Category Archives: Taxes

Philadelphia Tax Makes Soda More Expensive Than Beer

https://i1.wp.com/freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Pepsi.jpgPhiladelphia’s tax on sugary drinks has made soda more expensive than beer in the city.

The Tax Foundation released a new study on the excise tax last week, finding that the 1.5-cent per ounce tax has fallen short of revenue projections, cost jobs, and has forced some Philadelphians to drive outside the city to buy groceries.

The study finds that the tax is 24 times higher than the Pennsylvania tax rate on beer.

“Purchases of beer are also now less expensive than nonalcoholic beverages subject to the tax in the city,” according to the study, written by Courtney Shupert and Scott Drenkard. “Empirical evidence from a 2012 journal article suggests that soda taxes can push consumers to alcohol, meaning it is likely the case that consumers are switching to alcoholic beverages as a result of the tax. The paper, aptly titled From Coke to Coors, further shows that switching from soda to beer increases total caloric intake, even as soda taxes are generally aimed at caloric reduction.”

The Tax Foundation points out that unlike most cities, Philadelphia passed the tax specifically to raise revenue, not to fight obesity. The city even includes diet sodas in its tax, as a way to raise money for pre-kindergarten programs.

However, less than half of the $39.4 million collected since the tax went into effect on Jan. 1 has gone to education funding.

“[T]he tax was originally promoted as a vehicle to raise funds for prekindergarten education, but in practice it awards just 49 percent of the soda tax revenues to local pre-K programs,” Shupert and Drenkard write. “Another 20 percent of the soda tax revenues fund government employee benefits or city programs, while the rest of the money will go towards parks, libraries, and community schools.”

Collections from the soda tax are also well below original projections of $92 million per year, due to tax avoidance.

“Soda sales in Philadelphia have also declined since the tax went into effect at the beginning of 2017, threatening the long-run sustainability of the tax,” Shupert and Drenkard write. “According to some local distributors and retailers, sales have declined by nearly 50 percent. This is likely primarily due to higher prices, which discourage purchasing beverages in the city.”

Earlier this year PepsiCo announced it was laying off up to 100 workers because of the tax, which the company blames for costing a 43 percent drop in business.

Philadelphians are also no longer able to buy 12-packs or 2-liters of Pepsi products in grocery stores due to the tax, the Tax Foundation said.

“From an operational standpoint, the tax rollout continues to create problems for the city as collections have come in less than projected,” the Tax Foundation added. “In July, city officials lowered beverage tax revenue projections by 14 percent, leaving the pre-kindergarten programs that the tax promised to fund in jeopardy.”

“Furthermore, soda taxes are regressive, hurting low-income earners the most. Philadelphia’s experience serves as a cautionary tale for other areas weighing similar beverage taxes,” the group said.

Source: The Washington Free Beacon

Feds Just Expanded Civil Asset Forfeiture ‘Laws’ Nationwide

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When you’re a government agency, asking for a tax increase is always a hassle. As Ryan McMaken notes, for the most part, taxpayers don’t like taxes, and if asked if they want to pay more, they’re likely to often say “no.” Moreover, when public officials pass tax increases, they may face the wrath of taxpayers at the ballot box. For this reason, governments are always looking for ways to get revenue without having to use tax revenue.

One such ‘hidden’ method of seizing wealth from the taxpayers is through what is now called “civil asset forfeiture.”

This occurs when a law enforcement agency seizes the assets – including real estate, cars, cash, and other valuables – from private citizens based merely on the suspicion that the person has committed a crime with the assets in question. No due process is necessary. No conviction in a court of law need occur. While it is technically possible to sue a government agency to reclaim one’s possessions, this requires immense amounts of time and legal fees to pursue. Needless to say, civil asset forfeiture has become a lucrative source of income for law enforcement agencies. And, over the past 30 years, the practice has become widespread.

As Martin Armstrong detailed, between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. Now, according to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses.

This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.

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“Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets—all without so much as charging you with a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property is taken after its owner has been found guilty in a court of law, with civil forfeiture, owners need not be charged with or convicted of a crime to lose homes, cars, cash or other property. Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture turns that principle on its head.  With civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent.”

