The Taxman Cometh may be a pseudo-popular phrase based partly on the Eugene O'Neill play The Iceman Cometh, but it's a phrase that we hear pretty often around this time of year. For those currently crunching numbers and chasing down receipts, or digging through files for that lost or forgotten receipt in order to get their taxes together before midnight on Friday, there's a slight bit of good news: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has extended the filing deadline to the 18th; check to see if your state has followed suit. You may be pleasantly surprised. (My state, MA, has extended the filing deadline for personal income tax to the 19th because the 18th is a holiday.)
Of course, none of that changes the fact that you do still need to file, and pay, on time.
Today is Thursday, 14 April 2011 - and this? This is an Open Thread.
Paul Krugman's OpEd in The New York Times yesterday, titled "Willie Sutton Wept," makes a few very important points for anyone who's truly interested in learning about the factors affecting our current budget 'crunch' and the ongoing debates on what to cut. (Read it here.) He makes three points about the current "budget debate" right off the bat, summarized in my bullet list below:
Most of this boils down to the reality that the current budget "crisis" is ignoring the realities of what is impacting the economy the most, while the kabuki theater that the GOP is performing (and not performing alone) in the Potemkin village of our nation's capital isn't just for show -- it's also damaging our meager recovery. Krugman reiterates what we've already seen from looking at the CBO's numbers and from additional sources -- that the core costs which will rise sharply over the next few years will be from health insurance programs, not Social Security. And the lack of revenues from the additional taxes that we lost due to the tax cuts are making the whole situation much worse.
Hat-tip Lordrag of DelphiForums.
So, not all of the rich elite are against letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest of Americans:
"For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you allow tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000 to expire at the end of this year as scheduled," their website states. "We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more."
That right there is million dollar patriotism, brought to you by your fellow concerned citizens out of concern for the economy and who have a good sense of what will help the economy the most.
Taxes. Specifically, taxing those who can most afford it.
From the NY Daily News we get a glimpse into the making of th reality show featuring the GOP Queen of Welfare, both wingnut welfare and federal handouts wise, Sarah Palin:
Make sure to check out the premiere of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" Sunday night.
After all, we helped bankroll it.
I don't mean the new reality show.
I mean the state.
Alaska gets $1.84 in federal spending for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.
We in New York get just 79 cents on the dollar.
Which means we subsidize Alaska even as it enjoys a $2 billion-plus budget surplus.
I know that this topic comes up often where I live.... Because Connecticut is one of those many blue states that pays the welfare out to the many red states that would be bankrupt without the Federal handouts.
Alaska epitomizes the reality snow job show that is Red State Welfare.
The only reason there even "appears" to be a Nanny state that the conservatives rail about is because there is a crapload of childish red staters that have proven they are unable to get by without the rest of the USA taking care of you: Make the jump»
We can sit back and worry about how these poor people will get by in this economy (the disaster economy that they created) or we can work from the pragmatic point of view of reality and tell them to suck it up and tighten their own damned belts instead of trying to squeeze the middle class and the poor even more than they already have to pay for their own disasters: Make the jump»
But will will those Dems notice? From Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly's Political Animal:
Note that House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was asked on ABC yesterday how his party would have saved these thousands of jobs, including 3,600 in his home state of Indiana. Pence didn't answer, because he couldn't -- the Republican plan was to let those jobs disappear, and then blame President Obama when the economy got worse. (It's the same with the rescue of the American auto industry -- the GOP plan wasn't to save it in some other way; the GOP plan was to let it die.)
The campaign ads seem to write themselves in a situation like this. Indeed, this is a debate to build an election around -- with a struggling economy, Democrats proposed a fiscally-responsible plan to save hundreds of thousands of jobs, specifically helping our local schools. Republicans said we can afford tax cuts for billionaires, but not teachers' jobs.
It's not every day the two parties' approaches to government get spelled out so clearly, giving the public a stark choice between two very different ideologies.
Emphasis mine and Digby has a lot to say, excerpted below the fold, on this as well.Make the jump»
Today's generations apparently didn't get enough "Schoolhouse Rock" when they were kids. Many of the older generations remember such items as Conjunction Junction, Interjections, Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here or even Verb. Here's a few of the lesser-known, less-popular ones (according to my own internal rule of thumb) to help jump-start people's senses and sensibilities again.
