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Old 08-13-2010, 02:00 PM   #61
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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.
Nope you should have said profit since it is a more precise term.

Yup you are right consumer surplus.

True but irrelevant, since the tax changes the shape of the supply curve and you need both to determine a market.

Here is a demand curve for oil.
1.3 million barrels @ $40
1 million @ $50
800,000 @ $60

What is the price, well we don't know until we see a supply curve. In the case of a monopoly with a low marginal cost of say $9. The price would be the one that maximize profit namely $50. What happens if they slap a $10/ barrel excess profit tax on the oil? The price raises to $60 which maximizes profit for the corporation now that the cost has risen to $19 so the consumer pays the whole cost.
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Old 08-13-2010, 02:30 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
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?

-ERD50
Will have to disagree with you on this.... changing the cost of the supply curve does not change the demand curve... the demand curve is how many of whatever would be bought for a specific price... if the price changes, the demand curve does not change... the actual number sold does, but not the curve...

Adding a tax will shift the supply curves since the cost to produce has changed... the new intersection of the shifted supply curve and the 'static' demand curve is the new volume of sales at the new price...
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:14 PM   #63
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Will have to disagree with you on this.... changing the cost of the supply curve does not change the demand curve... the demand curve is how many of whatever would be bought for a specific price... if the price changes, the demand curve does not change... the actual number sold does, but not the curve...

Adding a tax will shift the supply curves since the cost to produce has changed... the new intersection of the shifted supply curve and the 'static' demand curve is the new volume of sales at the new price...
OK, I agree - my wording was a bit off then. But I wonder if that static demand curve fully captures the scenario we are talking about. At any one point in time, you could do some testing to see how many fewer sales you would get at $10 versus $9 for a widget. But if some external event occurs that raises the overall price of all those widgets (and in the case of corporate taxes, all the alternatives too), it would seem that the demand curve would sort of reset (acclimate) closer to that new price? I guess it comes down to how those demand curves are determined.

For example, when gas was $2.50/G, I would guess the demand curve would drop off sharply at $4.00. But as the price creeps up, don't people become more accepting of the higher price? For all the groaning about $4.00 gas, I think it was single digit % reductions in consumption (still greater than any policy result). Elasticity of demand comes into play, as people don't have ready substitutes for gasoline.

At any rate (and now I really am curious how those demand curves are derived), Emeritus is still wrong that a company won't pass a tax increase onto the consumer. As others have said, they need to maximize profits, not sales. And if it is across the board, there is no change in the competitive advantage/disadvantage. If one company could take a lower profit margin to gain sales, they would have done it before the tax also.

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Old 08-13-2010, 05:26 PM   #64
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OK, I agree - my wording was a bit off then. But I wonder if that static demand curve fully captures the scenario we are talking about. At any one point in time, you could do some testing to see how many fewer sales you would get at $10 versus $9 for a widget. But if some external event occurs that raises the overall price of all those widgets (and in the case of corporate taxes, all the alternatives too), it would seem that the demand curve would sort of reset (acclimate) closer to that new price? I guess it comes down to how those demand curves are determined.

For example, when gas was $2.50/G, I would guess the demand curve would drop off sharply at $4.00. But as the price creeps up, don't people become more accepting of the higher price? For all the groaning about $4.00 gas, I think it was single digit % reductions in consumption (still greater than any policy result). Elasticity of demand comes into play, as people don't have ready substitutes for gasoline.

At any rate (and now I really am curious how those demand curves are derived), Emeritus is still wrong that a company won't pass a tax increase onto the consumer. As others have said, they need to maximize profits, not sales. And if it is across the board, there is no change in the competitive advantage/disadvantage. If one company could take a lower profit margin to gain sales, they would have done it before the tax also.

-ERD50

If a demand curve is calculated correctly, the change in tax does not affect it... the price goes up... demand usually goes down.. I do forget what changes the demand curve in a significant way.... college was way to long ago and I do not deal with this in real life...

Your last statement is correct... you price your item for max profits, not max sales... or max gross margin...

... unless of course you are a salesman who gets paid a commission.... you then price the product lower than cost and make it up with volume (a long time ago my boss at the time actually heard this from a dept head... not the below price comment... but when told he was pricing below cost he did say he would make it up with volume)....
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:51 PM   #65
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If a demand curve is calculated correctly, the change in tax does not affect it... the price goes up... demand usually goes down.. I do forget what changes the demand curve in a significant way.... college was way to long ago and I do not deal with this in real life...

