U.S. Debt Relief

This article is about the United States paying down the Debt this quarter. The article states that this is the first time that the United States has paid down the debt since 2007. The United States is going to pay 35 Billion that it owes this quarter. According to the article the primary reasons why the U.S. is able to pay off its debts is due to the increase in taxes as well as the spending cuts. The article states some pretty incredible debt number about the United States. According to the article Fannie Mae is also going to pay the federal government a substantial sum of money (61.5 billion) for its rescue. The article states how paying down this debt has bought 2-3 months of time before we begin to reach the debt ceiling.

This article might seem like it is good news for the United States, but this article is mixed news. The article points out that according to sources that the United States is not going to be able to pay down its debt next quarter. The good news for the Obama administration is that their efforts to reduce spending and pay off the debts were successful for this quarter and is being rewarded for his small success.

In case you are curious to see where all the money is being spent and the federal deficit, here is a link to the U.S. National Debt Clock: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Do you have any thoughts about this issue?

Here is a link to the article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323798104578453290294756574.html?KEYWORDS=taxes

Internet Sales Tax

This article is about purposed legislation in Congress that wants to substantially raise the online sales tax. The bill has become known as the Enzi Marketplace Fairness Act. This law would require a centralized tax collector to handle this new tax. Larger corporations such as Walmart are major advocates for this bill because they would be able to absorb the costs much easier than a smaller company who only has a store or just strictly sells to people over the internet.

I am currently still on the fence about this issue. I firmly believe that the United States thrives on small businesses and I admire people who want to be their own boss and start their business. Businesses usually start online because it limits your expenses to your raw materials. There are also plenty of statistics out there that indicate the success of a small business is very small, so it is much easier, simpler and cheaper to start online and build a clientele before you go and open up a store. I understand why the government wants a piece of this pie.

Another part of me believes in equality and I do not necessarily think it is fair for a company that has no “real” store should be able to avoid specific taxes that target companies that have an actual store, regardless of how big or small that company or franchise is. I also know that this piece of legislation would raise a substantial amount of funds because many people purchase plenty of goods online. I myself do this because I might be really busy and not have the necessary time to spend shopping for a gift when I can just go on Amazon and do it from my computer.

Any thoughts about the Internet Sales Tax?

Here is a link to the article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324493704578432961601644942.html

Obama’s Purposed Tax Plan

For the first time President Obama has purposed a change in the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act which is also known as FIRPTA. If the purposed legislation successfully passed through the Senate and House of Representatives then this would allow the gains from real estate sales using foreign pension funds to be tax exempt. If this legislation successfully passes it has an estimated cost of 2.2 Billion over the next ten years. The article mentions several examples of large pension funds investing in the United States real estate market.

I see this piece of legislation as a positive for the United States real estate market because it makes the United States real estate market much more attractive to foreign investors. As the article points out this change has led investors to change their investing strategies from equity to the real estate market. This law will ultimately cost the United States some money for the next decade, but people want to see the real estate market rebound, so the cost is worth the reward. Part of the problem with the real estate market is that no one wants to invest due to the fear that they will lose money, but if people decide to inject new revenue or investments in the market this will stimulate growth. This growth will not only affect the real estate market positively, but also other additional markets as well. An economics professor once told me that they had a friend who owned their own restaurant, this individual would never ever eat at their restaurant because they believed that by eating at other establishments this would invest his money and stimulate the economy much more, than eating at his own restaurant like most business owners would.

Any thoughts on this piece of legislation?

Here is a link to the article. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324345804578426731149635720.html?KEYWORDS=taxes

Tax Money or Better Health?

This article is about the possibility of New York City raising the legal age of smoking to 21. The article discusses how passing this law is going to cost the city millions of dollars in cigarette tax revenue. The article mentions how Texas proposed similar legislation and it estimated that it would lose 42 million dollars in tax money. Needham Massachusetts passed a similar law in 2006 and has since seen a significant decline in the high school smoking rate. In fact their high school smoking rate has decreased from 13% to 5.5%. 

The article clearly has two very different sides and I can understand each sides main arguments about this issue. First off I would like to say that I have never tried or wanted to try smoking, so I am leaning to say that the loss of cigarette tax revenue is much less important than an individuals health. I believe that anyone’s reason for believing a specific thing should be one based upon facts and merits, if both sides use facts to represent their opinions than I may disagree with you, but I do respect your opinion. 

My main reason for potentially believing this law would be a good idea is looking at this issue in both the short and long run. I think it is safe to say that this law would reduce the amount of cigarette tax revenue that a city receives in the short run. My argument against this point is simple, I think medical professionals and most of us would agree that in the long run smoking is a health risk and it lowers our life expectancy, the expectancy obviously is correlated to how many cigarettes someone smokes. Therefore I believe that this loss of income will ultimately get repaid in the long run through the various different taxes in our life since we will be living longer. Think about all the different taxes we pay in our lives, sales tax, gas tax and taxes from our job just to name a few, so I understand how an individual can be quick to judge the “loss” of tax revenue from this law, but think that raising the legal age that an individual can purchase tobacco products to 21 can only help our society in the long run. 

