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One of the best parts about this year's Milton Friedman Legacy Day was reading all of the comments that taxpayers left on our special online voting page. Along with asking folks to vote on which fundamental tax reform they want, NTU Foundation provided a space for respondents to talk about why Milton Friedman's teachings are still vital and what specifics he brought to the world that they liked. Here are a few:
"The videos he created to teach even the most complex issues of economics and the economy in ways that everybody could understand." –JJ, Ohio
"... His contention that free enterprise will allocate resources better than any central planners. One's self interest is not an evil thing, but the natural motivator of man." –Roger B, Michigan
"His glasses." – Daniel M, Texas
"His PBS series Free to Choose changed the way I think about economics and freedom." – Robert S, Indiana
"Friedman pushed for school choice and vouchers so that you can send your children to the best school and the school of your choice rather than the public school you are assigned. The money goes with the child and not to the school. Giving parents the choice to select the best schools for their children would improve education and provide competition among schools. Educational freedom is a win-win for everyone." –Mary A, Florida
"His emphasis on free-enterprise: 'The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.' Milton Friedman" –Ted B, Washington
"Mr. Friedman was a deep thinker, whose thinking produced positive, logical, meaningful results." –Charles R, Oklahoma
"[His] open discussions on variants of taxing systems has opened the eyes of millions of previously uninformed people. So many have only believed that what we currently have is all there is in the world when it is relatively new in our Country's history. We CAN change an unfair system into a workable & sustainable modern system that ensures ALL have some vested interest in our future as a Country." –Jeff M, Florida
"Wherever practical, people should be free to choose for themselves." –John R, California
Thanks to everyone who send us their votes and thoughts on Friedman! The winners of the $50 iTunes gift cards will be announced shortly.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
All too many federal agencies can be cited for having budgetary skeletons in their closet, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is no exception. From poorly managing a drone fleet purchase, to making questionable demands for more employees, CBP has raised fears for the security of taxpayers’ wallets in the past. Yet, Congress has an opportunity to ease future fears, over a controversial new CBP project, before it can cause a fiscal fright.
Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concluded a letter of intent with the United Arab Emirates to build a “pre-clearance” facility at Abu Dhabi airport which would allow travelers to the U.S. to clear customs before arriving on American soil. So far, so good: pre-clearance can not only save time and reduce congestion at U.S. points of entry, it can also help ease the way for tourists who contribute to economic activity while visiting here.
Now for the not-so-good:
All these drawbacks lead to one long question: Given CBP’s service challenges at existing airports, is it really a good idea to plow ahead with a facility whose use will be comparatively scarce in the near term, and give another leg-up to an airline backed by its own government as well as ours, at the expense of an already overtaxed flying public?
And “overtaxed” is an understatement. As NTU has often noted, the typical overall government tax and fee burden of 20 percent on a $300 domestic airfare is higher than the average effective rate a middle-class American is likely to pay on his or her 1040 income tax return. International air travelers can have it even worse, with impositions such as separate departure and arrival taxes along with a passenger agricultural inspection fee (which the Obama Administration ill-advisedly considered raising in 2009) and a customs fee.
Proponents of the CBP station at Abu Dhabi argue that the investment of U.S. tax dollars will be minimal since UAE will pick up 85 percent of the project’s expense under the current agreement. But that’s little comfort to tax-weary travelers in America (see above), who remain worried that whatever share they will be forced to commit could escalate if construction or operating costs are not contained. Meanwhile, there’s that pesky matter of how best to apply CBP’s fee collections as well as appropriations from general funds – should they be used to expedite higher-priority passenger and cargo entry-exit services?
Many Members of Congress seem to think so. In June, the House of Representatives passed an amended FY 2014 DHS Appropriations Bill specifically blocking the Abu Dhabi pre-clearance scheme. In May, a bi-partisan group of 11 Senators echoed the sentiment of their House colleagues in a separate letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, questioning whether the agency’s “decision was made as a result of a risk based analysis.”
Alas, earlier this month DHS announced it was moving forward with a data-sharing agreement that could pave the way for the facility’s activation, even as it faces a concerted petition effort from interested industry groups with considerable clout.
Regardless of the politics involved, the taxpayer aspects of the issue deserve further exploration – that goes not only for the Abu Dhabi pact but also the ever-troubling direction of the Ex-Im Bank. Allowing the free market and fiscal responsibility to sort out needs from niceties would provide some badly-needed bone-rattling for those accustomed to budgetary business as usual in Washington.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
In a recent blog post, the Arlington County Taxpayers Association (ACTA) highlights a finding from the Treasury Department that in 2011, the IRS sent over $46 million in fraudulent tax returns to 23,994 recipients registered at a single Atlanta address.
