Taxes

Taxpayers Aren't Stationary Targets

Raising tax rates in a struggling economy will help assure that the economy keeps struggling.

|

Actor Gérard Depardieu's decision to flee France for Belgium to avoid a 75 percent marginal tax rate on incomes above $1.3 million sends a message we here in America should heed: Those who are singled out for tax increases are not stationary targets. The means of avoiding and evading the taxman are legion.

U.S. government agencies routinely issue estimates of how changes in the tax code will affect the flow of revenues to the treasury. President Obama says the tax changes he has been seeking will bring in $1.6 trillion over a decade. But such estimates assume taxpayers are something other than human beings who engage in purposive action. People like to keep the money they make—why shouldn't they?—and they typically avail themselves of every legal (and not-so-legal) strategy to do so. Change the tax environment by raising rates or adversely modifying the rules, and taxpayers, especially those in the upper echelons of earners, can be counted on to modify their conduct accordingly; there's no reason to think their wish to hold on to their money has diminished just because the tax code has changed.

Economists as far back at J. B. Say and Gustave de Molinari in the 19th century understood this. As Molinari wrote in his 1899 book, The Society of To-morrow, "The laws of fiscal equilibrium set a strict limit to the degree within which it is possible to impose new taxes, or to increase the rates of those already in force. The relative productivity of taxes soon shows when this point has been overstepped, for then returns not only cease to rise, but immediately begin to fall." 

Things can work in the other direction too. Other things being equal, cutting tax rates can prompt revenues to rise. This is not to say rising revenue is a good thing. As Milton Friedman once said, if a tax-rate cut brings in more revenue, the rates weren't cut enough. Hear, hear! 

Nevertheless, revenues can increase after a rate cut. Case in point: the rate cuts of 2001 and 2003, the so-called Bush tax cuts, which President Obama (until yesterday) had been hoping would expire for the top 2 percent of earners. According to the Congressional Budget Office, revenues increased from $1.9 billion in 2003—when all the cuts kicked in—to $2.3 billion in 2008 (in constant 2005 dollars). At that point the Great Recession hit and of course revenues then fell. Tax revenues always fall in a recession because when people lose their jobs they stop paying the income tax. Companies also pay less as economic activity slows down. When would-be tax raisers today complain that revenues are a smaller percentage of GDP than in previous years, that is the reason. It's not that the tax rates are too low.

Leaving recessions out of the account, for the past 60 years federal tax revenues have been rather steady at just under 19 percent GDP regardless of the tax rates. The top income-tax rate has ranged from a low of 28 percent in 1988-90 to a high of 92 percent in 1952-53, yet the flow of money has been a fairly constant proportion of the economy. This would seem to confirm the apparently controversial hypothesis that taxpayers are purposive human beings who can be counted to modify their behavior according to the incentives and disincentives that government places in their paths.

Yet most politicians don't get it. In The Wall Street Journal a few years ago, W. Kurt Hauser, formerly of the Hoover Institution, wrote

Even amoebas learn by trial and error, but some economists and politicians do not. The Obama administration's budget projections claim that raising taxes on the top 2% of taxpayers, those individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning $250,000 or more, will increase revenues to the U.S. Treasury. The empirical evidence suggests otherwise. None of the personal income tax or capital gains tax increases enacted in the post-World War II period has raised the projected tax revenues.

"Hauser's Law" seems quite robust. Over 60 years, "there have been more than 30 major changes in the tax code including personal income tax rates, corporate tax rates, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, investment tax credits, depreciation schedules, Social Security taxes, and the number of tax brackets among others. Yet during this period, federal government tax collections as a share of GDP have moved within a narrow band of just under 19% of GDP." 

The explanation is simple enough for a child to understand, though politicians have difficulty with it:

When tax rates are raised, taxpayers are encouraged to shift, hide and underreport income. Taxpayers divert their effort from pro-growth productive investments to seeking tax shelters, tax havens and tax exempt investments. This behavior tends to dampen economic growth and job creation. Lower taxes increase the incentives to work, produce, save and invest, thereby encouraging capital formation and jobs. Taxpayers have less incentive to shelter and shift income.

