Tuesday, December 29, 2015

NYTimes takes aim at family offices

In an article filled with more heat than light, the NYTimes complains that the rich are not paying enough in taxes.  It's a familiar story for them, of course.  The chief villains include family offices, the carried interest rule, charitable trusts and efforts to reduce or eliminate death taxes.  It's a Bernie Sanders road map for tax policy.

The biggest tax favor of them all for the wealthy goes unmentioned—complete tax freedom for muni bond interest.  Neither is there a mention of the enormous drain on the Treasury caused by the freedom from taxes for multi-billion dollar endowment funds.

But the complaint isn't really about the loss of tax revenue, it's about the absence of progressivity in the tax burden.  The article never mentions that the top 1% already pay more in total income taxes than the bottom 90%—that seems pretty progressive to me. No, the problem is that as a share of total income the rich are paying less than 20% of their total income in taxes, and that's just no fair, that's not enough tax pain.

To achieve this, they must spend millions on sophisticated tax advice, but it's obviously well worth it.

One phrase jumped out at me in the article.  The data from the IRS is for 2012, "the latest year for which data is available."  Really, the IRS hasn't started tabulating 2013, let alone 2014? Maybe if they spent less time on influencing the political process and targeting conservatives they'd have enough time to do their real jobs?


JLM said...

More than 2,000 comments on the article by the time I checked it out this evening – the usual mix of inane, off-topic and perceptive. Massive wealth can always find ways to avoid taxes. Yet it seems sad that so much money is spent on tax avoidance. Couldn't they throw the world a few parties instead?

Jim Gust said...

Not unless the parties generated tax deductions.