A report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration also listed other instances of mass amounts of fradulent returns being sent to single addresses in Atlanta, including "11,284 refunds worth a combined $2,164,976 to... a second Atlanta address; 3,608 worth $2,691,448 to a third; and 2,386 worth $1,232,943 to a fourth," according to CNSNews.
The news comes in the wake of accusations that the tax-collecting agency may have unfairly targeted certain groups based on political factors. The errors apparently stemmed from innappropriate assignment of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) to questionable applications. According to the law, only those eligible to receive Social Security Numbers can receive an ITIN. Poor oversight and a lack of internal controls at the IRS lead to improper assignment of ITINs; in these cases, the errors were particularly costly.
For more, check out the ACTA's original post here.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
After the recent $6.2 billion tax increase, one would hope that California legislators’ thirst for tax hikes would have been satisfied. But in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed various attempts by state “leaders” to ransack their constituents’ wallets yet again – even as the Golden State struggles to stay afloat.
Nothing is safe from the mad men in Sacramento, who are now fixated on tobacco, cars, oil, soda, ammunition, grocery bags and more. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the California Legislature has never seen a tax hike or government project it didn’t like. Meanwhile, the mass exodus of taxpayers and their income continues, and health care costs are beginning to soar.
Recent Left Coast lowlights:
These tax hikes wouldn’t just hurt car owners, smokers, firearm enthusiasts, and grocery shoppers (though that probably covers quite a few Californians). This batch of tax hikes, if enacted, would scorch all citizens and businesses in the state, especially the working class. It’s time for lawmakers to pursue fiscal responsibility (the state increased spending by 42 percent from 2000-2010) as aggressively as they are pursuing these tax increases.
Tax fighters should continue to hold the line in the Golden State and can take action by clicking HERE.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Late Edition: May 28, 2013
Today’s Taxpayer News!
NTU’s Pete Sepp voices concern over the lack of transparency in public-private partnerships between the investment branch of the CIA and various for-profit companies. Read the full story from CRN News.
In the wake of Apple’s talking-to last week over its tax practices, it’s worth taking a look at the rates companies pay in corporate income taxes. See this interactive graph from the New York Times indicating the taxes paid by S.&P. 500 companies from 2007 to 2012.
Congress had a productive weekend, forming four separate investigation teams to dig to the bottom of the IRS scandal, says the Daily Caller.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Internet Sales Tax Would Be Bad for Small Businesses
Our former Director of Government Affairs, Paul Gessing, penned a great op-ed about the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” which is better known as the internet sales tax bill. Opponents of this massive expansion of government power have claimed it is necessary to help the small business community. Paul, however, notes that some small businesses would actually be devastated by the legislation:
One Albuquerque-based business owner has stated he would no longer sell his product online under an Internet taxation regime as set up under the Marketplace Fairness Act. The issue is not an unwillingness to have his consumers “pay their fair share,” but the compliance costs that involve submitting documentation, often on a monthly basis even if his company has no sales in that particular jurisdiction.
He is by no means the only small business owner to face negative repercussions from Congressional overreach on Internet sales. It is one big reason why Ebay, Etsy, and their small, but numerous sellers oppose the Act while the online behemoth Amazon has become one of its primary advocates.
The “Marketplace Fairness Act” isn’t about helping small businesses. Paul pegs the bill for what it really is: an attempt by state tax collectors to get their hands on as much of your money as they possibly can. You can read more about the issue here, here, and here.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Late Edition: April 24, 2013
Today’s Taxpayer News!
NTU joined a host of fiscal conservative organizations in support of the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, which offers market-based alternatives to some ObamaCare provisions.
Minnesota is considering adding a fourth-tier income tax bracket that would raise the rate from 7.9 percent to 9.4 percent for individuals beginning at the $80,000 income level.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Late Edition: April 22, 2013
Today’s Taxpayer News!
A roundup of last week’s "Tax Week" blogs:
In case you haven’t heard, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to ram a controversial Internet sales tax bill through the Senate. The bill could come to the floor at any time! It is very important that we stop this abuse of power and urge Senators to oppose the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act" (MFA).
Want to learn more about the MFA? Here are some great resources:
If the Marketplace Fairness Act was such a good deal for taxpayers, there would be no need for the underhanded tactics Senator Reid is using. We need to stand up to his legislative bullying. Your urgent help is needed!0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Late Edition: April 17, 2013
Today’s Taxpayer News!
NTU recently urged the Arkansas senate to reject the Governor’s costly Medicaid expansion plans.
Minnesota seeks more revenue through a proposal to raise the alcohol excise tax by as much as $2 dollars per 12-pack, says the San Francisco Chronicle.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts