Wealth Tax

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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby uglypeoplefucking » Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:37 pm

Daktoria wrote:The subject-object dichotomy includes whether or not something is particular or universal.

When we say something is "subjective", that means something is contingent upon the particular judgment taken.

In the case of taxing savings, we're discriminating against particular judgments which adhere to long term savings schedules, towards particular judgments which adhere to short term savings schedules.

That is short terms savings schedules become authorized to judge long term savings schedules despite how long term savings schedules don't consent to short term authorship.


That's just another way of saying people with lots of money but not much income are obviously not going to like it if Carleas' plan were put into effect. But if the plan works in acheiving its stated objectives, then i'm not sure the feelings of people with lots of money but not much income really outweigh the benefits the plan might have for society as a whole.

It's rare that every tax payer entirely concurs with the government's tax policies, but they still have to pay taxes. That's really just the way authority works, those subject to the authority are not going to consent to everything that authority does. If everybody agreed with the authorities on everything, that authority would be obsolete/redundant.

If you can't make fun of something, then it's probably not worth taking seriously.


Just because you say so doesn't make it true.

Why are you contradicting yourself? It's like you're deliberately trying to not make sense. Fun and seriousness are diametrically opposed.


No they aren't necessarily. And i'm not contradicting myself - if something is worthy of being seriously considered, then it can also be worthy of jokes. That's why Mel Brooks is so funny when he parodies the holocaust or the Spanish inquisition. He's not dismissing or disrespecting them, but he is quite literally making fun of them.

i don't disregard ideas because they are abstractions, but i do tend to disregard them when they are incorrect or don't make sense, i admit.

i respect some ideas and not others. Does the fact that i don't respect incorrect ideas make me immature?


Why are you focusing on the possibility of incorrectness instead of the necessity of ideas in themselves?


Because bad ideas can cause the world a lot of grief.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Daktoria » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:05 pm

uglypeoplefucking wrote:That's just another way of saying people with lots of money but not much income are obviously not going to like it if Carleas' plan were put into effect. But if the plan works in acheiving its stated objectives, then i'm not sure the feelings of people with lots of money but not much income really outweigh the benefits the plan might have for society as a whole.


What I'm talking about is people's sense of time. Estate taxes discriminate against those who care about the future.

It's rare that every tax payer entirely concurs with the government's tax policies, but they still have to pay taxes. That's really just the way authority works, those subject to the authority are not going to consent to everything that authority does. If everybody agreed with the authorities on everything, that authority would be obsolete/redundant.


That's mob justice.

No they aren't necessarily. And i'm not contradicting myself - if something is worthy of being seriously considered, then it can also be worthy of jokes. That's why Mel Brooks is so funny when he parodies the holocaust or the Spanish inquisition. He's not dismissing or disrespecting them, but he is quite literally making fun of them.


Not really. His productions are disturbing in that they come at the expense of someone else's dignity. Literally, people are being made fun of.

Those being made fun of are serious. Again, fun and seriousness are diametrically opposed.

Because bad ideas can cause the world a lot of grief.


How is "badness" defined without regard to the integrity of ideas in themselves?

It sounds like you're being a pragmatist who's carrying out witch-hunts against the weird, expecting people to conform to authority without consent.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby omar » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:26 pm

Hello Carleas,

--- I propose a revenue-neutral tax shift from income to wealth. Rather than pay a percentage of their income, determined by the size of their income, individuals should pay a percentage of their wealth determined by the size of their wealth every year.

The tax would be fairer, because the burden would not fall on those who earned a lot, but those who had a lot. A billionaire who 'comes from money' will owe little in income tax, even though she could afford to pay a significant amount; conversely, a young entrepreneur pulling herself out of poverty may earn quite a lot, but have significant debt or family obligations that make her actual ability to eat the cost of taxes quite low. Shifting to a wealth tax will make it much harder for the idle rich, and much easier for the upwardly mobile. Both seem like net social positives.
O- Except that it is an attack on a section of your voting population. Already you bring a moral prejudice to what should be a reasoned argument. We should reward success, entrepeneurship, risk-taking. We should encourage investment of capital, or as you put it "wealth". Without such consecions on capital you may lose the ability of others to remain "upwardly mobile".
Wealth is also not easily defined. The yatch, the beach house? Givens, but that accounts for a small percentage that, even if heavily taxed, could not make up the loss of revenue tax. The value of such things is not fixed either, while income dollars, more or less, have a determined value. If your system had been in place during the crash, the plight of the wealthy would have been passed right along to the govt, making it another victim and not a possible rescuer.

--- A wealth tax also encourages people to use the money they do have wisely. Properly applied, a wealth tax should include the value of investments as 'wealth', but since sitting on cash is likely to lead to a loss of money, people are incentivized to move their savings into investments whose returns will offset the loss from taxes.
O- Doubt it. basically any investment would mean risk for me and none for the government, who will nonetheless enjoy the fruits of my saga. That is unfair. Why should I risk my money. If anything I will risk hiding my money, since then, while I see no increases for me, there is no loss of wealth to the taxman. Sitting on cash will not necessarily mean loss of money, while increase wealth will be.

I think that the broader issue is the increase of government oversight, reach and power. The state you are describing is nothing short of big brother. You depart from a negative assessment on wealth. I don't see an argument here for this at all. Why should the roads we all use be paid only by the wealth of a few? Wealth does not strip a person of their basic rights and this seems to be a dissimilar approach to an individual, thus a discrimination against an individual based on wealth. To me it seems fair that tax should be a percentage of an individual's assets. Make it 15%, for sake of argument. The burden here would be the same but not the contribution. That is fair.
Wealth should not be penalized because, in the end, it should be the goal. Wealth is not something we simply are born into. It is the result of someone's work, genius, dexterity, foresight, and risk. It should be the person's right to do as she sees fit and not the prerrogative of a govt that did not earn it. If you do tax it, as you propose, then we offer less incentive to bring and keep the best and brightest from the world. If you want to encourage the movement of wealth....well, you get more with honey than with vinegar, and that means giving tax breaks on philantrophic contributions, donations and community investment. Invite the wealthy to do what you ONLY HOPE the govt will do with the wealth they repossess.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby uglypeoplefucking » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:17 pm

Daktoria wrote:What I'm talking about is people's sense of time. Estate taxes discriminate against those who care about the future.


No, it discriminates against those who prefer to save large amounts of money - and Red Lights discriminate against people who prefer not to stop. The fact is, i think most everybody cares about the future in one sense or another.

It's rare that every tax payer entirely concurs with the government's tax policies, but they still have to pay taxes. That's really just the way authority works, those subject to the authority are not going to consent to everything that authority does. If everybody agreed with the authorities on everything, that authority would be obsolete/redundant.


That's mob justice.


Well, if we're talking about a representative authority, then it's more like democracy, which is sometimes similar to mob justice, but not the same thing.

No they aren't necessarily. And i'm not contradicting myself - if something is worthy of being seriously considered, then it can also be worthy of jokes. That's why Mel Brooks is so funny when he parodies the holocaust or the Spanish inquisition. He's not dismissing or disrespecting them, but he is quite literally making fun of them.


Not really. His productions are disturbing in that they come at the expense of someone else's dignity. Literally, people are being made fun of.

Those being made fun of are serious. Again, fun and seriousness are diametrically opposed.


