The Institute for Justice has spent years trying to get government agencies tostop stealing from the people they serve, and its efforts are likely part of the reason for recent media interest in thieving police departments and embezzling tax collectors. The Washington Post last month devoted amulti-part series to documenting highway robberies by cops whose departments keep all or part of the proceeds. Now The New York Timesscrutinizes the curious IRS practice of draining people’s bank accounts because they regularly deposit relatively small sums of cash.

Writes Shaila Dewan:

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

The trigger for the seizures is regular deposits of under $10,000, the threshold above which banks are supposed to report financial activity. But depositing money below that amount is considered suspicious “structuring” and is also reportable.

According to the IRS’s rules about reporting cash transactions over $10,000:

The penalties for failure to file may also apply to any person (including a payer) who attempts to interfere with or prevent the seller (or business) from filing a correct Form 8300. This includes any attempt to structure the transaction in a way that would make it seem unnecessary to file Form 8300. “Structuring” means breaking up a large cash transaction into small cash transactions.

The IRS has regularly interpreted this rule to apply to restaurants, corner stores, and other cash-heavy small businesses that undergo the oh-so-suspicious process of bagging up the week’s receipts and taking them to the bank. Keeping lots of cash on hand is, in many cases, an invitation to a stick-up. And, as the Times story points out, some small businesses are insured only up to $10,000 for cash in their possession—so when the mount gets close, they’re naturally inclined to make a deposit. After a few such efforts at safekeeping the proceeds, the IRS feels justified in taking it all.

Why don’t banks inform their customers of the danger they face? Some do. But that could be interpreted as a “structuring conversation,” which is illegal.

The Institute for Justice points out that “Eighty percent of people from whom the federal government seized property for forfeiture were never even charged with a crime.” That’s right, it’s rare the feds even try to pretend that anybody did anything wrong—they just make the people who lost the money chase after them to get it back. If they can.

Media coverage can make a difference when government conduct is this despicable. “[I]n response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by ‘exceptional circumstances.’”

Maybe that will make a difference to some people in the future (depending on what “exceptional” means). But the feds specified that nobody who has already been robbed is getting their money back.

In the old days, NFL owners were rich men who accepted the risk of losing money as the cost of doing business. Thanks to the popularity of the game, the NFL and its owners—with the collusion of politicians—have created what amounts to a risk-free business environment. According to Long’s data, a dozen teams received more public money than they needed to build their facilities. Rather than going into debt, they turned a profit.

The perfect example: Seven of every ten dollars spent to build CenturyLink Field in Seattle came from the taxpayers of Washington State, $390 million total. The owner, Paul Allen, pays the state $1 million per year in “rent” and collects most of the $200 million generated. If you are wondering how to become, like Allen, one of the richest humans on earth, negotiating such a lease would be a good start.

In New Orleans, taxpayers have bankrolled roughly a billion dollars to build then renovate the Superdome, which we are now supposed to call the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Guess who gets nearly all the revenues generated by Saints games played in this building? If you guessed all those hard-working stiffs who paid a billion dollars, you would be wrong. If you guessed billionaire owner Tom Benson, you would be right. He also receives $6 million per annum from the state as an “inducement payment” to keep him from moving the team.

That’s the same amount Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would pay each year in property taxes to Arlington, Texas, where his fancy new stadium is located. Except that Jones doesn’t pay property taxes because, like many of his fellow plutocrats, he’s cut a sweetheart deal with the local authorities.

How the signs do their taxes
  • Aries:You get your savvy BFF to do it for you, you have more important stuff to do, like archeology.
  • Tauros:You do it with your parents who you're very close to, and make sure they get your handicap support money every month.
  • Gemini:You programmed your computer to do your taxes for you because fuck that noise, you also do Aries' taxes.
  • Cancer:WHAT IN THE BOG SNIFFING POND HOPPING EXCUSE FOR EVOLUTIONARY PROGRESS IS VERTICAL EQUITY?!
  • Leo:The feds recieve 33 wild animal carcasses every quarter from you, they just take it and leave you alone.
  • Virgo:You pay your taxes on time and in orderly fashion unless there's a screw up or you get taxed too much for fabric imports because then somebody in accounting is goona have their income and torso split.
  • Libra:You collect the taxes from people in an orderly fashion, your favourite part is when people don't pay, because then you get to decide what to do with avoiders.
  • Scorpio:You often avoids paying taxes if possible, your parents take up a lot of money to feed anyway and you're busy paying for the hog's expenses. Libra let it slide for you.
  • Sagittarius:Your butler does their taxes for you, Not because you don't know how, you just never managed to send the envelope without breaking the mailbox.
  • Capricorn:Motherfucker, you just send your papers to this box, and then like water goes through your pipes, and parks show up from nowhere, motherfuckin miracles.
  • Aquarius:You'd rather kill every single citizen than having to pay a single dime to them, but you keep paying, because you want her to get the money.
  • Pisces:You get the money.

Give me five minutes to explain taxes to you:

The top marginal tax rate is currently 39.6 percent, which remember, is an altogether different thing from the effective tax rate that wealthy people end up actually paying after taking advantage of various tax loopholes.

What does that even mean - a ‘marginal tax’ rate of 39.6 percent?

Does it mean the average person pays 39.6% in taxes? No.

Does it mean that the income earners in the top one percent pays 39.6% in taxes? NO!

Here’s what a marginal tax rate of 39.6% means:

First, as of 2013 the top tax rate for individuals currently doesn’t begin unless you earn $406,750 dollars. Actually, that tax rate doesn’t even take effect until you make $406,750 + $1 dollar. Got that part? That’s important.

