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Author Topic: The 10 biggest federal income tax breaks (and how much they cost)  (Read 1458 times)
krazen1211
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« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2013, 07:34:14 pm »
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Dear wormyguy,

Thank you for your explanation of how to get rich. Unfortunately I never have good ideas, I don't have the money to enter exclusive universities, I don't want to fake getting along with rich people (or their daddies), don't have time to learn how to program an app because I'm busy trying not to be homeless, and I hate the smell of old people. In fact, I don't even want to be rich. I don't have the motivation or energy to start my own business, be my own boss, or even think of an idea to sell.

I just want to work eight hours a day and get paid more than what I need. I would be interested in buying a house someday, and I promise I don't waste my money. I don't think I should earn as much as those who have exclusive skills. I just want to be comfortable. I have just as much worth to society as the more intelligent, more socially apt, and in fact perhaps I'm better because I'm not cunning, ruthless, or greedy. We live in a first world country. Why should I needlessly suffer when there is plenty of money for everyone? Why should they benefit so many orders of magnitude more than me, doing my small part?

Yours truly,
Most people

Dear "Most People,"

Thank you for your letter this morning.  We appreciate your concerns.  Please forgive the form-letter nature of this reply, as we are very busy, working more, on average, than any other income group of people.  In fact, among us "super-rich," we tend to work 60 hours a week or more.  If we are doctors or surgeons, we are on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  If we are lawyers, we must spend every waking minute attending to our client's needs, or we will lose our cases and our reputation.  If we run a business, we are always the first to come in and the last to leave, and the one who must stay awake at night worrying about every conceivable threat to the company's future.

It is unfortunate that you rarely have good ideas.  We don't always have good ideas either, but the good ideas we have are really, really good.  If you could not benefit from the good ideas that people like us have had, you would still be living in a grass-roofed hut and studying entrails to forecast the next rainfall.  Actually, among those of us who have good ideas, all that we have made is because of people like you, who have chosen, of their own free will, to pay us their own money for what we have created.  Thank you, even if the feeling is unrequited.

We are also sorry that you did not enter an "exclusive university."  Not all of us or even a majority went to such a university ourselves, but we will speak for those who did.  Contrary to popular belief, the most exclusive universities (in the US) typically also have the most generous financial aid packages and often cover the entire tuition of undergraduates whose families cannot pay full-rate.  They are also in love with stories about "overcoming adversity," unless you are a white person from Appalachia or the Deep South.*  The way most of us got into such an exclusive university is by working hard - really hard - during high school.  While you were toking under the bleachers, vegging out on video games, daydreaming about your classmates, or shoving us into lockers, we were hard at work doing with excellence every last shred of work the teacher assigned and more.  It is probably not surprising that businesses looked at us first instead of you when seeking to fill positions that required both high intelligence and very strong work ethic.

We understand that you do not have the wherewithal and drive to start your own business or be your own boss.  Again, that's true for most of us as well.  But let us now speak for those of us who did.  We are the ones who really understand why you don't want to try it yourself.  There's not many people who would take every last cent to their name and every penny they could borrow to make an investment which is extremely likely to fail.  There are not many who would work 80, 90 hour weeks at no pay - negative pay, maxing out every credit card and overdrafting every bank account to pay for your expenses, in a state of perpetual panic that you won't become profitable in time, reduced to begging for new investors.  And even if you're successful, that's what you'd be doing for the first few years or so.  The fact is that the vast majority of new businesses fail.  Even the ones which technically succeed rarely feature proprietors who work less or earn more than they would otherwise.  If anyone claims that the business they started was easy or quickly turned a profit, they're lying, or they got into and out of the right racket (internet, real estate, "apps") at the right time.  Even in that case they're probably still lying.

In fact, we successful entrepreneurs usually are not on our first try.  That's right; we took years off our lives with toil and worry, borrowed and begged for every dime we could get, and for our efforts were left broken and bankrupt, and yes, homeless.  And then we did it all again, at least once.  You may be asking, so what?  Well, for one, every employee job that exists exists because of one of us.  It is because one of us embarked on that insane journey that you have the opportunity to live a first-world lifestyle such as our own.  And are we thanked for this, doing what you admit you cannot do for yourself?  No, we're always the bad guy, the "asshole," "greedy," "evil," you name it, for choosing to, with our own money and effort, create something that is pleasing to you the consumer, and using what we make from that to hire and pay you the worker.  We don't ask for thanks, because most of us actually aren't narcissists, or at least any more narcissistic than anyone who would assume that anyone more successful than themselves must have gotten to that point by being a bad person.

We get it.  You take us for granted.  You think "that doesn't look so hard!" or "anyone could do that!"  You do not stop to consider what would happen if people stopped trying to start new businesses, or if the tax and regulatory compliance burden were ratcheted up another few notches when most of us can remember a point when all that stood between us and bankruptcy was a few hundred dollars or less.  You could even say it benefits us, by keeping out the competition, but we are naturally empathetic people.  We want others to succeed where we have succeeded.  And yes, maybe we are somewhat special people, and maybe we do contribute to society more than most, and maybe we do deserve to make a bit more, or even quite a bit more of what you yourselves have chosen to give us.

