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Old 08-12-2010, 08:32 PM   #41
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There's a reason the proponents of US single-payer healthcare didn't use the US public schools as a positive example of a similar service provided by the government--because the opponents were already making full use of that example.

"We all think our schools are doing a great job, so let's have the government take over healthcare." It's an effective argument, all right . . .
Though there are some public schools doing a great job.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:13 PM   #42
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I don't think I'm saying anything contradictory to your statement, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I agree that a corporate level tax is completely legitimate. I just would prefer a type of tax that provides more clarity from an economic standpoint.

A use tax definitely and typically an excise tax are transaction taxes, so they are more akin to a VAT than an income or franchise tax. I guess I am not really understanding your statement.
Sorry if I was unclear.
A properly designed corporate franchise tax functions like a VAT. The value added is to the company in the ability to operate in the corporate form. Your statement does not differentiate between the method of setting the amount of a tax and the rationale for a tax. A VAT is specifically not a transaction tax, it is an ad valorem tax on the added value whcih is only calculated and collected at a transaction. A real estate transfer tax is normally a transaction tax. A gross receipts tax is an excise/transaction tax. A franchise tax can be set by transaction or my any other means.

I agree with your desire for transparency.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:15 PM   #43
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Though there are some public schools doing a great job.
But usually it's based more on parental involvement and parental engagement in their children's education than any other single variable.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:52 PM   #44
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I agree that assuming a business is profitable at all. all the firms in the market will price the product at essentially the same "revenue maximizing point." This is a function of the demand. But the overall demand curve for the product is not affected by the costs of production. Whether I produce oil at 10 dollars a barrel or 40 dollars a barrel the shape of the demand curve is the same. the question is where to set the price which depends on that shape. if under this hypothetical the revenue maximizing price of oil is 100 dollars a barrel and the tax is 25 dollars it has no effect on the consumer. It just means one company is more profitable than another. now if oil costs 90 dollars a barrel to produce and you put on 25 dollaras a barrel tax you will decrease consumption because of the price increase.

my point is simply that you cant say a priori that corporate taxes are regressive
.
But your examples don't support your 'simple' point (because they are too simple).

Your examples are static, and the whole market would change dynamically to an added $25 tax on a $100 bbl of oil. So maybe supply/demand is saying we consume X amount of oil at $100/bbl. The sellers are unlikely to absorb that added $25 cost/tax, esp if their profit is $20 on that $100. No point in doing business at a loss.

So they try to pass as much cost as possible onto the consumer. And the consumer will buy less, just like they did when gasoline was $4/gal. Those companies with a higher profit margin might squeeze out companies with lower profit margins. With less competition and tighter supplies, it's easier to raise prices - so they will. So once again, the customer pays the tax, as much as the market will bear. And we have fewer jobs supplying the lower amount of product.

Even if we don't go to the extreme of hitting loss levels, anytime you lower profit margins in an industry, money is going to flow to higher profit places.

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Old 08-12-2010, 09:53 PM   #45
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Sorry if I was unclear.
A properly designed corporate franchise tax functions like a VAT. The value added is to the company in the ability to operate in the corporate form. Your statement does not differentiate between the method of setting the amount of a tax and the rationale for a tax. A VAT is specifically not a transaction tax, it is an ad valorem tax on the added value whcih is only calculated and collected at a transaction. A real estate transfer tax is normally a transaction tax. A gross receipts tax is an excise/transaction tax. A franchise tax can be set by transaction or my any other means.

I agree with your desire for transparency.
Got it. I think we are in agreement. I wouldn't describe VAT as ad valorem for practical purposes (everyone thinks real/personal property), but you are absolutely correct that it is in terms of its definition.

It is telling about the complexity of the tax systems that two people that are at least fairly well informed about fed, state and local taxes (you are obviously from your statements and I hope I am because I run a megacorp indirect tax dept.) need several back and forths to understand each other. Or maybe I'm just slow.
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Old 08-12-2010, 11:11 PM   #46
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But your examples don't support your 'simple' point (because they are too simple).

Your examples are static, and the whole market would change dynamically to an added $25 tax on a $100 bbl of oil. So maybe supply/demand is saying we consume X amount of oil at $100/bbl. The sellers are unlikely to absorb that added $25 cost/tax, esp if their profit is $20 on that $100. No point in doing business at a loss.

