William Thien

Archive for January 2014

The more I hear Republicans try to outlaw abortion and birth control, the more I begin to think “those particular Republicans” are not the anti-big government types they claim to be, not just because a single woman can’t afford to raise a child on her own through the pregnancy, birth, and then after without falling back on government or public assistance (which makes for big government by definition) but because government in the bedroom indicates and epitomizes government intrusion.

When one attempts to create a litmus test which defines “big government,” one can clearly say that to test the government’s desire to control behavior in the bedroom is certainly an excellent indication of a high government presence, since the bedroom is the most private room in the American household.

So anytime you hear a government official of any kind, which more often than not is a Republican these days I hate to say, any time you hear a government official talking about outlawing abortion or restricting birth control, take that into consideration.

Government in the bedroom is “Big Government” by definition.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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In the past I’ve advocated for a Flat Tax and the idea has been generally well received here in The United States when others have brought up the idea as well. For a long time I concluded that the reason a Flat Tax was not instituted by our government was that there were large portions of the population that benefited by the “make work” created by the complexities of the tax code.

It occurs to me that this is only partially true and not in fact the primary reason for the prevention of a Flat Tax here in America. One of the reasons the tax code is so complex is that it is designed to favor one class over another, one social group to another, with the ultimate goal of keeping the population separated, divided, pliable, controllable. I truly believe that.

Which leads me to conclude that the reason we don’t have a flat tax here in The United States is that the government actually utilizes the tax code to divide and conquer the population wherein as I’ve concluded previously, a flat tax would strengthen and unify the country as everyone would be equally invested in seeing that the tax code costs each and every one of us less and would be less restrictive of our lifestyles, and as a result we would all probably see to it that the government was smaller and less controlling by definition so as to by default keep the government less costly to us all.

I believe that at the bureaucratic level of government, not the actual working government personnel, but at the administrative level there is a belief that the people must be “controlled” and “directed” in a way that perpetuates the bureaucrat’s jobs. I believe they do that through the implementation of the tax code we have today. One of the best ways to see to it that such a mentality does not persist then would be to install a flat tax.

There is nothing wrong with government. A country this size certainly needs a government. But we can all agree that there are massive excesses and incredible government expenditures which could be dealt with much more efficiently and favorably to each and every one of us. A Flat Tax may be the best way to accomplish that.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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In an observation on eliminating tax deductions I brought up the subject of “tax surrogacy” in The United States. My position is that childless taxpayers are merely “tax surrogates” for a parasitic tax code that allows taxpayers with children to obtain a child tax credit or deduction for each child they are raising and the funds for such deductions are available because childless taxpayers are not eligible. In other words, childless taxpayers are paying to raise the children of those with children because the childless taxpayer does not receive the deduction. I elaborate further on that perspective in America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird.

But the more I consider the concept of “tax surrogacy” the more I see it applies to a wider breadth of the country’s population. Not only are childless taxpayers tax surrogates for those with children, the middle class taxpayer is a tax surrogate for both the poor and the very wealthy. That relationship is enabled through clever manipulation of the public’s perception of the poor and of wealthy taxpayers, to which within the scope of the definition of “wealthy taxpayers” I will include corporations, because ultimately what I am writing about here is welfare by favorable taxation, and corporations benefit quite obviously the most from the tax code.

In fact certain corporations support that party which offers multiple layers of welfare to the poor because those corporations then benefit from that relationship. Either the poor are at home watching television and buying products advertised by those corporations on television or congress is lobbied to provide favorable taxation to those corporations simply because a corporation is defined as “a person” in the eyes of the law and in legislative terms and so it is argued, lobbied, that since certain citizens are eligible for various types of what is essentially welfare, so then should corporations be eligible as well, corporations which again are viewed as people by the law, something Romney attempted to elaborate on earlier in the year and everyone who hasn’t a clue about such law squawked about it! Oh yes, this is how tax law is created that governs corporations. Corporations are seen as “people” by the law. Hence, tax code is created to govern corporate profits as if they were indeed personal income. Clever, isn’t it.

