Most Federal Housing Subsidies Do *Not* Fund The Poor

The bulk of homeownership expenditures go to the top fifth of households by income, who typically could afford to purchase a home without subsidies.  According to estimates by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, more than three-fourths of the value of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions goes to households with incomes of more than $100,000, and close to a third goes to families with incomes above $200,000.

Yet another reason to start stripping back entitlements, including things like mortgage interest deductions. Via Chart Book: Federal Housing Spending Is Poorly Matched to Need — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities where there is a pretty chart. Hat tip to Arnold Kling where the comments are enlightening.

Abolish The IRS And Replace With A Consumption Tax (Not VAT)

Neither the income tax nor its oppressive bureaucratic collector can be fixed. It cannot be reformed. It must be thrown into history’s dust heap of failed legislative experiments and replaced with the Fair Tax Act of 2013, or HR 25/S 122.

The Fair Tax is a simple, fair and transparent national consumption tax that treats everyone the same — no loopholes, exemptions or exclusions — not even for Congress.

As such, this legislation represents the largest transfer of power back to the people since the writing of the Constitution.

And the Fair Tax is the only tax replacement plan with 85 cosponsors committed to disbanding, defunding and forever eliminating the IRS.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “the ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy.”

It’s time to end the most prejudicial, oppressive, erroneous and mistaken policy ever forced upon the American people. It’s time for the Fair Tax.

via No, the IRS cannot be fixed — it must be abolished and replaced with the Fair Tax |

IRS Training with Assault Rifles

A bureaucracy is bad. A politicized bureaucracy is worse. A paramilitary politicized bureaucracy is nuts. And, in fact, evil. There is no reason in a civilized society why the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Paperwork should have his own SEAL Team Six.

The police state is not “coming” — it’s *here*. Abolish the IRS and replace it with the Fair Tax. Via When Your W-2 Meets an AR-15 | National Review Online.

“I am not here as a serf or vassal. I am not begging my lords for mercy.”

“I’m a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being, and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered.”

Via Althouse. Go to the link for video; the quoted part begins at 2:45. This is not a Your Team vs My Team issue; this is a Government vs Citizens issue; or, if you like, a Tyranny vs Liberty issue.

Remember, The IRS Targeted The Tea Party, Not Establishment Republicans

The unspoken 600-pound gorilla in the room is that the IRS did not go after Republican Party groups. There has been some noise made in that direction, but it is just that–noise. The real IRS vendetta was aimed at the Tea Party movement and not at the myriad GOP inside-the-beltway groups like American Crossroads or Americans for Job Security or any of the other interlocking GOP seen as front groups for corporate America.

As I stated elsewhere recently, The Republican Establishment is pea green with envy but also embarrassment “that the IRS did not think them worthy of harassing, or even worse, on the same side as the IRS. In other words, the IRS saw the GOP as too feckless to worry about. Either explanation is not very appealing for the national Republicans.”

via Why the IRS Went After the Tea Party Instead of Establishment Republicans.

If We Had No IRS, We’d Have No Scandal

The dismal performance of the IRS is but a symptom of a much larger disease which has taken root in the charters of many of the major administrative agencies in the United States today: the permit power. Private individuals are not allowed to engage in certain activities or to claim certain benefits without the approval of some major government agency. The standards for approval are nebulous at best, which makes it hard for any outside reviewer to overturn the agency’s decision on a particular application.

That power also gives the agency discretion to drag out its review, since few individuals or groups are foolhardy enough to jump the gun and set up shop without obtaining the necessary approvals first. It takes literally a few minutes for a skilled government administrator to demand information that costs millions of dollars to collect and that can tie up a project for years. That delay becomes even longer for projects that need approval from multiple agencies at the federal or state level, or both.

The beauty of all of this (for the government) is that there is no effective legal remedy. Any lawsuit that protests the improper government delay only delays the matter more. Worse still, it also invites that agency (and other agencies with which it has good relations) to slow down the clock on any other applications that the same party brings to the table. Faced with this unappetizing scenario, most sophisticated applicants prefer quiet diplomacy to frontal assault, especially if their solid connections or campaign contributions might expedite the application process. Every eager applicant may also be stymied by astute competitors intent on slowing the approval process down, in order to protect their own financial profits. So more quiet diplomacy leads to further social waste.

