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ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1451 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2011 :  15:46:58  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Want Facebook but in a red, white and blue color theme? Want to earn "patriot points"?

http://tellmygov.com/

I looked up the domain info. The admin is Boris Ackerman. I found his Facebook page and he posted a comment about TellMyGov.com: "I love the idea!!!" How self-aggrandizing.

I went ahead and created an account.

Edited by - ThorGoLucky on 11/17/2011 21:57:11

ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1451 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2011 :  22:01:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The plot thickens. I posted there about the Millionaire Patriots from http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=14559 and then Boris Ackerman himself posted an expected Republican comment about how those millionaires can whip out their checkbooks and pay more if they want.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13458 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2011 :  22:59:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by ThorGoLucky

The plot thickens. I posted there about the Millionaire Patriots from http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=14559 and then Boris Ackerman himself posted an expected Republican comment about how those millionaires can whip out their checkbooks and pay more if they want.

Actually, as I understand it, they can't. If they overpay, they get a refund, and that's that.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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the taxman
New Member

1 Post

Posted - 11/17/2011 :  23:41:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send the taxman a Private Message  Reply with Quote
WOW!!!!! He really made a republican comment?????? I think you left the tent in the park unattended!! Someone might steal your blanket and your life savings ($2) but its OK you can always sleep in the back of church next to the garbage.
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  05:56:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
Actually, as I understand it, they can't. If they overpay, they get a refund, and that's that.


Cmon Kil, they may not be able to over-pay income taxes but they can certainly donate to any people or programs they would like to. Your argument amounts to saying that only through government taxation and distribution can people engage in social justice and that's just poppycock.

Edit to fix quote and to add that further they could refuse to take any of the voluntary deductions and file an EZ form.

Edited by - chefcrsh on 11/18/2011 06:38:00
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  07:43:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Originally posted by ThorGoLucky

The plot thickens. I posted there about the Millionaire Patriots from http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=14559 and then Boris Ackerman himself posted an expected Republican comment about how those millionaires can whip out their checkbooks and pay more if they want.

Actually, as I understand it, they can't. If they overpay, they get a refund, and that's that.


Actually, they can whip out their checkbooks and send it to the address in this link.

http://www.fms.treas.gov/faq/moretopics_gifts.html

I think the point that the Millionairres are making is that they think that everyone in their situation should be taxed more as they were under Reagan.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13458 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  10:46:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chefcrsh

Originally posted by Kil
Actually, as I understand it, they can't. If they overpay, they get a refund, and that's that.


Cmon Kil, they may not be able to over-pay income taxes but they can certainly donate to any people or programs they would like to. Your argument amounts to saying that only through government taxation and distribution can people engage in social justice and that's just poppycock.

Edit to fix quote and to add that further they could refuse to take any of the voluntary deductions and file an EZ form.


Anyone can donate to people and outside programs, that's true. But when there are proposed deep cutbacks to government programs and services, the source for that money is mostly though taxation.

I understand that you think there is a lot of waste and corruption in many of those programs, and maybe there is. But the solution isn't to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The solution if to fix the programs so they work better. And who but government will tackle the infrastructure problem? It's likely that we will not agree on that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b682jzn_B0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NugJVto1sQc




Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  10:46:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One must wonder if, like you and I the government must also disclose these gift as income in it's tax return...
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9666 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  12:26:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chefcrsh

Cmon Kil, they may not be able to over-pay income taxes but they can certainly donate to any people or programs they would like to. Your argument amounts to saying that only through government taxation and distribution can people engage in social justice and that's just poppycock.
True, but donating potential tax-money to indepent charities does not improve governmental funds, nor reduce the government deficiency.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
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perrodetokio
Skeptic Friend

275 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  22:40:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send perrodetokio a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I donīt understand why the tax percentage people/companies pay are not progressively increased with higher income (or is it already like that? I havenīt lived in the US since I was a teenager in the 80s). I mean, if you earn a few millions, youīll still get ahead even if you pay 50% taxes, however if your income is just a couple of thousand dollars it would bankrupt you to do so, so you should pay a minimum percentage. Wouldnīt that be logical? (Please, correct me if Iīm wrong or if Iīm not seeing something here).

