Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

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Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby AFTP » Mon May 09, 2011 1:28 pm

http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/09/pf/taxe ... htm?hpt=T2



NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When it comes to taxes, do the rich pay their fair share?

The answer, of course, is subjective since "fair" is not an absolute concept and tax data, depending how it's sliced, can tell different stories.

Those who say the rich pay their fair share point to the fact that the top 1% of taxpayers end up paying almost as much in federal income tax (and some years even more) as the bottom 95% combined.

Still, it's unlikely that even the most anti-tax, pro-wealth advocates would find this particularly fair: A very small number of millionaires end up owing no federal income tax at all.

They're in good company, of course. Nearly half of all U.S. households, or 69 million, are estimated to have owed no federal income taxes for 2010. The vast majority of them, however, are low income.

But 18,000 were households taking in more than $500,000 -- and of those, 4,000 made more than $1 million.

How can it be that those with big income streams owed zip to Uncle Sam?

Janice Johnson and Jay Safier, members of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, and Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, explained the likely reasons.

Such tax filers probably have big portfolios and big investment losses from the 2008 financial crisis. They are also more likely to be retired or self-employed, and may be charitably inclined.
America's richest tax breaks

What's common to all is that they likely qualify for the many tax breaks in the code that disproportionately benefit high-income households.

"A lot of these are people who probably made it very big on Wall Street years ago and who turned around and put it all in tax-exempt bonds," Johnson said.

Many of her clients are in their 50s or older, and "they're very leery of equity markets."

Williams offered a hypothetical example: A retired person with $10 million invested in municipal bonds paying 5% interest, or $500,000 a year.

"Because there is no limit on how much tax-exempt interest you can earn without having to pay taxes, she pays nothing to the federal government," he said.

Or it's possible that some of these tax filers have a large portfolio, and booked a lot of taxable gains in the recent run-up in stocks. But they were able to fully offset those gains with the many capital losses they realized during the financial crisis, which made even the most experienced investor want to take their marbles and go home.

Another possibility: A tax filer has a yen for foreign investments. Say he owns a dividend-paying foreign stock such as BP, Johnson said. The British government will withhold tax on the dividends that BP pays. To avoid being taxed twice on the dividend, the investor may be able to claim a foreign tax credit on her U.S. income tax return for the amount withheld.

"As long as the foreign tax exceeds her U.S. tax liability [on that dividend], she will pay nothing on her federal tax return" Williams said.

Johnson is also seeing a lot of people today who have left their jobs to start a business or become a consultant. Their self-employed paycheck -- not including income from their investments -- is far lower than their paychecks when they worked for The Man. And the tax owed on their new salary is more than offset by their mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions.

Safier noted there is another way such high-income households might substantially reduce their federal tax bite: giving to charity in a big way.

He noted two strategies. The first involves selling property to a charity below market value. That lets the seller treat a portion of the sale as a charitable contribution.

The second involves donating highly appreciated stocks to a charity. The tax filer can deduct the fair market value of the donated shares as a contribution without having to pay any capital gains.

At a time of record deficits, it's not unreasonable to say the rich should pay more, when the law allows even 1% of millionaires to owe nothing in federal income tax.

But keep in mind that boosting taxes on the rich by itself won't come close to solving the country's fiscal problems for a number of reasons. Most notably, there simply aren't enough of them.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Number Six » Mon May 09, 2011 5:10 pm

Such realities challenge Justice Holmes' assertion that "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization" and support Leona Helmsley's remark that "only the little people pay taxes".

Another aspect of tax avoidance is trusts. It was the basis of one of Lynne Meredith's programs to sell "pure" trusts; "Did you know that the Kennedys and the Rockefellers pay virtually nothing in taxes? You too can enjoy such tax sheltering through "pure" trusts..." Her methods were of course pure bunk for which she is serving a much deserved sentence.

Another propaganda ploy is to get the upper middle income people to resent the welfare crowd, that it is actually the hard-working top few percent income earners who are paying the lion's share of the taxes. Warren Buffet doesn't think he is over-taxed as don't many of his honest peers.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Brandybuck » Mon May 09, 2011 5:26 pm

One major reason a few of the rich do not pay the income tax is because they simply do not have an income. They don't have a wage, don't have a salary, dividends are rolled back in, etc. They have oodles of wealth in investments, but the income tax is on income, not investments. As the interest example in the story shows, income taxes might already have been paid, and the wealth growth comes from interests.

I get annoyed at populist rantings about soaking the rich based on their net worth. If someone is worth fifty million dollars, then should they pay taxes on fifty million dollars? Each year? Year after year? Imagine if you had to pay a third of your net worth every year. One third of your home's value every year. One third of your retirement investments every year. Year after year. It's a ridiculous idea, yet it's one that the envious class would impose on the rich.