Here’s the tricky detail that most people miss: the 39.6% tax rate is only applicable on anything OVER $406,750 dollars. So if you made $406,752 dollars, then only two ($2) of those dollars will be taxed at the highest rate of 39.6%…and the other $406,750 is not.

Of course, this does not take into account the numerous tax loopholes that I alluded to earlier. Thus, if the top marginal tax rate is 39.6 percent, then after using any number of tax loopholes, write offs and various other cheats, it’s entirely possible earn over $406,750 dollars per year and still pay even less in taxes than a working class American earning much less.

SN: this applies only to people who do actual work for a paycheck. If, on the other hand, your primary income is from inheritance or stock investments and you pay all your bills off of that interest (aka “capital gains”), then your taxes work differently altogether (hint: they’re even lower). Take multi-billionaire Mitt Romney, for example. In 2010 he only paid an effective (real) tax rate of 13.9 percent, odds are that’s much lower than the tax rate you (or your parents) just paid.

Here’s the last thing you should remember: Only one percent of Americans make $400,750 a year or higher. Stated differently, the top income tax rate effects around 3.5 million —out of 350,000,000 Americans. And that’s only on the dollars ABOVE $400,750.

BOO HOO right? Approximately 3.5 million Americans might, maybe, perhaps *possibly* have to pay the top federal income tax rate…but only on anything above $406,750 dollars…and only if they refuse to take advantage of ridiculously huge tax loopholes so big you could fly a jumbo jet through them.

THAT is what conservatives are crying about when they complain about the top tax rate. That’s it.

—  This is why whining about the top tax rate is a joke and Republicans are the party for the Greedy One Percent (and the deluded suckersfuture millionaires" who repeatedly vote for them)
Billionaire Owners Of Walmart Take Health Insurance Away From Thousands Of Employees To Save Money

Billionaire Owners Of Walmart Take Health Insurance Away From Thousands Of Employees To Save Money

Times are tough for the richest family in the United States. The Waltons, and the executives they pay millions of dollars to run their Walmart empire, say they will stop providing health insurance for nearly 30,000 part-time workers to save money because, hey, when it comes to choosing between profits and the literal health of your employees, the answer is simple. That’s the Walmart promise.

Acco…

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Obama's "Net Neutrality" plan would subject internet service to a 16.1% tax

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While President Obama uses words like “keep the internet free,” his plan to give the FCC authority to regulate the internet as a public utility would subject internet service to regulation, content control, and (as is the case with everything the government touches) high taxes.

from Forbes:

The relationship between the Internet and government has become a useful barometer of personal and economic freedom. Oppressive governments use the Internet to oppress political enemies, censor ideas, and spy on citizens. The United Nations and other international organizations see the Internet as an untapped opportunity for tax revenues and regulations to support political favorites.

Of course Congress can and does pass symbolic laws to protect the Internet, such as the recent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act that prohibits new state and local taxes on broadband access. Congress is eager to block state and local tax collection on the Internet on the reasonable theory that taxes will harm the Internet, one of the few engines of growth in our otherwise recession-prone economy.

Yet Congress is oblivious to Federal Communications Commission efforts to undermine the spirit if not the letter of ITFA by extending substantial new federal fees on broadband access. These fees could be as harmful, if not more so, than any that state and local governments might imagine. Yet many in Congress, unaware of the fees that might be applied to the Internet, applaud the FCC.

Under its “Open Internet” or “network neutrality” proceeding, the FCC would regulate the Internet and broadband service providers with rules similar to those that courts have not once but twice ruled unlawful. By statute, the FCC regulates telecommunications services, not Internet services. Rather than wait for Congress to give it authority to regulate Internet services, the FCC asserts that power for itself by some imaginative interpretation of the Communications Act.

One set of proposals considered by the FCC would classify Internet services, or at least Internet access services, as “interstate telecommunications services” bringing the regulation of those services exclusively to the FCC.

The FCC imposes fees of 16.1% on interstate telecommunications services that will generate more than $8 billion in federal universal service funds in 2014. Additional FCC fees on interstate telecommunications services raise $1 billion for federal telecommunications relay services. Although Congress mandates the general nature of the federal universal service fund and telecommunications relay services, it is the FCC alone that sets the budget size of the funds and develops the fee structure to raise receipts for the funds.

Even with all of its power, the FCC does not have the money to fund all of the new programs it seeks. For example, just in the past year, the FCC announced an ambitious multi-billion program to connect schools and libraries with Wi-Fi. Other advocates seek expansion of the low-income program. But where can the FCC find funds for new social programs not required by statute?

The FCC’s network neutrality proceeding may easily provide the answer. By classifying broadband access services as “interstate telecommunications services,” those services would suddenly become required to pay FCC fees. At the current 16.1% fee structure, it would be perhaps the largest, one-time tax increase on the Internet. The FCC would have many billions of dollars of expanded revenue base to fund new programs without, according to the FCC, any need for congressional authorization.

read the rest

Just in case you were wondering, the process that is laid out here is exactly what Obama proposed in his video address last weekend.  He called on the FCC to classify the internet as a “public utility,” and by definition, we should expect the same 16.1% tax as any other “interstate telecommunications services.”

This is not a Democrat or Republican issue.  Keeping the internet free is much bigger than partisan politics.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle have sought to regulate the internet because of what a powerful tool it is.  

Fighting to keep the internet free from government regulation is a liberty issue.  It’s about the freedoms of speech, press, and privacy all rolled into one.  We have seen time and time again how those freedoms get chipped away by governments, and we must stand against any efforts to regulate against them on the internet.