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The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point.
You hear the excruciating screech of chalk on the blackboard, but never actually see the bell curve being drawn. Instead, the camera focuses on a passed out kid drooling all over his desk. Too bad. Apparently, those somnolent slackers -- pals of Ferris-- grew up to run the government.
The Tax Curve
According to legend, 40 years ago economist Arthur Laffer sketched out a non-linear graph on a cocktail napkin illustrating the relationship between taxation and government revenue.
By his comments and policies, President Obama implies that accumulating wealth constitutes greed. As if hard work and success are something of which to be ashamed.
His argument was this: at some maximum point, the government taxes people excessively. When taxes become too onerous, they act as a disincentive. So, people work less and spend less, and the corresponding revenue to government coffers decreases. Beyond this threshold level, the burden of higher taxes extinguishes the flame of economic growth.
Conversely, Laffer contended that lowering taxes tends to incentivize people to work harder. The more they are permitted to pocket what they earn, the more they produce and spend. It also motivates the creation of new businesses and the expansion of existing ones. This leads inexorably to a stronger economy.
The Laffer curve cannot, of course, identify the optimal tax rate. But why should it? Why is it that politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, think it is their job to maximize government revenue --to wring every last dollar out of the pockets of hardworking citizens? So they can spend more of other peoples money, ostensibly, for the public good? The trouble is, politicians fail to recognize their own incompetence.
President Obama admitted as much when he confessed that his $1 trillion dollar stimulus spending failed to produce the shovel-ready jobs he promised.
Very little of the money was directed toward goods and services. Much of it was sucked up by transfer payments to state and local governments to reduce their borrowing.
In essence, the government borrowed money from the public to reduce borrowing from the public. Thus, the net impact on aggregate economic activity was negligible. The government was not equipped to spend a trillion dollars judiciously.
Washington is notoriously inept at spending the money it takes in. Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel prize for economics, knew this and argued that revenue should never be the goal of tax policy. He said repeatedly, I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever its possible.
Friedman understood that governments are inherently inefficient and prone to spending money unwisely. Frequently, they squander or waste the hard-earned dollars of taxpayers.
Friedmans rationale seems more valid today than ever. This year alone, the feds frittered away some $25 billion dollars on worthless projects. Read all about it in Sen. Tom Coburns annual report on government waste.
Like what, you may ask?
How about laughing classes for college students, paying people to watch grass grow, teaching monkeys how to play video games and gamble, giving Swedish massages to rabbits, and analyzing mountain lions on a treadmill.
The report is a hoot and a holler -- until you remember it is your money being discarded like yesterdays trash.
My personal favorite was spending $350 million dollars to build a NASA launch pad, never realizing that the rockets to be used there were scrapped years ago. Now, it sits idle. Time magazine dubbed it the launch pad to nowhere. Honestly, what kind of stupidity does such profligacy constitute? Apparently, the government kind.
While politicians are preoccupied with spending your money, they seem utterly disinterested in performing their primary function. When it comes to legislation, the current Congress is on track to be one of the least productive in 60 years. Except insofar as spending is concerned.
Their extravagance perpetuates their own power by currying favor with interest groups which, in turn, financially support their Capitol Hill benefactors when it comes to re-election. It adds texture to the word, corrupt. And it shows no signs of abating.
Enter President Obama who served up his own anti-Laffer twist. A year ago, he vowed to dedicate the remainder of his term to fighting income inequality.
It has a lovely, populist ring to it. But he conveniently overlooks the evidence that his policies of raising taxes on income, capital gains, dividends and small businesses appear to have exacerbated the divide. Real median household income has decreased under his stewardship, even as the economy has rebounded from the financial panic and ensuing recession, albeit at a lethargic pace.
The reason is plain: income inequality is a symptom, not an illness. Persistent unemployment and anemic economic growth are what plague the US economy and the upward mobility of Americans.
Confiscating wealth by tax and then spending the revenue recklessly in a vain attempt to redistribute income is a fatuous invention that punishes the successful. At the same time it rewards the unsuccessful by perpetuating a culture of dependence and entitlement.
A recent Fox News poll found that a majority of Americans believe it is a bad idea for the government to spread the wealth from the people who make more money to the people who make less.