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby jg » Mon May 09, 2011 10:00 pm

Safier noted there is another way such high-income households might substantially reduce their federal tax bite: giving to charity in a big way.

And this is bad, how?
Safier thinks it is better to have them give the money to the government in taxes than to contribute to charity based on that quote.

The deduction to charity generally results in a savings of tax at the marginal rate of income tax. A $100,000 gift saves the $25,000 or $28,000 or maybe the $33,000 of tax that would have been paid on the $100,000.
The result is the contribution of $100,000 has an after tax cost of the $67-75,000.


Is there anyone (other than those in the government) that really think it better to have people of means give more to the government and less to charity?
I would rather them give the 100K to the charity and zero to the government than for the same net effect without a deduction when giving, for example, 60K to the charity and paying 15K taxes into the general revenue of the government.
As it stands, it is akin to trading 15K to the government for 40K to the charity.

The lack of clarity in presenting this issue rankles me every time I read it.
“Where there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.” — Plato

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Gregg » Tue May 10, 2011 12:07 am

I plan to, in a very few years, quit paying income tax. I am in the early part of transferring all of my income producing wealth into double tax free municipal bonds. I'll keep non dividend paying stocks and some other stuff where it is, but when I leave Ford I intend to quit paying taxes, and not just because of the money (the difference in yeild will make that a wash at best) but because I don't want to spend the time and effort to file the damn things.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Number Six » Tue May 10, 2011 7:38 pm

Brandybuck wrote:One major reason a few of the rich do not pay the income tax is because they simply do not have an income. They don't have a wage, don't have a salary, dividends are rolled back in, etc. They have oodles of wealth in investments, but the income tax is on income, not investments. As the interest example in the story shows, income taxes might already have been paid, and the wealth growth comes from interests.

I get annoyed at populist rantings about soaking the rich based on their net worth. If someone is worth fifty million dollars, then should they pay taxes on fifty million dollars? Each year? Year after year? Imagine if you had to pay a third of your net worth every year. One third of your home's value every year. One third of your retirement investments every year. Year after year. It's a ridiculous idea, yet it's one that the envious class would impose on the rich.


By David Wessel (WSJ)

The top 400 U.S. individual taxpayers got 1.59% of the nation’s household income in 2007, according to their tax returns, three times the slice they got in the 1990s, according to the Internal Revenue Service. They paid 2.05% of all individual income taxes in that year.

In its annual update of the taxes paid by the 400 best-off taxpayers, who aren’t identified, the IRS also said that only 220 of the top 400 were in the top marginal tax bracket. The 400 best-off taxpayers paid an average tax rate of 16.6%, lower than in any year since the IRS began making the reports in 1992.

To make the top 400, a taxpayer had to have income of more than $138.8 million. As a group, the top 400 reported $137.9 billion in income, and paid $22.9 billion in federal income taxes.

About 81.3% of the income of the top 400 households came in the form of capital gains, dividends or interest, the IRS data show. Only 6.5% came in the form of salaries and wages.

Over the past 16 tax years 3,472 different taxpayers showed up in the top 400 at least once. Of these taxpayers, a little more than 27% appear more than once. In any given year, about 40% percent of the top-400 returns were filed by taxpayers who weren’t in that exclusive club in any of the 15 years .

In all, the IRS received nearly 143 million individual tax returns for 2007, the year that ended with the onset of the worst recession in decades.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_i ... ted_States


It's not "envy" that makes middle and lower income people want tax justice. It is fairness. Ability to pay has always been a sensible approach to tax justice.
'There are two kinds of injustice: the first is found in those who do an injury, the second in those who fail to protect another from injury when they can.' (Roman. Cicero, De Off. I. vii)

'Choose loss rather than shameful gains.' (Chilon Fr. 10. Diels)

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Nikki » Tue May 10, 2011 11:54 pm

Don't like the results of the system? Get the system changed.

The tax code is what it is. There are a lot of preference items and a lot of perfectly legitimate ways to reduce or eliminate one's liability.

If that bothers you, get opn your local congress critter to change the rules.

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby AFTP » Wed May 11, 2011 2:42 pm

Nikki wrote:Don't like the results of the system? Get the system changed.


If that bothers you, get opn your local congress critter to change the rules.


Good luck with that one.
Bush said he'd fix the code and didn't.
Some are pushing for a National Sales Tax but that would take the power away from the Govt.
Ron Paul wants no tax and get rid of the Fed. Reserve.
That will NEVER happen. They will NEVER give up that much power!
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby jg » Thu May 12, 2011 12:32 am

Herman Cain is promoting H.R.25, the Fair Tax Act of 2011.

See http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.25:.. for the text of the bill.

SEC. 101. IMPOSITION OF SALES TAX.

`(a) In General- There is hereby imposed a tax on the use or consumption in the United States of taxable property or services.

