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Thread: In Big Government We Trust

  1. #1
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    In Big Government We Trust

    50,000 inmates claim tax refunds, report no wages(AP)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 50,000 prison inmates claimed more than $130 million in tax refunds this year without providing any wage information to the IRS, a government investigator says in a report to be released Thursday.

    The Treasury inspector general for tax administration stops short of saying the refunds were fraudulently claimed. It does, however, say the Internal Revenue Service should investigate further.

    The report is the latest in a series of audits looking at prison inmates claiming tax credits and other government payments. It notes that the IRS identified nearly 250,000 fraudulent tax returns during the 2010 filing season — a 50 percent increase over 2009 — preventing $1.48 billion in fraudulent refunds.

    "While the IRS is identifying larger numbers of fraudulent returns, improvements must be made to its screening processes to ensure that returns filed by prisoners get adequate scrutiny," said J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. "Expanded and expedited access to wage and withholding information would significantly increase the IRS's ability to verify information reported on a tax return when processed, and prevent fraud."

    The IRS issued a statement saying the agency takes refund fraud seriously and aggressively fights it.

    "The IRS is very successful at detecting and stopping incorrect refunds, including criminal refund fraud, and overall prevents 98 percent of questionable claims from being issued," the statement said.

    "The situation involving prisoners is not a simple process, particularly considering the fact that some inmates and their families are legally entitled to tax refunds and that the prisoner population is constantly changing."

    The IRS said it works with state and federal prisons to get information about inmates on a voluntary basis.

    "However, without congressional action to require state and federal prisons to report the status of inmates to the IRS, there will be gaps in the prison data and compliance problems will persist," the IRS said in its statement.

    Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  2. #2
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    How Much Government?

    Seventy-five years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was eager to weave a safety net under millions of impoverished Americans who were retired and had no savings. On his left, supporters called for a massive new government program. On his right, Republicans argued that it would bankrupt the country and undermine people’s habits of thrift and self-reliance.

    Sound familiar?

    FDR, ever the master, came up with an ingenious solution: create a program in which Americans would be asked to contribute to a social savings account that government would manage on their behalf and would be there for retirement. Instead of big government, it was to be a partnership that would encourage individual thrift and responsibility. Thus was born Social Security, overwhelmingly supported in the Senate by Democrats and Republicans (77–6 on final passage) and the most popular social initiative in the country’s history.

    Where is that spirit of creativity and collaboration when we need it again? Today, many citizens are at dagger points as we argue over a question that has hung over us since the founding of our nation: How much government is good for America?

    Democrats argue—with justification—that in the elections of 2006 and especially 2008, voters sent a clear signal that they wanted more government. Candidate Barack Obama asserted that free markets were broken and promised that Washington would ride to the rescue, saving the economy, overhauling health care, stopping global warming, and reforming K–12 education. Voters not only gave him 53% of their votes—the highest total for a Democrat in 44 years—but returned swollen Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

    Democrats can well say they had a mandate, and they insist that after throwing trillions of dollars at our problems, we are beginning to see success. The economic engines are indeed starting to rev up, and slowly—painfully so—people are finding work. So Democrats feel they will ultimately be celebrated.

    But it is equally clear that, for now, these massive efforts are scaring the dickens out of a growing number of Americans, prompting a significant backlash. Republicans now argue—with increasing justification—that we are creating more government than we need, more than we want, and certainly more than we are willing to pay for. Consider just a few statistics.

    • Public spending by federal, state, and local government was 24% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1950, 35% before the Great Recession, and could hit 44% this year.

    The Tax Foundation estimates that 60% of all Americans now receive more in income benefits from government than they pay into government, and that with new policy directions, the number will grow closer to 70%.

    The Tax Policy Center has found that while everyone is expected to pay payroll taxes, only 47% of American households now pay federal income taxes.

    • The European Union has agreed that it is dangerous for a country to allow its publicly held debt to exceed 60% of its GDP. The Congressional Budget Office says that the U.S. could hit 60% by the end of this year, and on its current course could hit 100% by 2020.

    • Meanwhile, The Economist estimates that the federal government now employs a quarter of a million people to write and enforce regulations.

    Personally, I find these trends troubling. If they continue, we will diminish both the vitality and prosperity of the nation. Government should be compassionate and yet lean. But I recognize that others who care just as much about the country’s future sharply disagree. Our challenge is whether we can put down our daggers and once again work together in a civil, creative spirit. We clearly have the means to solve our problems; what is less clear is whether we have the collective will.

    David Gergen is a professor of public service at Harvard and a senior political analyst at CNN. He serves on the board of Teach for America and has advised four Presidents

  3. #3
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    Nevermind the above facts, we need to tax the rich, the top 1 or 2% of all Americans because they are rich!!

    What is truly "just" and "fair" is that all Americans pay some tax. If taxation is the price for democracy, shouldn't we ALL support it?

  4. #4
    Atypical is offline

    This Is The "Tax Foundation"

    November 29, 2010

    Obama Should Cut the Corporate Tax Rate

    If Obama and his advisors are looking for a Clintonesque opportunity to move back to the center in a way that would make a real difference to the economy, he should partner with Republicans to cut the corporate tax rate and reform how we tax the foreign profits of U.S. companies. The evidence suggests that such reforms would not only be good for the long-term growth of the economy, but would improve workers' wages and living standards over time, says Scott A. Hodge of Forbes magazine.

    A dramatic cut in the corporate tax rate could be the best tonic for the ailing economy.

    Next to Japan, the United States imposes the highest corporate tax rate of any industrialized country at nearly 40 percent (combining the federal and state rates).
    A 2008 report by economists at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) determined that the corporate income tax is the most harmful tax for long-term economic growth.
    High personal income taxes were found to be the second-most harmful tax for long-term growth, which would argue for not allowing the Bush cuts to expire on the "rich" as President Obama proposes.