Mr. Obama famously remarked, I do think at a certain point youve made enough money. The affluent, he said, are not paying their fair share. This belies the fact that the top 10% of wage earners pay roughly 70% of all federal income taxes, according to IRS data. The top marginal rate has increased from 28% to almost 40% since 1986.
Appropriating someone elses money does not remedy income inequality. Fostering a healthier economy with better paying jobs does.
Wealth As A Pejorative
Sometimes the truth can be inconvenient. It is easy to denounce wealth as a dirty word and demonize success. Never mind that wealth, both personal and corporate, creates jobs.
Whenever the affluent make gains, it benefits the middle class and poor. It proves the aphorism attributed to President John F. Kennedy, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Kennedys tax cuts lifted the economy and the middle class, while federal receipts increased. Under Obama, the punitive tax burden and the tide of entitlements are running the economic boat aground.
Social welfare states have a long and distinguished record of failure. Sweden, for example, teetered on the edge of insolvency before reversing course by slashing social transfers and cutting taxes. This, as America moves in the opposite direction. Nearly half of households in the US pay no federal income taxes, and half the population receive government benefits.
More people are now reliant on entitlement programs than ever before. Together with the cost of ObamaCare, they will consume more than 50% of our nations budget in just one decade. As the Swedes will attest, it is unsustainable.
By his comments and policies, President Obama implies that accumulating wealth constitutes greed. As if hard work and success are something of which to be ashamed. He has cast himself in the role of a modern day Robin Hood, creating heroes and villains where none truly exist.
Instead of solving the root cause of income inequality, he gins up class warfare and foments division. He seeks to deprive people of the benefits of achievement, while reinforcing dependency. In the process, he transforms hope into victimhood.
Thomas Sowell, an economist and social theorist who has authored more than 30 books, described it this way, I have never understood why it is greed to want to keep the money youve earned, but not greed to want to take somebody elses money.
Clearly, Sowell was not buddies with Ferris Bueller.
Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News Anchor and former defense attorney.
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* Operators say unfairly taxed at local, state and federal level
* Disruptions cost industry millions of dollars annually - MTN
* Taxes and fees are often spurious - regulator speech
By Matt Smith
DUBAI, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Nigerias telecommunications operators face multiple taxes and fees at local, state and federal level, two of the countrys mobile operators told Reuters, with service disruptions related to tax claims costing the sector millions of dollars annually.
Mobile phone penetration nearly tripled between 2007 and 2012 and hit 96 percent at 2013-end.
The sector accounted for 7.8 percent of Nigerias economy in the nine months to September 2013, more than double its 2009 contribution of 3.7 percent, and such income has made it a soft target for tax collectors, said MTN Nigeria - a unit of South Africas MTN.
The Golden Goose effect has fuelled demands for larger social spending, taxes, MTN Nigeria said in a statement to Reuters.
Federal, state and local governments all have tax-raising powers, leading to multiple taxation of telecommunications companies, said MTN.
Operators have been seeking a one-stop shop to ease administration of taxes, MTN said, warning operators suffer arbitrary enforcement actions and service disruptions by parties working on behalf of tax-raising bodies.
The cost of disruption to our industry runs into millions of dollars annually, MTN added.
MTN Nigeria is the largest mobile operator with 58.4 million subscribers, giving it a 44 percent market share, according to the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
Globacom has 27.6 million subscribers, Airtel Nigeria, part of Indias Bharti Airtel, 26.1 million and Etisalat Nigeria 19.9 million.
Etisalat Nigeria, an affiliate of Abu Dhabi-listed Etisalat , told Reuters it wants the federal government, through the NCC, to be the sole sector regulator.
It is common to have government agencies trying to impose duties and enforce regulatory functions similar to that of the NCC, said Etisalat Nigeria. There are levies and other charges that are demanded by government institutions which have all the characteristics of a tax.
The company declined to provide details on its tax payments, but warned current practices could hurt its margins.
In a 2012 speech, NCC official Okechukwu Itanyi warned spurious taxes and levies ... portend grave dangers for this sector.
He listed some of these taxes. On Airtel alone, these included Bauchi States 755 million naira ($4.2 million) for branding and advertising, Imo States 262.4 million naira pest control charge and Delta States 276 million naira ecological tariff.