So we are left at a bit of a quandary.  Why is it that "most people" think that we are somehow immoral for doing exactly what "most people" would do in our position, whether investing for our retirements, minimizing our tax burdens (like absolutely everyone including yourself does), or providing for our children?  Such horrible crimes against humanity are sociopathic and evil, according to some.  To that we can only shake our heads.

We don't hate you, most of us used to be one of you.  Many of us are first or second-generation immigrants who came to this country with nothing.  Nearly all of us have worked sh[inks]y jobs just like you.  We get it.  Do you get us?

Sincerely yours,

"Rich People"

*We assume that your "most people" is the one that likewise sneers with hostility at those "most people."


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Mr.Phips
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« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2013, 08:25:50 am »
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So then you just sell some stock in lieu of dividends, a policy Microsoft had. It never paid dividends for tax reasons. If folks wanted some cash, they just sold some stock - at capital gains rates. Plus it causes economically inefficient accretions of corporate cash. And with the corporate tax, to the extent it is not passed on in higher prices, it is a double tax. Ideally, the corporate tax should go away (and with the pass on of part of that cost in the form of higher prices, it is a regressive tax), and then, and only then,  tax dividends as ordinary income.

Then capital gains should also be taxed at ordinary rates.  I would favor lowering the corporate rate to something like a flat 13%, while taxing dividends and capital gains at ordinary rates.
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Averroës Nix
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« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2013, 03:12:11 pm »
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Responding to those who demonize the rich by scapegoating the poor doesn't lend much credibility to wormyguy's argument.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #28 on: July 05, 2013, 04:18:33 am »
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Peoples' limited understanding of capital markets always saddens me a bit.
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DC Al Fine
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« Reply #29 on: July 05, 2013, 05:29:47 am »
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Peoples' limited understanding of capital markets always saddens me a bit.

Please enlighten us.
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« Reply #30 on: July 05, 2013, 08:12:25 am »
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Peoples' limited understanding of capital markets always saddens me a bit.

Please enlighten us.

I'm generally a bit resigned - I've been on this forum long enough to know that people generally aren't that interested in learning things that would force them to change or revise their opinions.

It's hard to tax capital because it is too easily moved. It's also a good thing to have capital markets. Research indicates that it is in fact a main driver behind growth. Acting as if we're just unfairly benefitting evil fat cats who do nothing but manipulate money is, well, wrong.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #31 on: July 05, 2013, 08:16:05 am »
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Oh, and I should add that I noted the sarcasm, I just chose not to engage with it. Wink

I know people on here often get upset when their ignorant rants aren't met with tremendous respect and treated as informed opinions. So apologies to those who feel offended and so on.
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DC Al Fine
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« Reply #32 on: July 05, 2013, 10:57:16 am »
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Oh, and I should add that I noted the sarcasm, I just chose not to engage with it. Wink

I know people on here often get upset when their ignorant rants aren't met with tremendous respect and treated as informed opinions. So apologies to those who feel offended and so on.

I was being serious...

You are right about excessive capital gains taxes ruining income growth. If we put in a 50-90% top marginal rate like some posters want and taxed capital gains as ordinary income, it would be disastrous. but at current rates there is probably room for raising taxes without harming the capital markets. Capital gains tax is 15% in the USA, but 20-25% in Canada. I see no harm in raising it to say 20% in order prevent the highest earners from paying average tax rate than those much poorer than them. Obviously such a hike would not make a big difference in the deficit (maybe $40-50 billion), but then again taxing capital gains at 90% wouldn't either.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #33 on: July 05, 2013, 11:10:15 am »
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I'm generally a bit resigned - I've been on this forum long enough to know that people generally aren't that interested in learning things that would force them to change or revise their opinions.

Oh, and I should add that I noted the sarcasm, I just chose not to engage with it. Wink

I know people on here often get upset when their ignorant rants aren't met with tremendous respect and treated as informed opinions. So apologies to those who feel offended and so on.

Wow, smug condescension and the canonical "neener neener I'm still right" non-apology.  Are you trying to get people to disagree with you?

(Protip: some of us actually do want facts and evidence, and are willing to change our opinion.  But poisoning the well isn't a great way to present your case, dude.)
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Tik
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« Reply #34 on: July 05, 2013, 10:30:50 pm »
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Dear wormyguy,

Thank you for replying to my letter. I know you're quite busy, and I appreciate the sacrifice in time you made in order to explain why I should also appreciate that you won't give us a raise.

I feel compelled to point out that in my original letter I said that I did not expect to make as much money as those with exclusive skills. I hope that makes you feel better. I am well aware that I owe my employment partially to folks who take such gambles to find their success. So, of course you should make more than us. But, please, then, consider that your employees contribute substantially to your success by giving you our labor and time.  It's also sometimes hard to buy the products and services of your peers when you don't let that success trickle down to us. I know, I know, you need to keep costs down. I'm sorry. I keep forgetting that despite your fabulous riches, my contribution to your business and, indeed, my livelihood itself is your "cost." I'm so sorry about that.