Your last statement is correct... you price your item for max profits, not max sales... or max gross margin...

... unless of course you are a salesman who gets paid a commission.... you then price the product lower than cost and make it up with volume (a long time ago my boss at the time actually heard this from a dept head... not the below price comment... but when told he was pricing below cost he did say he would make it up with volume)....
I think you guys are talking about Price elasticity of demand
Price elasticity of demand - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:38 PM   #66
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I think you guys are talking about Price elasticity of demand
Price elasticity of demand - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yes, that's it. And they even talk about taxes:

Quote:
In the opposite case, when demand is perfectly elastic, by definition consumers have an infinite ability to switch to alternatives if the price increases, so they would stop buying the good or service in question completely—quantity demanded would fall to zero. As a result, firms cannot pass on any part of the tax by raising prices, so they would be forced to pay all of it themselves.[34]
So just as one would expect, the claim Emeritus makes could only be true in very, very specialized rare cases. It's not a real world thing at all.

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Old 08-13-2010, 11:09 PM   #67
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Yes, that's it. And they even talk about taxes:



So just as one would expect, the claim Emeritus makes could only be true in very, very specialized rare cases. It's not a real world thing at all.

-ERD50

Yes... it is what we are talking about... but if you look at the example given... the demand curve did not move... the supply moved because of the taxes... and you were now at a different point on the demand curve... ie, the red demand line did not move... the blue supply line did...




When demand is more elastic than supply, producers will bear a greater proportion of the tax burden than consumers will.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:20 AM   #68
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When demand is more elastic than supply, producers will bear a greater proportion of the tax burden than consumers will.



my point was and is that costs don't change the shape of the demand curve
Therefore no statement can be made a priori as to the regressive nature of the tax
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Old 08-14-2010, 09:21 AM   #69
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When demand is more elastic than supply, producers will bear a greater proportion of the tax burden than consumers will.
OK, just so I follow you - you are taking back your previous statements (gentle way to say you are finally admitting to being wrong )? You previously said a profitable corporation eats the tax, and the consumer sees zero price increase:

Quote:
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.

So on to your other point:
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my point is simply that you cant say a priori that corporate taxes are regressive
Sure I can. Except in those extremely rare cases where PED is near infinite (very small price changes result in very high quantity of sales changes), a portion of that tax is passed to the consumer and is paid by poor and rich alike.


And in the case of corporate taxes, we have a special case that I'll combine with this statement:

Quote:
my point was and is that costs don't change the shape of the demand curve
But take a look at what drives that elasticity - a large part of it is the cost of the alternatives. Consumers don't usually have to by product A, product B may be a good (but more expensive) substitute. The price of product B puts a cap on what a consumer will pay for product A.

But... an across the board corporate tax raises the price of the alternative as well. So I'll stand by my statement that this becomes a dynamic, not static, situation. The demand curve will shift before/after an across the board corporate tax, since the price of the alternatives shifted also.

A rising tide lift all boats. A rising tax lifts all prices.

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Old 08-14-2010, 11:35 AM   #70
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A rising tide lift all boats.
I'm not seeing much evidence of that these days. There are quite a few corporations posting record profits or close to it, and yet their employees haven't seen raises in years.
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Old 08-14-2010, 11:43 AM   #71
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For your electric bill, you can always use less, or make your own (wind/solar etc).
This is rapidly becoming a more cost effective and viable option!
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Old 08-14-2010, 11:52 AM   #72
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I'm not seeing much evidence of that these days. There are quite a few corporations posting record profits or close to it, and yet their employees haven't seen raises in years.
But that's a misapplication, isn't it? The employees will only see raises when the supply/demand curve for employees warrants it.

Or at least, you are taking my "all boats" comment too generally - I meant in the sense that a tax on all corporations is a rising cost (rising tide) that affects all company pricing (boats). Then we would expect to see prices rise, as there is no alternative for the consumer - all companies have higher costs. No place to run with your money.

Now, if all prices rise from a corporate tax, the consumer buys less 'stuff' overall (they only have X amount of money). So fewer jobs are required to make the stuff. It just seems bad all the way around. Yet, so many people who claim to be for the 'little guy' want to increase taxes on corporations. They should rethink their position.

