Chilling effects. Tax Analysts story ($link) about last week’s conviction of tax shelter figure Paul Daugerdas, and the acquittal of the former chairman of BDO on related charges, has a sobering final paragraph:
Regarding Field, Edward M. Robbins Jr. of Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez PC noted the difficulty in obtaining an acquittal in the face of multiple tax-related conspiracy counts in federal court. “I looked at the . . . docket sheet for the entire case and wondered how much it cost Mr. Field for his acquittal,” Robbins said. “I’d say at least a couple of million dollars. That’s what it takes to beat a case like this at trial.”
It doesn’t help at all when the government freezes your assets before trial, as they did here. And if justice can only be had for $2 million, what chance does somebody have who lacks the the kind of wealth these defendants have?
Jack Townsend, On Retrial, Daugerdas Convicted and Field Acquitted
The second thorny issue is that Hatch has decided to raise taxes significantly for the highest income groups. For people making between $250,000 and $1 million, the percentage increase is in the range of 33 percent to 45 percent. That’s a major sticker shock for high-income Iowans. That’s less than 5 percent of taxpayers. But even if it were 1 percent or less, Hatch loses the ability to argue that he won’t raise Iowans’ taxes.
Hatch says he’s trying to make Iowa’s income tax fairer, not just lower. The highest wage-earners are paying a lower percentage of their income, he said. His plan also increases the per-child deduction from $40 to $500 and gives married couples who are both employed a credit of $1,000.
That’s attractive, to be sure, but a plan that at least held higher-income Iowans harmless would have broader political appeal. The arguments about the wealthy paying their fair share just don’t resonate the same way during a time of budget surpluses as they do on the national level in the face of enormous debt.
Of course, a tax on “the rich” means a tax on “business.” A 33 to 45 percent increase on taxes on Iowa businesses doesn’t promise much in the way of either “fairness” or employment growth in Iowa.
It could be a good thing to have Iowa’s horrible income tax system be a big campaign issue. It would be nice to get a mandate for serious tax reform, like the Tax Update’s Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform Plan. Probably too much to hope for.
Despite conventional wisdom that the Bush-era tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, the reality is that the tax burden on the bottom 99 percent has been falling for more than two decades. Indeed, the average tax rate for the bottom 99 percent of taxpayers is now below 10 percent—well below the average for all taxpayers—thanks to years of targeted tax cuts aimed at the middle class. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent of taxpayers still pays an effective tax rate that is roughly twice the average for all taxpayers.
But politicians insist that raising taxes on “the rich” is always somehow “fairness.”
Remember that Section 179 is allowed for new AND used equipment, while bonus is only on NEW equipment. You cannot take Section 179 on trade-in basis of old equipment, but can use it for bonus. Section 179 applies to farm equipment and single purpose farm structures and land improvements. Bonus applies to all farm assets including buildings.
I give about a 60% chance of 2013 bonus depreciation being extended into 2014, and about 80% on Sec. 179. For planning purposes, though, it’s wise to try to get the assets in service in 2013 if you can.
Peter Reilly, When Planning Never Forget The Alternative Minimum Tax:
I’m hoping that I get some commenters who tell me that they keep meticulous track of all AMT carryovers for their clients and do a detailed reconstruction whenever they take on a new client. I bet they floss regularly too.
Well, yes and yes.
Phil Hodgen’s series on expatriate taxation: Chapter 5 – Mark-To-Market Taxation
TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 179
Tax Justice Blog, Paul Ryan Says No to Any Revenue Increase, Again. Good.