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Old 09-17-2012, 07:33 PM   #81
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I could probably convince myself to agree on two conditions:

1) The double taxation of dividends was eliminated by allowing businesses to pass dividends to shareholders before tax (i.e. treat all dividends more like REIT dividends);

2) The cost basis on long term capital gains was adjusted for inflation. If you sell an asset you held for 20 years where 75% of the "gain" was due to inflation, it would be punitive to apply ordinary income tax rates to all the nominal "gain".

Do those two things, and I might be on board.
Pass through of dividends is done is some countries already (Australia, New Zeland have both being doing it since the 1990s).

It works by imputing the amount of tax the company pays to the dividend. If the company has paid enough tax, then the dividend effectively becomes tax paid income in the hands of the shareholder. If the company has paid no tax at all then the income is fully taxable in the hands of the shareholder.

One of the consequences of this is that AU/NZ listed companies tend to pay out a high proportion of their profits as dividends and do not keep large piles of cash sitting around.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:56 PM   #82
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...My interest in equities would be much lower if maximum capital gains tax rate was 40%. Why take on such risk if the rewards are subject to up to 40% tax (plus state taxes on top of that where applicable)?
Maybe you are an outlier:

Study: Tax Cuts for the Rich Don

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A study* from the Congressional Research Service — the non-partisan research office for Congress — shows that “there is little evidence over the past 65 years that tax cuts for the highest earners are associated with savings, investment or productivity growth."
The excerpts from that study suffer the same flaws I see time and time again with these claims. First, they substitute 'top tax rates' for the actual amount of taxes collected:

Quote:
The CRS study looked at tax rates and economic growth since 1945. The top tax rate in 1945 was above 90 percent, and fell to 70 percent in the 1960s and to a low of 28 percent in 1986.
Very high marginal rates were also accompanied by plenty of legal exemptions ('loopholes'). So if they don't look at the actual collected tax rates, they are hiding something.

The second thing it ignores is external factors. According to 'studies' like this, if I add insulation to my attic, and then we have an exceptionally cold winter, that would 'prove' that higher insulation levels are associated with higher heating bills. But we know better.

Risk/reward has such a solid common sense element to it, and we see it in action in every facet of our lives, that denying that it exists seems indefensible, and/or has an agenda attached to it.

-ERD50
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:03 PM   #83
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Pass through of dividends is done is some countries already (Australia, New Zeland have both being doing it since the 1990s).

It works by imputing the amount of tax the company pays to the dividend. If the company has paid enough tax, then the dividend effectively becomes tax paid income in the hands of the shareholder. If the company has paid no tax at all then the income is fully taxable in the hands of the shareholder.

One of the consequences of this is that AU/NZ listed companies tend to pay out a high proportion of their profits as dividends and do not keep large piles of cash sitting around.
That sounds pretty complicated and inconsistent with tax simplification. I think I have a better idea, how about we assume that a certain amount of tax has been paid at the corporate level and give individuals a preferential rate on dividend income to reflect the previous taxation at the corporate level? 15% sounds about right to me.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:18 PM   #84
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That sounds pretty complicated and inconsistent with tax simplification. I think I have a better idea, how about we assume that a certain amount of tax has been paid at the corporate level and give individuals a preferential rate on dividend income to reflect the previous taxation at the corporate level? 15% sounds about right to me.
Not sure if I understand what is inconsistent about it? It simply avoids double taxation alltogether without creating any anomolies.

It is not complicated at all - each shareholder gets a statement showing the notional gross dividend, imputed tax and net dividend which they copy on to their tax returns. From the company's perspective it is a very simple calucation. It's painless, simple and transparent.

Two other benefits:

1. it makes it more attractive to invest in companies that pay taxes than those which do not

2. it favours low income earners - people whose marginal tax rate is below the imputed coprporate rate effectively get a tax credit. People whose marginal tax rate is higher than the imputed coporate rate will still have to pay the difference.

They have been doing it for nearly 20 years. As an investor when it was introduced, I had no issues at all.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:24 PM   #85
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The excerpts from that study suffer the same flaws I see time and time again with these claims. First, they substitute 'top tax rates' for the actual amount of taxes collected:



Very high marginal rates were also accompanied by plenty of legal exemptions ('loopholes'). So if they don't look at the actual collected tax rates, they are hiding something.

The second thing it ignores is external factors. According to 'studies' like this, if I add insulation to my attic, and then we have an exceptionally cold winter, that would 'prove' that higher insulation levels are associated with higher heating bills. But we know better.

Risk/reward has such a solid common sense element to it, and we see it in action in every facet of our lives, that denying that it exists seems indefensible, and/or has an agenda attached to it.

-ERD50
Did you bother to read the actual study? (Which I helpfully attached). It does indeed track the average tax rate, not just the marginal rate. See Figure I.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:35 PM   #86
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Did you bother to read the actual study? (Which I helpfully attached). It does indeed track the average tax rate, not just the marginal rate. See Figure I.
Yes, and I did see Figure 1 (the only one that addresses average tax rates). However, all their 'conclusions' are based on Figures 2-9, which all reference 'top tax rates', excepting Figure 6 which is unrelated to either average or top tax rates.

If you substitute the 'average' rates for 'top rates', those scatter diagrams of correlation would change dramatically. Not only would it undermine their 'point', it might even reverse it - but we can't really say that either because that still would not take external factors into account.


