In the middle of the last century, there was a large and secure working class. Then, changes to the tax structure distributed more and more of the wealth to the richest and hollowed out the middle class. Now, levels of inequality in the United States are unsustainable as the top one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) has wealth equal to the bottom 80%. Momentum is growing to make the tax system more fair at both the state and federal levels. We speak with Sam Pizzigati about the history of taxes and what policies are currently being proposed.
Paris, France - Clashes erupted between yellow vest protesters and French police as demonstrators got closer to the National Assembly Saturday, on their 8th mobilization, dubbed Act VIII. Dwindling numbers during the holidays generated fears that the movement had waned, but after dinners and family gatherings, the people of France have retaken the streets. Only in Paris, 103 people have been arrested, according to police reports. Protesters gathered in several points in Paris to later march to the National Assembly. As people gathered in the Champs-Elysees and the historic stock exchange, demonstrators called for Macron’s resignation and warned him the mobilization is not a revolt, “it’s the revolution.”
The current economic status quo—with stock markets soaring while wages remain flat and inequality widens—is both unstable and unsustainable. The coming shock will only accelerate these trends in order to benefit the wealthy, and it’s being delivered in the form of tax “reform” by a Republican Party dead set on pleasing its donor class while hanging working people out to dry. As many economists have pointed out, at its core, the GOP’s tax bill represents a massive transfer of wealth from the bottom of society up to the top. The rich will benefit enormously, while half of all taxpayers will actually see their taxes increase over the next ten years.
The Republican Party is celebrating the passage of a deeply unpopular and comprehensive rewrite of the U.S. tax code, which critics argue is skewed unjustly toward the rich. Members of the party, however, are convinced that we will learn to love the new tax code, as House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday. “When people see their withholding improving, when they see jobs occurring, when they see bigger paychecks, a fairer tax system, a simpler tax code, that’s what going to produce the results,” he said at his weekly press conference. “Results are going to make this popular,” he added, sounding like parents telling their child, “When you’re older, you’re going to thank me for forcing you to take violin lessons.”
WASHINGTON ― At least 63 activists were arrested Tuesday during protests of the Republican tax bill and how it could limit access to health care. Progressive activists disrupted the final House of Representatives vote on the tax bill, yelling “Shame!” and other disparaging chants during the speeches and parliamentary procedures that preceded the vote. To prolong the disruptions, most of the chants were done individually rather than as a group. Once a protester rose from the gallery to speak up, staffers quickly removed them from the chamber. They were subsequently subject to arrest by the U.S. Capitol Police, which reported 18 arrests.
By Diane Yentel for Natinal Low Income Housing Coalition. WASHINGTON, D.C.- The tax reform legislation proposed by House Republican leaders takes a historic step in directly revising the mortgage interest deduction (MID), a $70 billion annual tax expenditure that primarily benefits higher income households—including the top 1% of earners in the country. The Republican tax proposal makes sensible reforms in lowering the amount of a mortgage against which the MID can be claimed to $500,000 for new home loans and doubling the standard deduction. This change to the MID would impact fewer than 6% of mortgages nationwide and would save an estimated $95.5 billion over the first decade.
By Hamilton Nolan for The Concourse - Economic inequality in America has been rising steadily since the Reagan era. Why? A new research paper identifies what it say is the main culprit: the fact that we’ve stopped taxing the rich. There are, of course, many contributing factors to the post-Reagan Age of Inequality that has finally grown so dire that it is warping our electoral politics past recognition: the decline in union bargaining power, the influence of money on politics, the deregulation of the financial industries, fortunes spawned by new technologies, and more. But a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper, by economists from Yale and from Stockholm University, says that the most important factor of all has been the decline of progressive income taxes.