– “ Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” Institute for Justice

In jolly old England, Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. But as John Whitehead noted, in modern-day America, greedy government goons steal from the innocent to give to the corrupt under court- and legislature-sanctioned schemes called civil asset forfeiture. This is how the American police state continues to get rich: by stealing from the citizenry.

At every turn, “we the people” are getting swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided, pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded, double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and corporate shareholders of the American police state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.

President Trump has made it clear his loyalties lie with the police, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has previously declared his love for civil asset forfeiture, the Supreme Court keeps marching in lockstep with the police state, and the police unions don’t want their gravy train to go away, so there’s not much hope for federal reform anytime soon. As always, change will have to begin locally and move upwards.

Some state legislatures (Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Ohio) are beginning to push back against these clearly unconstitutional asset forfeiture schemes. As the National Review reports, “New Mexico now requires a criminal conviction before law enforcement can seize property, while police in Florida must prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that property is linked to a crime before it’s seized.”

And it is that pushback that has seemingly pushed the federal government to ‘fix’ the situation. As Reuters reports, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday that the federal government will reinstate a program that helps local and state law enforcement seize cash and other assets they suspect have been earned from crimes.

Local police will now be able to seize cash, often from those suspected of drug crimes, even in states that do not condone the policy.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters that most seizures were warranted because the “vast majority” of people who have property taken by police do not contest it in court.

“This is going to enable us to work with local police and our prosecutors to ensure that when assets are lawfully seized they are not returned to criminals,” said Rosenstein at a media briefing at the Justice Department.

The Obama administration had rolled back the policy in 2015, saying it incentivized police to take money from people who had committed crimes.

Since former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in on the issue in 2015, Justice Department agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration has been barred from rewarding local police for taking possessions from people they stop.

Now, the federal government will again be able to return up to 80 percent of the assets seized to local law enforcement.

Rosenstein said the 2015 policy had a chilling effect on seizures by local law enforcement.

Many states have civil asset forfeiture laws that allow the state government to redistribute money seized for programs like education. But the federal program returns cash directly to the police department that took the asset, allowing them to buy new equipment or as drug sniffing dogs.

The Justice Department under President Donald Trump has made efforts to improve relationships with local and state law enforcement, which they viewed as damaged under the Obama administration. Rosenstein said that the president had heard from police who were concerned about the 2015 policy, but the administration was not acting to score political points with police unions that supported Trump’s campaign.

“This is not an effort to appease any particular constituency. It is an effort to empower law enforcement,” Rosenstein said.

The Police State’s tentacles just reached a little further into your ‘pocketbook’ as what has become known as “policing for profit,” goes nationwide.. by federal law!

DoJ’s Full new asset forfeiture policy letter below (confirming police can sezie proeprty from people not charged with crimes even in states where it is banned)…

As John Whitehead concluded so eloquently, remember, long before Americans charted their revolutionary course in pursuit of happiness, it was “life, liberty, and property” which constituted the golden triad of essential rights that the government was charged with respecting and protecting. To the colonists, smarting from mistreatment at the hands of the British crown, protecting their property from governmental abuse was just as critical as preserving their lives and liberties. As the colonists understood, if the government can arbitrarily take away your property, you have no true rights: you’re nothing more than a serf or a slave. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was born of this need to safeguard against any attempt by the government to unlawfully deprive a citizen of the right to life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Little could our ancestral forebears have imagined that it would take less than three centuries of so-called “independence” to once again render us brow-beaten subjects in bondage to an overlord bent on depriving us of our most inalienable and fundamental rights. Yet if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.

Enough is enough.

We leave it to Liberty Blitzkrieg’s Mike Krieger to sum it all upWashington D.C. has become a clear threat to hundreds of millions of Americans who just want to lead a decent lives for themselves and their families. The only policies coming out of that cesspool have made things far worse for the political and economic well-being of the vast majority of us. The time for us to take our constitutional powers back and reinstate self-government is long overdue.

Source: ZeroHedge

The Broken States of the Union

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At the end of the day, a broken state is a broken you.

For the first time in US history a handful of US states is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Illinois is about to be downgraded to junk bond status, which will turn its financial problems catastrophic overnight. Illinois cannot possibly pay its accumulated debt, its unpaid medicaid expenses and its future retirement obligations, so bankruptcy almost certainly will be its only way out.