Hauser shows that GDP grows faster when taxes are lower. "In the six quarters prior to the May 2003 Bush tax cuts, GDP grew at an average annual quarterly rate of 1.8%. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, GDP grew at an average annual quarterly rate of 3.8%. Yet taxes as a share of GDP have remained within a relatively narrow range as a percent of GDP in the entire post-World War II period." 

So where does that leave us as we head for the "fiscal cliff"? Obama has backed away from his intention to raise the top 33 and 35 percent tax rates to 36 and 39.6, respectively, on people making over $200,000. Now he says he is willing to have only the top rate raised to 39.6 percent on people making more than $400,000. This, he adds, would raise $1.2 trillion over a decade—again assuming those people are stationary targets.  

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has also been seized with the spirit of compromise. From his earlier no-tax-increase position, he is now willing to see the top rate raised on people making over a million dollars. He expects $1 trillion to be raised.

But in light of the information above, this all appears to be Washington's standard ritual dance. When—or if—the economy recovers from the recession, revenues will rise to their historic level whether or not Congress tampers with the rates. One need not leave the country, à la Depardieu, to escape taxes. But raising the rates in a struggling economy will help assure that the economy keeps struggling.  

The tax raisers like to point out that the economy boomed during the Clinton years even though top tax rates went up. But this is a simplistic claim. Many other things were going on at the same time—such as the productivity boom ignited by the desktop computer and information revolution—that offset the higher rates. Economic growth likely would have been even greater had the burden of government been lighter.

Alas, the new bipartisan climate in Washington is turning uniformly pro-tax hike. This is sad news, indeed. If taxes can't be cut, at least they shouldn't be raised. First, do no harm! Meanwhile, spending of all kinds must be slashed deeply.

This article originally appeared at The Project to Restore America.

NEXT: Egypt's Constitution Approved

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I don’t think you are giving politicians enough credit for being evil. They are going to raise taxes on the wealthy knowing that most of the super wealthy will mostly weasel out of paying higher taxes through various schemes, while the new tax burden will be on small businesses and the like.

    Politicians, not only on the left (but mostly there), want to destroy small business. They want everything run by giant corporations and big government working hand in hand (aka fascism)

    1. Weasel their way out? Really? People that have very little voice in deciding their tax rates, which are raised to pay for programs that do not benefit them because of some politician’s vote-buying ambitions shouldn’t have the right to say hell no?

      I understand your larger point, although I don’t agree with your last paragraph. I don’t think most politicians have either the willingness or the brainpower to understand the effects of the policies they propose. They really believe that no matter how much taxation and regulation are in place, it’s all for the best, and they don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want their utopian visions.

      1. yeah, my experiences with government is that they are more incompetent than malicious.

        1. I disagree. I think most politicians know exactly what they’re doing – and don’t care because it’s all about grabbing power.

        2. Maybe they are more incompetent than malicious, but they’re still pretty damn malicious.

      2. Average left-of-center politician: You mean taxes aren’t like milking a cow?

      3. In principle I see where you’re coming from. That said, there’s no shortage of Warren Buffetts or George Soroses thumping their chests about how we should raise taxes on them knowing full well they won’t pay an additional brass farthing.

    2. The main way the wealthy “weasel out” is by paying lower rates on capital gains than high income wage earners pay on income. It’s a way to keep the aspiring upper middle class from getting wealthy.

      And good luck leaving the US to avoid punitive taxes — the US claims your income for years after you leave.

  2. But such estimates assume taxpayers are something other than human beings who engage in purposive action.

    The problem with central planning in general. Every system save free markets tries to work against human nature. But to lower taxes and have that yield positive results would be disastrous for the White House, as it would work counter to their bread and butter: class warfare.