This is one reason why I do not favor all sorts of social programs designed to help the poor. Nothing wrong with helping the poor. But due to the parasitic tax code in this country there are other beneficiaries, corporations for example, of the tax code who may not need those benefits. Now I believe favorable taxes must be in place for corporations, lower taxes even, but the problem with the current tax code is that the money for the tax welfare has to come from somewhere. And in the way the current tax code is structured, it comes from the middle classes. All welfare, whether it be food stamps, a social program, a medical program for the poor, or corporate welfare, is paid for in The United States by the middle classes. The poor do not contribute and the wealthy escape participation through the tax code. The middle classes are effectively “tax surrogates” paying at both ends, to the poor and the wealthy. And if you are a single taxpayer with no children, you pay even more. That is of course totally unfair tax policy. I myself am single with no children. When all is said and done I take home about two-thirds of my pay yet am ineligible for any social or medical programs because I have no children. If I had children, I would be eligible for free medical care in the state I reside (children make you eligible for social programs and welfare and basically change the government structure for you to a communist government structure and this is why many poor have children, because they know it will then make them eligible for welfare which they would not receive otherwise).

I receive a tax refund but it is a paltry sum when I compare it to a co-worker’s who has children he declares on his taxes. I am a “tax surrogate” in the purist, strictest sense of the term.

America’s tax code is unfair. Tax surrogacy is nothing more than a crime really, perpetrated on the taxpayer, in particular the middle class taxpayer. It may not be a crime as defined by the law, but it is a sort of “social” or implied crime. The middle classes are not flush with cash and able to give it to everyone. Many are instead at the edge of their income bracket, now more than ever.

I don’t know if at this point in the country’s history we can change the law. But I felt before we could change the law I had to give the condition from which the middle class taxpayer suffers a name. I call it “tax surrogacy.” Someone may have already thought of it. That’s great.

Let this then simply be my explanation of what is happening in this country with regard to taxes and why I believe something needs to be done about it.

Copyright © William Thien 2012, 2013, 2014

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As tax time approaches I wanted you to read some of my more popular essays on the tax code in America. Here is one of my most popular while simultaneously bringing a lot of derision, which as you will see is understandable.

An associate of mine was telling me that he had received a substantial tax refund this year and when comparing it to mine I was rather surprised as it was many thousands of dollars more. During the time that we have worked together, he has received close to a year’s salary in total tax refunds more than I. That’s substantial and a bit of an insult to me since we have the same position and are paid exactly the same. We are not businessmen so we do not have a large number of operating costs we can write off. We both make the same amount of money. He is married, I am not, but that was only a minor difference. The major difference between his tax return and mine was that he has five children.

On his tax return each of his children represented a large deduction to his earnings and as a result, he received a substantially larger tax refund than I did. At first I thought, OK, raising children is expensive these days, why shouldn’t he get some help from the government (that’s us the taxpayers, by the way)? But then the thought occurred to me (I didn’t tell him and I hope he doesn’t read my blog) that his children are going to public schools and at times he has used public services for medical support of his family. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. It is good that we offer the best public education in the world and can provide medical support to families in need.

But to give him a tax break substantially larger than mine when in fact he uses more public services than I do, uses more services in a substantially greater amount than I do, seems like foolish and definitely unfair tax policy. What is essentially happening is that I am paying for his children to attend school and to obtain free health care. The tax break, the deduction that he receives is possible because I do not receive the tax break. In essence I am paying to raise his children. That’s how they offer him a tax break. They take it from me in some way or another and give it to him in the form of a deduction.

In the region of the country where I live there is a bird that lays its eggs in the nests of other birds and then lets the other birds rear their young. The name of the bird is The Brown Headed Cowbird. It sneaks up to another bird’s nest when the other bird is away foraging and deposits its egg in the other bird’s nest. When the bird that is out foraging returns to the nest, more often than not they simply begin incubating the Brown Headed Cowbird’s egg along with their own and then they rear the fledgling as if it was their own. Sometimes the host bird can’t raise its own and is only able to raise the fledgling of the Brown Headed Cowbird due to diminished resources in that vicinity and the voracity of the Cowbird fledgling.

