax liability because

Keep Reading…

Oklahoma is the next state to Affirm gold and silver as Legal Tender

1907 Double Eagle, Liberty Head, Obverse

1907 Double Eagle, Liberty Head, Obverse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday, June 4, Oklahoma joined Utah, Texas and Louisiana in affirming that gold and silver coins are (as they always have been under the Constitution) legal tender in the payment of debts in the state. On the surface this seems almost silly: affirming a right that already exists in Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution. But it is much more than that.

 

Senate Bill 862 which Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law this week says:

Keep Reading…

The Likely Happy Ending to the IRS Targeting Scandal

Stop Corruption

Stop Corruption (Photo credit: kmillard92)

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 9, 2014:

To some, the two votes on Wednesday in the House of Representatives – one to cite IRS official Lois Lerner for contempt, the other to demand that the Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor for investigate further the IRS’ targeting scandal – represents the end of the matter.

The Inspector General’s report issued back in May 2013 has long since been forgotten, the FBI’s investigation came up empty, and now Wednesday’s contempt citation is headed for oblivion.

But the aftermath, the residuals, are significant. And positive.

Keep Reading…

Michigan Senator wants to close “Tax Inversion” Loophole

United States Senate election in Michigan, 2002

United States Senate election in Michigan, 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recent bid by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to acquire British-based drug maker AstraZeneca has given the senior senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, just the opening he has been seeking: to offer his bill prevent such “tax inversions” from taking place. Said Levin:

It’s become increasingly clear that a loophole in our tax laws allowing these inversions threatens to devastate federal tax receipts.

We have to close that loophole.

If the deal between Pfizer and AstraZeneca (currently in doubt) actually takes place, the tax inversion would allow Pfizer to consider Great Britain as

Keep Reading…

America’s Welfare State is Thriving

Margaret Thatcher

Cover of Margaret Thatcher

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 30, 2014:

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s famous dictum, “The only trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money” isn’t factually correct, nor is it complete. Lazy thinkers assume from this that eventually the welfare state will just fade away like a bad cold or a nightmare, and that everything will be okay in the morning.

Here is what Thatcher actually said during an interview in 1976:

Keep Reading…

Congressional Budget Office Confirms Obama’s Continuing Attack on the Middle Class

Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robert Klein, a nationally renowned accountant who has written widely on taxes for many respected journals, was astonished to learn how much the taxes on his wealthy clients jumped just in the last year:

For [my] clients in the 39.6% tax bracket … their average federal income tax liability was $436,000, $51,000 greater than their 2012 tax liability … an average increase [of] 13.3%…

 

In summary, if you were in the 39.6% tax bracket in 2013, the 4.5% increase in your tax bracket, combined with additional income-tax liability resulting from additional tax on Medicare wages, a loss of itemized and personal exemption deductions, a 5% surcharge on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends, and the 3.8% tax on net investment income, reduced your spendable income considerably.

 

The damage was [even] greater for those subject to state income tax to the extent that unfavorable state tax law changes took effect in 2013.

Keep Reading…

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.