Spending, by the numbers. Local radio guy Brian Gongol asks, Why do we baffle ourselves with huge numbers instead of talking about budgets in per-person terms? Why, indeed? You could ask 100 people on the street how much money the government spends and how big the deficit is, and you would be lucky to get the size of the budget within a trillion dollars. The numbers are hard to comprehend.
The ability of the politicians to get away with talk about “millionaires and billionaires” proves this — a billion is 1,000 million, and while there are likely people on your street with a net worth of $1 million, you probably haven’t met anybody worth $1 billion. They aren’t remotely the same thing.
In doing year-end tax projections for a client with a once-in-a-lifetime gain from a business sale and a huge resulting tax liability, I wondered how long his enormous (to me) liability would keep the government running. Dividing the 2012 fiscal year spending of $3.796 trillion by the 31,536,000 seconds in a 365-day year, I figure that the federal blob spends $120,370.37 per second. The biggest tax liability I’ve ever seen comes well short of funding 2 minutes of government operations. I probably will never cover a second. Where do you fit?
Fiscal Cliff Webinar! I will be appearing with Roger McEowen on the “Tax Notes From the Fiscal Cliff” webinar at Noon January 14. We will be covering the new legislation and the proposed 3.8% “Net Investment Income Tax” regulations. Register today!
Fiscal Cliff Notes:
David Henderson, Pssst: Someone tell the Republicans they won:
So here’s the big news: the anti-tax side won. Sure, Obama would love
to raise taxes even more, especially on people making between $200K and $450K. But now he has almost zero leverage to do that.
I think that’s about right. And now the President has lost his ability to distract attention from the ongoing fiscal calamity with arm-waving about “millionaires and billionaires.”
Derek Thompson, Sorry, Middle Class: In a Few Years, Your Taxes Will Have to Go Up, Too (via Going Concern). You know, we could try spending less. In any case, the rich guy isn’t buying.
Katrina Trinko, Hollywood, Electric Scooters Benefit From Tax Breaks in Fiscal Cliff Bill (The Corner)
Brad Plumer, From NASCAR to rum, the 10 weirdest parts of the ‘fiscal cliff’ bill (Wonkblog, via Tyler Cowen).
Chris James, Fiscal Cliff Deal Adjust Capital Gain Rates and Qualified Dividend Rates (Davis Brown Tax Law Blog)
Paul Neiffer, Some More Goodies Buried in the Fine Print
Kay Bell, Redefining ‘wealthy’ for tax purposes
Patrick Temple-West, Cliff fix hits small business, and more
Nick Kasprak, 2013 Tax Brackets (Tax Policy Blog)
Roberton Williams, TPC Tax Calculator Shows What Avoiding Fiscal Cliff Means for Taxpayers (TaxV0x)
Howard Gleckman, What the Fiscal Cliff Deal Really Means for Taxes and Spending
TaxProf, More Fiscal Cliff Tax Commentary
In other news…
Jack Townsend, Wegelin & Co. Pleads Guity to Conspiracy
Lynnley Browning, Swiss bank Wegelin to close after guilty plea. They opened in 1741.
Jason Dinesen, Tax Predictions for 2013
Trish McIntire, Disclosing Prisoner Returns
Robert D. Flach, WTF IS THIS AMT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT?
News you can use: “Have Fun and Don’t Be Bored” (Brian Strahle)