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Figure 1. Average Tax Rates for the Highest-Income Taxpayers, 1945-2009 ................................. 3
Figure 2. Top Marginal Tax Rate and Top Capital Gains Tax Rate, 1945-2010 .............................. 4
Figure 3. Private Saving, Investment, and the Top Tax Rates, 1945-2010 ...................................... 7
Figure 4. Labor Productivity Growth Rates and the Top Tax Rates, 1945-2010 ............................. 8
Figure 5. Real Per Capita GDP Growth Rate and the Top Tax Rates, 1945-2010......................... 10
Figure 6. Shares of Total Income of the Top 0.1% and Top 0.01% Since1945 ............................. 12
Figure 7. Share of Total Income of Top 0.1% and the Top Tax Rates, 1945-2010 ........................ 13
Figure 8. Share of Total Income of Top 0.01% and the Top Tax Rates, 1945-2010 ...................... 14
Figure 9. Labor Share of Income and the Top Tax Rates, 1945-2010 ........................................... 15
-ERD50
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:36 PM   #87
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Not sure if I understand what is inconsistent about it? It simply avoids double taxation alltogether without creating any anomolies.

It is not complicated at all - each shareholder gets a statement showing the notional gross dividend, imputed tax and net dividend which they copy on to their tax returns. From the company's perspective it is a very simple calucation. It's painless, simple and transparent.

Two other benefits:

1. it makes it more attractive to invest in companies that pay taxes than those which do not

2. it favours low income earners - people whose marginal tax rate is below the imputed coprporate rate effectively get a tax credit. People whose marginal tax rate is higher than the imputed coporate rate will still have to pay the difference.

They have been doing it for nearly 20 years. As an investor when it was introduced, I had no issues at all.
I never said it couldn't be done - we apply a different tax rate to qualified dividends today. Just wouldn't be my first choice. Better than ordinary rates though.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:47 PM   #88
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Yes, and I did see Figure 1 (the only one that addresses average tax rates). However, all their 'conclusions' are based on Figures 2-9, which all reference 'top tax rates', excepting Figure 6 which is unrelated to either average or top tax rates.

If you substitute the 'average' rates for 'top rates', those scatter diagrams of correlation would change dramatically. Not only would it undermine their 'point', it might even reverse it - but we can't really say that either because that still would not take external factors into account.




-ERD50
If one compares Figure 1 and Figure 2, one sees that the decrease in average tax rates paid by the top .1% or top .01% generally follows the decrease in the top marginal rates over the same period. While the precise numbers may be slightly different (I don't see where the scatter diagrams would "change dramatically"), the trend is clear and the conclusions likely hold.

I have never heard that the Congressional Research Service has a bias.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:02 PM   #89
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If one compares Figure 1 and Figure 2, one sees that the decrease in average tax rates paid by the top .1% or top .01% generally follows the decrease in the top marginal rates over the same period. While the precise numbers may be slightly different (I don't see where the scatter diagrams would "change dramatically"), the trend is clear and the conclusions likely hold.
The slope would change by a factor of ~ 2:1, that's beyond a matter of 'precision'. Certainly that affects any correlation measurements.

Regardless, they are comparing very different time frames. Are the differences really due to tax rates/collections, or due to the differences in the economy in the post-war 1950's and the post-bubble 2000's? It's difficult to adjust for these factors, but they didn't even try, and barely acknowledged it (the following is not mentioned in their summary nor their conclusions):

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Furthermore, the observed positive association between real GDP growth and the top tax rates shown in the figure could be coincidental or spurious because of changes to the U.S. economy over the past 65 years
Like my insulation analogy - if the seasons vary, usage patterns vary, and fuel costs vary, I may not be able to show a good correlation between adding insulation and lowering heating costs. Costs might well increase. But it takes little more than common sense to know it helps in relative terms. How can it be otherwise?

Likewise, it takes little more than common sense to know that taxing something, and effectively raising the cost of it (or reducing the reward), will lower the relative demand for it. How can it be otherwise?

It's also questionable to attempt to determine much of anything from the top 0.1% or 0.01% segment of the population. Would we set health care policy based on the 0.1% healthiest, or the 0.1% sickest people? We would look at a sample of the entire cross section of the population. Capital Gains rates and dividend rates affect far more than just the top 0.1%.


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I have never heard that the Congressional Research Service has a bias.
And I wouldn't (and didn't) accuse them of such - I'd have to get in their heads to determine that. But I can often read a study and determine if it really sheds light on a situation or not. This one clearly is lacking. Any claims of correlation need to at least attempt to take outside effects into account. The motivations (or lack of) for not highlighting that important issue are unknown to me.

-ERD50
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:03 PM   #90
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Not to mention the 3% VA loans the vets got to buy those $5,000 homes being built.........
By 1947 costs for implementing the GI Bill were 15% of the govt budget. With the Bonus March of poor WWI veterans in 1932 fresh in their minds, the Congress passed the GI Bill to prevent civil disorder which could have been on a vast scale since the military was about 12 million people in 1945, most of whom would be demobilized. The effect of such a stimulus was vast causing the build out of suburbia and became one of the large contributors to the post war boom. That stimulus was a bonanza.
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