    1. Let’s not use appeals to human nature. It also seems to be human nature to coerce people.

      1. Average politician: Stop resisting my attempts to make you a better person.

  3. Yet most politicians don’t get it.

    I think the exact opposite is true – politicians get it, they just count on either 1) that most regular folks don’t or 2) their own ability to lie well enough so anyone who does get it may have second thoughts.

    1. I’ve often wondered about this. Either politicians really believe in central planning, which makes them ignorant, OR they are simply liars.

      Not sure which is worse.

      1. Of course the believe in central planning. Otherwise what’s the point of winning office.

        The thing that articles like this side step is that high tax rates with high levels of deductions and credits yielding a low net tax rate facilitate political central planning. For politicians it’s an almost ideal situation. They get to tell people how to invest and live without the responsibility that would come from directly doing so. And they have never ending opportunities to extort campaign contributions to ensure their own survival.

        1. There is no more potent destructive power on earth than a career politician.

          Term limits. Need to keep this in mind the next time a new Constitution is required.

          1. Stone burners.

          2. There is no more potent destructive power on earth than a career politician.

            Don’t know. What about the courtier class that surrounds them?

          3. I believe in the two-term limit: one term in office, one term in prison.

      2. Why would they necessarily be ignorant to believe in central planning. Sure, central planning works out horribly on net basis across society. But, that “net” is an awfully important qualifier. The central planners come out wonderfully under central planning. So do their cronies. Without an active and interventionist government sector, most of these folks would have to try to eke out an existence based on their skills, talents, intelligence and hard work. Why would they want that?

  4. “Leaving recessions out of the account, for the past 60 years federal tax revenues have been rather steady at just under 19 percent GDP regardless of the tax rates.”

    This is one of the basic concepts that’s missing from my fellow environmentalists’ public policy tool chests.

    I’m all for replacing income and corporate taxes with sales taxes–even if it’s on carbon, whether carbon is really a problem or not.

    It’s just that there’s no way the American people are going to tolerate tax rates that ring in at over 19% of GDP. So if we want to introduce a new carbon tax, we’re gonna have to cut taxes somewhere else–if we want to maintain the same level of economic growth.

    Which is to say, not enough Americans will accept an environmental solution to global warming if it doesn’t entail tax cuts somewhere else just that are just as big or bigger than the new taxes.

    And that’s why AGW–if it’s a problem–will never get solved until the environmentalists get their heads around that 19% ceiling. In fact, if we’re really concerned about saving the planet, I’d argue that environmentalists refusing to get their heads around how tax policy works is probably the biggest long term threat we face to the environment.

    1. I’m still struggling to understand how a tax on carbon is supposed to stop human-induced global warming, leaving aside my doubts that such a thing exists to the degree it has been claimed. Taxes create disincentives to engage in economic activity in a particular area, but I’d think the incentives related to carbon emissions (the need for a transportable source of energy, the inefficiency and other problems with wind, solar, and nuclear, and so forth) would continue to outweigh any damper put on by a carbon tax. I’ve yet to see any evidence that any carbon tax scheme would in any reasonably predictable way diminish the AGW problem (assuming, again, that such a problem exists).

      1. I’m not just after the environmental benefits. I’d like to see us get away from the income tax because it’s destructive in its own way–jacking up the cost of hiring unemployed people and paying them their take home pay being just one example.

        Having said that, the kind of tax I’m talking about would completely replace the income tax, the capital gains tax, and maybe the corporate tax, too. I’m not talking about a little tax on carbon emissions. One of the things I think people both inside and outside the movement don’t appreciate is the proportion of that problem, either. Doubling the tax on oil won’t be enough to solve the problem.

        If the carbon tax were so big that it accounted for almost all federal revenue, that would be big enough to solve the problem–and the incentives for alternative energy would be enormous. If you think people won’t sign on to such an enormous carbon tax, I agree. …so long as we’re talking about adding to the taxes we already have.

