Morning Reading: January 2, 2013

Posted on January 2 2013 in Uncategorized

- Should the government coerce charity?

There is a moral tension here that must be resolved by the voluntary activity of the individual. It cannot be compelled by the external coercion of others. If God does not coerce virtue, then neither do his people. To remedy one evil with another is self-defeating. It not only runs counter to the character of God, but also robs people of God’s intended gift for their salvation: the free participation in his work through charity.

- On death and taxes:

The Senate bill extends 52 tax credits, mostly for one year, ensuring huge annual lobbying fees and political contributions. Section 206 provides a juicy capital-gains tax exemption for contributions of property for conservation, meaning wealthy environmentalists with extra acreage will be able to take a tax deduction for the appreciated property and have the environmental organization preserve it, adding to the value of the primary property. Section 312 provides faster tax deductions for “motorsports entertainment complexes.” Section 317 allows expensing of film and television productions, meaning lower taxes for Hollywood.

 

The bill devotes much space to tax credits for government-approved energy schemes, providing taxpayer subsidies for energy-efficient new homes, existing homes, appliances, cellulosic biofuel and “Indian coal facilities.” Underscoring the complexity of the tax code, the bill takes seven pages to index the alternative minimum tax for inflation because it takes side trips to curry favor with the owners of plug-in electric vehicles and with first-time home-buyers in the District of Columbia.

 

There has emerged from the budget negotiations no process to cut government programs, limit the debt or reform the tax code. Many tax rates have now gone up and almost no spending restraint has been implemented, hurting 2013 investment and hiring. Even if the spending sequester is allowed to proceed on March 1 or substitutes are found, the cuts will be a small fraction of the spending binge in recent years that left a string of $1 trillion deficits.

 

The Congressional Budget Office scores the Senate bill as adding $4 trillion to the national debt by 2022.

- Final House vote tally for Fiscal Cliff.

- FLASHBACK: Obama threatened to veto Pelosi’s plan weeks ago.

- Not part of the cost control: Obama family costs taxpayers $1.4b annually.

- Your taxes are still going up, regardless:

For starters, most Americans will end up paying more federal taxes in 2013. That’s because the legislation pushed through the Senate and House on Jan. 1 does nothing to prevent a temporary cut in the Social Security payroll tax from expiring. That means, under the agreement brokered by the White House and Senate Republicans, 77 percent of American households will be forced to fork over higher federal taxes in 2013.

 

Households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will face an average tax increase of $579 in 2013, according to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis. Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will face an average tax increase of $822.

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