Main, Connecticut, Kentucky and California are also caught in chronic budget deadlocks that may lead to bankruptcy as a solution for dodging their entitlement obligations. Bear in mind they’re called “entitlements” because it’s money promised to you that you already put in the work to earn. It’s your retirement. Illinois, for example, has over $200 billion in pension obligations that will never be paid … or that can only be paid at a greatly diminished level worked out in some form of effective bankruptcy.

That’s a problem that is only solved by turning it into a worse problem for others. Illinois will end its problems by making certain that for the next quarter century, a good portion of the now retiring baby-boom population is dirt poor and must be carried by the younger population as dead wait (if not exterminated) because the retirement they planned in order to responsibly carry themselves through their final years isn’t there.

Instead of the state not being able to pay its bills, bankruptcy means that hundreds of thousands of retirees won’t be paying theirs, which means the people they owe money to will be going broke, and so the problem trickles down. State bankruptcy merely shifts the burden so that legislators don’t have to deal with it but you do. And it’s inevitable because the alternative is that you pay for it through much higher taxes. The state is you.

The Federal government won’t be solving the state budget problems either because it plans on dumping heavier medicaid expenses back on all states as it repeals Obamacare to help solve its own budget problems amid its own deadlock. Like the states, its own Social Security funds are going broke, so it faces its own massive entitlement problems. And, if it bails out one failing state, it will be expected to bail out all others that face such problems.

With Illinois effectively reaching bankruptcy and a likely catastrophic credit downgrade this summer, the problem finally starts coming to a head where everyone is forced to see how decades of government debt accumulation end, and that end looks something like this in real terms:

Illinois, as the bellwether example, has already stopped paying the contractors who fix roads and other infrastructure. That means the contractors will now stop fixing the roads and won’t be paying their employees, and broken roads don’t get corn and beef to market. Illinois has stopped paying doctors. That means the doctors will stop fixing people. Illinois has refused to pay its lottery winners (even though it took the money from all the suckered ticket buyers). That means there will no more lottery to raise state money because there will be no more ticket buyers. That means the state’s budget problems just got worse, so Illinois soon won’t be paying state employees or pensioners.

It sucks when your entire state goes broke. You see, you can keep kidding yourself — as our entire nation has for the decades that I’ve been complaining about this — that you’re going to take care of everyone on welfare with endless debt spending or that you’re going to maintain huge military power to control the world with debt spending; but eventually you pile up state or federal debts so high that you wind up not paying anyone, including the welfare recipients or the soldiers in your military.

Like the US government, the State of Illinois has been operating without a real budget for more than two years, operating dysfunctionally during that time by court-ordered stop-gap measures because the legislature is deadlocked as politicians refuse to accept reality; so, Illinois has now reached the same financial status as Puerto Rico.

Illinois is grappling with a full-fledged financial crisis and not even the lottery is safe – with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner warning the state is entering “banana republic” territory…. Reports have suggested the state could be the first to attempt to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy — but under the law, that’s impossible unless Congress gets involved….. “Illinois is the fiscal model of what not to do,” Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., told Fox News, while not commenting on the bankruptcy question. “This avoidance in behavior toward dealing with our challenges is what leads to the devastating impacts we are seeing today.” (Fox News)

And, for Illinois, the problem is that they cannot kick the can down the road any further because the next credit downgrade will make it impossible for them afford their current debt, which is really already impossible. Creditors will become much fewer and more expensive when Illinois becomes the first state of the union to hit junk-bond status and maybe the first to declare bankruptcy since the Great Depression, when Arkansas found itself “plain flat broke” and became the only state to ever default on its bonds (showing it can happen), effectively declaring its own bankruptcy, even if not sorted out through the federal courts. (Eventually, years later, Arkansas paid their bond holders.) Already, the Illinois ten-year bond yields are at 5.2%; but the world becomes exponentially worse when you hit junk-bond status and entire large institutions become outlawed from financing you.

“We have a very real deadline looming,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno told Fox News. “The alternative to not finding a compromise will be devastating to Illinois.”