        People may get behind a carbon tax if we got rid of all other taxes, though. People on the left who are more green than socialist would get behind it, and supply siders have been trying to replace the income tax with a sales tax since forever. I’m not about to oppose getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with a sales tax just becasue the sales tax is on carbon.

        I’d take that deal whether carbon is a problem or not.

        1. Again, I don’t see how this makes any difference at all in terms of addressing the central issue of climate effects. Even if such a tax were to be feasible, it would only reduce (and in no way eliminate) emissions in the United States. The rest of the world would be unaffected.

          Additionally, once the carbon tax reduced fossil fuel usage, your federal revenue would decline, causing other taxes to be required. Not to mention the enormous costs to productivity and the incredible waste of resources as people transitioned to using other energy sources (of which nuclear seems to be the only viable option).

          1. “Again, I don’t see how this makes any difference at all in terms of addressing the central issue of climate effects. Even if such a tax were to be feasible, it would only reduce (and in no way eliminate) emissions in the United States. The rest of the world would be unaffected.”

            Theoretically, other countries could emulate our policies if they’re wildly successful. It’s happened before on other issues. Otherwise, what are the options, here? If the worst of the alarmists projections are true, what are we supposed to do? Invade the rest of the world or just suffer environmental catastrophe?

            And we are a huge emitter of carbon.

            “once the carbon tax reduced fossil fuel usage, your federal revenue would decline, causing other taxes to be required.”

            Not necessarily.

            I could learn to cope with smaller government.

            Actually, that’s something I’ve wanted all my life. If environmentalism opens a door to make that possible, then by all means, libertarians should go through it.

  5. I’ll be perfectly honest here: I’ve no problem with taxing actors at 75%.

    1. I disagree, though actors are indeed taxing. In fact, if the smut rags are to be believed, highly temperamental and persnickety, what with all their incessant demands and finicky workplace preferences.

      I want their workrate at 100% and get the best performance out of them.

      Oj! You meant tax rates. Silly me! Good thing there is that little thing in the USA called a “Bill of Attainder”…

    2. I hope you’re joking.

      If anyone deserves to pay 75% it’s an actor. The thing is…NO ONE should be paying 75%.

      1. The thing is…NO ONE should be paying 75%.

        People who advocate for a 75% marginal tax rate should be subject to it. Everyone else should be subject to the tax rate they would like to impose on others — without that rate actually being imposed on others.

        Anarchists should have a 0% tax rate.

    3. “I’ll be perfectly honest here: I’ve no problem with taxing actors at 75%.”

      Unfortunately, they have no problem with taxing us at 75% either.

    4. But an actor is even more mobile than most professionals. They don’t have a factory or a team of trained employees to move – just themselves.

  6. Wasn’t a lot of the boom near Clinton’s end due to all that Y2K spending? I always thought that must have had something to do with the bust that followed. Most businesses accelerated their IT spending before Y2K, on equipment and wages, then scaled back after to make up for it.

    1. A lot of it, I thought, was led by investment in tech. All those hundreds of billions poured into laying carbon fiber, developing switches and software, all those computers consumers bought, etc….

      Wasn’t that bust about the dotcom bubble bursting, and telco being over built at the time?

      1. Laying carbon fiber?

        1. You mean optical fiber.

    2. Wasn’t a lot of the boom near Clinton’s end due to all that Y2K spending?

      Or it could have been that investors disregarded sound economic principles under the misconception that there was a “new economy” where people thought it was okay to invest in companies with PE ratios over 50.

      Economic principles may not be as iron clad as the laws of physics, but they are laws none the less.

    3. Actually, yes. That said, there was a bubble in tech spending independent of the acceleration of IT capital spending.

  7. And, of course, all that fiddling with the tax code creates uncertainty about the future, which is anathema to long-term investment decisions. And hiring tax lawyers, while certainly productive in terms of one’s own bottom line, is not an efficient or productive use of resources for the economy as a whole.

    It’s interesting to see the reaction to Darden and Papa John’s and others ‘undermining’ Obamacare by ‘exploiting loopholes’ in the law in order to avoid the mandate to give people free shit. Are people really that stupid as to think people who find ways to make money aren’t going to try to find ways to hang on to that money?