(edited for typos)

"Yes I have a belief in a creator/God but do not know that he exists." Bill Scott

"They are still mosquitoes! They did not turn into whales or lizards or anything else. They are still mosquitoes!..." Bill Scott

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Edited by - perrodetokio on 11/18/2011 22:40:57
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  23:50:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by perrodetokio

I donīt understand why the tax percentage people/companies pay are not progressively increased with higher income (or is it already like that? I havenīt lived in the US since I was a teenager in the 80s). I mean, if you earn a few millions, youīll still get ahead even if you pay 50% taxes, however if your income is just a couple of thousand dollars it would bankrupt you to do so, so you should pay a minimum percentage. Wouldnīt that be logical? (Please, correct me if Iīm wrong or if Iīm not seeing something here).

(edited for typos)


They are, but currently up to 35% rate. And the top 10% pay about 70% of the tax bill in dollars.

But it is very complicated. First every tax payer has all sorts of possible deductions and credits. This of course becomes more worthwhile to understand (or pay accountants to do) as your taxable income rises. And then there are all sorts of ways to defer taxing of current income (retirement savings, CD's, etc.) And finally the particular tax everyone is talking about is the income tax which taxes salaries at a different rate than dividends or gifts or inherited income other forms of income.

Of course aside from those taxes many also pay property taxes, state and local taxes as well as proportionally more employment taxes (social security and fica), as well as high proportion of sales taxes (they consume more goods and services so pay more of those sales taxes).

The US tax system is very complex, and so most sound bites from any political ideology are awfully inaccurate

ETA: That of course is individuals. Corporate taxes are significantly more messy and complicated with countless twist turns and loopholes. It is indeed possible for the wealthiest and fastest growing companies in the US to legally pay no profit taxes, while receiving government funds for certain activities.
Edited by - chefcrsh on 11/18/2011 23:59:49
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25977 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  10:06:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chefcrsh

Of course aside from those taxes many also pay property taxes, state and local taxes as well as proportionally more employment taxes (social security and fica)...
Social Security taxes are the most regressive taxes we've got. Being capped the way it is, in 2012 it's going to be 6.2% for the first $110,100 and 0% above that. Someone with a salary of $1.3 million will pay all the Social Security taxes they're going to pay by the end of January, while people making less than $110,100 will pay 6.2% for the whole year.

Assuming they have an employer. If they're self-employed, it's 12.4%, up to the same cap. So not only it is highly regressive, it's anti-entrepreneur.
...as well as high proportion of sales taxes (they consume more goods and services so pay more of those sales taxes).
In absolute dollars, yes. As a percentage of their income, no. Savings and investments aren't subject to sales taxes, and the rich do more of both.

Up until fairly recently, Virginia taxed all goods and services at 4.5%, so anyone living paycheck-to-paycheck would pay 4.5% of their take-home pay (minus rent and utilities) in sales taxes. A rich person might put 10% of their pay away in savings, so might pay the 4.5% sales taxes on only 90% of their take-home pay. And then they might pay 35% income taxes on the 1% interest they make on that 10%, effectively 1/129th of what they'd pay if they spent that 10% instead of saving it.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  19:02:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree except I think the sales tax is most regressive. My main point was that there is already a progressive income tax in the US. It is filled with far too many everything under the suns, more so with corporate tax. Now, I may digress...

I am not anti-tax, indeed I saw a recent big think about the need for less foreign aid and more taxation in Africa, the argument being no representation can be had without taxation. It's a complicated (and maybe untrue) proposition, but I has a certain appeal. What I believe to be most just is fair (the tough part), simple, and representative taxation. I am also very against government excess, and especially use of taxpayers funds that are used against the interests or philosophies of the tax payers as if the taxpayer has a duty to go against their conscience if the state requires it. For me those excesses include pageantry/state ritual, wars of aggression and corporate welfare.

I have lived now for a long time in a society with robust social spending (and platy of excess and waste to annoy, mostly in pageantry) but with a very simple nearly flat (after the poverty line) tax for both individual salary and corporate income, no sales, or other incomes taxes, and only a very robust real property tax. It not only has very effective social programs it almost invariably has budget surpluses.

