Category Archives: Politics

Oklahoma lawmakers screw the poor with tax-law change

This week the Tax Hall of Shame Award goes to the Oklahoma Legislature for preying on the poor.  As the New York Times reports, the legislature is balancing its $1.3 billion deficit by, among other things, cutting the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.  This credit goes to low-income working citizens.  By eliminating the “refundable” portion of the credit, the state will cut benefits for a family with three or more children and a parent earning $13,850 a year by $312.

The Associated Press, in a pathetic example of on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand journalism, reported of the tax change, “Opponents say it targets the working poor. But supporters say it is needed to help fill a $1.3 billion hole in next year’s state budget.”

People focus on the IRS and the federal government when it comes to income taxes, but state policies also have a tremendous impact on individual pocketbooks as well. The Oklahoma Legislature, this week’s slam-dunk Tax Hall of Shame winner. Give a poor-reporting assist to the AP.

Republican fantasy tax plans all “puppies and rainbows”

Let me paraphrase Josh Barro of The New York Times in summing up the tax talk you’re hearing in the Republican Presidential Debates: It’s all puppies and rainbows. As Barro points out here, Marco Rubio would eliminate all taxes on capital gains, which of course would benefit those in the U.S. who have accumulated the most… Continue Reading

IRS plays dead on campaign finance

Any small business that has been audited knows the IRS can be a junkyard dog when examining records for deductible meals, travel, mileage, and other business expenses. Not so when it comes to reviewing political organizations. As The New York Times summarizes, the IRS has pretty much rolled over on groups that use nonprofit “social… Continue Reading

Hastert and FIFA cases prove the oldest rule in the book: Follow the money!

What does Dennis Hastert’s indictment on apparently Very Very Bad Horrible Terrible Behavior (kudos to Kaili Joy Gray of Wonkette) and the FIFA bribery and kickback scandal (New York Times version here) have in common? They both in part involve people charged with trying to hide or disguise transfers of money—something that is of tremendous… Continue Reading

How your tax $$$ subsidize Walmart & McDonald’s

One more reason fast-food and other low-wage businesses are happy with the status quo on minimum wage: Your tax dollars help subsidize their chintzy wages, which often leave their workers on public assistance. As detailed in a University of California study and reported in The New York Times, around half of all home health care… Continue Reading

Joe’s op-ed in The Oregonian opposes Portland “street tax”

Here in Portland, the City Council is proposing a street fee in the form of a local income tax. I started adding up some of the fundamental problems I saw with the proposal, and wrote an op-ed for The Oregonian, “Eight Problems With Portland’s Proposed Street Tax.” The phrase, “the wheels have been greased on… Continue Reading

Multinationals seek tax heavens, er, havens . . . oh, what’s the diff?

More and more U.S.-based corporations are growing wings and flying away from their U.S. tax obligations. Bloomberg puts it as simply as possible: “U.S. companies looking for lower tax bills are heading for the exits, and Congress is doing nothing to stop them.” The immediate impetus for the story was Pfizer’s proposed purchase of AstraZeneca,… Continue Reading

Washington Post’s maps paint a fascinating – and unexpected – picture of the USA

The Washington Post’s “GovBeat” feature is doing some great work, including this story and link to 25 maps and charts of the United States (your first 10 stories a month at Washingtonpost.com are free; then the paywall rises up.) One, “Finding America’s Uninsured,” (#23) shows that the national problem of people not having health insurance… Continue Reading

For privileged corporations, paying state taxes is increasingly becoming a thing of the past

States regularly offer tax incentives (or, depending on your point of view, corporate welfare) to major corporations in exchange for promises of expansion, corporate relocation, retention of old jobs, creation of new jobs, and anything else with the word ‘jobs’ in the sentence. If you think about it, it’s an almost mindless rush to the… Continue Reading