    1. Are people really that stupid as to think people who find ways to make money aren’t going to try to find ways to hang on to that money?

      No, they (as in politicians, but “people” is a arguably a misapplied term) aren’t. They “exploitation of ‘loopholes'” was by design. One cannot get to Single Payer without an effective scapegoat and many an Appeal to Emotion.

  8. OT, but this is going to produce some truly moronic headlines:
    “Adam Lanza’s online gaming history probed”
    I’m sure they’ll run ’em backwards to see if they mean anything too…
    http://www.sfgate.com/crime/ar…..141582.php

  9. 2012: The Year in bans

    How did Yahoo beat Reason to this story?
    Then it would not have been a slide show.

    1. reason would have put it on 24/7 and made us click twice to see the real story.

      1. +2 clicks.

  10. Here I sit, listening to Stephanopolous and his merry band of concern trolls.

    How the fuck does somebody like Amy Klobuchar get elected to the Senate, when she seems much more intellectually suited to changing sheets in a Motel 6?

    She’s a cheerleader for the TEAM, she is.

    1. Funny how the left never attacks their O’Donnell’s isn’t it.

    2. How the fuck does somebody like Amy Klobuchar get elected to the Senate, when she seems much more intellectually suited to changing sheets in a Motel 6?

      By appealing to voters who are intellectually suited to changing said sheets?

      The really frightening thing about representative government is that you wind up with people ruling you who have an average IQ of around 100, just like their constituents.

      1. I would support a law making every person running for federal office undergo a rigorous test on basic knowledge. That would ensure people that thought Guam floats or other such stupidity were at least exposed for their idiocy.

        Also I would support randomly redrawing Congressional district lines every two years and not letting people know what they are until 6 weeks prior to election day.

        1. Who draws the district lines?

          1. Killer Robots.

          2. give a toddler a map and some crayons.

          3. They *should* be done by Voronoi cells. Of course, that will never happen.

        2. Problem with a test like that is it becomes quickly dependent on who is administering the tests. Wanna bet how long it would be before all of the questions became structured to favor one side?

      2. How the fuck does somebody like Amy Klobuchar get elected to the Senate, when she seems much more intellectually suited to changing sheets in a Motel 6?

        By appealing to voters who are intellectually suited to STAINING said sheets?

        FIFY

  11. As far as tax rates go, I would prefer to see Paris Hilton (for example) waste her family’s fortune than the government.

    1. Every time someone makes these sorts of comparisons *favoring* the government, it’s worth pointing out that every voluntary exchange increases mankind’s welfare, regardless of how silly that exchange may appear to a third party.
      Taxation is *NOT* a voluntary exchange, so regardless of how it is spent, it is already a drain on mankind’s welfare.

    2. IIRC, Miss Hilton didn’t really inherit that much by the standards of how she was raised. She thus had to make her lifestyle a career in order to afford it.

  12. “Everybody knows” tax rates have to go up!

    Seriously!

    1. Obama sure “knows.”

      Obama to Boehner: “You get nothing. I get that for free”

      Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.

      At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”

      “You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”

      1. The republicans are going to be painted as assholes that want little kids and grandma to starve no matter what they do.

        So, they might as well say fuck it and refuse to pass any spending bills until after Obama has signed a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts.

        The dems will come around by March, and the public will have forgotten about it completely within a year.

        1. It Team Red is smart, they’ll pass a budget in the House that balances the budget (or cuts the deficit by at least 25%) and keeps the existing rates for everybody. Send it to the Senate and be done with it. Let Team Blue come back and cry that the cuts are bad on things like cowboy poetry, cronyism like Solyndra and the failure that was GM.

        2. Yeah, I gotta agree with this. The Republicans could give Obama every single thing he wants and the left will still accuse them of starving grandma. So long as they’re going to pay that price no matter what, they may as well tell Obama to go fuck himself.