By David Cay Johnston for the Daily Beast. By law FERC must balance the interests of pipeline owners and pipeline customers using the “just and reasonable” theory that owners are entitled to reasonable profits and customers to reasonable prices. Instead, it favors pipelines (and other monopolies it regulates) because most of the commissioners come from—and later go back to—the industries they regulate. In Judge Sentelle’s most recent previous decision in the matter he allowed the fake tax to be imposed by the pipelines using reasoning I think is specious. Sentelle made clear that he was deeply vexed by the idea of making shippers pay a tax that is not imposed by Congress. However, he ruled that, since FERC had explained its rationale, it was beyond the court’s authority to challenge the regulatory decision. In his latest ruling Sentelle seems to recognize his error, but unfortunately he did not block the fake tax from being collected. Instead he told FERC to undertake yet another rule-making proceeding. Based on past history you will keep being dinged for this fake tax. There is an easy solution to this and the man to solve it is Norman C. Bay, current FERC chairman. Bay can ask commissioners to vote on ending the inclusion of the corporate income tax in the rates that pipelines charge customers like United Airlines. But I doubt he will unless the public demands action to make sure that pipelines charge only for actual expenses.
By Larry Chretien and Eugenia Gibbons for Mass Energy Consumers Alliance - On May 17, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a unanimous opinion confirming that the landmark 2008 climate protection law, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), requires the state to take enforceable action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on an annual basis in order to achieve the law’s mandate. Basically, they said “limits are limits”, the targets are binding, more needs to be done to achieve the emission target for 2020, and the law is unambiguous.
By Scott Klinger for Inequality.org. Top U.S. corporations are still in the process of reporting their 2015 CEO compensation, but filings to date reveal that more than 60 Fortune 500 corporations have paid their CEOs more than they paid in federal corporate income taxes. “These companies reflect the rampant practice among large U.S. corporations of avoiding taxes, leaving ordinary American families to pick up the tab.” HP Inc. (formerly Hewlett Packard), for example, pulled in $3.87 billion in federal contracts in 2015. Yet the company paid no taxes on its $373 million in U.S. pre-tax profits and instead claimed $324 million in tax rebates from the IRS. The company paid its CEO, Meg Whitman, $17.1 million last year.Five of these firms stand out as recipients of major government contracts and bailouts. In other words, they’re double-dipping — taking taxpayer support while stiffing Uncle Sam at tax time.
By Staff of Global Justice Now - Corporations are regularly using secretive corporate courts to undermine the ability of countries to pass effective tax legislation, according to a new report,Taxes on trial: How trade deals threaten tax justice. The report warns that if the free trade deal being proposed between the EU and the USA were to come into force, it would massively increase the ability of corporations to sue member states of the EU over measures such as windfall taxes on exceptional profits, or use of taxation as a policy instrument such as a possible ‘sugar tax’.
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in PNHP - About 1.8 million households that got financial help for health insurance under President Barack Obama's law now have issues with their tax returns that could jeopardize their subsidies next year. Consumers who got health care tax credits are required to file tax returns that properly account for them, even if they are unaccustomed to filing because their incomes are low. Unless they follow through, "they will not be able to receive tax credits to help lower the cost of their health insurance for 2016," Lodes explained (Lori Lodes, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). The 1.8 million households with tax issues represent 40 percent of 4.5 million households that had tax credits provided on their behalf and must account for them. "What the IRS is doing here is sending these people a not-so-gentle reminder that they need to file or they will put their subsidy at risk," said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president for tax and health care at H&R Block, the tax preparation company. He cautioned that many consumers will find the process cumbersome, so they should waste no time getting started.
Hungary has decided to shelve a proposed tax on internet data traffic after mass protests against the plan. "This tax in its current form cannot be introduced," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday. Large-scale protests began on Sunday, when demonstrators hurled old computer parts at the headquarters of Mr Orban's ruling Fidesz party. The draft law - condemned by the EU - would levy a fee on each gigabyte of internet data transferred. The protesters objected to the financial burden but also feared the move would restrict free expression and access to information. The levy was set at 150 forints (£0.40; 0.50 euros; $0.60) per gigabyte of data traffic.