`(b) Rate-

`(1) FOR 2013- In the calendar year 2013, the rate of tax is 23 percent of the gross payments for the taxable property or service.

`(2) FOR YEARS AFTER 2013- For years after the calendar year 2013, the rate of tax is the combined Federal tax rate percentage (as defined in paragraph (3)) of the gross payments for the taxable property or service.

`(3) COMBINED FEDERAL TAX RATE PERCENTAGE- The combined Federal tax rate percentage is the sum of--

`(A) the general revenue rate (as defined in paragraph (4)),

`(B) the old-age, survivors and disability insurance rate, and

`(C) the hospital insurance rate.

`(4) GENERAL REVENUE RATE- The general revenue rate shall be 14.91 percent.


Of course, this bill includes the "prebate" monthly payment equal to the sales tax rate times the poverty rate of income for each registered qualified family.

There are, perhaps, prior discussions of this bill for those ambitious enough to search.
“Where there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.” — Plato

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby AFTP » Thu May 12, 2011 7:30 pm

So let me get this straight, if I buy something for $100 I pay $123?
Sounds like that could get expensive.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Number Six » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:20 pm

It looks like I was wrong on Buffett's honesty according to a local coin shop owner:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/obama-s ... ince-2002/

Also BH's "NetJets" was recently sued for tax evasion by the government, and they counter-sued.
'There are two kinds of injustice: the first is found in those who do an injury, the second in those who fail to protect another from injury when they can.' (Roman. Cicero, De Off. I. vii)

'Choose loss rather than shameful gains.' (Chilon Fr. 10. Diels)

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Judge Roy Bean » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:47 am

Number Six wrote:...

David Wessel (WSJ) wrote:
The top 400 U.S. individual taxpayers got 1.59% of the nation’s household income in 2007, according to their tax returns, three times the slice they got in the 1990s, according to the Internal Revenue Service. They paid 2.05% of all individual income taxes in that year.


If anyone is relying on tax returns to make over-arching assessments of income is on a fool's errand.

David Wessel (WSJ) wrote:In its annual update of the taxes paid by the 400 best-off taxpayers, who aren’t identified, the IRS also said that only 220 of the top 400 were in the top marginal tax bracket. The 400 best-off taxpayers paid an average tax rate of 16.6%, lower than in any year since the IRS began making the reports in 1992.

To make the top 400, a taxpayer had to have income of more than $138.8 million. As a group, the top 400 reported $137.9 billion in income, and paid $22.9 billion in federal income taxes.

About 81.3% of the income of the top 400 households came in the form of capital gains, dividends or interest, the IRS data show. Only 6.5% came in the form of salaries and wages.

Over the past 16 tax years 3,472 different taxpayers showed up in the top 400 at least once. Of these taxpayers, a little more than 27% appear more than once. In any given year, about 40% percent of the top-400 returns were filed by taxpayers who weren’t in that exclusive club in any of the 15 years .

In all, the IRS received nearly 143 million individual tax returns for 2007, the year that ended with the onset of the worst recession in decades.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_i ... ted_States

It's not "envy" that makes middle and lower income people want tax justice. It is fairness. Ability to pay has always been a sensible approach to tax justice.


At least we now know Wessel is a socialist at heart.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Number Six » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:08 pm

"so·cial·ism [ sṓshə lìzəm ] 1.political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles
2.movement based on socialism: a political movement based on principles of socialism, typically advocating an end to private property and to the exploitation of workers
3.stage between capitalism and communism: in Marxist theory, the stage after the proletarian revolution when a society is changing from capitalism to communism, marked by pay distributed according to work done rather than need."

Are you sure he fits this definition?
'There are two kinds of injustice: the first is found in those who do an injury, the second in those who fail to protect another from injury when they can.' (Roman. Cicero, De Off. I. vii)

'Choose loss rather than shameful gains.' (Chilon Fr. 10. Diels)

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby AFTP » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:00 pm

Socialism + Racism = National Socialism. (?)
Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his Country, it is a sign he expects to be paid for it. – H. L. Mencken



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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Judge Roy Bean » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:45 pm

Number Six wrote:"so·cial·ism [ sṓshə lìzəm ] 1.political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles
2.movement based on socialism: a political movement based on principles of socialism, typically advocating an end to private property and to the exploitation of workers
3.stage between capitalism and communism: in Marxist theory, the stage after the proletarian revolution when a society is changing from capitalism to communism, marked by pay distributed according to work done rather than need."

Are you sure he fits this definition?