        3. I agree. The next election is in two years. That’s a very long time, politically speaking.

          Paul Mirengoff at Powerline made the point that we could just go over the fiscal cliff and still get the tax cuts, because both parties will be panicking to get that done next year. It’s a pretty good plan that would probably work if it didn’t require actual fiscal restraint from Republicans instead of just posturing. If they can be convinced it’s the best way to screw over the Dems and Obama they might go along with it, though.

      2. At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”

        “You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”

        Yes, remember those yummy, scrumptious ObamneyCare taxes scheduled to hit next year?

        Yes, TEAM RED forgot about those, didn’t they?

      3. Even the $800 billion is fucking pointless, because it’s over a period of ten years, and that’s presuming the LPR doesn’t continue it’s current shitty status.

        I see a lot of people claiming that the tax revenue will come “when the economy improves,” but ask them where exactly the jobs are supposed to come from, and the best they typically come up with are “green jobs” and “infrastructure,” as if that’s supposed to send the economy skyrocketing. These people might as well say they believe Santa Claus is real (and given their stance on Keynesianism, that isn’t far from the truth).

  13. Did you know that TERRORISTS on the no-fly list are allowed to buy guns?

    TERRORISTS, I tells ya!

    1. If only CT had background checks for gun purchases the Sandy Hook massacre would not have been possible.

  14. OT: Indian police: Most Ideologically Honest in the World

    Angry protests escalated into violence in India’s capital on Sunday, after thousands of people gathered to demand justice for the victim of a recent gang rape in New Delhi and improved safety for women.

    Protesters flocked to the India Gate monument throughout the day, despite police attempts to deter them and a hastily enacted ban on protesting in New Delhi…The police, in turn, fired tear gas and water cannons, beat protesters with bamboo sticks and arrested dozens.

  15. Mathew Dowd on, This Week, in the middle of an anti-gun screed admitted that the assault weapons ban won’t accomplish anything but we’ve got to do it anyway.

    1. It won’t do any good but we must do it anyway?

      Kill it! Kill it with fire!

  16. Matthew Dowd owns five guns.

    Whatever they are, if they’re good enough for him, they’re good enough for you.

  17. For some reason, Gerard Depardiau always reminds me of this guy

    1. Is that King or Junior? I can’t remember my Gorgs as well as I’d like.

      And FWIW I bet Mokey and Red would be in support of a gun ban for Fraggles.

      1. We Fraggles understand freedom better than you might think.

        It’s not easy to understand other people’s problems but it’s very easy to think that you do.
        -Mokey Fraggle

  18. The government wants to treat the wealthy like I treated this duck yesterday afternoon in preparations for Christmas dinner.* The next duck dies tomorrow because we’re gonna need two. This one will be roasted and the later one will be deep fried.

    *As an added bonus, I got a 7 oz. liver out of him that I will be preparing as an appetizer for the football games today.

    1. Why does it not surprise me that instead of using a killing cone, you opt to shuffle your livestock off this mortal coil similar to how Iran executes homosexuals?

      By the way, when is Lindy up for the block?

      1. Well, Little Dunphy has become quite frisky as of late, so I think we’re gonna wait until she has another litter of piglets in the spring, then we’ll put a bullet in her brain or cut her throat, not sure yet.

        And the piglets are starting to look rather tasty at an early age. Anyone here have experience cooking a smallish pig on a spit? I figured you would with your Trinidadian ancestry. I know from my days in PR that Carib’s love to cook a young pig, and I distinctly remember seeing more than one on my drunken sojourn to Port-of-Spain one year during Carnival.

        1. Aw yeah. Barbecued pork, with some callaloo, macaroni pie, rice, and a bottle of Carib.

          You want to get the skin just right..nice and crispy. I remember my grandmother covering the piglet in salt and pepper and letting it sit for a day. Then olive oil is spread on the skin to crisp it.

          Don’t forget the Matouk’s!