And remember -- this is an Open Thread.Make the jump»
Tax-time is fast approaching, so expect to see a lot more humor circulating the internet along these lines:
At the end of the tax year, the IRS office sent an inspector to audit the books of a local hospital. While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, "I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there's too little left to be of any use?"
"Good question," noted the CFO. "We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages."
"Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his obnoxious way.
"What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what's left over after setting a cast on a patient?"
"Ah, yes," replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster."
"I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO.
"Well," he went on, "What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?"
"Here, too, we do not waste," answered the CFO. "What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick."
Hat-tip lizart8 of DelphiForums.
I've seen a fair share of IRS-related horror stories, but I've also had the opportunity to work at the IRS, to work with and get to know people who worked at the IRS and who worked with people on taxes, and to work with people at the IRS who work with tax payers who have problems with relation to their returns (late / delinquent / missing returns, etc.), and what I've noted overall is that -- for the most part, in my direct experience, the people at the IRS aren't out to screw the average American taxpayer and will work to help ensure that the average taxpayer with their tax-related issues and responsibilities.
So, enjoy the jokes -- there are some definite dicks running about at the IRS and in nearly every business, government or otherwise -- but don't forget that it's humor. There are many, many hard-working individuals at all levels of the IRS who, like you, are also taxpayers and who take pride in their work. They strive to provide excellent customer service, and often have real reason to be proud in the often thankless tasks they perform. Give 'em a break.
And now, below the fold, please share any stories of success or strife that you may have stumbled across through the years.
This is an Open Thread.
For more information: www.irs.gov
Crossposted at DKos. Graphs there are in wider format.
Updated numbers and commentary from Emmanuel Saez (h/t Krugman) reminds us just how bad things are and have been for a while. One might hope that the current economic crisis does not divert our attention from the longer term issues.
I would argue that pretty much all of our problems and issues, be it health care, education, environment, collapsing public infrastructure, jobs, trade, taxes, and yes right-wing populism can be directly linked to income and wealth inequality. And the fact that inequality has gotten MUCH MUCH worse ever since 1979-1980 (I suggest looking up who became president in the United States at that time):
On the one hand, it is not just a U.S. story. Income inequality has risen throughout the developed world, according the OECD.
Wednesday's DC Tax Day Tea Party may not have been huge, but it certainly was interesting. For 3 and a half hours, 500 or so people braved the at times heavy rain to express their frustration at a litany of ills. Although the demonstrations are ostensibly about taxes and government spending, the protesters' signs covered a wide range of topics.
While there were a few rousing chants by the crowd, there was far more heckling about the poor audio than anything else. One organizer apologized for having only "a little girl voice," to which a man in the crowd screamed "Then let someone else talk!" Make the jump»
I'm so happy I found this haven for lost diaries... Again, I posted this at the KOS and watched it slide down the great orange slopes. Again, it was rescued, and praised by a few diligent readers there. And, again, I bring it to you. Thank you for being here.
"I guess it depends if you're a half-glass empty guy or a half-glass full guy."
—George W. Bush
Ever get a parking ticket when you were a half-glass empty guy? Or maybe you were a full-glass full guy, in Bernie Madoff's old neighborhood, and you've had some million dollar months? A $100 equals a tenth of a grand a month, one ten-thousandth of a million. If you make $50,000 a year (a little above the median), that ticket is 0.024% of your monthly income. If you make $12 million per year, it's 0.0001%, approximately 240 times less than the median American's unhappiness over the same violation.
A flat tax would be more fair than a flat fine. At least with flat income taxes, we'd all be paying the same percentage of our income.
Dwindling tax revenues force governments to look for ways to balance their budgets. Draconian nose amputations are showing up in emergency rooms all over America. More are on their way. Regressive taxes are just worsening the pain on the lowest earners. Make the jump»
Note: The cartoon is the logo of the real Joe the Plumber in Amarillo. Send him some business, I'm told that he's an Obama guy. If his website takes off because of all this attention maybe he can switch from actual plumbing to an online plumbing advice column. Bob