William Thien

Archive for the ‘Income Taxes’ Category

As tax time approaches once again I wanted you to read one of my most popular essays, America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird. I have debated often about socialism and communism in The United States and how socialism and communism are implemented through the tax code and in that way their effects are less obvious, though still pernicious. I will be talking a lot about America’s tax code in the next couple of months. To my friends and colleagues who utilize the tax breaks I speak of, I say, use them. Don’t feel guilty for my meager commentary on what is unfair about them. Were I in your shoes, I would do the same. But know they must change. The tax code must be made fair. It was in fact the unfair tax code during colonial times that led to the formation of this country and I don’t see that things should ever change in that regard.

America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird

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, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

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Forty years ago and prior, before super computers and advanced accounting software on every office desktop, the Federal Government allowed employers until the end of January to send tax forms to their employees and banks and other financial institutions had the same amount of time to get tax documents in the mail.

But it’s the same today. Fifty, sixty years later we still have to wait until the end of the month to receive tax information. Why?

With all of the supercomputers employers and financial institutions have today, why do we have STILL to wait until the end of the month to get our financial information anymore?

I’m not trying to rush anyone but late in the year of 2017 I received a letter from one of my credit cards that said due to the Equifax Data Breach, I should file my tax returns as early as possible in order to avoid false filings of my taxes. This is a common occurrence in The United States, nowadays. It has happened to a family member when the local municipality accidentally published their social security number and that of others on the internet.

Which prompted me to consider, well I’m basically ready to file my taxes on the first of January. They are not that complex. But I’m being held back by these antiquated tax information form dates that the federal government hasn’t updated since the time of Adam and Eve.

With all of the supercomputers employers and financial institutions have nowadays, why do we have to wait so long anymore for our tax information from our employers and financial institutions? Again, I’m not trying to rush anyone, but it’s a valid question. Computers have sped things up quite a bit. Maybe it’s time the law changed.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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I recently received a note from one of my credit cards that said due to the massive security breach at Equifax I should do my taxes early in order to avoid having someone false file them.

As a result I have been paying closer attention than normal to the tax bill recently ratified by our elected. This tax plan calculator gives you a guesstimate of how the new tax plan will affect your taxes.

Trump Tax Plan Calculator: http://taxplancalculator.com/

One of the pros of this new tax plan is that corporations have had the taxation of profits lowered substantially. That is the meat of the tax plan if you ask me. And that’s a good thing. The previous rendition of the tax code drove profits offshore into secretive banking accounts and resulted in lost tax revenue and the offshoring of jobs. Makes you wonder who the F is running this country, Americans or foreigners? You know what they say? Follow the money.

So The Trump Administration gets some serious Kudos for that. Great job! Bring it back home, Donny! Way to go!

In my case, since I have no property or dependents to write off, the only benefit to my taxes was that my standard deduction was doubled and that resulted, supposedly, (guesstimate) in an annual savings of $577, not much when were I to put in several dependents and a piece of property on my filing, my refund would be pretty substantial.

Now that’s not to say it is not a good taxation scheme (all systems of taxation in The US appear to me to be some form of lobbied “scheme” and that’s exactly what they are). And the benefit many received in the form of mortgage interested deductions has been reduced. To me, that makes good fiscal sense. The fact that the dependent tax credit was increased substantially to me is fiscal folly. Most of those dependents use public services throughout their lives (50% of all babies birthed last year used Medicaid. 50%. And they got a tax break, too. Really!) and to give a tax break to those who use those services is like paying people to buy your products. Unless you are the government, you won’t be in business very long. But hey, how else are our elected going to get re-elected? Half of them can’t even form a complete sentence, so they have to give our money away. That’s all they know, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Or is there?

So, it is still an extremely unfair tax code if you ask me, just less so than before. And for that, I have to give kudos to our elected which ratified the new “scheme.” The others, they can take a long walk off a short pier.

Let’s hope it is a start that gets the ball rolling in the right direction. Maybe there will be some momentum to improve taxation in The United Sates. Let’s hope they can bring our taxes down more and tax those that deserve to be taxed, tax those who use all the services for example, and provide some relief for those who use very few services instead of just the opposite, which is what it is now. WTF?!

Because though we don’t have a socialist government, it is through the tax code that massive wealth is redistributed in this country (so basically we have a socialist government) and that doesn’t seem to have changed much with this new taxation “scheme.”

There are some good things in this new scheme of taxation and some serious things that still need to be addressed, with fairness being the biggest issue to me that needs to be addressed.

So Kudos are in store.

But because it involves taxes, I have to say kudos…kudos so far, so good, so what.

Because at my age, when I look back at how much someone with some children and a house payment received in tax refunds over the years compared to what I have received when making the same salary but with no children or property, I could have bought a house for cash with what that money the other has received in refunds, yet they use all the government services in comparison.

Through the tax code the socialist US government has been giving them my income because they have children and a house payment and taxing me and people like myself in order to do that.