Just because you say it doesn't make it true :D

i suppose it's all a matter of taste

Because bad ideas can cause the world a lot of grief.


How is "badness" defined without regard to the integrity of ideas in themselves?

It sounds like you're being a pragmatist who's carrying out witch-hunts against the weird, expecting people to conform to authority without consent


I'm not sure what you mean by "integrity of ideas in themselves" . . . There are good ideas, bad ideas, and everything in between. Yes, i discriminate between ideas - everybody does. And yes i'm a pragmatist. One of the ways i evaluate ideas is by how well they work - but i'm not on a witch hunt for anything, especially not the weird. People consent to be governed, and sometimes that will inevitably entail them having to take on obligations they would rather not take. That's the nature of life under ANY government, even the most benevolent and fair.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Daktoria » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:09 am

uglypeoplefucking wrote:No, it discriminates against those who prefer to save large amounts of money


No. A savings tax applies regardless of quantity, and greater quantities emphasize greater concern for the future.

- and Red Lights discriminate against people who prefer not to stop.


How does public infrastructure compare with private savings?

The fact is, i think most everybody cares about the future in one sense or another.


No. Prove it.

Well, if we're talking about a representative authority, then it's more like democracy, which is sometimes similar to mob justice, but not the same thing.


...except there's no representation without consent.

Just because you say it doesn't make it true

i suppose it's all a matter of taste


I'm not talking about opinion here. I'm talking how, literally, his productions are about the disturbance of characters.

I'm not sure what you mean by "integrity of ideas in themselves" . . . There are good ideas, bad ideas, and everything in between. Yes, i discriminate between ideas - everybody does. And yes i'm a pragmatist. One of the ways i evaluate ideas is by how well they work - but i'm not on a witch hunt for anything, especially not the weird.


The problem is pragmatism is subjective. What works for some doesn't automatically work for everyone. You're discriminating against those with weird judgment over the definition of what works.

People consent to be governed,


Prove it.

and sometimes that will inevitably entail them having to take on obligations they would rather not take. That's the nature of life under ANY government, even the most benevolent and fair.


That's called principal-agent conflict.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby phyllo » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:36 pm

There's a difference between the sum of individual net worths, and the net worth of the country as a whole. The sum of the individual net worths will account for individual liabilities, but will not include national liabilities like interest payments on national debt. The net worth of the nation as a nation will include those national liabilities.

My figure of US net worth (2009) of $75 trillion almost certainly does not include federal assets and liabilities.
Check out this article from December 2012:
By the way, the Fed’s latest Flow of Funds data show that the net worth of US households recovered by $1.7 trillion to $65 trillion during Q3.

http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/12/u-s-ne ... 2007-peak/
Net worth is difficult to calculate for an entire population but whether it is $65 or $75 trillion, it is not 3 times that figure ($202 trillion) which you want to use as a tax base.
phyllo wrote:But the income tax is paid once, whereas a wealth tax is paid repeatedly every year.

This is semantic. You pay income taxes every year, it doesn't make a difference if it comes directly out of your paycheck or makes a brief stopover in you bank account. In both cases, people will need to compute their tax liability every year. The difference is just how it's calculated.

It's not semantic.
Let's say a person earns $100K in a year and then nothing for the following 9 years.
Using income tax calculations(25% rate), he will pay tax in the first year but nothing in subsequent years so after 10 years he has $75K of the money earned.
Using wealth tax calculations (5% rate), he will pay tax in each of the 10 years. After 10 years, he will have $59,874 left. And he will keep paying until there is nothing left.
More costly, yes. But the expected returns from a well-diversified portfolio are in the range of 8%, so the expected return is still positive, even assuming 5% (which I still think is higher than it needs to be).
Very optimistic. What happens when there is 0% return or a negative return? The investor has to sell stock in order to pay the wealth tax.
phyllo wrote:If he was paying income taxes, he could declare a loss when he sells the stock.

I don't know why this would be a benefit to income taxes.
It's a benefit because tax payments are only required when revenue is generated ...the investor has cash on hand to pay the tax and does not need to sell assets to raise cash.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby uglypeoplefucking » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:27 pm

Daktoria wrote:No. A savings tax applies regardless of quantity, and greater quantities emphasize greater concern for the future.


Really? i don't see how it's infeasible that a savings tax might only be charged to people with savings over a certain amount. And how much a person has saved really reflects very little about how they see the future. All it means is they have money they haven't spent yet. Maybe their gonna go blow it all on trip to Vegas next weekend or maybe they're never gonna spend it and just pass it on to their kids. You can't tell just by the fact that they have money in the bank. Maybe someone is in fact quite concerned with the future but has no savings because they don't have enough money to save. It does not necessarily follow that people with lots of money saved care any more about the future than people who don't.

- and Red Lights discriminate against people who prefer not to stop.


How does public infrastructure compare with private savings?


It's about how laws work. They discriminate against certain behaviors, whether it be the behavior of saving lots of money, or the behavior of running red lights.

The fact is, i think most everybody cares about the future in one sense or another.


No. Prove it.


Uhm, it's basically self-evident that humans display and express concern for the future. That's like if i said most people enjoy sex and you told me to prove it. i think if you are seriously asserting that people without savings don't care about the future, then the burden of proof would be on you.

Well, if we're talking about a representative authority, then it's more like democracy, which is sometimes similar to mob justice, but not the same thing.


...except there's no representation without consent.


That's not really how it works in a democracy - when someone gets elected, the electorate has consented to their leadership. Not always fair for those who voted against the person who gets elected, but, as they are in the minority, they are less representative of the electorate at large, and so they lose out. That's life in a world where consensus determines leadership. Not everybody will be happy all the time. Oh well.

I'm not talking about opinion here. I'm talking how, literally, his productions are about the disturbance of characters.


Most stories and productions center around disturbances to characters. The ones that don't tend to be boring and pointless.

The problem is pragmatism is subjective. What works for some doesn't automatically work for everyone. You're discriminating against those with weird judgment over the definition of what works.


No i'm not, i accept that a weird judgment about what works might ultimately prove correct. Personally i think it's weird that salt melts ice, but i acknowledge that it works. Now, if someone's judgment is that a sieve works for transporting water, then yes i will discriminate against them, because they are wrong.

People consent to be governed,


Prove it


Are you suggesting that no one consents to be governed? Because all i have to do to prove it is provide an example, which i can do quite easily by offering myself as exhibit A. And i think we both know full well that i am not alone.

and sometimes that will inevitably entail them having to take on obligations they would rather not take. That's the nature of life under ANY government, even the most benevolent and fair.


That's called principal-agent conflict.


Well, i call it a simple fact of life.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Carleas » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:21 pm

Daktoria wrote:If you want to claim that incentives can be negative, then it defeats the purpose of the word.

Then the purpose of the word hath been vanquished. I'm not making anything up when I say incentives can be negative, and I didn't make up the term "negative incentive". This tangent is semantic anyway, call it what you will, and focus on the substance.

Daktoria wrote:If I'm irresponsible in the moment and you're responsible over time, it would contradict your responsibility to expect you to afford my irresponsibility.

Savings is self-recommending, and is a good idea even if the returns are diminished somewhat (and as I argued to Phyllo, they may not be). Moreover, if we maintain the progressive tax system we have, and change only the means of calculating tax liability, it wouldn't be responsibility that would be punished, but accumulation. It would be like telling the ant that saving up for the winter is a reasonable thing to do, maybe even for several winters, but once you've saved up for more winters than you're likely to see, your savings isn't about being responsible.

