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October 25, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Consolidating tax base would help

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It’s only nickels and dimes, the tax man says. With the new gas tax increase proposal in the Legislature, Senate Bill 377, it’s only pennies. Therein lies the problem. Every time something changes in our environment, another special tax must be increased or a new one added. Ostensibly, taxes are used to promote the common good.

Unfortunately, they don’t come from one common source. In a perfect world, everyone benefits from how tax money is spent on roads, sewers, police, fire, education, health or government. Government constantly tries to micro-manage tax adjustments either in an attempt to recoup lost revenue because people buy very fuel-efficient vehicles or for some perceived looming emergency, like failing roads, or storm and sewer drains. Government needs to rein in the catch-me-if-you-can approach to taxation and consolidate as many revenue-generation requirements as possible by moving fuel, vehicle registration and many other taxes into the property tax base.

Fuel taxes are a great example. It doesn’t matter if you rent and use public transportation or are rich and drive several luxury cars; everyone benefits from our infrastructure, roads, bridges and traffic control systems. Property taxes are set and collected according to means. In general, those who rent pay (indirectly) far less than property owners with significant wealth.

Consolidation of our tax base is good economic policy and allows everyone to see more clearly how much revenue is being collected and where it is being spent. The problem facing consolidation is more about the politics and less about the policy.

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  1. We are being taxed to poverty, then we die and pay the government what's left.

    Carmine D

  2. I don't have objections to looking at consolidating the tax base but I think we have a much more fundamental issue to consider.

    Whether you favor big or small government, higher or lower taxes, the least we should all ask and demand of our elected representatives is to match tax revenue with spending. Either tax more or spend less. It should be unacceptable that our elected representatives refuse to either raise taxes enough, cut spending enough or a combination of both in a way where we are not adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt each and every year.

    There are huge amounts of money that could be saved in just the waste, fraud and duplication in government spending if that was addressed in a serious way. It never is and that should not be acceptable.

    Michael

  3. "The OECD has been called a think tank, monitoring agency, rich man's club and un-academic university."

    The tax amount/percentage is a function of GDP. Since the U.S. has the highest GDP in the world, [2010 is the base year for the data] then the results are completely understandable. For the most part the OECD 2010 study is worthless and meaningless. The only relevance of tax percentage to GDP is to compare one's own country's tax percentage to its own GDP over time for trends and patterns.

    Carmine D

  4. Carmine.. Let's take this out of the world of phantasmagoria. Taxes exist for old clunkers like us. People that sit around on their computers all day long living off of entitlements and pensions.

    We could go back to the old system where people worked until they dropped dead but then the Sun wouldn't have any more bloggers.

    The federal government currently spends a little bit over 20% of GDP. That's the same as it was 70 years ago. It hasn't budged an inch! When you factor in that there are currently about as many people getting government assistance as the total population of the United States 70 years ago it's nothing less than amazing.

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou...
    If you want to look at total tax collection relative to GDP we are still at the bottom of the list. The only countries that are lower are Third World nations and oil-rich potentates.
    If you want to leave other nations out of it and just look at domestic spending relative to GDP. Federal spending hasn't moved in 70 years as I stated above and total spending is up about 10 points since 1960. Hardly unreasonable given the unbelievable demands being placed on federal state and local governments.
    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_2...

  6. Gerry:

    Again, the analysis is skewed. USA has the largest GDP. You would intuitively expect it's tax percentages as a function of GDP to be lower than other countries. Look at the USA taxes paid and percentages to GDP over time. What are the numbers? Up, down, or the same?

    Carmine D

  7. Federal spending as a percent of GDP is completely flat from 1950 on. Total federal state and local spending has gone up 10 points from 1960 until today.

    Half of the individuals in this country pay no federal income tax. The majority of incorporated businesses pay no income tax. Corporations that do pay taxes are paying at the lowest rate relative to revenues in 50 years. Vast amounts of money is parked overseas to avoid paying taxes. There are tax advantaged investments that help people avoid paying taxes.

    When the IRS does its line audits they find over 90% of people that file 1040s cheat on their taxes. Tax avoidance is a national pastime in this country. There's hardly anyone that's paying the taxes they are supposed to.

    Violence, bad living habits and lack of access to proper medical care kill millions in this country. How many die from being so heavily taxed that they can't eat. You'd be hard to find one.

  8. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02...
    read the above. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. They're sitting on trillions of dollars in cash and paying next to nothing in taxes because of all these unbelievably corrupt tax schemes.

    The money that's being hidden in offshore tax schemes equates to the GDP of many small countries.

    Corporations make vast sums of money off of government contracts. Individuals get huge benefits from programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Yet no one wants to give anything back. If people and companies do not want to pay taxes they should stop lining up at the trough.

  9. Gerry:

    2/3 of the US GDP is consumer spending. 1/3 is Government spending. There are no taxes paid on Government spending. Taxes are on just 2/3 of GDP in USA. So 1/3 is not taxed. again, intuitively if just 2/3 of USA GDP is taxed, and other countries tax more of their GDP, then the USA taxes will be lower.

    Carmine D

  10. Gerry:
    If you combine the two factors I provided: USA having the highest GDP of all the countries AND only 2/3 is taxed with 1/3 not taxed, intuitively it is sensible that the US percentages of taxes to GDP could and would be lower than many other countries. Unless these differences are statistically factored into the data collection and analyses [by using standards of deviation for each country and comparing the standards of deviation to a mean deviation of all the countries], the data and conclusions on it are meaningless and worthless. EXCEPT as I said to be used for trends and patterns by each country for itself over time.