So they try to pass as much cost as possible onto the consumer. And the consumer will buy less, just like they did when gasoline was $4/gal. Those companies with a higher profit margin might squeeze out companies with lower profit margins. With less competition and tighter supplies, it's easier to raise prices - so they will. So once again, the customer pays the tax, as much as the market will bear. And we have fewer jobs supplying the lower amount of product.

Even if we don't go to the extreme of hitting loss levels, anytime you lower profit margins in an industry, money is going to flow to higher profit places.

-ERD50
No

you always price the product at the point that maximizes revenue . if you could make more money raising prices, you would whatever your cost structure. I did say "assuming the business is profitable. if its not it stops selling but none of these factors change the demand curve.

Lets assume you are a fixed cost manufacturer who has a monopoly and your oil cost you 30 dollars a barrel.

How do you price your oil ? You find the price where the barrels sold times the price is the maximum

Lets assume that is 50 dollars a barrel and you sell 1 million barrels.

now I put on a 10 dollar tax. What do you do ? Your demand curve is fixed. Raise the price and you lose sales.

now you bribe a few politicians and they take away the tax, IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE DEMAND CURVE. you still sell your oil at 50 dollars a barrel
only now you pocket the profit.

yes it gets more complicated in competitive environments but the fundamental principle stays the same.
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Old 08-13-2010, 12:13 AM   #47
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yes it gets more complicated in competitive environments but the fundamental principle stays the same.
It doesn't really get much more complicated in a competitive environment, it just gets much more 'real'. And in the 'real world', some/most/all of that tax will get passed along to the consumer.

I understand (and agree with) your monopoly example. But that's not what we were discussing, we were discussing your bread example (quoted below). As far as I know, the bread industry is still a mostly competitive one (despite the farm subsidies for wheat I guess).

Actually, wheat prices did go up a few years back, and I recall reading articles about how bread producers were needing to raise prices to compensate. Too tired to google it now, maybe later.

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Eliminate corporate taxes and they raise dividends Or executives bonusesl. They don't cut the price of bread since the price is already at the revenue maximising point
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Old 08-13-2010, 04:29 AM   #48
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No

you always price the product at the point that maximizes revenue . if you could make more money raising prices, you would whatever your cost structure. I did say "assuming the business is profitable. if its not it stops selling but none of these factors change the demand curve.

Lets assume you are a fixed cost manufacturer who has a monopoly and your oil cost you 30 dollars a barrel.

How do you price your oil ? You find the price where the barrels sold times the price is the maximum

Lets assume that is 50 dollars a barrel and you sell 1 million barrels.

now I put on a 10 dollar tax. What do you do ? Your demand curve is fixed. Raise the price and you lose sales.
.
Unless basic economic theory has changed dramatically in the last 20 odd years since I looked at a Econ textbook, you are wrong you don't price a product to maximize revenue as you state. Instead, especially for the case of monopoly you price the product to maximize PROFIT not REVENUE. IIRC
that point is when marginally cost equal marginal revenue (although I vaguely remember a special case for monopolies). By changing marginal cost curve with the addition of tax, you are also changing the MR curve and the price.

In the real world the addition of tax gets partially passed on to the consumers and some gets absorb by the customers. The exact percentage depends on the elasticity of the demand for the product and competitiveness of the market place. However, I believe (but I could be wrong since I am to lazy to look it up) that even in a perfectly competitive market a tax increases the price.

In addition as SamClem suggests there is a value ((utility) to the widget that would have been purchased at $9 but aren't bought at $10 due to the
imposition of a tax. This utility is lost to society forever and is part of the hidden cost of a tax. It also explains why sin taxes are so popular, i.e. increasing the tax on cigarettes reduces demand. But since cigarette consumption has a negative impact on society the tax is a good thing.
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Old 08-13-2010, 08:08 AM   #49
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No
...

Lets assume that is 50 dollars a barrel and you sell 1 million barrels.

now I put on a 10 dollar tax. What do you do ? Your demand curve is fixed. Raise the price and you lose sales.

now you ... take away the tax, IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE DEMAND CURVE. you still sell your oil at 50 dollars a barrel
only now you pocket the profit.
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Unless basic economic theory has changed dramatically in the last 20 odd years since I looked at a Econ textbook, you are wrong

In the real world the addition of tax gets partially passed on to the consumers and some gets absorb by the customers. The exact percentage depends on the elasticity of the demand for the product and competitiveness of the market place.
Yes clifp, I was too generous in agreeing with the monopoly example. Emeritus is wrong, even in that monopoly case.

