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Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

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  • Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

    Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

    Patty Murray thinks it does. She's a Democrat, represents Washington in the Senate, & is chairman of the Budget Committee. She makes the case that closing tax loopholes should be a part of the ongoing & upcoming budget conferences.

    The U.S. tax code clearly benefits the wealthy and well-connected. It would be unfair, and unacceptable, to ignore every last loophole and special interest carve-out yet ask seniors and families to bear the burden of deficit reduction alone.
    Closing tax loopholes should be part of the budget conference - The Washington Post
    • Do you think US tax code benefits the wealthiest &/or the most well-connected individuals/corporations? (in other words, cui bono?)
    • Do you think it makes sense to ignore loopholes?
    • Do you think it's unfair &/or unacceptable &/or unreasonable &/or ineffective to ignore loopholes & yet expect seniors & families to bear the full burden of deficit reduction?


    Here is something else to consider (please note this article is dated April 15, 2011):

    TAX EVASION: THE REAL COSTS

    Our Fiscal Security - Taxes Matter - Tax Evasion: The RealCosts

    Tax evasion will cost the U.S. government $305 billion in 2010 and has cost $3 trillion over the past decade. It is a major contributor to budget deficits and the accumulation of national debt since 2001. Tax evasion also costs state treasuries billions of dollars. Every tax filer will pay an extra $2,200 in 2010 to make up for the funds lost to tax cheating. Even modest success in reducing tax evasion would free up significant new resources for spending or deficit reduction.


    But efforts to reduce tax evasion have been strongly resisted by conservatives in Congress. A measure to increase tax compliance among businesses and their vendors, included as part of the Affordable Care Act, was recently repealed. House Republicans also voted to whack $600 million out of the IRS’s budget earlier this year. According to IRS Commissioner Shulman, testifying to Congress on March 1, if the cuts go through the “IRS would need to make substantial immediate cuts to its enforcement programs.” Shulman estimates that the federal government would collect $4 billion less in tax revenue, further increasing the budget deficit. While the recent budget deal will freeze IRS spending, conservatives are unlikely to give up on their push to downsize the agency.

    — By David Callahan, Demos Senior Fellow and Editor of Policy Shop
    Some other links I read while thinking about these & other questions:

    Demos | An Equal Say and an Equal Chance for All

    DEAD SILENCE From the Tea Party on the Fact that 10% of American Companies Don?t Pay Any Taxes | Americans Against the Tea Party

    Closing State Corporate Tax Loopholes: Combined Reporting | Institute for Local Self-Reliance

    One Tax Loophole Apple's Tim Cook And Lawmakers Didn't Talk About

    Other points to consider:

    Our Fiscal Security - Taxes Matter - Taxes Matter Top 10Stats

    1. The government collected less in taxes in 2010 than it has in over three generations, and tax rates are at historic lows.

    2. The Bush tax cuts added $1.7 trillion to the nation’s debt over 2001-2008, which is more than it would cost to send 24 million kids to four-year public universities.

    3. Corporate income taxes totaled about 1 percent of GDP this year, 60% lower than 40 years ago.

    4. General Electric, which reported $5 billion in US profits, paid ZERO taxes this year. Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history, paid ZERO federal taxes in 2009.

    5. The Bush tax legacy means we currently tax wealth less than work: middle-income paychecks are taxed at 25% compared to stock dividends and capital gains for the wealthiest, which are taxed at a top rate of only 15%.

    6. While most small businesses dream of making a killing, only 3 out of every 100 small business owners pay taxes at the highest rate.

    7. A Wall Street transactions tax of only 0.50% on short-term speculation could raise up to $170 billion annually.

    8. A middle class family with two young children receives on average $1,200 through the federal child care tax credit, yet the cost of their child care averages $18,000.

    9. Upper income households save an average of $5,500 thanks to the mortgage interest tax deduction.

    10. Only four OECD nations collect less revenue as a percentage of GDP than the United States: Chile, Korea, Mexico, and Turkey.