It is admittedly a city state, but I am more and more of the mind that once governance gets out of city state sized geography (and populations) there is too little common interest to hold things together while keeping as much nonsense in check as possible. There are few examples of this to go around but the few available to us are highly prosperous. My one complaint of them all (including HK) is that they are too socially conservative. I suspect that is the "small town neighbor effect).
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25977 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  20:09:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chefcrsh

I agree except I think the sales tax is most regressive.
Well, they were at least designed to be flat. The advent of easy mail-order and a general lack of import duties have also meant that the rich pay less in sales taxes, regressing them.

SS taxes were designed to be regressive from the start. And only recently have Medicare taxes been flattened from their original regressiveness.
My main point was that there is already a progressive income tax in the US. It is filled with far too many everything under the suns, more so with corporate tax.
Agreed. As you noted, the problem with the US progressive taxes is that there are too many loopholes that the rich can exploit and the poor can't/don't. Witness Buffet's recent complaint that he pays a lower percentage in taxes than his secretary. I think most of that is due to the idea that investment should be encouraged by having lower capital-gains taxes than income taxes, but again: those living paycheck-to-paycheck can't afford to buy stocks and bonds.
Now, I may digress...
Please do.
...I am also very against government excess, and especially use of taxpayers funds that are used against the interests or philosophies of the tax payers as if the taxpayer has a duty to go against their conscience if the state requires it.
That's a huge problem, since even in smaller populations, not everyone is going to agree on how tax money should be spent. You offered some general examples that most of us here can probably agree on, but what about fringe opinions? Should one regular taxpayer's objections be enough to veto spending?

In this country, we have people who seriously think that rape isn't a crime, because the victim always "asks for it." Should we avoid spending taxpayer money on investigations and prosecutions for rapes?

More mainstream might be GLBT issues. Lots of taxpayers' consciences are outraged by the fact that public school systems do so much as attempt to answer children's GLBT questions in sex-ed classes. Should their objections be seriously considered, and school boards order their sex-ed teachers to change the subject to avoid misspending valuable classroom time? Should school counselors be prohibited from discussing GLBT issues with GLBT students?
I have lived now for a long time in a society with robust social spending (and platy of excess and waste to annoy, mostly in pageantry) but with a very simple nearly flat (after the poverty line) tax for both individual salary and corporate income, no sales, or other incomes taxes, and only a very robust real property tax. It not only has very effective social programs it almost invariably has budget surpluses.
Is the Straight Dope data from 11 years ago still correct regarding Hong Kong? I know that data isn't complete, since it only looked at income taxes, but is 17% still the highest bracket?

What sort of social programs are in place there? How do they work?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  23:42:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
Well, they were at least designed to be flat. The advent of easy mail-order and a general lack of import duties have also meant that the rich pay less in sales taxes, regressing them.
So flat as to become regressive by their very flatness. Because they do not exclude anyone, even those on the dole, they actually tax people below subsistence levels. That is why they are more unjust to me. At least an income tax is (theoretically) only after statistical subsistence has been achieved.

SS taxes were designed to be regressive from the start.
yes but so were SS benefits.

You offered some general examples that most of us here can probably agree on, but what about fringe opinions? Should one regular taxpayer's objections be enough to veto spending?

In this country, we have people who seriously think that rape isn't a crime, because the victim always "asks for it." Should we avoid spending taxpayer money on investigations and prosecutions for rapes?

More mainstream might be GLBT issues. Lots of taxpayers' consciences are outraged by the fact that public school systems do so much as attempt to answer children's GLBT questions in sex-ed classes. Should their objections be seriously considered, and school boards order their sex-ed teachers to change the subject to avoid misspending valuable classroom time? Should school counselors be prohibited from discussing GLBT issues with GLBT students?


I get your main point and generally agree with the problem...it is a problem and there is no easy solution to it. But I think both of your examples are do not serve very well to illustrate your point.

The first one is very simple. Rape by its definition is assault. Assault is by definition criminal harm and I think you can see where this goes. Just as murder is inherently wrongful death. Therefore it is wrong plain and simple. Of course there may be claimed rapes that are not in the end rape and there may be mitigating circumstances to any crime, but that would be the proper business of the court to deal with on a case by case basis.