Itanyi and Airtel declined to comment. Globalcom did not respond to requests for comment. ($1 = 180.5500 naira) (Editing by Anand Basu)
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After reports of her ouster Wednesday as the chairwoman of the Assembly Taxation Committee, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, was reinstated to that position Thursday morning, some leading Republicans said.
Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, said speaker-designate John Hambrick reinstated Fiore Thursday morning after demoting her Wednesday night.
Fiore was the subject of stories by journalist Jon Ralston that reported Fiore had been hit with more than $1 million in federal tax liens in the last decade. The taxes were reportedly money withheld from employees that were to be paid to the US government.
Gosh, Im shocked, Ellison said. Apparently he (Hambrick) must have taken her off last night and put her on this morning. Ive been trying to find out what is going on.
Minutes after Ellisons statement, Hambrick issued a news release that showed Fiore as the chair of the taxation committee. Fiore, who has not returned repeated calls from the RGJ, said in a prepared statement that she will address the issue next week.
I am here in Carson City with my sleeves rolled up and diligently combing through a 6,000-page Nevada state budget, Fiore said. My focus is on the job that I was elected to do. I am grateful for the support from my Speaker John Hambrick along with many other Nevadans who support me as chairwoman of taxation. I will be addressing the media issues early next week.
Incoming Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, R-Las Vegas, and a close ally of Fiores, was also removed then reinstated as vice-chair of the taxation committee.
My role on the taxation committee has been restored, and for that I am thankful, Seaman said in a prepared statement. I am still committed to making sure that my voice as a businesswoman in a leadership role in Nevada is heard and that it never be diminished simply because of my gender. I will lead with passion, facts, and solid fiscal conservative solutions representing Nevadans.
Calls to Hambrick were not immediately returned. Before Hambricks email was sent Thursday morning, Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, said about Fiore in a text message: She was not removed.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, citing Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, as a source, reported that Fiore had been removed from her chairmanship Wednesday night. In a subsequent news release, Fiore said the ouster was about her gender.
It appears that a few men in our party are not happy that we have Republican women in leadership roles in the Legislature, Fiore was quoted as saying. Women make up only 35 percent of the Nevada Assembly, while they are 50 percent of the population in Nevada. It seems it is time for women to have a voice and take on leadership roles in Nevada government.
Gov. Brain Sandoval, Nevadas leading Republican, noted Thursday that Fiore will address the issue next week.
Assemblywoman Fiore has indicated that she will respond to the issues that have been brought up by the media next week, stated a release from his office. Due to her announcement, the governor believes it is premature to comment before he knows all the details before she had the chance to respond.
Tuesday, before Fiores ouster, Sandoval was asked about Ralstons report on Fiore and if it was a concern.
That is kind of double hearsay because Jon (Ralston) is basing it on whatever information hes got, which I dont know about, Sandoval said Tuesday. So I have no knowledge to the accuracy of that or whether it is true or not. So I think it is very premature to comment on that.
Ellison said there may be a simple explanation for Fiores tax issues.
Apparently, from what Ive heard, one of the members (of the GOP Assembly caucus) told me that she had an embezzlement (against her) within her business and that created her tax problems and they have already resolved it, Ellison said. I can understand that because I had an embezzlement (in my business) years ago and I know that is possible.
But here we go again, Ellison said, referring to the recent drama around the speakership. We are back to finding out if it is true or not. But I dont know what her tax issues are or the implications of her tax problems.
Fiore was named the taxation committee chair after Hansen defeated former Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, for the Assembly Speaker position in a caucus vote. The vote to install Hansen came soon after Republicans won the Assembly majority in the November general election.
Yet the Reno-Sparks chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked that Hansen be removed as speaker after reporter Dennis Myers of the Reno News amp; Review published parts of columns that Hansen had written for the Sparks Tribune, some dating back 20 years. The NAACP called Hansens columns racist, bigoted and homophobic. A few days later, Hansen resigned after being asked to by Sandoval.
Hambrick was then installed as speaker designate. The final vote for speaker will come on the first day of the 2015 Legislature. Then members of both parties will vote on the Speaker. Hambrick will retain the job simply with a unanimous vote of his GOP caucus.