    2. It took me a while to work up the nerve to click that link. I just assumed it had something to do with stuffing a body cavity. And not one of the good ones.

      1. Just remember who it is that posted the link: sloopy is usually safe, SugarFree never.

    3. The government wants to treat the wealthy like I treated this duck yesterday afternoon…

      Oh Sloop, don’t tell me you fucked it in the ass before lopping its head off?

      1. You mean the “business hole”? Nope. I had my son helping me. He’s not ready for that part of it yet.

        1. It’s a good thing you didn’t have Warty with you.

    4. You should have posted video of you wringing the duck’s neck.

  19. I watched The Missouri Breaks (again) this morning.

    The Girl: “Why do you have so many guns?”

    Jack Nicholson: “Because I’m a sportsman.”

    The Girl: “Well, why do you have a sawed off shotgun?”

    Jack Nicholson: “I’m a sort of sawed off sportsman.”

  20. The government wants to treat the wealthy like I treated this duck yesterday afternoon in preparations for Christmas dinner.*

    No more golden eggs for you.

    1. Oh, that was one of the rapey drakes. Hopefully the traumatized hens will be able to get a little rest so they can lay comfortably once again.

      1. That looks more like a Muscovy than a Mallard.

        1. It is. Better meat, IMO. I’m leaving our Mallards alone to grow and produce some offspring. I’m gonna slaughter Moscovies only for a while.

  21. The means of avoiding and evading the taxman are legion.

    There’s a lot of unsolved murders too; that doesn’t mean we should legalize killing other people. The problem with high taxes is the law itself, not whether people manage to get away with breaking it.

  22. What this country needs is another few thousand pages added to the tax code to better define what is and is not income subject to taxation (and at what rate).

    That’ll turn the economy around.

  23. Alas, the new bipartisan climate in Washington is turning uniformly pro-tax hike.

    John Boehner would ruefully disagree. He couldn’t get a tax hike on just people earning over $1M per year passed.

    1. The Tea Party types aren’t cocktail-partisan enough. They just crazy.

  24. Petition to deport Piers Morgan is over 20k.

      1. And properly so, since freedoms are unalienable.
        He should simply be tossed overboard for public stupidity!

  25. This just in from CNN: Evil Republicans are taking milk from poor babies’ mouths (aka the Dairy Cliff).

    1. So cutting a subsidy results in an even bigger subsidy.

      You can’t make this shit up.

  26. The IRS’s new exit tax for rich expats is conditioned on whether the primary purpose of expatriating was to avoid taxes. It seems to me this should be open to a whole array of promising legal challenges. Not only is it a “thought crime” law, but if upheld, it does away with the distinction between (legal) tax avoidance and (illegal) tax evasion as spelt out 120 years ago by Chief Justice Learned Hand.

    1. You are trying to apply reason, and rational thinking, to the situation. This is a mistake if you want to try to predict what will really happen.

  27. “Those who are singled out for tax increases are not stationary targets.”

    People who can’t make bus fare across town find it hard to imagine other people with money having options.

  28. Has this ever been different? During the Roman Empire, the Patrician class was exempt from taxes – while the middle class Plebeian and Equestrian classes were taxes into poverty and slavery.

    Joe Kennedy may have been the greatest tax dodger in American history. He moved 2 oil companies and the bulk of his wealth to Fiji taxes started going up in the 30’s. The Kennedy’s have been avoiding the taxes they imposed on the rest of us ever since.

    1. Pre-revolutionary France was the same way. It was felt that taxing the poor was good for them because it made them work harder, like pruning a tree or mowing a lawn.

      Allow me to plug this wonderful book again: For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization by Charles Adams

      1. I’m not going to order that book until after opening gifts tomorrow, since several people get me really good books.
        If that isn’t among the unwrapped tomorrow, it’s ordered and shipped on Wednesday. Thanks!

  29. I thought Gerard was mostly trying to dodge the wealth tax, because he was pissed that even after paying 75 percent of his income to the French government, they wanted another shot at what he managed to save.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.