I would be curious to see how an individual who smokes would react to this article. This issue brings up a few interesting questions, the most important being is it more important for a city to generate income from cigarette taxes or the health of its future generations? 

Here is a link to the article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP663c3f1aa5cc487fb564c0de39512a1d.html?KEYWORDS=Tax+Issues

Tax Evasion

This article is about an employee on a Swiss Bank’s executive board that is being indicted in New York. The individual is being charged with helping Americans hide assets and avoid paying taxes. The article then discusses how the U.S. and other countries are going after other banks for helping individuals avoid paying taxes.

I would like to point out that avoid to pay taxes is obviously a crime and is constantly in the news. Famous people such as Al Capone, Wesley Snipes and Richard Hatch have all failed to pay their taxes. I understand why Capone did not pay taxes since he obviously was not doing legal “activities”, but I am also pretty sure that currently people who are involved in shady dealings almost always pay their taxes, because there is nothing more funnier and more embarrassing to the individual’s peers and acquaintances than getting busted for not paying your taxes.

An example of this would be this particular Mixed Martial Arts FIghter Nate Diaz, I apologize for his inapproiate language, but I think it is safe to say that he is not the brightest tool in the shed and has been punched a few to many times. Enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD5MRrqRhWI

This issue of not paying your taxes is difficult for me to comprehend why people try to do this. I understand if you have very little income and are trying to save money for your family. I do not understand how someone that is wealthy can not just talk to their business adviser or manager and ask them to find a great accountant to do their taxes. Paying a tax accountant what can be deemed as a small amount of money to an individual with wealth to do a great job on their taxes and possibly getting them a substantial amount of money back rather than not paying them at all. Think about it would you rather not pay taxes and save yourself a small amount of money than potentially go to jail and pay an even larger amount of back taxes? I do not know if that is ignorant or just plain dumb, but come April 15th I sincerely hope that people realize that it is a good idea to pay your taxes, preferably using an accountant.

Here is a link to the article:

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/rc-login.html

Free Meals at your job: Are the meals considered taxable income?

Silicon Valley is home to some of the largest corporations such as Google and Facebook. Some of those companies provide its employees with free gourmet meals and snacks. The IRS is currently considering weather those meals are considered a fringe meal which is considered taxable. According to the article Google has 120 cafes worldwide that serves 50,000 meals a day. The article goes on to say that if an employee was provided with 2 meals a day at an average of $8 to $10 a meal, then this individual would have to pay between $4000 and $5000 a year.

I agree with a few of the experts believing that he meals should be considered taxable income. Most large corporations and businesses have some form of cafeteria in their office or their office is located in an area that allows its employees to travel on their lunch or dinner breaks to grab some chow. An employee who travels out of the office has to pay for their meals unless a client is taking them out to lunch. For example I know that Pratt & Whitney charges its employees if they purchase food at their cafeteria. Some people enjoy bringing and making their lunch to work everyday such as my dad and I often remember him in the kitchen making himself a sandwich or asking me to him him his lunch since he was pressed for time. That meal that is made at home, bought at work or purchased at a local dinning establishment is paid for my the employee. In all of these circumstances employees have to pay for their meal, so I believe that any employee who is provided a free meal by its company should be taxed on their meal since everyone else has to pay for their meals.

This issue raises another important question in my mind that relates to this issue. Companies have decided to pay for it’s employees gym memberships because the company wants a healthy and productive employee. This makes complete since from a business perspective, but is this “free” membership also considered a fringe benefit and is that membership taxable? Any thoughts or opinions?!

Here is a link to the article:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324050304578408461566171752.html

Tax Limits

This article is about the Obama administration and their plans to try and pass a tax law that would place a 28% cap on the wealthy. The Obama administration has been trying to pass this law since 2009, but has recently started gaining steam and momentum in Congress. If this law was pass the article estimates that the government would raise 423 Billion over the span of 10 years and households who are affected by this would see their bill increase on an average of  $10,000.

I agree with this idea because it will provide additional funds to the United States government by taxing only the wealthiest households or individuals. I understand that the wealthy are able to hire tax accountants and other people who do their taxes, who know how to get as much of a return for their clients as possible and if I had their money I would do the same. Hiring someone to properly do your taxes is a great personal finance move that is only going to benefit you. I however believe that this specific tax class gets additional benefits from already being set financially and a $10,000 increase in their taxes is not much compared to how much their reported income is. Taxing another lower class would affect more people much more than taxing the rich.

Any thoughts about the Obama administrations tax limits?

Here is a link to the article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323916304578402952175617808.html?KEYWORDS=taxes