The GLBT issue you bring up is also pretty easy to get around. The objective of any educational institute is to educate, that is to disseminate factual information. So just as ID proponents should not have their beliefs presented in science class as fact (though they may be discussed as information about the real world) so the beliefs of either side of LGBT issues should not be presented as fact unless they are. The fact that LGBT people exist, the facts of science (that it is not unnatural as example) that there are safe ways for LGBT people to have sex, should not be prevented on the basis of personal belief either.

I do think that large community (as in government) can have great impact when it sets out to root out the facts (or at least best expert consensus) of any matter and then work to spread that information.

This has of course backfired on liberty many times, including the fairly recent idea that no whites and women were not fully human. But I am also of the mind that it was often the oppressed (along with outside allies) that forced change acting against the governments of the time. That is true with labor movements, women, backs, native Americans and so far with LGBT. The government is almost always behind the curve on social change, until it is politically safe to get ahead of the curve.

Is the Straight Dope data from 11 years ago still correct regarding Hong Kong? I know that data isn't complete, since it only looked at income taxes, but is 17% still the highest bracket?

What sort of social programs are in place there? How do they work?


I believe it has been reduced twice since then and is capped at 15% as of 2009. But no one pays that amount because there are for or five steps to reach that maximum bracket so a significant portion of income is taxed at lower (and progressing) rates.

Corporate tax is I think 1% higher.

But again there are no other taxes no duties, no sales or vat taxes, no investment income taxes, etc.

http://www.ird.gov.hk/eng/tax/ind_tra.htm

We have a full spectrum of public offerings, from housing and public medical where the only expense is a daily meal cost of I think 5 USD for inpatient. To mandatory provident funds where both employers and employees must contribute to retirement savings, and an actual monthly stipend for people with income and assets below the poverty line which has just about disappeared the dishwasher class of employees in my business. They make enough from the stipend that the agreeable wage has risen to the point that I (and many others) now hire more skilled workers (like cooks) who share the dishwashing and cleaning tasks.

There are certainly criticisms of these programs. On the housing it is heavily geared towards family units and there is a legacy problem, so individuals (both young and old) are often forced into "cage homes" (closet sized mesh rooms, dividing rather industrial looking spaces) this is great for shock value because they look lie prison cells but the wire is the most economical and practical personal protection in such confined spaces.

It seems worse to western sensibility but that is because of a different acceptance of personal space. I lived several years here paying 650 US$ per month in rent (not including utilities) for a 10X10 studio with attached 4X3 toilet in an unguarded building in a lower income area. So in the correct context the caged homes are not as bad as they may seem.

There is some problems with the public hospitals. First there are no private rooms only dorms, that has led to some privacy and crime issues. Of course as with any public offer there is a reduction of top level services and a small amount of increases in morbidity and mortality. This is very easily contrasted here because there are several "private" hospitals that cater to middle class and the wealthy, with much more comfortable and cutting edge services.

Further the hospital authority has been under growing pressure to charge for services because many otherwise financially capable people still use the free medical and as the boomers have aged the system is under pressure.

It is by no means heaven on earth, but all in all it has one of the highest quality of life standards of the world and one of the lowest taxes too.

http://www.swd.gov.hk/en/index/

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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2011 :  20:27:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
Should one regular taxpayer's objections be enough to veto spending?


No I don't think a single person should have veto power (though if they are president they do). I wonder if a decision market based approach to spending would work for this. Not that people would be able to choose directly what amount they are taxed (though I have often wondered what would happen), but perhaps they could choose where their taxes are applied.

In our MPF system (social security) each employee has the right to choose and change their choice of funds. There are about a dozen to choose from from capital preserve government guaranteed funds to rather risky growth funds, and everything in between. They can choose by percent where to place both their mandatory contribution and separately their companies contribution. They can change funds as often as they would like. Any funds not specifically designated are automatically put to the safest guaranteed capital preserve account.

What would that look like if taxpayers could choose where their taxes were put. I can;'t find an actual number of people who paid income tax (just strange percents) but from a common percent more than 53% pay (though it is unclear 53% of what) if that number is true more than 150 million people pay some form of income tax. That is quite a large market, it is diverse and not guided by any single leader. It should be a near perfect decision market pool

Anyway it would be interesting, and a possibly more just way to allocate spending than the current methods.

Edited by - chefcrsh on 11/20/2011 22:53:41
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