Hi Omar. I hope you don't mind, you made a number of points that need responding to, and in the interest of not responding line-by-line I've tried to digest you post into a few larger objections. Let me know if I've missed anything or mischaracterized your argument:

omar wrote:... [I]t is an attack on a section of your voting population. Already you bring a moral prejudice to what should be a reasoned argument. We should reward success, entrepeneurship, risk-taking. We should encourage investment of capital, or as you put it "wealth". [. . .] You depart from a negative assessment on wealth. I don't see an argument here for this at all [. . .] To me it seems fair that tax should be a percentage of an individual's assets. Make it 15%, for sake of argument. The burden here would be the same but not the contribution. That is fair.
[. . .] Wealth is not something we simply are born into. It is the result of someone's work, genius, dexterity, foresight, and risk. It should be the person's right to do as she sees fit and not the prerrogative of a govt that did not earn it.

It was not my purpose here to argue in favor of progressive taxes. Most developed nations have some form of progressive taxation. I think there are good reasons for it (in particular, diminishing marginal value and the fact that some costs are fixed, both of which imply that a dollar is actually worth less to a wealthy person than to a poor person). But even if you aren't convinced, it seems like a fair assumption that we should tax the wealthy more than the poor, given that we try to do so.

I'd rather not try to defend that proposition here, though, so perhaps there is a better way to go about the discussion: given that a flat tax is the fairest way to tax, should the tax be calculated based on income or wealth? Both imply certain value judgements, and both affect different groups differently (e.g., the idle rich would prefer a tax on income, and the upwardly mobile poor would prefer a tax on wealth). I'd be curious to know your thoughts on that comparison.

I don't mean to take any position about where wealth comes from. Certainly some people get wealthy based on hard work and brilliance. But certainly others inherit wealth, or inherit cultural capital that makes the road to wealth significantly easier. No matter, the government needs to take some money out of the stores of personal wealth in order to pay for common goods. How that happens involves a lot value judgements and a lot of practical considerations. I don't see the utility for the discussion in questioning any exercise of government prerogative.

omar wrote:Without such consecions on capital you may lose the ability of others to remain "upwardly mobile". [ . . .] If you want to encourage the movement of wealth....well, you get more with honey than with vinegar, and that means giving tax breaks on philantrophic contributions, donations and community investment. Invite the wealthy to do what you ONLY HOPE the govt will do with the wealth they repossess.

I find the suggestion that government should offer targeted tax breaks to be at odds with your concerns about government prerogatives, Big Brother, and a 'fair' tax system of flat taxes. Minimizing government interference would mean minimizing the instances in which government effectively pays you to spend your money in certain ways. Targeted tax breaks are equivalent to government spending.

Moreover, it does not seem that we should expect the wealthy to spend their money in way which will reduce ascription (which will benefit their children). That would be irrational. And blanket tax breaks for anything that can be described as "philanthropic" will probably result in a lot of ballets and art museums getting funded, the proceeds and benefits from which will never flow to the urban poor.

If wealthy people want to give money, they still can. Indeed, they're encouraged to by a wealth tax, since doing so will reduce their liability. But for the same reason that we don't let people decide where their taxes will be spent, it is ineffective to substitute philanthropic giving for tax-funded programs.

omar wrote:Wealth is also not easily defined. [ . . .] The value of such things is not fixed either, while income dollars, more or less, have a determined value. If your system had been in place during the crash, the plight of the wealthy would have been passed right along to the govt, making it another victim and not a possible rescuer.

Wealth is difficult to define, but I think you understate the extent to which income is similarly slippery. First, if the value of the dollar tanks, the real value of income also tanks, while the value of things like a house or a stock might rise to compensate, maintaining the same real value. Furthermore, stocks, insurance policies, and other perks from jobs have to be tallied among income. The use of a company car or a company-owned condo must be included in income; indeed, virtually anything that needs to be appraised as personal wealth can also be earned as part of a benefits package, and in both cases they would need to be taxed.

As to how the tax base changes during a crash, could you say more about why a wealth tax has worse effects? The tax base made up of the working class dropped substantially during the crash, as the unemployment rate increased, and many of those who kept their jobs had their salaries cut. Moreover, since negative returns on investment are written off, the wealthy's liability similarly decreased. My guess is that the real effect of the crisis would be roughly the same, regardless the tax system.

omar wrote:[B]asically any investment would mean risk for me and none for the government, who will nonetheless enjoy the fruits of my saga. [ . . . ] Why should I risk my money. If anything I will risk hiding my money, since then, while I see no increases for me, there is no loss of wealth to the taxman. Sitting on cash will not necessarily mean loss of money, while increase wealth will be.

This is true, but as I argued above, the world is moving away from cash, so hiding cash under ones mattress is getting very difficult. Moreover, making declarations of wealth binding in court would make stashing any sizable amount of wealth undesirable: it couldn't be used as collateral on a loan, it couldn't be reported if stolen, and most of all it would sit in squallor while the market rose. Over the long term, cash is a losing investment, and that is likely to remain true with a wealth tax (especially if I am right that returns on investment would increase proportionally in response to the change).

omar wrote:I think that the broader issue is the increase of government oversight, reach and power. The state you are describing is nothing short of big brother.

Yes. But it is wrong to think that this proposal is all that different from the state we actually have. The cashless society is coming, it's cheaper and more efficient, it's easier to regulate and measure, it's easier to administer and police. I rarely carry cash, I rarely interact with cash, I rarely make a transaction that isn't immediately recorded in several computers. The wealth tax doesn't make a state of government oversight possible, it leverage the state of government oversight we're living in for a beneficial change in tax policy.

phyllo wrote:My figure of US net worth (2009) of $75 trillion almost certainly does not include federal assets and liabilities. [ . . . ] Net worth is difficult to calculate for an entire population but whether it is $65 or $75 trillion, it is not 3 times that figure ($202 trillion) which you want to use as a tax base.

Look again at your own source for original figure. It lists as the total assets of "Households and non-profits" as $73.5 trillion. It further lists the assets of "Corporate businesses," "Other businesses," and "Financial businesses" as $30 trillion, $13 trillion, and $67.6 trillion, respectively. The $202 trillion figure included "Foreign investors," which I was wrong to include, but we're still left with a total asset base of ~$180 trillion.

phyllo wrote:Let's say a person earns $100K in a year and then nothing for the following 9 years. [ . . . ]

I'll grant what I think is the gist of this hypothetical (about which I'll say more in a minute), but when I said it was semantic, I was responding to it being characterized being "paid once" vs. being "paid repeatedly every year." All that your hypothetical shows is that if you change the basis liability, you will change what a person owes in taxes. If a person has a net worth of S100k, and then spends all her money, she will go from owing $5k to owing nothing. Taxes are assessed, on everyone, every year. If the basis of liability, no matter how it's calculated, is zero, then you will owe zero taxes. But you are still personally liable for your assessed taxes each year.

