Sioux City Revenue Camera Windfall. The Des Moines Register today lists the winners from revenue cameras around the state. Public safety isn’t up there:
Tickets from automatic traffic cameras totaled $19.7 million for nine Iowa cities during the last fiscal year, but more than 34 percent of that money went to out-of-state vendors.
Sioux City benefitted richly from Iowa’s status as the only state allowing revenue cameras on interstate highways:
Iowa is the only state in the country that allows speed cameras to be permanently placed on highways and interstates. The data collected by the DOT shows those cameras are the most lucrative: The two placed in a construction zone on Interstate Highway 29 in Sioux City brought in more than $4.5 million for the fiscal year ending in June.
The evident failure of the cameras to stop construction zone speeding tells you how much they help public safety. If they stopped speeding, there wouldn’t be so much revenue. Of course, Sioux City also has a big incentive to generously define “construction zones” and leave them in place after construction is completed. I drove through the I-29 zone on a Sunday night (no ticket for me!); with no no workers around at the time, the only point of the construction zone speed limits when I drove through was camera revenue.
Some good news from the piece: “The number of red-light cameras nationally is dropping, according to a study by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian-leaning think tank.” That’s because they’re a crock, a corrupt bargain between the operators and the municipalities, and people hate that.
William Perez, Need Extra Time to Finish up Your 2013 Tax Return?:
The IRS will grant a person an additional six months to file their tax return. To request this extra time, file an extension with the IRS on or before the deadline.
Filing an extension provides several benefits. Besides extra time to file the tax return, an extension also provides extra time to fund a self-employed retirement plan and to recharacterize IRA contributions.
And, contrary to myth, it doesn’t increase your chances of getting audited. In contrast, filing an erroneous return to beat the deadline or get a quicker refund definitely increases your audit risk.
TaxGrrrl, Taxes From A To Z (2014): D Is For DRIP
Russ Fox, False Checks, Trusts, and Ignoring Taxes Lead to Real Prison. Indeed they do.
Joseph Henchman, State Tax Reforms Are More Than Just Revenue Changes (Tax Policy Blog):
But more to the point, we consider 2013 one of the most successful years for tax reform we’ve seen in a while. We saw North Carolina cut its taxes but, more importantly, massively restructure them to become flatter, simpler, and more competitive. The real improvement in North Carolina wasn’t just the amount of taxes (though they did cut taxes, as noted above), but the structure of the tax code.
Beyond North Carolina’s landmark reform, Indiana under Governor Mike Pence (R) also moved to cut its personal income taxes and abolish its death tax. Wisconsin also made significant income tax cuts accompanied by positive structural changes authored by Representative Dale Kooyenga. Even in states that couldn’t achieve such sweeping reforms, valuable progress was made. Arizona implemented an important simplification of its sales tax code. Governor Martinez of New Mexico worked with her legislature to cut her state’s corporate tax. Texas made some positive reforms to its damaging gross receipts tax, the margin tax.
Notice one state missing there? Anyone? Iowa? The Tax Update’s Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform Plan is ready to go! How about a 4% top individual rate, repeal of the Iowa corporation tax, and massive simplification — or do you like massive complexity, special favors for special friends, and the nation’s highest stated corporate rate?
Eric Todor, Tax Reform’s Quiet Protectionism (TaxVox): “In effect, income from the sale in the United States of goods manufactured overseas by controlled foreign subsidiaries (CFCs) of U.S.-resident multinational companies would be taxed at a higher U.S. rate than other income from the same factory”
William Gale, Alan Auerbach, Forgotten but Not Gone: The Long-Term Fiscal Imbalance (TaxVox):
First, ignoring projections for the future, the current debt-GDP ratio is far higher than at any time in U.S. history except for a brief period around World War II. While there is little mystery why the debt-GDP ratio grew substantially over the last six years – largely the recession and, to a smaller extent, countercyclical measures – today’s higher debt-GDP ratio leaves less “fiscal space” for future policy.
Second, while we clearly face no imminent budget crisis, our new projections suggest the 10-year budget outlook remains tenuous and is worse than it was last year, primarily due to changes in economic projections.
George Will, The IRS’s behavior taxes credulity:
Obama breezily says there was nothing more sinister than “boneheaded decisions” by wayward and anonymous IRS underlings. Certainly boneheadedness explains much about this administration. Still, does he consider it interesting that the consequences of IRS boneheadedness were not randomly distributed but thwarted conservatives?
The rules that Obama says befuddled the IRS boneheads — to his benefit — read today exactly as they have read since 1959. For half a century they did not prevent the IRS from processing applications for tax-exempt status in less than three months. Some conservative group should offer $10,000 to anyone who can identify a liberal group that had the experience scores of conservative groups have had — an application delayed more than three years and receipt of an IRS questionnaire containing at least 60 questions.
Believing that there isn’t a “smidgen of corruption” is about as much of an intellectual leap as, say, believing dinosaurs and humans co-existed.
TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 305
Jack Townsend has a List of 14 Swiss Banks Under Criminal Investigation
Many smart people think preparers should be regulated. I just don’t agree. There is no market failure. If you don’t like your preparer, find another one. Or better yet, write your representative and ask for a tax system that doesn’t require low-income people to pay preparers.
David Brunori, State Tax Notes ($link)
I suspect he won’t need a preparer for awhile now. From Going Concern:
Xzavier allegedly beat up a tax preparer when he found out the woman he was with wouldn’t be getting her refund in cash. After a security guard intervened, he is accused of whipping out his heat and shooting both the guard and two women. A fourth person was grazed by a bullet but not shot.
I’m sure that really helped her get that refund sooner.