Again, I know you need at least a monetary incentive to take big risks. That's totally fair, boss, I applaud you. It's just hard to know that even though you do empathise with us and perhaps shared our struggles, you don't think that that struggle itself is worth easing. I suppose that struggle is how you became men of such generous character.

With apologies,
Most people
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Gustaf
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« Reply #35 on: July 07, 2013, 05:40:16 am »
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I'm generally a bit resigned - I've been on this forum long enough to know that people generally aren't that interested in learning things that would force them to change or revise their opinions.

Oh, and I should add that I noted the sarcasm, I just chose not to engage with it. Wink

I know people on here often get upset when their ignorant rants aren't met with tremendous respect and treated as informed opinions. So apologies to those who feel offended and so on.

Wow, smug condescension and the canonical "neener neener I'm still right" non-apology.  Are you trying to get people to disagree with you?

(Protip: some of us actually do want facts and evidence, and are willing to change our opinion.  But poisoning the well isn't a great way to present your case, dude.)

I'm not trying to make anyone on here agree with me. I just feel someone should point out that certain things are wrong.

Someone who is both totally ignorant and yet very sure about his opinion is obviously not a person who is at all driven by facts. So I suspect it is a waste of time to reason with such a person. That's largely based on many years of experience.

I don't think there is anything wrong with not understanding economics. It's a field like all others. There are plenty of fields I haven't specialized in where I don't know much. But I generally don't barge into such fields to preach to people who know it about how things really are and how we're all fooled by conspiracies and so on. If I did I wouldn't expect people to take me seriously or treat me with respect.
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opebo
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« Reply #36 on: July 07, 2013, 11:53:47 am »
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Peoples' limited understanding of capital markets always saddens me a bit.

I agree - they fail to understand that they - the slaves - are the only really important 'capital'.
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« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2013, 12:16:48 am »
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The biggest tax break is people who sit at home instead of working so they aren't taxed at all.
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« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2013, 03:04:28 am »
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The biggest tax break is people who sit at home instead of working so they aren't taxed at all.

Those people don't tend to have very comfortable lives.
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krazen1211
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« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2013, 09:44:03 am »
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The biggest tax break is people who sit at home instead of working so they aren't taxed at all.

Link

Yet inside, a young woman has tapped into a home-based money-making operation that netted her and her three sisters more than half a million in taxpayer dollars since 2006.

And they did it with the blessing of the state.

All four had been in-home child-care providers. Collectively they have 17 children. For years, the government has paid them to stay home and care for each other's children.
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Averroës Nix
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« Reply #40 on: July 12, 2013, 10:37:30 am »
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As the woman described in the article was charged with public assistance fraud later that year, it's more than a little strange to describe her as acting "with the blessing of the state."
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Tik
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« Reply #41 on: July 14, 2013, 01:03:21 am »
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I'm not trying to make anyone on here agree with me. I just feel someone should point out that certain things are wrong.

Uh.. I read through the thread again and I didn't notice you pointing out certain things as wrong at all, just that people didn't understand capital markets (which is fair enough). But besides tooting my own populist horn, I do love learning and reading insights from more knowledgeable people here. I'd wager most of us do, otherwise we wouldn't be here.

So, for fucks sake.. blow our socks off with information. Everyone will be better for it. I'm not being sarcastic.

Quote
Someone who is both totally ignorant and yet very sure about his opinion is obviously not a person who is at all driven by facts. So I suspect it is a waste of time to reason with such a person. That's largely based on many years of experience.

To reiterate what I just said, there are throngs of people who would benefit from you attempting to reason with those of us who are just stumbling into conversations about things we don't completely understand, picking our noses, and flicking snot at whoever has the most annoying tone of voice. By all means, don't send a private message ripping them to shreds, but post a public one so that everyone can learn from you.

Quote
I don't think there is anything wrong with not understanding economics. It's a field like all others. There are plenty of fields I haven't specialized in where I don't know much. But I generally don't barge into such fields to preach to people who know it about how things really are and how we're all fooled by conspiracies and so on. If I did I wouldn't expect people to take me seriously or treat me with respect.

But, as an intelligent person, you would probably on some level appreciate being told why exactly you're making an ass of yourself. Just.. share, will you? Christ. What you're doing is even worse than the guy who comes in and spouts idiocy. You've walked into the conversation and announced that you are disappointed the conversation isn't up to par, but you won't go into detail about why, thus keeping the conversation below par and making everyone else feel uncomfortable.

If you were at my dinner party, I'd pretend to drop a serviette and wink to the hostess across the table, ducking beneath the tablecloth to whisper to her that you're totally not getting asked to stick around for the crème brûlée.
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« Reply #42 on: July 14, 2013, 01:33:28 am »
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The biggest tax break is people who sit at home instead of working so they aren't taxed at all.

Link

Yet inside, a young woman has tapped into a home-based money-making operation that netted her and her three sisters more than half a million in taxpayer dollars since 2006.

And they did it with the blessing of the state.

All four had been in-home child-care providers. Collectively they have 17 children. For years, the government has paid them to stay home and care for each other's children.

See what I mean.
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Immortal Sockhead
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