Archive for November, 2008

The Tax Maker

November 24, 2008

Most people know Arnold Schwarzenegger as “The Terminator” from his days in Hollywood, but by the time he leaves office as governor of California, he may be remembered instead as “The Tax Maker.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Schwarzenegger appears ready to follow the hypocritical lead of supposedly anti-tax Republicans in the state by tripling the fees for vehicle registration. The man he replaced as governor, Gray Davis, supported the same idea and was removed from office.

But Schwarzenegger doesn’t want to stop there. He wants to impose a Fido fee on pets, too, by applying the Golden State’s sales and use tax to veterinary services. Those taxes also would be added to appliance and furniture repair, vehicle repair, and golf.

If you live in California, you’ll be lucky to see any good or service free of new or heavier taxation when The Tax Maker leaves office. Maybe Aunt Virginia ain’t so bad after all.

(Hat tip to Michelle Malkin)

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I’d Rather Live In Russia

November 19, 2008

The 22-year-old winner of the World Series of Poker has a rude tax awakening before him when he returns home to Denmark.

Of the nearly $9.2 million he won, he will have to pay 73 percent in taxes and will get to keep a mere $2.5 million for all of his hard gambling. The second-place finisher, a Russian, won $5.8 million but will net more than $5 million after he pays taxes.

I don’t gamble, but if I did, I’d rather live in Russia than Denmark. Russia’s flat tax lets rich people keep more of their money. Who’d have thunk it?

Yet another reason to support a flat tax in America. (Hat tip, Club For Growth)

UPDATE: Also via The Club For Growth, you can see a rundown of the tax bite for all of the winners at Taxable Talk, plus commentary on the sin taxes against gambling at Card Player.

The United States Of Sales Taxes

November 17, 2008
How much do you pay in sales taxes? The Tax Foundation has the answer.

How much do you pay in sales taxes?

Joseph Henchman of the Tax Foundation created this helpful map of the states with the highest and lowest sales taxes (hat tip to The Club For Growth):

You might think I would be grateful that my family lives in Virginia, but as a Virginian, I know we pay a higher price in property taxes and income taxes. Aunt Virginia and her political kin will get their pound of flesh one way or another.

Tax Bites By The Numbers

November 13, 2008

The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation has created an enlightening chart that estimates how much more money Americans must pay for certain goods and services because of taxes. Some of the taxes — the kind I have tracked here — appear on consumers’ bills, but many others are hidden.

Here’s the rundown from ATR:

  • Cigarettes: 81.3 percent more
  • Distilled spirits: 79.6 percent
  • Car rentals: 60.6 percent
  • Beer: 56.2 percent
  • Domestic airfare: 55 percent (much more for international, based on reports from a friend who travels abroad frequently)
  • Landline phones: 51.8 percent
  • Gasoline: 51.2 percent
  • Hotel stays: 50 percent
  • Cell phones: 46.4 percent
  • Cable television: 46.3 percent
  • Firearms: 45.6 percent
  • Restaurant meals: 44.8 percent
  • Soda: 37.6 percent

I don’t drink or smoke, so I’m not personally affected by the “sin taxes.” And while I own a couple of hunting guns, I haven’t bought a new one in almost 20 years, so firearms taxes aren’t likely to rob me of more cash. But I have been hit by every one of the other taxes on the list more than once this year.

I keep a copy of ATR’s chart in my office at work as a stark reminder of how intrusive the government is in my life and my wallet. You should print a copy, too, at fiscalaccountability.org.

A ‘Green Tax’ Is Still A Bad Tax

November 11, 2008

My friend and former National Journal colleague Troy Schneider thinks there is a “smart way” to raise gas taxes — a “green tax swap” that offsets the higher tax on gases with a corresponding cut in the payroll tax.

I have three problems with that idea:

1) Gas taxes already are too high. Gasoline currently is selling for the bargain price of $1.97 a gallon in the section of suburban Virginia where my family lives, and the gas tax for our state is now 44.6 cents a gallon, according to the latest data from the American Petroleum Institute. That means 22.6 percent of every gallon we buy goes toward federal, state and local taxes. The percentage that went toward taxes was lower when prices were higher, but 45 cents a gallon is more than enough taxation.

2) Raising gas taxes won’t necessarily lower consumption. Troy argues that it will based on the fact that consumption has declined dramatically in recent months because of higher prices, and he is right to an extent. But think about how high prices had to go before consumers and businesses changed their behavior. I’m confident that a majority of politicians won’t support, and American voters won’t tolerate, a $2-a-gallon hike in the gas tax, and it took that much before the market forced gas prices down.

3) Payroll taxes won’t stay lower. Even if politicians were to make the swap of payroll taxes for a supposedly green-friendly gas tax, it wouldn’t last. The same politicians eventually will increase the payroll tax. As this blog proves, raising taxes is what they do. The inevitable result of a higher gas tax would be less money in the wallets of consumers, not a better environment.

4) Barack Obama promised tax CUTS. It has only been a week since America elected as president a man who ran as a tax-cutting Reaganite. Odds are good that Obama, like the last Democratic president who promised tax cuts but quickly gave us one of the largest increases in history, sold voters a bill of goods. But give the man a chance to keep his word. Don’t start pushing taxing ideas that will fall heavily on the lower and middle classes two-plus months before he even takes office.

The bottom line: There is no smart way to raise taxes.

Have Fun In Jail, Melissa Etheridge

November 8, 2008

This blog exists because I hate paying taxes and hate even more the passion that so many politicians have for taking even more money out of my wallet. But as a Christian, I pay every penny of taxes I owe, whether to Uncle Sam, Aunt Virginia or their cousins across America.

That’s why I was a bit irritated to read that singer Melissa Etheridge, who had plans to marry her lesbian lover in California until the state voted this week to ban gay marriages, said she won’t pay a half-million dollars in taxes to the Golden State because she didn’t get her way at the ballot box.

Uh, excuse me, if everyone stops paying their taxes when democracy doesn’t work in their favor, nobody will pay taxes. That’s a recipe for anarchy, and it’s not a legal form of civil disobedience.

My guess is that Ms. Etheridge is all bluster. She’s making an idle threat to make a public point. But if not, she can say hello to convicted tax-evading actor Wesley Snipes when she ends up in the slammer.