As you say, they maximize profits, not sales. The added tax is a higher % of profit $ than of sales $ (obviously, profit is a portion of the sales price). They will very likely be able to move the sales price up, accept lower demand, and improve profits over not raising prices. Unless the demand curve is almost a brick wall (such as gasoline going from $2.50 to $3.00 would cause us to use half as much gas?), that will be the case.

Maybe later, I'll post numbers to illustrate this with the $50 sales price, $30 cost of production and 1,000,000 unit demand and an added $10 tax.

Maybe it's time for Emeritus to go back to school?

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Old 08-13-2010, 08:17 AM   #50
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Unless basic economic theory has changed dramatically in the last 20 odd years since I looked at a Econ textbook, you are wrong you don't price a product to maximize revenue as you state. Instead, especially for the case of monopoly you price the product to maximize PROFIT not REVENUE.
I spent the last 20 years of my working life as the head of product pricing for a $500M company. Maximizing profit, not revenue, was the prime directive of our department. Revenue growth was a factor, but a secondary one.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:10 AM   #51
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But usually it's based more on parental involvement and parental engagement in their children's education than any other single variable.
Which, I would guess, is the basis for success at all schools.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:13 AM   #52
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Which, I would guess, is the basis for success at all schools.
Agreed -- but my point is that merely throwing more money at the problem is likely to produce little or no return because it doesn't change anything about the single most determining success factor. But it feels good.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:14 AM   #53
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Assume that a corporation makes only bread...

Corporation charges for bread what the market will bear. they maximize revenue no matter what their costs are.


... people will pay the same for bread no matter how the profit loaf is sliced.
and on oil, ('IT'=costs/taxes)...

Quote:
IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE DEMAND CURVE
So here is a real world example. I started looking for bread versus wheat, but the cost of wheat is such a small % of the retail price of bread, their is too much room for other effects.

So I went with something much tighter - wheat and flour. Emeritus tells us that the market will only pay $X for flour, that the cost does not affect demand. I guess that is true if you isolate it in a vacuum, but the supply at that price has changed, so demand has to adapt to these new supply realities.

OK, so back to wheat and flour:

Wheat and flour price relationships, Kansas City - USDA/ERS


Quote:
---------------- Cost of wheat -- Price of bakery flour
2009/10 Q1 Jun-Aug 14.48 15.00
2008/09 Q1 Jun-Aug 21.90 22.32
2007/08 Q1 Jun-Aug 15.14 16.32
2006/07 Q1 Jun-Aug 12.13 13.13

hmmm, so once they found they could charge $22.32 for flour, why lower the price back to $15? Idiots could have just kept all that profit for themselves, right! Or are you saying that we actually bought 33% less flour at the higher price? I know our household didn't change our buying/eating habits through those periods, and I bet we are pretty representative.

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Old 08-13-2010, 10:13 AM   #54
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I spent the last 20 years of my working life as the head of product pricing for a $500M company. Maximizing profit, not revenue, was the prime directive of our department. Revenue growth was a factor, but a secondary one.
Pretty soon Emeritus will be rebutting your statement by asserting that he has worked the last 30 years maximizing revenue for a $1000M company, therefore his position is the correct position.
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:21 AM   #55
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Though there are some public schools doing a great job.

Because public schools are not nationally run... at least not yet...
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:37 AM   #56
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Unless basic economic theory has changed dramatically in the last 20 odd years since I looked at a Econ textbook, you are wrong you don't price a product to maximize revenue as you state. Instead, especially for the case of monopoly you price the product to maximize PROFIT not REVENUE. IIRC
that point is when marginally cost equal marginal revenue (although I vaguely remember a special case for monopolies). By changing marginal cost curve with the addition of tax, you are also changing the MR curve and the price.

In the real world the addition of tax gets partially passed on to the consumers and some gets absorb by the customers. The exact percentage depends on the elasticity of the demand for the product and competitiveness of the market place. However, I believe (but I could be wrong since I am to lazy to look it up) that even in a perfectly competitive market a tax increases the price.

In addition as SamClem suggests there is a value ((utility) to the widget that would have been purchased at $9 but aren't bought at $10 due to the
imposition of a tax. This utility is lost to society forever and is part of the hidden cost of a tax. It also explains why sin taxes are so popular, i.e. increasing the tax on cigarettes reduces demand. But since cigarette consumption has a negative impact on society the tax is a good thing.

Good to see someone else saw the mistake... and you said what I tried to say earlier in a much better way... thanks...