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Old 08-14-2010, 12:28 PM   #73
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Yet, so many people who claim to be for the 'little guy' want to increase taxes on corporations. They should rethink their position.
-ERD50
That is the key point. However, I think the way it is perceived by the general public is a tax on the rich - i.e. taxing a corp. Even the news media does not (to my knowledge) present corp taxes as regressive. To me, that indicates they do not understand the issue.

The elimination or reduction of corp. taxes will not happen. But there will be pressure to increase them. And there has been discussion about a VAT system which is another regressive tax. In Europe VAT is in addition to the other taxes e.g. individual and corp.
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Old 08-14-2010, 01:17 PM   #74
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That is the key point. However, I think the way it is perceived by the general public is a tax on the rich - i.e. taxing a corp. Even the news media does not (to my knowledge) present corp taxes as regressive. To me, that indicates they do not understand the issue.

The elimination or reduction of corp. taxes will not happen. ...

I agree about the perception, but there was an exception to this (to my surprise/delight) a few years back here in IL. Our esteemed () Gov Blago tried to get a 'Gross Receipts Tax' passed:

Illinois House rejects business tax proposal

Quote:
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, for the first time took a clear public position on the tax, which would be the largest in Illinois history.

"The gross receipts tax is a regressive tax," Madigan said. "There is a passthrough to the ultimate consumer. Many times those people are the least able in our society to take on additional costs."

The tax would apply to business transactions. Basically, every time a company takes in money, it would pay a small share to the state.
Comments like that were widely reported in print and TV/radio. They also mentioned that it would drive businesses over the border to other states, taking jobs with them.

The perplexing thing to me was - if they 'got it' this time, why don't they 'get it' in regards to all corporate taxation? And I still think a creative, well-spoken politician could get this point across - if they wanted to.

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Old 08-14-2010, 07:15 PM   #75
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I have to admit that while I am no fan of raising corporate tax rates, I am not sure why the are any worse than other tax.

If we replaced all of the revenue generated by corporate taxes with say income taxes or even a sales tax, the economic impact would be similar I think. In particular an income tax would lower the demand curve as people have less money to pay for things. It is unclear to me (and I bet even professional economist would differ) that shifting the supply curve via a corporate tax is better or worse than lowering it with individual taxes. All taxes reduce economic activity to some extend.

Before you jump on the we need less taxes, it is worth remembering that a country like Somalia have a very low effective tax rate but even lower economic activity.
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:58 PM   #76
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Before you jump on the we need less taxes, it is worth remembering that a country like Somalia have a very low effective tax rate but even lower economic activity.
??I'm missing the point on this one. I'm fairly sure high or low taxes had nothing to do with how Somalia turning into a cesspool. And I don't think anyone would say that low taxes are a sufficient condition for economic prosperity.

While it's true that, in a closed system, whether we tax individuals or corporations might not matter much. But, we don't have a closed system, and corporations in low-tax countries have a decided cost advantage over corporations paying higher taxes. It can make a big difference in a highly competitive global economy, and I don't think saddling US corporations with higher tax costs will help them win out against foreign competitors paying a lot less. There's a reason European governments have chosen to lower their corporate tax rates.
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(From the CATO institute--warning: vertical axis potentially misleading)
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Old 08-14-2010, 09:35 PM   #77
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The perplexing thing to me was - if they 'got it' this time, why don't they 'get it' in regards to all corporate taxation? And I still think a creative, well-spoken politician could get this point across - if they wanted to.
During his campaign, the President suggested cutting corporate taxes, and correctly observed that the US rate was the highest among industrialized countries.

Here's an analysis prompted by his proposal.
It seems, though, that he believes not so much in cutting the corporate rate because that, in itself, would be good, but only in exchange for reducing loopholes and exclusions. In other speeches, he mentioned that the lower corporate rate would be targeted, going only to companies that do certain things. In other words, he sought not to reduce loopholes but to create new loopholes and complexity.
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Old 08-14-2010, 09:40 PM   #78
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Before you jump on the we need less taxes,
So let's get that out of the way first - let's shoot for a tax revenue neutral comparison then. OK, it's out of the way.

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I have to admit that while I am no fan of raising corporate tax rates, I am not sure why the are any worse than other tax.

If we replaced all of the revenue generated by corporate taxes with say income taxes or even a sales tax, the economic impact would be similar I think. In particular an income tax would lower the demand curve as people have less money to pay for things.
OK. The tax revenue has to come from somewhere - and if it isn't businesses it must be consumers. So from that standpoint it would largely be a wash. But...