As to the 0-income individual owing taxes, why shouldn't she? Does she not use the roads? Is she not protected by the police and the fire department? Is he country not protected by the military? If someone earns a bunch of money and then decides to sit around, it does not seem that they are any less benefiting from the protection of government or from the public goods it ensures. Someone with $100k being reduced to $60k in ten years should not be alarming, the cost of living basically anywhere is much greater than that. And if we still find it problematic, it's an easy matter, as I've argued, to determine the percentage of liability based on wealth, so that the rate would fall from 5% to 4% to 3% to nothing, or what have you.

phyllo wrote:What happens when there is 0% return or a negative return? The investor has to sell stock in order to pay the wealth tax. [ . . . ] It's a benefit because tax payments are only required when revenue is generated ...the investor has cash on hand to pay the tax and does not need to sell assets to raise cash.

What about the CEO who accepts no salary, but is paid in stock options? What about the nanny who is paid in room and board? Either of these individuals will still owe taxes, and will not have been given cash on hand to pay the tax. What about someone who is paid as an outside consultant, so that no taxes are assessed at the time they're paid, and who invests all the money in their business? They will too will need to sell of assets or take out a loan to pay their taxes.

Will a wealth tax penalize anyone who does not plan for paying their taxes, or who has no cash on hand for whatever reason at the time they're taxes are due? Yes. Is the same true of an income tax? Yes.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Daktoria » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:57 pm

uglypeoplefucking wrote:Really? i don't see how it's infeasible that a savings tax might only be charged to people with savings over a certain amount.


That's a possibility, not a necessity.

And how much a person has saved really reflects very little about how they see the future. All it means is they have money they haven't spent yet. Maybe their gonna go blow it all on trip to Vegas next weekend or maybe they're never gonna spend it and just pass it on to their kids. You can't tell just by the fact that they have money in the bank. Maybe someone is in fact quite concerned with the future but has no savings because they don't have enough money to save. It does not necessarily follow that people with lots of money saved care any more about the future than people who don't.


I didn't say how far into the future or in which way they care.

It's about how laws work. They discriminate against certain behaviors, whether it be the behavior of saving lots of money, or the behavior of running red lights.


Laws work because they're autonomously idealized first, mutually agreed upon second.

Uhm, it's basically self-evident that humans display and express concern for the future.


No.

(I don't think you know what self-evident means either. Just because you and I care about the future doesn't mean everyone does.)

That's like if i said most people enjoy sex and you told me to prove it. i think if you are seriously asserting that people without savings don't care about the future, then the burden of proof would be on you.


No. Burden of proof is on the affirmative. Appeals to absurdity are subjective.

That's not really how it works in a democracy - when someone gets elected, the electorate has consented to their leadership. Not always fair for those who voted against the person who gets elected, but, as they are in the minority, they are less representative of the electorate at large, and so they lose out. That's life in a world where consensus determines leadership. Not everybody will be happy all the time. Oh well.


Then democracy is broken. It dismisses freedom of assembly, rights to privacy, methodological individualism, etc.

Most stories and productions center around disturbances to characters.


One, prove it.

Two, then most stories and productions don't take serious things appropriately.

The ones that don't tend to be boring and pointless.


That's your opinion. (Some people like serenity and tranquility. It cultivates creative thinking [and actually helps people learn how to flirt]).

Are you suggesting that no one consents to be governed? Because all i have to do to prove it is provide an example, which i can do quite easily by offering myself as exhibit A. And i think we both know full well that i am not alone.


I'm saying people don't necessarily consent to be governed. Again, you're getting the necessity-possibility dichotomy confused.

Well, i call it a simple fact of life.


I call it recognizing we don't just live, but live in society which is an idea dependent on abstract reason. We don't enslave some people's abstract reason to others' just because others say so.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby phyllo » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:01 am

Look again at your own source for original figure. It lists as the total assets of "Households and non-profits" as $73.5 trillion. It further lists the assets of "Corporate businesses," "Other businesses," and "Financial businesses" as $30 trillion, $13 trillion, and $67.6 trillion, respectively. The $202 trillion figure included "Foreign investors," which I was wrong to include, but we're still left with a total asset base of ~$180 trillion.
I think that you are double counting here. Publicly traded corporations are already counted as assets of the person who owns the stock. Privately held corporations would get added to the asset pool. Financial institutions hold properties, deposits and promissory notes on loans. The properties would be added. The deposits are already counted in household net worth. I think that the loans cancel out because the borrower got an asset in exchange for the loan. - I'd have to think about a bit more.
As to the 0-income individual owing taxes, why shouldn't she? Does she not use the roads? Is she not protected by the police and the fire department? Is he country not protected by the military?
Retirees and the unemployed, who own property, also use these services and in a prior post you wanted to exempt them or give them a lower rate. And why should a billionaire pay more to use the same road as a slacker?
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby phyllo » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:06 am

Also, it's arguable that stock returns would be better on average. Since corporate taxes would be shifted back to the owners of those corporations, the corporations themselves would see a larger profit. They would be wise to put some of that towards dividends, to offset the increased cost of ownership.
You mean that they won't pass the savings on to the consumers and lower their prices? They might (or not) give a benefit to the shareholders?

Sounds like the weasel corporations we know and love. :D
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Daktoria » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:07 am

Carleas wrote:Then the purpose of the word hath been vanquished. I'm not making anything up when I say incentives can be negative, and I didn't make up the term "negative incentive". This tangent is semantic anyway, call it what you will, and focus on the substance.


I did focus. You ignored what I said about threats.

Savings is self-recommending, and is a good idea even if the returns are diminished somewhat (and as I argued to Phyllo, they may not be). Moreover, if we maintain the progressive tax system we have, and change only the means of calculating tax liability, it wouldn't be responsibility that would be punished, but accumulation. It would be like telling the ant that saving up for the winter is a reasonable thing to do, maybe even for several winters, but once you've saved up for more winters than you're likely to see, your savings isn't about being responsible.


The problem is the definition of "likely" is subjective. It's up to the individual saver to decide what risk to assume in judging how long one will live.

People also don't necessarily save for retirement. People also save for investments, and they save to pass down an estate to future generations.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby uglypeoplefucking » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:13 am

Daktoria wrote:
uglypeoplefucking wrote:Really? i don't see how it's infeasible that a savings tax might only be charged to people with savings over a certain amount.


That's a possibility, not a necessity.


Regardless, it's an obvious, pragmatic remedy to the problem.

And how much a person has saved really reflects very little about how they see the future. All it means is they have money they haven't spent yet. Maybe their gonna go blow it all on trip to Vegas next weekend or maybe they're never gonna spend it and just pass it on to their kids. You can't tell just by the fact that they have money in the bank. Maybe someone is in fact quite concerned with the future but has no savings because they don't have enough money to save. It does not necessarily follow that people with lots of money saved care any more about the future than people who don't.


I didn't say how far into the future or in which way they care.


You said that the size of a person's savings indicates how much concern they have for the future. That is not necessarily true.

Laws work because they're autonomously idealized first, mutually agreed upon second.


i'm not sure what this means.

Uhm, it's basically self-evident that humans display and express concern for the future.


No.


Yes.

(I don't think you know what self-evident means either. Just because you and I care about the future doesn't mean everyone does.)


Everybody plans, everybody prepares, everybody attempts to predict what is coming, that demonstrates a near universal concern for the future.

That's like if i said most people enjoy sex and you told me to prove it. i think if you are seriously asserting that people without savings don't care about the future, then the burden of proof would be on you.


No. Burden of proof is on the affirmative. Appeals to absurdity are subjective.