    — By Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy & Programs at Demos
    • Do you think US tax code benefits the wealthiest &/or the most well-connected individuals/corporations? (in other words, cui bono?)
    • Do you think it makes sense to ignore loopholes?
    • Do you think it's unfair &/or unacceptable &/or unreasonable to ignore loopholes & yet expect seniors & families to bear the full burden of deficit reduction?


    Thanks & respect for your thoughtful, original considerations to these questions, I appreciate.
    Last edited by Quinn; 11-18-2013, 09:24 AM. Reason: spelling

  • #2
    Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

    Your mortgage interest deduction is a 'loophole'

    Want to close it?

    We should go to a flat tax... with at most 2 percentage rates.

    Failing that, we should leave all 'loopholes' as they are but cap how much can be used on any one tax return. Say 1/3 your adjusted gross income or 200,000 whichever is less.

    מה מכילות החדשות?


    • #3
      Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

      Originally posted by tsquare View Post
      Your mortgage interest deduction is a 'loophole'

      Want to close it?

      We should go to a flat tax... with at most 2 percentage rates.

      Failing that, we should leave all 'loopholes' as they are but cap how much can be used on any one tax return. Say 1/3 your adjusted gross income or 200,000 whichever is less.
      Are you suggesting these strategies for corporations as well as individuals?

      מה מכילות החדשות?


      • #4
        Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

        Originally posted by Quinn View Post
        Are you suggesting these strategies for corporations as well as individuals?
        Why wouldn't you? Same principle.

        מה מכילות החדשות?


        • #5
          Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?
          • Do you think US tax code benefits the wealthiest &/or the most well-connected individuals/corporations? (in other words, cui bono?)
            YES
          • Do you think it makes sense to ignore loopholes?
            No, not ignore them, close them
          • Do you think it's unfair &/or unacceptable &/or unreasonable &/or ineffective to ignore loopholes & yet expect seniors & families to bear the full burden of deficit reduction?
            YES


          Closing each loop hole would represent a lot of work on the part of the legislators. Each loop hole would need to be identified, added to the list of loop holes to be closed, and then that list incorporated into a piece of legislation to close them. Far too much chance of missing far too many loop holes, and far too much time. How to do it more efficiently?

          I can't speak with any special knowledge about T's proposal, but either I think would apply a much needed clean up the tax code and limit egregious abuses.

          מה מכילות החדשות?


          • #6
            Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

            Quinn...

            There is a bigger issue here, not just "tax loopholes" in general. That is too broad and ends up as a perceived class warfare argument. Which the article covers well, going after the wealthy (individual or corporation.) Protect some, go after others.

            The real issue is tax rates. That means by default consideration of government spending. I continually make the argument that our present fiscal problems (really fiscal problems going back for decades now) comes from ignoring the economics that drive this nations output and the relationship between tax revenue and government spending as percentages of GDP.

            Just closing a series of tax loopholes, without consideration of other factors, might cause unintended consequence. Like immediate tax revenue gains but not lasting gains once the market (and really business) adjusts to the change. This is true of both individual tax breaks and corporate tax breaks.

            You say we are not collecting all that we should, I say (and the numbers back me up on this) that the US now collects more actual revenue for 2013 than any other year in US history. I also say that the US spends more actual dollars for 2013 than any other year in US history. Our spending as a percentage of GDP for 2013 is at 22.7%. Our tax revenues as a percentage of GDP for 2013 is at 16.8%. The last time we ran a "paper surplus" both numbers were in the 19% range. The last time we ran an actual debt reducing surplus these numbers were in the 16.5% range. My argument is changing tax loopholes might have immediate changes but changing the tax rates themselves to be more inline with spending in this economy might have a more stable effect. We do that first (focus on the economy) then we can simply the code (focus on the gifts) as there will be less fiscal reason to politically hand them out.