1) A Corp tax is regressive. I think the majority are in favor of progressive taxation (thought they will disagree on the shape of the curve). So it helps create a more consistent tax policy.

2) It should make our products more competitive in foreign markets. That should help overall, rather than hurt. More local jobs.

3) We currently pay (twice!) for businesses to push their cost of tax compliance onto us - example:

Let's say a hypothetical corp normally owes $100M in tax each year. It finds it can hire $10M worth of lawyers and accountants to reduce that tax bill to $80M. Big win for the corp (and lawyers and accountants), a $10M investment returned $20M. $10M net benefit to the corp. Sweet!

How's that look from the consumer POV? Well, since you want to keep this tax revenue neutral, the consumers will need to come up with the $20M lost taxes and only get $10M net reduction in the price of goods (assuming the best case that all the savings is passed to the consumer). So consumers are out $10M. It went to the non-value added wages of those lawyers/accountants. We should have those talented lawyers/accountants working on value-added deals.

And it costs a corp plenty to simply comply with the tax laws. Consumers pay that in the price of goods, and again, it is non-value added. Not good for the country at all.

So yes, I'd rather pay a tax than to pay someone else to pay that tax plus pay their costs to pay it, plus pay their costs to figure out how to avoid paying as much as they legally can (intentionally circularly worded, as it is a circular condition).

-ERD50
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Old 08-14-2010, 11:15 PM   #79
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My point about Somalia is that some level of government expenditures is beneficial for the economy. The government needs to collect revenue to pay for these expenditure, although we do seem to be running a grand experiment in providing government services without paying for them...

As for the Corporate tax being regressive, I am not really convinced. Compared to raising in the payroll tax, a VAT I'd say a corporate tax is progressive. Certainly we could structure corporate taxes to be somewhat targeted to rich folks, i.e. a special tax on luxury goods yachts, expensive cars, Coach Bags. Although traditionally when make targeted taxes we do it on particularly dumb fashion, like a special tax on oil companies, or big box retailers that start with the letter W, which directly impact poor people.

At a macro level a corporate taxes reduce corporate profit, which we discussed/demonstrated in the thread. I contend that main beneficiaries of higher corporate profits are wealthy people in the form of higher stock prices and higher dividend payments. So in that respect I think corporate tax is pretty progressive.

I agree that higher corporate taxes do make US corporation less competitive and encourage multi nationals to move as much work offshore as possible. I think this is a strong argument in keeping corporate taxes low.

ERD point about the cost of corporate tax compliance is a really interesting one which I haven't thought about before (or actually heard). Clearly it is huge, I think Buffett said Berkshires tax return was 50,000 page..

However, the flip side to reducing or even eliminating corporate income is that will create a new cottage industry in people creating fake corporations to avoid paying taxes. Right now the system more or less works as intended. Most professional Dr. lawyers, and CPA along with many small business are organized as S Corporation and there income is passed through and they pay regular income taxes. Now there are some abuses, cars, computers, cell phones, a season tickets that primarily benefit one person being written off as a business expenses. This abuses are relatively minor and very little incentive for small business to incorporate as a C Corp and subject themselves to double taxation.

However, if we eliminate corporate income tax, there would be a high incentive for
not only professionals/small business to incorporate but even for somebody like myself. I could open Paradise Financially Planning, pay myself a modest salary and enjoy the benefits of company, car, computer, cellphone and office all tax deductible.

I think the trick is to balance corporate and individual income rates to prevent abuse.

Now I really don't have a clue how close we are currently to being in balance.
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:47 AM   #80
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Now I really don't have a clue how close we are currently to being in balance.
I don't think we should heavily rely on any single type of tax. Not only will it make it easier for these "cottage industries" to spring up and allow some of the most well-heeled individuals and/or corporations pay very little in that type of tax, but not all circumstances are the same and this would result in people with similar incomes having widely different tax burdens because of the specific configuration of their life.

I'd rather see moderate levels of all types of taxation -- personal income tax, corporate income tax, sales taxes and/or VATs, *maybe* property tax (though I really hate that one), that sort of thing. That seems harder for a household or a business to easily escape... and more likely evens out the tax burden for two random households with similar means.

I'm all for tax simplicity, but tax fairness and avoiding systems where taxes can easily be avoided (particularly by the wealthy) are also concerns.
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