And you know what that is? That ain’t right, that’s what that is. Doesn’t matter which way you look at it. I’m just the first one to say anything about it and you can bet they are working overtime to shut me up, too. You can bet on it. Because that’s what communism does. That’s what collectivism is. It’s mob rule whether they are right or wrong.

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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While watching Chuck Todd interview Senator John McCain (R-AZ) this morning on Meet the Press Todd asked McCain if he thought the current administration’s flip-flopping from campaign positions to his current positions had something to do with Trump “being sucked in by the Washington establishment?”

McCain’s answer was to chuckle and say, “well, I hope so.”

To me this is proof that not only IS there a Washington establishment, it is proof that our elected know there is a Washington establishment and that perhaps our elected even provide support materially and vocally (obviously McCain supports it vocally in his response to Todd) to the Washington establishment.

Other elected officials were asked about Trump’s positional re-orientations throughout the week and the most common response was, “maybe he is ‘growing’ into the position.” Growing into the position? What a load of b.s.

To be sure, Trump doesn’t have to change his campaign positions. Something is forcing him to do so and it’s not that he “growing into the position.” He is there to implement the will of the people, not to “grow.” He isn’t on a weekend retreat. He is now the President of The United States.

I wrote earlier that it would only be a matter of time before Trump switched his campaign positions due to the Washington establishment and we see now that is exactly what is happening. You can read that post here: What’s Next for Conservatives?

The most disgusting aspect of the “Washington establishment” is that what it means is that those entrenched there in Washington are there to ensure that whomever is elected cannot implement the will of the people without the express consent of “the Washington establishment.”

Ultimately what a “Washington establishment” means is that the will of the people has been effectively thwarted, seemingly in perpetuity, by a bureaucratic element entrenched in our nation’s capital and that there is nothing, either voting for a Republican or voting for a Democrat, that the people can do about it.

What is the solution?

The two major parties take great pains to make sure the public is nearly equally divided (we see this in the election results) right down the middle when it comes to major elections and national issues. The parties talk about the base of the Republican party and the base The Democratic party in their political calculus.

Maybe it’s time that the bases of both parties come together for a new political calculus, disregarding the respective party apparatus so the country can really “drain the swamp” as Trump promised during the election and take care of the needs of the people and not that of “the Washington establishment,” which is what he is now doing.

There are common goals among the bases of both parties. Maybe it’s time we come together and focus on those common goals primarily and forget about our differences, such as abortion and gun rights for example, just once, and see what happens.

Maybe we can set those and other differences aside in order to bring the changes the country requires. Or maybe “the Washington establishment” can deal with that, too. And you know what that means? Think about it.

Because we now have proof that there is indeed a “Washington establishment” and it is working against us, working against us all.

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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One of the primary focuses of my writing at this venue is how the tax code affects me as an individual and I for one as an individual who owns no property or that has no dependent write-offs am waiting to hear about the new tax plan.

During the campaign promises of increases in deductions were made to families with dependents and to property owners as well but little if anything was mentioned about single tax payers with no dependents or property, what I have called “the indentures” to the US tax code.

Even if the only change for single tax payers is a decrease in the tax rate, I will find that quite satisfying as someone making the same as I do and that has dependents or that owns their home receives a substantial tax refund compared to my taxes and pays less throughout the year as well on their paychecks. The government has in effect given them a raise, a raise with my tax dollars.

As I’ve stated before I do not begrudge the other tax payers. They should take the tax write-offs. I would do the same. But that is blatantly unfair tax policy and if the tax code should be one thing and one thing only, the tax code should be fair.

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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An argument can be made that the US Tax Code forbids individualism.

Because the tax code provides tax benefits to families for dependents and other activities related to having a family and not to individuals and provides no corresponding tax incentives to individuals, the tax code forbids individualism. A person with no dependents pays a larger share of taxes on the same income as a person with dependents.

The tax code also provides similar tax incentives to corporate activities but not to individual tax payers when corporations are themselves seen as “people” by law.

A tax code that forbids individualism is a tax code that also forbids creativity as individualism is the very font of creativity.

Copyright © William Thien 2016

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This country was founded on the desire to avoid paying unreasonable taxes with the call, “Taxation without representation!” Careful scrutiny of taxes and tax law is in the DNA of every true American.

Anyone of us can make the argument that there are times we don’t see a fair distribution or proper use of our taxes.

The tax code is written with lobbied, legislated loopholes and for businesses and business people not to utilize those loopholes would be foolish financial practice. We all use whatever deduction we can use when we do our taxes. Why shouldn’t someone in business do the same? Why shouldn’t Donald Trump do the same?

Most programs used on home computers to do your taxes compute those deductions for us. If we go to an accountant or tax attorney, they do the same.

Trump isn’t really doing anything wrong in that regard. It’s a non-issue.

What I will say, though, is that the circumstances at hand are to me the best reason for a flat tax, in that not only will everyone pay their fair share when there is a flat tax, we would all be equally invested in seeing that the tax rate is kept under control. As it is now, the tax code only treats some favorably or fairly. All you have to do is read my essay America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird to know that.

Trump not paying any income taxes for years is the best reason for a flat tax.

Copyright © William Thien 2016

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