Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Government at Work

I'm figuring my taxes, and this year the IRS put the instruction booklet for the 1040EZ online as an HTML file as well as a PDF. What they did was a straight copy-paste. Thing is, telling me to "go to page 14" doesn't do me a lick of good when there are no page numbers in HTML. One would think they could pay an intern to hyperlink all of those to make the file actually useful.

13 comments:

moon_grrl said...

HA HA HA!

Well, you know, Al Gore only invented this internet thing a few years ago. *winks*

Fonso_2006 said...

Well, we could end all this tax hassle if you got rid of the IRS and instituted the Fair Tax.

The Squire said...

Nice double-speak, fonso. All these "fair tax" proposals are sales taxes, which are inherently regressive and unfair to all but the most wealthy Americans.

I actually don't find the tax code complicated, for me at least. Then again, I'm still eligible for the 1040EZ form.

Fonso_2006 said...

The Fair Tax does not favor the wealthy. Every household gets a pre-bate check each month for the taxes up to the poverty line (which is between 400-500 dollars for a family of 4). After that you only pay taxes on what you buy. No income, medicare, ss, capital gains, or any other type of income taxes. The rich buy more things so they are still going to be paying more, it will just be fair. It is not regressive.

The Squire said...

Sales taxes always favor the rich, as they end up paying less tax as a percentage of their entire income. As such, by definition, sales taxes are always regressive. Read this; it's informative and, though it's definitely not recent, the arguments are still cogent.

The Squire said...

Here's some further reading:

Factcheck.org runs the numbers on the FairTax and determines that the working poor and middle classes would see HIGHER taxes while the rich would see lower. That's certainly not progressive.

The Boston Globe looks over the FairTax as a whole and points out how it's completely broken.

Narc said...

But, but, but it's called the FairTax. How could it possibly be unfair?

One thing that always seems to be ignored is the expense, effort, and complexity involved in mailing out over 1 billion checks in the US every year, as would be required by the FT.

Fonso_2006 said...

Squire, what you show is true if the rich only buy the same things as the poor, but that's not going to happen. The rich are going to buy more things therefore paying more in taxes. It just makes it fair. There's no reason that someone should pay 35 percent in income taxes while someone else can pay 20. The fair tax would work and would be progressive. The more wealthy are going to buy more things and that would make it progressive. I would also support a Flat Tax, but I believe that the Fair Tax would be better.

The Squire said...

There are lots of reasons to pay more, starting with who can afford it. The "properly-funded government is great for stability, which makes the rich even richer" is also one of my favorites.

Besides, even with all the stuff that the rich buy, the percentages still won't add up.

On top of that, the 23% touted by the FlatTax people are a lie - it's really 30%, and even that wouldn't be enough to be truly revenue neutral compared to the current system. Estimates for that range from 32% to 40% sales tax. Where's the extra money going to come from?

Fonso_2006 said...

No, it's 23% tax-inclusive (like income tax) or 30% tax-exclusive. And it would fund the government adequately. More people would shop because when their gross monthly income is $2500 a month they are going to take home $2500 a month instead of $1900 a month. It fair and it is based on how much you spend.

Fonso_2006 said...

It also encourages people to save because there wouldn't be any tax on savings. Parents could actually leave things for their children when they are gone without having to worry about the government coming in a stealing almost half of it because someone died (Death Tax).

The Squire said...

First - no one except the FairTax crowd calculates sales tax as tax-inclusive. Going around spouting off the tax-inclusive number, which is what I've seen them do, is misleading.

Secondly, the Estate tax only affects the wealthiest of the wealthy. Joe Shmoe is not affected by the Estate tax. Calling the Estate tax the Death tax is a hack-tastic GOP talking point.

Thirdly, thinking that people will spend more is wishful thinking - they'll be paying more for everything, even stuff that doesn't fall under the sales tax now - and that'll offset their increased income. Eliminating the income tax doesn't magically create more money for people to spend - that "extra" cash will quickly get siphoned off by the sales tax. The President's Advisory Panel on Taxation came up with a 34% number for revenue neutrality, the Brookings Institute comes up with a 39% number, and FairTax supporter and Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff has a 31.2% number for revenue neutrality. All of these, as stated in the FactCheck.org article, assume a 100% tax base, which means that things normally exempt from a sales tax will be affected. If only things normally included in a sales tax are included, the FairTax would have to jump even higher.

Basically, my point of view on the "people will spend more" argument is that, until proven otherwise, it holds as little weight as trickle-down economics does.

Snibbly said...

Well, this is certainly an interesting discussions of economics. Perhaps I will have to investigate further into that field of study.

On the original point brought up, however, Miss Caitlin and I noticed that only this weekend. Far from being convenient, Miss Caitlin had to bring up the pdf file anyway. It certainly seemed rather unintelligent on the part of the IRS's web designers. In fact, it's so stupid, I'll hazard a guess to say that said web designers were not consulted.