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By Samuel Wrest
As the economies of emerging Asia continue to develop, the region's tax rates are becoming increasingly influential. From the perspective of Asia's governments, taxes can be used to either ensure that investments flow in to their own jurisdiction, or as a means to subsidize government spending. Conversely, from the standpoint of companies and individual wage earners, they can help determine whether a particular jurisdiction suits their business model and occupation.
There are numerous taxes which will be applicable for foreign businesses and wage earners in Asia, including corporate income tax (CIT), individual income tax (IIT), withholding tax, and indirect taxes such as value added tax (VAT) and goods and services tax (GST). Understanding how these various taxes function is integral both for companies wishing to access Asia's emerging markets, and individuals looking to work in the region.
In this excerpt from our latest Asia Briefing magazine, we provide an introduction to Asias rates of taxation. We explain what these taxes are, briefly discuss how they apply to Asia, and conclude by taking a look at how Asia's countries compare in the World Bank's latest ease of paying taxes rankings.
A corporate income tax (CIT) is a tax levied on the profits of a company, most commonly by a given country's state government but also occasionally by its provincial governments.
In Asia, the rate of CIT varies considerably from nation to nation, with some jurisdictions fixing it at as little as 17 percent and others at a massive 40 percent. The rate of CIT that a country enforces can be informed by a myriad of factors, including the priorities of government (whether more emphasis is placed on state revenue or investment), the nature of its economy (how reliant it is on foreign investment), the country's size, and its level of development.
The definition of what a corporation is and whether it is subject to CIT tax varies from country to country, with several jurisdictions in Asia imposing CIT on legal entities that others would not. For example, Malaysia's CIT hinges on an entity's residence - on whether control and management of the corporation is actually within Malaysia - but this concept has almost no bearing in Hong Kong, where CIT is often imposed regardless of residence. For more details on a company's eligibility for CIT in a given Asian jurisdiction, see our CIT chart in the second section of the 2015 Asia Tax Comparator.
In essence, an indirect tax adds to the price of a purchasable product or a payable service, thereby increasing the cost of that product or service and causing consumers to indirectly pay its rate of taxation. This differentiates indirect tax from other forms of taxation, such as corporate income and individual income tax; both of which require a business or an individual to pay the applicable amount directly to a government.
Indirect taxes differ from other taxes in several other ways. For instance, because they are attached to purchasable items and services generally, they are not reduced or increased according to an individual's income or a corporation's profits.
In Asia, countries employ either a value added tax (VAT) or goods and services tax (GST) as their system of indirect taxation, although some do not have an indirect tax at all. Several countries have either reformed or only just introduced their indirect tax systems in the past ten years, including both India and China. The tax revenue generated is commonly shared between central and local governments.
A withholding tax is a tax that is kept back from an employee's salary and subsequently paid directly to the government. Withholding taxes are commonly employed by countries throughout the world to help combat tax evasion.
Countries in Asia typically divide withholding tax into dividends, interest and royalties payments, with the amount of each varying considerably in each country. India, for instance, does not have any withholding tax on dividends, but has a 30 percent tax on royalties.
An individual income tax (IIT) is a tax levied on all wage earners within a given jurisdiction. With the exception of Brunei and Cambodia, the former having no IIT in place and the latter a fixed 20 percent rate, the Asian countries highlighted in this magazine all employ a progressive IIT system wherein an individual is taxed according to how much they earn. This results in individuals with a higher salary being taxed at a greater rate than those with a lower one. Rates vary wildly across Asia, with some countries capping their maximum IIT at as much as 45 percent and others at as little as 17 percent.
One of the key contributing factors to the World Bank's "Doing Business" rankings is the ease of paying taxes, which takes into account the time, total tax rate and number of payments necessary for a company to pay off all of its tax obligations. Here we provide the rankings for the 13 countries highlighted in this magazine, as well as the US, Germany, and Italy.
Compared to 2014's rankings, there have been several significant changes to the ease of paying taxes in Asia. India has moved up two ranks, and Indonesia and Vietnam have dropped 23 and 24 ranks respectively. In the context of the 13 countries highlighted in this magazine, this means that India has moved from being the worst ranked country last year to 11th position, whilst Indonesia and Vietnam have dropped to be the two worst ranked.
The top five positions have also seen a slight change. Thailand has moved up eight ranks overall and Cambodia has dropped 25. As a result, Thailand is now the fifth ranked country out of the 13 and Cambodia the sixth.