It occurs to me that much like the unwitting bird who is rearing the Brown Headed Cowbird’s egg, the invader’s egg, a parasite as defined by ornithologists, I am paying to raise the children of others. If you ask me, that is unfair tax policy. Some might say, well that’s just the way it is, and I myself, I’m not certain I have a problem with that really.

But perhaps many of the problems we have with balancing governmental budgets, many of the problems we have with massive abuses of the huge system of entitlements we have in this country stems from the perception that people have originating from the tax code. Can we afford to have another child? Heck yea! It’s a tax break! And as families have more and more children using more and more government services, we as a country are at a loss for how to pay for those services used because we in fact give people a tax break for using them. In a sense, that is what is happening. And similar tax policies apply to corporations as well for conducting certain types of business or using certain types of resources, natural resources even.

No business in their right mind pays people 100 percent of the cost of their products to purchase their products. You will not find one truly successful business that says, “we will give you five dollars for every hamburger you buy from us.” Instead of you paying us, we will pay you. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Until of course it comes time to pay all those people behind the counter, the servers, the ones cooking the food, the maintenance people. Where is the money? Well, boss, we gave it to the customers. Well, where are they? Get the money back! They are at the restaurant across the street eating with the money we gave them. Well whose harebrained idea was it to give them the money in the first place?

It seems to me that if we want to balance the country’s budget and the budgets of all of the states and municipalities we need realistic tax codes and policies that address budget disparities, tax policies that somehow seek payment for services used and not payment to the users, particularly the Brown Headed Cowbirds of America.

It’s only fair.

Or, how about this? Do you have a Brown Headed Cowbird living in your back yard? Check this box for your standard Brown Headed Cowbird deduction, and if you are a corporation, double the deduction.

Copyright © William Thien 2012, 2013, 2014

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I had some questions about how I declare on this year’s taxes that I have health coverage, which I thought was currently a requirement of The Affordable Care Act that must be signified on your taxes THIS YEAR, and so I contacted my Congressman’s office, after being put on hold at a very busy IRS several times. Understandably the IRS is probably busy with similar questions.

An aide from my Congressman’s office called to give me a link to the page at the IRS web site which states essentially that we will not need to declare on our year 2013 taxes and will only need to make that declaration on our taxes that we have coverage when 2014 taxes are filed in 2015. So, for this year’s taxes, there is no requirement to state anywhere on your taxes that you have health coverage. Here is the link to the page at the IRS web site which details this information. See item number 24, http://www.irs.gov/uac/Questions-and-Answers-on-the-Individual-Shared-Responsibility-Provision

Here is it verbatim:
24. Will I have to do something on my federal income tax return to show that I had coverage or an exemption?

The individual shared responsibility provision goes into effect in 2014. You will not have to account for coverage or exemptions or to make any payments until you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015. Information will be made available later about how the income tax return will take account of coverage and exemptions. Insurers will be required to provide everyone that they cover each year with information that will help them demonstrate they had coverage beginning with the 2015 tax year.

Please do not take what I say here as tax advice. Always consult a tax professional when doing your taxes if you have questions. What I discovered apparently is not common knowledge. But this was a mystery to me and people whom I thought would know, business people, government administrators, you name it, all were coming up with explanations and machinations about what I was going to have to do on my taxes this year. It turns out, based on this page from the IRS, I will not have to do anything for THIS YEAR’S taxes. Next year when I file for 2014, I must be able to demonstrate that I have coverage.

I only refer to this here because to me it indicates at least one more year to legally stave off and perhaps nullify the provision in The Affordable Care Act which requires you to purchase health insurance. At least we have one more year to see to it that the law needs to preclude said requirement before penalties will set in.

I hope this information has been helpful to you.

Copyright 2014 William Thien

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January 2014
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