            There are plenty of "bad guys" here when it comes to tax revenues, but the main one is the government itself putting ideology above fiscal and economic sense. If we did this right our corporate tax rates could be the lowest of the industrialized world, but we don't and it inflates the tax code because of. Similar situation with the individual's tax code. If we were intelligent about it, our overall rates for individuals could be lower (but still bracketed by income) and we might also get away with far less tax "incentive" for questionable debt consumer behavior.

            Lower the rates, reduce the code needed, and produce far more predictable tax revenues to line up to needed spending at the time based on economic need.

            (edit... the percentages and numbers come from the CBO and White House historical budget reporting websites.)

            מה מכילות החדשות?


            • #7
              Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

              Originally posted by 9aces View Post
              Why wouldn't you? Same principle.
              I wasn't saying I wouldn't, I was asking for clarification.

              מה מכילות החדשות?


              • #8
                Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                Originally posted by eohrnberger View Post
                • Do you think US tax code benefits the wealthiest &/or the most well-connected individuals/corporations? (in other words, cui bono?)
                  YES
                • Do you think it makes sense to ignore loopholes?
                  No, not ignore them, close them
                • Do you think it's unfair &/or unacceptable &/or unreasonable &/or ineffective to ignore loopholes & yet expect seniors & families to bear the full burden of deficit reduction?
                  YES


                Closing each loop hole would represent a lot of work on the part of the legislators.
                Thanks for answering the questions, & (for further clarification) do you mean we, the people, should expect legislators to legislate? Do you think that's an unrealistic expectation?

                מה מכילות החדשות?


                • #9
                  Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                  Originally posted by Sluggo View Post
                  Quinn...

                  There is a bigger issue here, not just "tax loopholes" in general. That is too broad and ends up as a perceived class warfare argument. Which the article covers well, going after the wealthy (individual or corporation.) Protect some, go after others.

                  The real issue is tax rates. That means by default consideration of government spending. I continually make the argument that our present fiscal problems (really fiscal problems going back for decades now) comes from ignoring the economics that drive this nations output and the relationship between tax revenue and government spending as percentages of GDP.

                  Just closing a series of tax loopholes, without consideration of other factors, might cause unintended consequence. Like immediate tax revenue gains but not lasting gains once the market (and really business) adjusts to the change. This is true of both individual tax breaks and corporate tax breaks.

                  You say we are not collecting all that we should, I say (and the numbers back me up on this) that the US now collects more actual revenue for 2013 than any other year in US history. I also say that the US spends more actual dollars for 2013 than any other year in US history. Our spending as a percentage of GDP for 2013 is at 22.7%. Our tax revenues as a percentage of GDP for 2013 is at 16.8%. The last time we ran a "paper surplus" both numbers were in the 19% range. The last time we ran an actual debt reducing surplus these numbers were in the 16.5% range. My argument is changing tax loopholes might have immediate changes but changing the tax rates themselves to be more inline with spending in this economy might have a more stable effect. We do that first (focus on the economy) then we can simply the code (focus on the gifts) as there will be less fiscal reason to politically hand them out.

                  There are plenty of "bad guys" here when it comes to tax revenues, but the main one is the government itself putting ideology above fiscal and economic sense. If we did this right our corporate tax rates could be the lowest of the industrialized world, but we don't and it inflates the tax code because of. Similar situation with the individual's tax code. If we were intelligent about it, our overall rates for individuals could be lower (but still bracketed by income) and we might also get away with far less tax "incentive" for questionable debt consumer behavior.

                  Lower the rates, reduce the code needed, and produce far more predictable tax revenues to line up to needed spending at the time based on economic need.

                  (edit... the percentages and numbers come from the CBO and White House historical budget reporting websites.)
                  I lost my electricity here (it was flickering for a while & then just went out completely).

                  It seems as if many politicians are saying they'd like to close loopholes.

