Monday, April 13, 2009

More on tax revolts

Between his various ad hominem attacks, Aztec actually made an interesting comment regarding tax revolts...

Now, it's nice to see that GG is concerned about civil servants' pensions because she doesn't give a shit about the pensions of union members. And I really hope all of the traders really do take to the streets in full scale tax revolt. Surely the general public will understand the OUTRAGE of having to pay an additional 4% of income tax on ever single dollar earned above $375,000. How will Obama sleep at night knowing that poor hedge fund managers will be forced to liquidate their Hampton beach houses because soon they will be taxed not at the capital gains rate, but at normal income tax rates? Yes, please let them REVOLT at the mere thought of being treated just like everyone else.
Aztec is probably correct that Obama's tax increase on the "rich" is unlikely to ruffle many feathers. The targeted population is small enough and generally well-educated and conservative enough that they won't start brandishing torches. If anything, Obama's policies might lead to a slow-motion capital strike ala Atlas Shrugged, but it will be difficult to separate that behavior from the overall recession.

But Aztec is missing the point by focusing on federal income taxes. The anger behind the tax revolts is focused on two separate problems. One, the federal government is spending like crazy, and most Americans are smart enough to understand that this will translate to a heftier tax burden down the road. Two, and this is much more visceral, is the anger at rising state and city taxes, particularly property taxes. Mish coincidentally just discussed the problem, and I have personally seen multiple examples over the last week. A friend in Hoboken, NJ just saw his property taxes raised from $4K to almost $12K. Add to that the increases in NJ income taxes, and you have the recipe for an angry electorate. Many other states are doing similar things. Rather than cutting spending to reflect recessionary conditions, they are raising taxes on an already strapped middle class.

As an aside, I also want to address one of the most unjust but least talked about side effects of rising property taxes, the forced sales of properties by elderly people. I know of three cases personally of elderly individuals living on fixed incomes who are being forced to sell their properties because they cannot meet the rising tax burden. One couple in NY bought their home two decades ago for less than $150K, but they now face an annual tax bill above $20K a year. They have to sell. Another woman I talked to today is putting her MD property of 30 years on the market because she can no longer keep up with the tax obligation.

These are people who own their homes outright and have for years. For the state to essentially force them to leave is immoral and ought to be criminal, but it is happening all over the U.S. now has governments looks for new sources of revenue.

A nationwide tax revolt is coming. It might not reach critical mass this year, but it is just a matter of time.

In any case, I will be marching April 15th. And not for my 4% as Aztec smugly suggests, but because out of control government spending threatens the basic values of life, liberty, and property, and apparently the only way to stop it is to take credit card from the politicians' hands.

1 comment:

GammaBoy said...

Incidentally, Aztec, I 100% agree with you on the unfairness of the 15% cap gains rates for hedge funds. I would love to see that eliminated, as it is ridiculous for one type of money manager to be taxed at one rate and an "elite" hedge fund manager to pay a lower rate.

But unlike you I don't think you can fix the tax code. As soon you close one loophole, lobbyists will spend whatever money is necessary to drill another dozen. As long as money buys influence, the true rich will never feel much of a tax bite.