I still can not see how Emeritus is saying a VAT tax is not a transactional tax. And I think Sunsetsail agreed....

I disagree that it is an ad valorem tax. Sure, an ad valorem is based on the value... but the VAT is based on the increase in value, not 'the value'. I guess in the literal meaning you might be right....

BUT... it is not like an ad valorem tax where you pay it because you own it.. you only pay it when you sell something... you can add all the value you wish to a widget, but if you do not sell that widget you do not owe a VAT tax... hence, transactional.... no transaction, no tax...

DEF: ad valorem
adj. Latin for "based on value," which applies to property taxes based on a percentage of the county's assessment of the property's value. The assessed value is the standard basis for local real property taxes
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:57 AM   #57
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Good to see someone else saw the mistake... and you said what I tried to say earlier in a much better way... thanks...


I still can not see how Emeritus is saying a VAT tax is not a transactional tax. And I think Sunsetsail agreed....

I disagree that it is an ad valorem tax. Sure, an ad valorem is based on the value... but the VAT is based on the increase in value, not 'the value'. I guess in the literal meaning you might be right....

BUT... it is not like an ad valorem tax where you pay it because you own it.. you only pay it when you sell something... you can add all the value you wish to a widget, but if you do not sell that widget you do not owe a VAT tax... hence, transactional.... no transaction, no tax...

DEF: ad valorem
adj. Latin for "based on value," which applies to property taxes based on a percentage of the county's assessment of the property's value. The assessed value is the standard basis for local real property taxes
I was actually only agreeing with the narrow conclusion that VAT is an ad valorem tax by its definition, but after re-reading my post that wasn't clear at all. In practice the VAT works like a transaction tax because the incidence of taxation is triggered by disposition of the property - i.e., a transaction.

Maybe to avoid confusion and not get caught up in semantics as I did, we can go by more general terms and call a VAT, sales, etc. an indirect tax in contrast to income/franchise taxes which are direct taxes. I don't think anyone would disagree that a VAT is an indirect tax - which is a tax that generally can't be adjusted to individual taxpayer characteristics.
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Old 08-13-2010, 12:48 PM   #58
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Unless basic economic theory has changed dramatically in the last 20 odd years since I looked at a Econ textbook, you are wrong you don't price a product to maximize revenue as you state. Instead, especially for the case of monopoly you price the product to maximize PROFIT not REVENUE. IIRC
that point is when marginally cost equal marginal revenue (although I vaguely remember a special case for monopolies). By changing marginal cost curve with the addition of tax, you are also changing the MR curve and the price.

In the real world the addition of tax gets partially passed on to the consumers and some gets absorb by the customers. The exact percentage depends on the elasticity of the demand for the product and competitiveness of the market place. However, I believe (but I could be wrong since I am to lazy to look it up) that even in a perfectly competitive market a tax increases the price.

In addition as SamClem suggests there is a value ((utility) to the widget that would have been purchased at $9 but aren't bought at $10 due to the
imposition of a tax. This utility is lost to society forever and is part of the hidden cost of a tax. It also explains why sin taxes are so popular, i.e. increasing the tax on cigarettes reduces demand. But since cigarette consumption has a negative impact on society the tax is a good thing.
I'll try again

i agree I should have said net revenue

What you are describng in your 9 and ten dollar widget is consumer surplus not utility

my point is simply that the shape of the demand curve does not change, whatever your costs.
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:18 PM   #59
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Agreed -- but my point is that merely throwing more money at the problem is likely to produce little or no return because it doesn't change anything about the single most determining success factor. But it feels good.
Once you have a safe, clean, relatively comfortable building, and well-qualified teachers, I agree completely.

No doubt that private-schooled or home-schooled children have the potential to get a much better education, but there are other reasons besides "government"...
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:18 PM   #60
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I'll try again
...

my point is simply that the shape of the demand curve does not change, whatever your costs.
And again, your point is too simple for the real world. You provide a static analysis, it is a dynamic (but not very complex) problem.

If the cost of production increases for all suppliers (tax, or any other reason), we can expect a cost increase to the consumer. Those business aren't just going to say "oh well, I guess we make less money now, sigh", they will try to recoup the cost.

And since the customer then has no source for $9 widgets (or whatever), the whole supply/demand curve now shifts around the demand for $10 widgets. It's a different market now - that is why your example is too simple.

When gas hit $4.00/G, consumption only went down a few percent. So why aren't they still charging $4.00 today? Nice profit margin there, certainly no greedy CEO would miss that?

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