Whatever. You made a dubious assertion. i will continue to doubt it unless and until you can prove it (which i don't expect you will be able to do).

Then democracy is broken. It dismisses freedom of assembly, rights to privacy, methodological individualism, etc.


No democracy is not broken, it's simply not a panacea. It's the least of all possible evils, but far from perfect.

Most stories and productions center around disturbances to characters.


One, prove it.


No. Just go read some novels and watch some movies.

Two, then most stories and productions don't take serious things appropriately.


Maybe there are differing standards of seriousness.

The ones that don't tend to be boring and pointless.


That's your opinion. (Some people like serenity and tranquility. It cultivates creative thinking [and actually helps people learn how to flirt]).


i like serenity and tranquility, but that's not why i partake of stories.

I'm saying people don't necessarily consent to be governed. Again, you're getting the necessity-possibility dichotomy confused.


i am aware that some people don't consent to be governed, i was not denying that such people exist.

Well, i call it a simple fact of life.


I call it recognizing we don't just live, but live in society which is an idea dependent on abstract reason. We don't enslave some people's abstract reason to others' just because others say so.


Not all abstract reasoning is created equal.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Daktoria » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:44 am

uglypeoplefucking wrote:Regardless, it's an obvious, pragmatic remedy to the problem.


No, it's not, and pragmatism is subjective.

You said that the size of a person's savings indicates how much concern they have for the future.


I didn't say how much. I said greater. That's a generic quality, not a specific quantity.

That is not necessarily true.


Ceteris paribus.

i'm not sure what this means.


It means laws don't spawn out of nothing. People think them up, and then people agree on them.

If we discriminate on a utilitarian basis, then we're prioritizing some styles of thoughtfulness before others.

Everybody plans, everybody prepares, everybody attempts to predict what is coming, that demonstrates a near universal concern for the future.


Prove it.

Whatever. You made a dubious assertion. i will continue to doubt it unless and until you can prove it (which i don't expect you will be able to do).


What assertion?

No democracy is not broken, it's simply not a panacea. It's the least of all possible evils, but far from perfect.


That's what it means to be broken. You're forcing people to assume the risk of falling through the cracks such that everyone isn't treated fairly. The lesser of evils is still evil.

No. Just go read some novels and watch some movies.


Personal attack?

(I've read and watched plenty of plots. You don't need negative disturbances in order to have positive entertainment. A protagonist can pursue a goal and develop in the process rather than overcoming obstacles to solve a problem. Protagonists don't need to have antagonists either.)

i like serenity and tranquility, but that's not why i partake of stories.


That's your opinion.

i am aware that some people don't consent to be governed, i was not denying that such people exist.


You said "People consent to be governed".

Not all abstract reasoning is created equal.


Yes it is. It's the results of reasoning that makes the difference. Reasoning itself is just a faculty, not the exercise of that faculty.

(You said "created" so I'm assuming you meant the noun, not the verb.)
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Carleas » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:48 am

phyllo wrote:I think that you are double counting here. Publicly traded corporations are already counted as assets of the person who owns the stock. Privately held corporations would get added to the asset pool. Financial institutions hold properties, deposits and promissory notes on loans. The properties would be added. The deposits are already counted in household net worth. I think that the loans cancel out because the borrower got an asset in exchange for the loan. - I'd have to think about a bit more.

That may be right. Corporate assets would already be priced into stocks, and ownership of stock is likely included in net worth. Corporate tax liability would be priced in too, but I don't think it would change much if that liability were passed on to individuals; the tax base would increase, but the individual tax rate would have to increase to compensate. In that case, the source that that wiki article relies on to establish gross assets may be wrong. I tried to look into the basis for the numbers, but I quickly got out of my depth.

Here's another important question: is individual tax liability is included in these numbers?

phyllo wrote:Retirees and the unemployed, who own property, also use these services and in a prior post you wanted to exempt them or give them a lower rate. And why should a billionaire pay more to use the same road as a slacker?

A billionaire retiree would pay more than an employed but broke young man, as would an unemployed trust-funder. That is the opposite of how it works now. Even if I were to agree that the wealthy should pay exactly as much in taxes as the poor, it definitely shouldn't be the case that the working poor pay more in taxes than the idle rich, but an income tax does that.

There are a lot of reasons to be outraged at taxes, but what matters here is the outrageous differences between income tax and wealth tax. Wealth tax falls most heavily on those who have lots of money. Income tax falls most heavily on those who earn lots of money. The latter seems more outrageous to me.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby uglypeoplefucking » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:04 pm

Ok Daktoria, this conversation has reached the point of silliness. With all due respect - simply saying "No, it's not" and "Prove it" is not argumentation - and i say that as advice, not a personal attack. In any case, we are hopelessly off topic relative to the OP, so i will respond to a few of the points you have made and then exit the thread.

It means laws don't spawn out of nothing. People think them up, and then people agree on them.

If we discriminate on a utilitarian basis, then we're prioritizing some styles of thoughtfulness before others.


Of course. Which is precisely what we should be doing. Not all ways of thinking are equal.

Whatever. You made a dubious assertion. i will continue to doubt it unless and until you can prove it (which i don't expect you will be able to do).


What assertion?


The assertion that how much money a person has saved reflects how much they are concerned with the future.

No democracy is not broken, it's simply not a panacea. It's the least of all possible evils, but far from perfect.


That's what it means to be broken. You're forcing people to assume the risk of falling through the cracks such that everyone isn't treated fairly. The lesser of evils is still evil.


Life is unfair. That's not my fault, it's not pragmatism's fault, it's not democracy's fault. Blame God or the universe if you must blame something.

No. Just go read some novels and watch some movies.


Personal attack?

(I've read and watched plenty of plots. You don't need negative disturbances in order to have positive entertainment. A protagonist can pursue a goal and develop in the process rather than overcoming obstacles to solve a problem. Protagonists don't need to have antagonists either.)


Not a personal attack at all, if you have read many stories or watched many films you will be aware that protagonists struggling with obstacles in pursuit of a goal, or grappling with antagonists, are at the basis of most. You can deny it, but you will be wrong. i have no interest in trying to prove to you what is already obvious and well-established.

i am aware that some people don't consent to be governed, i was not denying that such people exist.


You said "People consent to be governed".


i was not referring to every person. i was referring to people who, in fact, consent to be governed. Like if i said, "People put ketchup on hamburgers", i don't mean every person in the world puts ketchup on hamburgers . . .

Not all abstract reasoning is created equal.


Yes it is. It's the results of reasoning that makes the difference. Reasoning itself is just a faculty, not the exercise of that faculty.


That's a pragmatic way of looking at it, well done.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby phyllo » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:31 pm

Here's another important question: is individual tax liability is included in these numbers?
Tax isn't a liability. It's not part of the net worth equation. Debt is a liability.
Before a tax payment is due or before you get the tax bill, there is no entry for it in liabilities.
When you get the bill but have not yet paid it, it becomes a liability in the 'Accounts Payable' account. At that point it has become a debt.
When you pay the bill, cash from the 'Bank' account are applied to 'Accounts Payable'.

So it's only a liability for the short time that you are holding onto an invoice/bill.
A billionaire retiree would pay more than an employed but broke young man, as would an unemployed trust-funder. That is the opposite of how it works now. Even if I were to agree that the wealthy should pay exactly as much in taxes as the poor, it definitely shouldn't be the case that the working poor pay more in taxes than the idle rich, but an income tax does that.