                  The larger question (aside from answering that really tricky one on just what it is that legislators are elected to do) is what to do with the potential additional tax revenue?

                  Rate reduction? Debt reduction?

                  (& I'll be surprised if ANY loopholes get closed - that is, once the lobbyists, tax lawyers, lapdogs get involved) Also, links to data please.

                  מה מכילות החדשות?


                  • #10
                    Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                    Originally posted by Quinn View Post
                    Thanks for answering the questions, & (for further clarification) do you mean we, the people, should expect legislators to legislate? Do you think that's an unrealistic expectation?
                    No, it's just my perception is that the tax code is raft with loopholes that have been written into it, and it's a matter of practicality, closing them or managing them as a whole in a single action vs. closing them one by one, with the potential risk of missing the most egregious ones, or the ones who's benefactors throw more money at legislators to keep their loop hole.

                    I think it less problematic using a single action to close / manage them all at once.

                    מה מכילות החדשות?


                    • #11
                      Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                      I would first want to define "loophole." Most tax consideration were put into the tax code for a specific purpose. The mortgage interest deduction for example makes it easier for people to buy homes and even second homes. That is good for the economy in the long run. Tax break for companies expanding in this country is a good thing. Taxes on corporations are simply passed on to the customer so raising taxes on any company is going to make their product more expensive and make them less competitive in the global market.

                      Our government takes in a huge amount of money, it just spends more than it takes in. The only answer to that is cut spending back to what it takes in. If you simply raise taxes, they will also raise spending to meet the amount. Politicians have no political will or incentive to keep spending within income levels. No matter how much the government takes out of the economy, it will all be spent and then some.

                      מה מכילות החדשות?


                      • #12
                        Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                        Originally posted by eohrnberger View Post
                        No, it's just my perception is that the tax code is raft with loopholes that have been written into it, and it's a matter of practicality, closing them or managing them as a whole in a single action vs. closing them one by one, with the potential risk of missing the most egregious ones, or the ones who's benefactors throw more money at legislators to keep their loop hole.

                        I think it less problematic using a single action to close / manage them all at once.
                        What would be the process whereby one could close or manage them in a single action?

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                        • #13
                          Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                          Originally posted by Quinn View Post
                          What would be the process whereby one could close or manage them in a single action?
                          Throw out the whole of the tax code... start afresh...

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                          • #14
                            Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                            Originally posted by tsquare View Post
                            Throw out the whole of the tax code... start afresh...
                            Democrats want to do that with their new and simple tax form

                            How Much Do You Make? ______________



                            Send it in.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Closing Tax Loopholes? Does It Matter?

                              Originally posted by OldmanDan View Post
                              I would first want to define "loophole." Most tax consideration were put into the tax code for a specific purpose. The mortgage interest deduction for example makes it easier for people to buy homes and even second homes. That is good for the economy in the long run. Tax break for companies expanding in this country is a good thing. Taxes on corporations are simply passed on to the customer so raising taxes on any company is going to make their product more expensive and make them less competitive in the global market.

                              Our government takes in a huge amount of money, it just spends more than it takes in. The only answer to that is cut spending back to what it takes in. If you simply raise taxes, they will also raise spending to meet the amount. Politicians have no political will or incentive to keep spending within income levels. No matter how much the government takes out of the economy, it will all be spent and then some.
                              I agree it would be a good idea to define loophole. For example, a 'loophole' created to address a particular situation or circumstance might be 'just the thing' needed for THAT particular scenario however if put into place to address a particular imbalance, it would make sense to remove it when that imbalance was corrected, right? That tends NOT to be the case. Temporary loopholes have the tendency to become permanent, temporary subsidies have the tendency to become permanent, whether or not they are still necessary.

                              Our tax code should work to support our economic conditions, for example in pursuit of full employment, stable prices. A backbone of a sound banking & financial system would be nice too.

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