Yes. "Equity and fairness" is the lure.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Number Six » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:56 pm

I'm not an expert on political movements but I found this comment on Shafaravich's book interesting on the roots of socialism:

"Shafarevich's book The Socialist Phenomenon,[7] published in the US in 1980, argued that the leftist-nihilist utopian impulse is a revival of gnostic religion, rooted in rebellion.[8] In his view, this is an anti-Christian urge that fights obsessively with the normal state of the world, demanding material equality and the eradication of individual and gender distinctions.[9] Shafarevich wrote that "the death of mankind is not only a conceivable result of the triumph of socialism – it constitutes the goal of socialism."[10]

"Shafarevich's views were influenced by Karl Wittfogel's theory of hydraulic society.[11] The mathematician argued that socialism has two archetypes: ancient despotisms (such as Sumeria, Babylonia and Egypt) and millennial sectarian movements of medieval and early modern Europe, along with a Freudian death-instinct.[11] Out of this combination, he said that this ideology works to co-opt the prestige of science and faith in progress.[11] Shafarevich covered in his work what he regarded as socialist tendencies and socialist states that have occurred during the history of mankind. He contrasts Campanella's (City of the Sun) and Thomas More's (Utopia) visions with the facts known of the Inca Empire and concludes there are striking similarities. Also, in Shafarevich's (1980:207) opinion, Marxist ideology has not even the climate of scientific inquiry. Marx's most important postulates are contradicted by the very reality:

"If a socialist state comes into being only under the conditions created by the development of capitalism, if, as Lenin wrote, 'socialism originates in capitalism, develops historically from capitalism, and results from the action of a social force that is engendered by capitalism,' then whence did it come and as a result of what social force did it develop in the Inca empire or the states of the ancient Orient? History only reinforces the doubts engendered by the contemporary situation: socialist states have arisen in China, North Korea and Cuba--that is, in the countries where the influence of capitalism can in no way be considered a determining factor."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Shafarevich

Tax fairness is not about ideology so much as about an equal playing field. It makes no sense for millionaires and billionaires to be paying 15% in taxes, while the self-employed working class are hit left and right with business costs and taxes. No sense whatsoever. Those who would defend Warren Buffet and his class, while justifying the taxes imposed on small businesses have lost touch with reality, and it makes you wonder who is the monkey on their backs making them justify the plutocrats?
'There are two kinds of injustice: the first is found in those who do an injury, the second in those who fail to protect another from injury when they can.' (Roman. Cicero, De Off. I. vii)

'Choose loss rather than shameful gains.' (Chilon Fr. 10. Diels)

tabscorbet

Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby tabscorbet » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:41 am

thanks for the link.

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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby JamesVincent » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:22 am

Number Six wrote:Tax fairness is not about ideology so much as about an equal playing field. It makes no sense for millionaires and billionaires to be paying 15% in taxes, while the self-employed working class are hit left and right with business costs and taxes. No sense whatsoever. Those who would defend Warren Buffet and his class, while justifying the taxes imposed on small businesses have lost touch with reality, and it makes you wonder who is the monkey on their backs making them justify the plutocrats?


Your not making any sense. I am a self-employed working class type person and I can guarantee you that all the business expenses you mention Buffet and others pay also, they just make more money at it. What your seeing is the rate they pay AFTER their deductions, including business expenses. The people that really get hurt by taxes are the middle class of any type. The poor dont pay taxes, the rich pay around that magical 15% and the middle class, with just enough money to feel comfortable and afford some good things, pay out the wazoo. Without a change in capital gains and other tax breaks theres nothing thats going to help them, they simply dont have enough income and/ or investments to put them up to that 15% plateau. So they pay 25-30% in taxes.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Quixote » Thu Jul 26, 2012 2:46 pm

The poor dont pay taxes, the rich pay around that magical 15% and the middle class, with just enough money to feel comfortable and afford some good things, pay out the wazoo.


Some of the poor pay taxes, the most obvious ones being single people with no kids. Most of the tax breaks for the poor require them to have children in the household. Those with children enjoy a negative tax rate thanks to the child tax credit and earned income credit. Those without children can get some EIC if they are between 25 and 65, but it is not enough to offset income, FICA, medicare and excise taxes.

The middle class making just enough money to feel comfortable are in the same boat. With kids, little or no net federal tax liability. No kids, paying out the wazoo.

What your seeing is the rate they pay AFTER their deductions, including business expenses.


Huh? Are you saying that the figure being complained about is 15% of gross revenue, not gross income or taxable income? That hardly seems likely. Gross revenue is a meaningless measure of someone's income.
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Re: Millionaires who owe no federal income tax

Postby Arthur Rubin » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:13 pm

Quixote wrote:
What your seeing is the rate they pay AFTER their deductions, including business expenses.


Huh? Are you saying that the figure being complained about is 15% of gross revenue, not gross income or taxable income? That hardly seems likely. Gross revenue is a meaningless measure of someone's income.


Yes, it does seem quite likely. The rich have business expenses, and the poor and middle class do not.
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