There are a lot of reasons to be outraged at taxes, but what matters here is the outrageous differences between income tax and wealth tax. Wealth tax falls most heavily on those who have lots of money. Income tax falls most heavily on those who earn lots of money. The latter seems more outrageous to me.
The biggest problem with the income tax system is that there are so many loopholes, that a wealthy person can avoid paying a fair share of taxes. And there is no political will to close those loopholes.

The other 'problem' is a consequence of capitalism itself - when you are wealthy it is easy to make money without doing work. Simply investing the money in stocks and bonds will produce a return. The 'excess' money gives you a considerable advantage over those who don't have money to invest.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby omar » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:46 pm

Hello Carleas,

--- But even if you aren't convinced, it seems like a fair assumption that we should tax the wealthy more than the poor, given that we try to do so.
O- The ideal is to tax fairly. Taxating, even progressively INCOME, remains closer to the ideal as the field of taxation is equal. When you tax wealth you enter into another realm and it can get ugly. Not only that but it is an irrational process, as "wealth" is relative. A percentage of your income is not.

--- I'd rather not try to defend that proposition here, though, so perhaps there is a better way to go about the discussion: given that a flat tax is the fairest way to tax, should the tax be calculated based on income or wealth? Both imply certain value judgements, and both affect different groups differently (e.g., the idle rich would prefer a tax on income, and the upwardly mobile poor would prefer a tax on wealth). I'd be curious to know your thoughts on that comparison.
O- The "idle" rich (already there seems to be a prejudice)...who are they? Are we talking about nobility in america? A person that has wealth, let's say Romney, might not have to go to work. This does not mean that they have no income. They have investments that yield returns and these could be considered taxable "income" (as they are currently or with changes). Anything that increases your money is income. That is the most rational tax. It is the preferred tax, also, because it allows your country to keep it's wealth. Wealth is the goal, not the redistribution of wealth through the hands of government.
Suppose you tax the wealth of the rich, as you guess, they won't like it. There are ways in which that wealth can disappear from our shores or certainly from the taxman radar.
They can renounce their citizenship, count their loses, whatever they may be, and flee this sort of communism as they did in Cuba. Once the wealth acquired by the govt is redistributed, used up, who is the govt going to shake to pay it's wages and plans? How do you invite capital to initiate ventures in your country if wealth is taxable?
Wealth can be "translated" into gifts. Will your tax code tax gifts, like gold and diamonds? Every year or at the time of purchase? Either way, while electronic transactions, such as income, can be traced by the taxman, diamonds can hide a huge amount of wealth and then all you have to do is "lose them".

--- I don't mean to take any position about where wealth comes from. Certainly some people get wealthy based on hard work and brilliance. But certainly others inherit wealth, or inherit cultural capital that makes the road to wealth significantly easier. No matter, the government needs to take some money out of the stores of personal wealth in order to pay for common goods. How that happens involves a lot value judgements and a lot of practical considerations. I don't see the utility for the discussion in questioning any exercise of government prerogative.
O- The issue is not the abolition of govt prerogative but the prevention of it's degenation. Man is not born wealthy. If you inherit wealth then that means that either your father or grandfather or some other combination, going back X amount of generations, accomplished something significant either over time or in a flash. It should be the individual who earned it that makes the decision on whom to leave it to. Shall your taxman cease to honor a wealthy man's will?
Secondly, wealth, without capacity simply leads to a shrinking return on wealth until it disappears. If you just live idly on inheritances, eventually you will eat your way through it. On the other hand capacity, even without wealth (but assistance) eventually translates to wealth. In other words: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Give a man a fishing pole and teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."

--- I find the suggestion that government should offer targeted tax breaks to be at odds with your concerns about government prerogatives, Big Brother, and a 'fair' tax system of flat taxes. Minimizing government interference would mean minimizing the instances in which government effectively pays you to spend your money in certain ways. Targeted tax breaks are equivalent to government spending.
O- That is to suggest that govt owes me and what I don't "give" is actually what I have been given. My wealth, my income is govt's, and what I keep, through tax concesions, is actually a handout. I reject that and I don't even see the need for producing an argument here because I cannot believe that a normal person would believe such a thing- that a dollar I don't pay in taxes is a dollar I "earned" from the govt. NO. My income is what I have already earned through the hours I have put in at work. Govt can make an argument on why I should pitch in to pay for common goods, like roads, education, military, and I agree that we all should contribute. But what I keep is not what I earned from govt but what I already earned myself.
Now, what you might be saying is the argument that the Bush taxbreaks negated the normal "revenue" of the state, without reducing the cost of govt, thus making it another expenditure by govt. That is mismanagement of govt and not a necessity.

--- Moreover, it does not seem that we should expect the wealthy to spend their money in way which will reduce ascription (which will benefit their children). That would be irrational.
O- That should be their prerogative, not the state's.

--- And blanket tax breaks for anything that can be described as "philanthropic" will probably result in a lot of ballets and art museums getting funded, the proceeds and benefits from which will never flow to the urban poor.
O- So will your govt fund ballets and art museums or will it burn books instead? It worries me that you consider such things superfluous. Museums and ballets create revenue, create jobs, reduce the urban poor. Best thing that can happen to run-down part of town where the urban poor struggle is the opening of anything that will bring in tourists and afficionados to it's streets. Over time the value of their property increases, investment moves in creating jobs.

--- If wealthy people want to give money, they still can. Indeed, they're encouraged to by a wealth tax, since doing so will reduce their liability. But for the same reason that we don't let people decide where their taxes will be spent, it is ineffective to substitute philanthropic giving for tax-funded programs.
O- One, what would be the point? If govt taxes wealth there would be no guilt left associated with wealth, a sense of responsibility, which would be assumed by the taxman. Secondly, if I give charity simply to reduce my taxable wealth-print then it ceases to be charity and becomes naked-self-interest. Is that something we want? Third, I don't know about you, but here in Florida, Miami-Dade county we vote on how our tax-payer money is used. I am not saying that we vote on every possible use of the state's budget, but that doesn't mean that we have no say on how it is used at all. It is not an absolute. It is representative govt, ideally for the people and by the people.

--- Wealth is difficult to define, but I think you understate the extent to which income is similarly slippery. First, if the value of the dollar tanks, the real value of income also tanks, while the value of things like a house or a stock might rise to compensate, maintaining the same real value.
O- The value of a currency like the dollar is quite stable if for no other reason than the size of our economy. During the crisis the value of the dollar dropped against the euro and other currencies but while for most income remained the same amount, they were able to pay for services and food normally. Houses however lost sometimes 100K in value. It didn't enhance wealth but decreased it radically. When jobs were lost the negative value on the houses did not help their owners, thus foreclosures or short sales ensued, flooding even more the housing market and taking more "wealth" out of "wealthy" people. People moved to other states, income while reduced, still existed, but real state wealth was lost.

--- Furthermore, stocks, insurance policies, and other perks from jobs have to be tallied among income. The use of a company car or a company-owned condo must be included in income; indeed, virtually anything that needs to be appraised as personal wealth can also be earned as part of a benefits package, and in both cases they would need to be taxed.
O- No they don't. Why should they be? I see no argument. Offering stocks and other perks may be seen as necessities taken by an employer to attract or retain the best and brightest. The company car, the company apartment are the company's, not the employee, so why would you tax for what they do not own?