    In my younger days, using statistical methods, I would have done it for you and given the results. Those days are over. It's called "retirement."

    Carmine D

  11. Richard, nice try. We need to address SPENDING that keeps increasing. We spend trillions on illegals when you add up the local, state, and federal spending on welfare programs, courts/law enforcement/prisons. Nevada keeps spending MORE THAN $50,000 a day on illegals in our prisons. Our economy has not expanded and will not expand until we address the issues of things that are dragging us down: illegal invasion, broken K-12, broken higher ed--where everyone wants degrees but the degrees are of limited value. It is NOT how highly educated you are but how PRODUCTIVE you will be for your employer. Additionally, we keep dumping trillions by interfering with foreign nations. Sure there are times we need to step in and preclude another nuclear power but we don't need to arm the Somali rebels as Obama is now doing, we don't need to kill off our best and brightest in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Korea, Viet Nam.... We've dumped upwards of $70 Billion into Egypt and they are NOT our friends or allies. The Egyptians are hell bent on hurting us.

  12. MKC 8:44: Let's consider food insecurity in this country. We spend mega-billions on EBT SNAP including food stamps for illegals as they enter the country. Yet, there are endless PSAs (public service announcements) on how we need to donate to food banks to feed our neighbors. The food banks are overwhelmed with illegal moms and turning away American seniors. A worker at a food bank and a volunteer at another tell me that illegals get first crack and we are "not to judge" them. People on the street corners panhandle for money to eat. We support, via taxes and via donations, various "soup kitchens" and gospel missions where hot meals are dished out to all comers. Vans have scheduled routes throughout the cities of Nevada handing out hot meals to all who show up. School kids get free breakfast, lunch, and groceries to take home. School lunch programs operate in the summer to provide free meals to all school-aged kids. Dept of Ag food subsidies go to school lunch programs AND to senior-care facilities. We have an obesity epidemic yet we are told over and over and over again that our neighbors are hungry. So how much per capita is enough to feed us all?

  13. Carmine.. I have no idea where you come up with some of this stuff but it's rich. I have reams of data that reflect that taxation in the United States is very reasonable by international standards and by our own historical standards given current demographics.

    Our economy consists of about 70% consumption, 20% government and 10% exports. You forgot the exports which amount to trillions of dollars over time.

    All countries have government spending. It's factored into the taxation analysis. In terms of government not paying taxes. I guess that's true when the government takes the money in but when they pay it out the recipients pay the taxes. Corporations pay taxes when they get government contracts. My wife pays taxes on her Social Security income. You and I pay taxes on our pensions.

    If you truly believe that taxes are so high in this country that people are being killed off by them maybe you could provide me with a link to support your argument.

    My data comes from the Government Accounting Office, US Census Bureau, insurance companies,international organizations and financial institutions. If you think that your analysis is better than all of the above you might be out of touch with reality.

    Have a wonderful day!

  14. Gerry: how about detox? Maybe a little candor and accuracy? Distinguish evasion from avoidance. 10 points does not equal 10%. When we read such poorly written posts, we move on real quickly and don't entertain discussion with one who fails to ....

  15. Gerry:

    Data, regardless of the source, is only as good as the analyses and conclusions logically based and extracted from it. OECD, the source you quoted on the amount of taxes by percentages paid by the USA versus other countries in the OECD, is not, and never has been, a reputable and credible source of economic data. In fact, few economic think tanks, even government sources like GAO CBO IRS and on are very credible. Why? You're a smart man, you know the answer.

    Carmine D

  16. The correct answer to our tax woes is a flat tax and/or value added tax. No ifs ands or buts.

    Carmine D

  17. "If you think that your analysis is better than all of the above you might be out of touch with reality."

    Gerry and Roslenda:

    I had a two semester college course in statistics. Only 2 classes a semester and one professor. About 50 students per class. I always chose the minority economic/business position and used the very same data that was used by the majority to prove it.

    Carmine D

  18. Carmine: 5:31 exactly. Takes a brain to digest and evaluate what "they"'re trying to feed us. Any thoughts on my 2:22?

  19. "Any thoughts on my 2:22?"

    Hello Roslenda:

    I tend to err on the liberal side. Provide the food [and/or SNAP] to all who qualify even if some abuse and misuse the privilege and benefits. And experience tells us they will and do.

    My Church operates a food pantry and outreach for the Las Vegas Valley. We serve all regardless of religion or lack thereof. It's one of 5 in the Valley. We went from opening 4 days a week to one day, in part, because we ran out so quickly. We ran out, in part, because some would go from one pantry to another, fill up their trucks, vans, and cars and sell the items after receiving for free.

    We knew it but decided to continue the service because the bulk of the people who come, including infants and children, are needy and we serve them. Not just food. Clothing and even money.

    In fact, you may recall, maybe not, that a couple we assisted for months stole our Church's wooden poor box with about $800-$1200, a month's worth of cash donations. We ID the couple from Church camera photos and reported to the police with a report. It's been 10 months since the theft and the couple and our poor box, which was probably destroyed to get the money inside, are still not apprehended. A parishioner built a new wooden box and it is now secured to the wall studs to preclude lifting and walking away with it. BTW the old box stood over 5 feet high, and 2 feet wide. It was used to hold not only cash donations but a 4 foot high wooden statue of St Joseph, the Worker. We estimated the box alone weighed about 75 pounds without the money inside. Better to suffer evil than to do it.

    Carmine D

  20. "A flat tax helps the rich and screws the poor.

    A typical, greedy republican idea.

    Never going to happen."

    Teamster:

    Never say never. Unless you want to be wrong.

    Carmine D