    The least harmful taxes for growth, according to OECD economists, are consumption taxes and property taxes.

    Economic research also finds that because capital is mobile but workers are not, labor bears a disproportionate share of the economic burden of corporate taxes -- as much as 70 percent by some estimates. Economists such as Kevin Hassett at the American Enterprise Institute have found that workers in countries that have cut their corporate rates have seen faster growth in wages than workers in countries that have not cut their corporate taxes. (A recent Tax Foundation study found a similar relationship in our 50 states).

    Thus, Obama can legitimately sell a deep corporate rate cut as being prolabor because not only will it lead to an increase in wages and living standards, it will most likely lead to an increase in jobs because America will be a more attractive place for inbound investment, says Hodge.

    Source: Scott A. Hodge, "Obama Should Cut the Corporate Tax Rate," Forbes, November 22, 2010.

    From the Tax Foundation Site - Testimonials

    Facts and Figures on Government Finance is the most detailed and useful statistical portrait of where the spending goes and how it is financed." —Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economics

    "[The Tax Foundation's] tireless efforts to educate the public about America's tax burden have made a big difference here in Washington, and throughout the fifty states. Our tax policies are better for it, and our economy is stronger." —U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow

    "Through its outreach efforts and programs such as Tax Freedom Day, the Tax Foundation strives to promote tax reform designed to lessen the tax burden that Americans face today.... And I am grateful for the vast assistance and support that the Tax Foundation provided over the years in the battle for reform." —Dick Armey, Former Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives

    The "testimonials" by these three conservative apologists above are to be expected. They are in favor of no one paying taxes - except those earning very little. It's what's right according to conservative principles. Beware!

    For those that care anything about fairness there are many posts by me and Havakasha re taxes, wealth inequality and its ramifications, corporate malfeasance and conservative/libertarian lies. As I have said many, many times, dems do not have all the answers by far but cons currently have none.
    Last edited by Atypical; 12-02-2010 at 09:26 PM.

  5. #5
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    Well spoken Atypical. Somewhat cynical, but overall, well done.

    I wouldn't say the "cons" don't have solutions. They've proposed solutions. You may strongly disagree with them, but to say they have no proposed solutions is not correct. Here are some of your "opponents" ideas.

  6. #6
    Havakasha is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiriuslyLong View Post
    Nevermind the above facts, we need to tax the rich, the top 1 or 2% of all Americans because they are rich!!

    What is truly "just" and "fair" is that all Americans pay some tax. If taxation is the price for democracy, shouldn't we ALL support it?
    You have it completely wrong. No one is talking about taxing the rich because they are the
    rich. Strawman argument if ever there was one. Argue with Warren Buffett for a change.

    Why do you think Warren Buffett is railing about the fact that he is paying
    a lower percentage of tax than his own secretary? He knows something is wrong
    with the tax system in that it favors the wealthy over the middle and lower classes
    but somehow you are completely blind to what is going on.

    Are you an automoton or just deluded?
    Last edited by Havakasha; 12-03-2010 at 03:08 PM.

  7. #7
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    The rich pay 35% income tax. That's the highest bracket.

    Oh, but that doesn't matter because they make most of their money on capital gains and divendends. So, naturally, we should tax those higher - we have to get their money.

  8. #8
    Havakasha is offline
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    As i said before, ARGUE WITH WARREN BUFFETT. I wonder if he knows a little more
    about the tax situation for the wealthy than you?

    Nah. Of course S&L knows more than Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros and all the rest.

    Warren Buffett on taxes:
    "But--the--way the tax system has gotten tilted toward guys like me over the last 2O years--as opposed to the middle class, you know, in my view, is a little OBSCENE."

    Last edited by Havakasha; 12-03-2010 at 03:39 PM.

  9. #9
    Havakasha is offline
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    WASHINGTON -- Billionaire Warren Buffett rebutted claims that the Obama administration is unjustly hurting business orders with high taxes by saying that in fact, the wealthy have never had it so good.

    "I think that people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it," he told ABC's Christiane Amanpour in a clip played on "This Week" on Sunday.

    When Amanpour pointed to critics' claims that the very wealthy need tax cuts to spur business and capitalism, Buffett replied, "The rich are always going to say that, you know, 'Just give us more money, and we'll go out and spend more, and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.' But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.

    On Tuesday, Buffett wrote a New York Times op-ed in the form of a letter to "Uncle Sam," thanking him for saving the U.S. economy:

    When the crisis struck, I felt you would understand the role you had to play. But you've never been known for speed, and in a meltdown minutes matter. I worried whether the barrage of shattering surprises would disorient you. You would have to improvise solutions on the run, stretch legal boundaries and avoid slowdowns, like Congressional hearings and studies. You would also need to get turf-conscious departments to work together in mounting your counterattack. The challenge was huge, and many people thought you were not up to it.
    Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered. People will second-guess your specific decisions; you can always count on that. But just as there is a fog of war, there is a fog of panic -- and, overall, your actions were remarkably effective.
    Buffett isn't the only billionaire who has argued for higher taxes. Both Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his father, Bill Gates, Sr., recently came out in support of a Washington state measure to "create a 5 percent tax rate on annual income exceeding $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples, and a 9 percent tax rate on income that tops $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples."

    Buffett has spoken out in the past about taxes for the wealthy, telling the Senate Finance Committee in 2007 that the estate tax should not be repealed. "I think we need to...take a little more out of the hides of guys like me," Buffett testified.

    Video should be included in this version. Check it out.

  10. #10
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    Go check out my big oil post, but not within earshot of others. It's funny. I think you'll like it.

    I probably should put that warning on the post.

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