Get rid of the IRS and the income tax, and replace with either a flat tax, or my preferred Fair Tax (a retail consumption tax). Via The Real Lesson of the IRS Scandal | Hoover Institution.

Facebook Gets a Multibillion-Dollar Tax Break

It’s bad for Big Business to get tax breaks, right?

It hasn’t drawn much attention, but Facebook’s first annual earnings report contains an accounting gem: a multibillion-dollar tax deduction for the cost of executive stock options and share awards.

Even though Facebook (FB) reported $1.1 billion in pre-tax profits from U.S. operations in 2012, it will probably pay zero federal and state taxes—and even receive a federal tax refund of about $429 million—according to a Feb. 14 statement from Citizens for Tax Justice.

via Facebook Gets a Multibillion-Dollar Tax Break – Businessweek.

Loyalty Programs, Soft Monopolies, and Taxpayers

Most analysts had thought that American’s frequent flier program became moot as soon as Delta and the other airlines copied it. But in fact, the authors argue, the effect of such programs is that customers are less likely to switch from their preferred airline to another in response to a price cut. Thus, thanks to American’s AAdvantage program, Delta has less incentive to lower its fares; thanks to Delta’s SkyMilers, American is less likely to lower its fares. And, still more joy, both airlines can even start to raise fares, knowing that customers are less likely to leave in the event of a price increase. In essence, by atomizing individual consumers, loyalty programs create soft, micromonopolies on the market to individuals. The result for the airlines is “greater price stability,” the authors say, by which they mean higher faires. They happily chalk it up as a “win-win” for American and Delta — never mind the fact that, according to their own analysis, consumers collectively end up paying more in exchange for having expressed their individual loyalties.

Of course, as every business traveler knows, the airpline programs work in no small measure because businesses pay the fares while travelers collect the miles. “So are bosses the losers?” the game theorists ask. “Not necessarily. Frequent-flyer miles are a tax-free way for companies to comepensate employees who undertake a lot of business travel.” Thus, according to experts, in the profoundly unlikely event that an extra tens of thousands of dollars in business class fares is your company’s way of gifting you a once-a-year trip to Hawaii, then it is the taxpayer who foots the bill! So it’s a win-win all around — except for those who pay taxes.

— Matthew Stewart, “The Management Myth,” p 232-233

Too Much Wishful Thinking on Middle-Class Tax Rates

When President Obama talks about taxing the rich, he means the top 2 percent of Americans. John A. Boehner, the House speaker, talks about an even thinner slice. But the current and future fiscal imbalances are too large to exempt 98 percent or more of the public from being part of the solution.

Ultimately, unless we scale back entitlement programs far more than anyone in Washington is now seriously considering, we will have no choice but to increase taxes on a vast majority of Americans. This could involve higher tax rates or an elimination of popular deductions. Or it could mean an entirely new tax, such as a value-added tax or a carbon tax.

To be sure, the path ahead is not easy. No politician who wants to be re-elected is eager to entertain the possibility of higher taxes on the middle class. But fiscal negotiations might become a bit easier if everyone started by agreeing that the policies we choose must be constrained by the laws of arithmetic.

Emphasis mine. Via Too Much Wishful Thinking on Middle-Class Tax Rates –

Why not let taxes rise on the middle class?

How can we expect people to care about the growth of government if it doesn’t cost them anything?

Instead of paying for the current miasma of spending, we’ve been borrowing the money from our children and grandchildren. The national debt has grown by nearly $6?trillion in the four years since Obama took office. That generational theft cannot continue. We must not keep financing big government by passing the bills on to the next generation. Ideally, we would stop the spending binge and live within our means. But if the nation is not up to that, then we should all pitch in and pay for it — all of us.

Sorry, taxing the rich won’t solve our problems — that’s nothing but fiscal snake oil the president has been selling. He is demanding $1.3 trillion in higher taxes on the wealthy over 10 years. Imagine he got it. We are adding nearly that much to the national debt every single year. Taxing the rich would not put even a minor dent in our debt. It would pay for less than three weeks of federal spending every year. The only way to pay for the current expansion of government is to raise taxes on the middle class.

So let’s do it. Let’s all of us experience the true cost of big government in the form of a bigger tax bill.

via Marc Thiessen: Why not let taxes rise on the middle class? – The Washington Post.