--- As to how the tax base changes during a crash, could you say more about why a wealth tax has worse effects? The tax base made up of the working class dropped substantially during the crash, as the unemployment rate increased, and many of those who kept their jobs had their salaries cut. Moreover, since negative returns on investment are written off, the wealthy's liability similarly decreased. My guess is that the real effect of the crisis would be roughly the same, regardless the tax system.
O- Perhaps. Wealth and jobs decreased, but I think that the loss of 100K in house value over that time would have reduced the govt revenue more because it will take much longer (according to some projections) to regain that loss than for most to regain their income. Unemployment is back under control and yet the housing market, while recovering has not regained the wealth that could then be taxable. In other words, an income taxation would have recovered by now while a wealth taxation syst would be dealing with write offs from banks and from the former homeowners for years to come.

--- This is true, but as I argued above, the world is moving away from cash, so hiding cash under ones mattress is getting very difficult. Moreover, making declarations of wealth binding in court would make stashing any sizable amount of wealth undesirable: it couldn't be used as collateral on a loan
O- If you have cash, to the point that you are considered wealthy, then why you need a loan for? If govt ask where you got the money, you can say that it was a gift from your family.

--- it couldn't be reported if stolen
O- Neither if "stolen" (taxed) by the taxman.

--- and most of all it would sit in squallor while the market rose.
O- Or crashed...

--- Over the long term, cash is a losing investment
O- Not as much as wealth...

--- and that is likely to remain true with a wealth tax (especially if I am right that returns on investment would increase proportionally in response to the change).
O- Doubt it. Why would they increase? Why wouldn't they instead decrease?
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Carleas » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:20 pm

phyllo wrote:Tax isn't a liability.

It's certainly a liability for me. After earning a bunch of money, you know that you will owe a certain amount of taxes on it. That knowledge will certainly affect your appraisal of your own worth and your own access to money, why shouldn't it be taken into account? If you know you owe 25% of $100k, you know you can't afford an $80k yaught.

Is your position on this from any of the sources you provide? I couldn't get much out of the sources of that wiki article about how exactly individual net worth was computed.

phyllo wrote:The biggest problem with the income tax system is that there are so many loopholes, that a wealthy person can avoid paying a fair share of taxes. And there is no political will to close those loopholes.

The other 'problem' is a consequence of capitalism itself - when you are wealthy it is easy to make money without doing work. Simply investing the money in stocks and bonds will produce a return. The 'excess' money gives you a considerable advantage over those who don't have money to invest.

I agree with both statements. I'd much rather see the closing of most tax loopholes than the implementation of a wealth tax, since a wealth tax would be just as shitty as our current system if it exempted things the way our income tax system does. I also agree that investment makes it easier to keep money than to make money. I would like to see the elimination of the special tax status of capital gains, since I don't think earning money in the market is "[not] doing work" or that it needs special consideration. It seems to just be a huge tax write off for the rich. And really, if capital gains were taxed the same way other income is, I think there would no real reason to keep increasing taxes on very high incomes; broaden the base, lower the rate.

omar wrote:The ideal is to tax fairly.

Right, but we're both coming at this with value judgements about what that means. You think fairness is in equality, right? But you have to agree that it would be absurd to divide the spending liabilities of the US by the population and assess a flat fee to every man, woman, and child, right? Because many, if not most, of the people could not afford it, and even a minimal form of government will provide services like police and courts of law to those who couldn't afford to pay for them. Moreover, while you assert that "'wealth' is relative", would you deny that you can pay two bums $50 to fight on camera, while $50 million would likely not entice your average CEO? Because wealth is relative, so is income; how could it be otherwise?

A big part of what government does is protect property. If that's true, then people should pay for government in proportion to their property. To me, that is taxing fairly.

omar wrote:That is to suggest that [. . . m]y wealth, my income is govt's, and what I keep, through tax concesions, is actually a handout. I reject that and I don't even see the need for producing an argument here because I cannot believe that a normal person would believe such a thing

Let us be clear: we're not talking about taxes generally, we're talking about targeted tax breaks, i.e. situations in which you would owe some money but for a decision by government to decrease the burden in exchange for some action, e.g. philanthropic donations. In that case, they function exactly like government spending, you yourself acknowledge that they function as an incentive, and it makes absolutely no difference if the money ends up with you because your taxes are reduced or because you gave the money to the government and they gave it back to you. A ritual exchange of money doesn't make it any more spending-y.

If I owe a friend $10 and win $5 in a bet, I now owe him five, and he has effectively paid me. What normal person could believe otherwise?

omar wrote:So will your govt fund ballets and art museums or will it burn books instead?

Does this question really exhaust the options? I'd say neither, but spending priorities are not relevant to the structure of the taxation that will pay for them. My point in bringing up e.g. ballet is that philanthropy cannot be treated as a substitute for government spending. If you like ballet, then replace ballet with some thing that is philanthropic but which you think would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. I'm sure there's something.

omar wrote:If I give charity simply to reduce my taxable wealth-print then it ceases to be charity and becomes naked-self-interest.

I wasn't even the one who suggested tax breaks for charity! You said your last post, "you get more with honey than with vinegar, and that means giving tax breaks on philantrophic contributions, donations and community investment. Invite the wealthy to do what you ONLY HOPE the govt will do with the wealth they repossess." You advocated for a tax structure that would provide incentives for the wealthy to give to charity, i.e. a little "honey" (read: "naked-self-interest").

omar wrote:No they don't. Why should they be? I see no argument. Offering stocks and other perks may be seen as necessities taken by an employer to attract or retain the best and brightest.

Well, they are taxed. And any part of a compensation package, including salary, can be described as a "necessit[y] taken by an employer to attract or retain the best and brightest."

What if instead of paying you in cash, a company paid you in AcmeBucks, and any time you wanted to buy something they bought it for you and deducted the equivalent cost from your store of AcmeBucks. You technically earn no income, and yet you have everything you need paid for. Obviously, this shouldn't be allowed. Neither should diverting some amount of a salary into in kind benefits. That's why they are taxed, that's why they should be taxed.

omar wrote:Perhaps. Wealth and jobs decreased, but I think that the loss of 100K in house value over that time would have reduced the govt revenue more because it will take much longer (according to some projections) to regain that loss than for most to regain their income.

But also note that one of the government's responses to the crisis was to cut taxes and issue stimulus payments. Smarter people than I are under the impression that a good way to combat a crisis is to borrow rather than tax to pay for government services (though some other smart people disagree with them). If wealth generally decreases in a recession, it's effectively the same as government cutting taxes and returning money (though not the same as direct government spending, which was arguably a valuable part of the stimulus package (it was certainly a major part of it)).

omar wrote:If you have cash, to the point that you are considered wealthy, then why you need a loan for? If govt ask where you got the money, you can say that it was a gift from your family.

I only mean to say that you would significantly limited. You couldn't use a credit card or bank, because they report the movement of funds to the government. You could make up a person that gave you the money, but they would also have to be living a constrained life, or the government could tell that they didn't in fact give you the money. You couldn't make a large purchase: a house, a car, a business, tuition, medical expenses, all would leave a paper trail that would require explaining. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying it would be hard.

And not because of anything the government would need to do different from what it does now: People currently evade taxes, and the government compares records to catch them. The system isn't perfect, but it is better now than it was 50 years ago, and no matter what system we have in 50 years, you can be it will be a lot better at catching tax evaders.

omar wrote:Why would [returns on investment] increase? Why wouldn't they instead decrease?

I'm not certain of this claim, but my thinking is this:

First, if corporate taxes are reduced, corporations have more money, meaning they either pay their workers more, pay their owners more, or reduce the price of their wares. While I'm not as cynical as Phyllo seems to be, I think at least some of that reduction would be put towards owners, because companies raise capital based on their stock price, and it's important to keep it high. If the return on investment in any company is effectively decreased, companies have an incentive to increase the return on investment to maintain the same equilibrium.

A couple other factors would probably play a part. First, people would likely spend more money. In the short term at least, that would increase profits and liquidity, and thus stock yield. More spending would also mean less investment capital to go around, so returns on the investment capital that remained would increase to encourage more investing.

More generally, though, I think that a wealth tax would not change behavior substantially enough to affect the effective returns on stock. The prices that exist today represent market equilibria where the people that find the things worth buying and those who find them worth selling are about even. My impression is that over the long term, any shift in how taxes are collected (not including targeted tax breaks) would return things to substantially similar equilibria, given that the tax is revenue-neutral and roughly approximates the tax burden that people face today (which it would; in the US, the tax burden is relatively evenly distributed by wealth, even though there are much, much higher taxes on large incomes).
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby phyllo » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:00 pm

It's certainly a liability for me. After earning a bunch of money, you know that you will owe a certain amount of taxes on it. That knowledge will certainly affect your appraisal of your own worth and your own access to money, why shouldn't it be taken into account? If you know you owe 25% of $100k, you know you can't afford an $80k yaught.
You can do that. It can be listed as a 'current liability'. It's probably not commonly done because income tax is hard to calculate and income tax is often withheld by employers as part of the payroll process. What you describe is more like creating a budget rather than getting a statement of net worth.
Is your position on this from any of the sources you provide? I couldn't get much out of the sources of that wiki article about how exactly individual net worth was computed.
This is what commonly appears on balance sheets. I only see tax listed for public companies. :
A personal balance sheet lists current assets such as cash in checking accounts and savings accounts, long-term assets such as common stock and real estate, current liabilities such as loan debt and mortgage debt due, or overdue, long-term liabilities such as mortgage and other loan debt. Securities and real estate values are listed at market value rather than at historical cost or cost basis. Personal net worth is the difference between an individual's total assets and total liabilities.[9]

A small business balance sheet lists current assets such as cash, accounts receivable, and inventory, fixed assets such as land, buildings, and equipment, intangible assets such as patents, and liabilities such as accounts payable, accrued expenses, and long-term debt. Contingent liabilities such as warranties are noted in the footnotes to the balance sheet. The small business's equity is the difference between total assets and total liabilities.[11]

Guidelines for balance sheets of public business entities are given by the International Accounting Standards Board and numerous country-specific organizations/companys
Assets

Current assets

Cash and cash equivalents
Accounts receivable
Inventories
Prepaid expenses for future services that will be used within a year

Non-current assets (Fixed assets)

Property, plant and equipment
Investment property, such as real estate held for investment purposes
Intangible assets
Financial assets (excluding investments accounted for using the equity method, accounts receivables, and cash and cash equivalents)
Investments accounted for using the equity method
Biological assets, which are living plants or animals. Bearer biological assets are plants or animals which bear agricultural produce for harvest, such as apple trees grown to produce apples and sheep raised to produce wool.[17]

Liabilities

See Liability (accounting)

Accounts payable
Provisions for warranties or court decisions
Financial liabilities (excluding provisions and accounts payable), such as promissory notes and corporate bonds
Liabilities and assets for current tax
Deferred tax liabilities and deferred tax assets
Unearned revenue for services paid for by customers but not yet provided

Equity

The net assets shown by the balance sheet equals the third part of the balance sheet, which is known as the shareholders' equity. It comprises:

Issued capital and reserves attributable to equity holders of the parent company (controlling interest)
Non-controlling interest in equity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_sheet
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Daktoria » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:06 pm

uglypeoplefucking wrote:Ok Daktoria, this conversation has reached the point of silliness. With all due respect - simply saying "No, it's not" and "Prove it" is not argumentation - and i say that as advice, not a personal attack. In any case, we are hopelessly off topic relative to the OP, so i will respond to a few of the points you have made and then exit the thread.


Boss, if you can't conduct yourself with manners or respect due process, the substance of what you have to say is irrelevant.

Just because you claim something doesn't make it so. You need to validate it with reason in order to prove why it's necessary. I'm not even asking for empirical evidence here. I'm just asking for why your ideas are well-founded.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Carleas » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:39 pm

phyllo wrote:It's probably not commonly done because income tax is hard to calculate and income tax is often withheld by employers as part of the payroll process.

I concede the point. Let me take a couple steps back, and concede for the sake of argument that the tax rate necessary will be 5% or higher.

Is it not the case that the average tax payer probably pays that or more already? The argument goes like this:

We've assumed for simplicity that this tax will be revenue-neutral, so we're collecting the same total amount of taxes. Whatever the average payment from a member of the tax base, that amount times the size of the tax base is equal to the total. Whether we're applying a wealth tax or an income tax, the average payment x number of payments = the total. The toal is the same, so if the number of payments stays the same, the dollar amount of the average payment stays the same.

We can't assume that the people who are subject to a wealth tax are the same as the people who are subject to an income tax (indeed, I've argued that's part of the appeal). However, since we're comparing tax systems, we're not talking about the actual tax base, but the hypothetical tax base: who could be paying taxes? And for either the income tax or the wealth tax, that set will be the same. That means that the average payment will be the same across that set. Thus, the average payment will be the same percentage of the average wealth.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby phyllo » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:03 pm

We've assumed for simplicity that this tax will be revenue-neutral, so we're collecting the same total amount of taxes.
Americans don't need a revenue-neutral tax ... they need to increase taxation because they don't collect enough tax to cover expenses. Their problems will grow unless they get the courage to look at the situation realistically.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Carleas » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:39 pm

Sorry, I meant 'revenue-neutral' with with respect to the change from income tax to wealth tax. That is, collect the same amount of tax, just assess liability differently. I don't know if we need to collect more taxes, I don't think national debt is as bad as it's made out to be, but that is a different discussion.
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Re: Wealth Tax

Postby Uccisore » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:58 pm

I don't think any tax that doesn't limit it's own potential revenue gain can be just. If a tax takes X% of the GPD this year, but can simply be raised to 2X% next year because we need more tanks or more welfare or more whatever, it's an inherently unjust tax regardless of who you're taking it from or under what pretext. I've basically decided that tax issues are uninteresting to me until the Gov't. is willing to actually set a budget and live by it. It's absolutely incoherent to talk about who should pay what and how much if there's no target figure to reach.
Like for example, this wealth tax- even if it was a great thing and a fair thing, there's currently nothing stopping the U.S. from simply implementing it on top of all the taxes they currently levy, or starting off with just a wealth tax, then adding more later whenever they feel like it. If 40% of everything you make is your 'fair share' now, but if the Government wants 55% next year that suddenly becomes 'fair', how can you even have a conversation?
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