With or without bankruptcy, the state is already badly defaulting on its obligations. Bankruptcy is just a more orderly way of deciding who is not going to get paid and by how much. But the not getting paid part? Already here, and nearly a dozen states are falling into this kind of severe condition. The issue with state bankruptcy is that bankruptcy court is federal, putting state budgetary sovereignty under state’s rights under federal determination; but it can be done:

David Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania … wrote outright that, “The constitutionality of bankruptcy-for-states is beyond serious dispute.” The key, as he sees it, is that bankruptcy would be entirely voluntary, which should eliminate any concerns about Federal intrusion on state sovereignty. (Zero Hedge)

And it has been done … long ago … and is now here again.

Economic denial is about to square up to economic reality, and reality always wins! Eventually, economic reality forces your hand in a catastrophic solution because of your profligate ways. Eventually, you end up as a truly cashless society. This summer, we get to watch that play out in Illinois to get a sense of what it will look like elsewhere.

At the end of the day, a broken state is a broken you.

The motto of the State of Illinois, Land of Lincoln, who held this great national union together, is “”State Sovereignty, National Union.”

Illinois is all of us.

By David Haggith | The Great Recession

Illinois State Orders ‘Ramming Speed’ Against Tax Payers Over Independence Day Weekend [video]

Illinois Taxoholics Wear Down Rauner: Massive Tax Hikes In the Works

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Total capitulation by Governor Bruce Rauner is in the works. The taxoholics wore him down.

In the emergency session, Rauner has agreed to hike the personal income tax rate to 4.95% from the current 3.75%. The corporate income tax rate will rise to 7% from the current 5.25% rate.

For what? Nothing. Reforms are nonexistent.

Another Deadline Come and Gone

Illinois failed to approve a budget today and thus heads into its third fiscal year without one.

A vote has been scheduled for Sunday.

I do not expect your opinion will matter, but in the slim chance I am wrong, Please Email Your Representative voicing displeasure of the tax hike.

The preceding link will find your rep based on your address.

Rule of Nothing

A zombified Rauer has capitulated in every way but the final signing.

Tax hikes have been agreed to with no reforms in return.

The Rule of Nothing is clearly in play.

Rule of Nothing

In any given political situation, the best outcome one can reasonably expect generally happens when politicians do nothing.

Implied corollary#1: When politicians attempt to fix any problem, they are highly likely to make matters worse.

Corollary #2: Politicians almost never do nothing. It’s why we have a messed up healthcare system, education system, public pension system, etc..

Taxoholics Win Again

Chicago schools will not get fixed. The hikes will not shore up pension plans.

Within one month of tax hikes, public unions will ask for more money. And people will leave the state. So will corporations.

Rauner pledged 44 reforms. He is 0-44 on his pledges.

The property tax freeze currently under debate has so many holes it is as useful as a bucket with no bottom.

Trading tax hikes for nothing is a horrible deal. Nonetheless, the taxohalics won again.

More business flight and human capital flight is the guaranteed outcome. Doing nothing at all would have been a far better outcome.

By Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Trump Withdraw From Paris Climate Accord Saved America

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Learn how Trump’s withdraw from the New World Order Paris Climate Accord saved America from being economically destroyed.

Start the next report at 3:23 minute mark

Wow V. Thank you so much for the EXPLANATION of the Paris Accord’s real purpose. The NWO/luciferian/pedophilic/psychopathic deep state power brokers are revealed. This makes so much sense. They (NWO) always says look here and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain even though he is standing directly in front of us. This gives me hope.

And finally …

U.S. Paid $1 Billion To Paris Agreement Green Fund – All Other Nations Combined $0…

The Paris Climate Treaty has nothing to do with “climate” and everything possible to do with economics, globalism and the controlled redistribution of economic wealth as constructed through decades of advanced policies by multinational financial interests.

There are factually TRILLIONS of dollars at stake.

The primary concern for every affiliated entity surrounds economics, not climate. “Climate” issues are the Trojan horse, the false ruse, the talking point, the scheme to get economic systems in place -yes, political systems- to control the distributive flow of larger economic wealth within all nations. Period.

What ObamaCare was to our loss of healthcare individualism, so too is the Paris Treaty a political tool to deconstruct national economic individualism.

FULL-STOP.

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Californians Comprise Largest Number of New Texas Transplants

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A new report by the Texas Association of Realtors reveals that Californians continue to move to the Lone Star State en masse, accounting for the largest number of new residents that hail from other states.

The 2017 Texas Relocation Report shows, in 2015, Texas added 553,032 new people. The most transplants came from California (65,546), followed by Florida (33,670), Louisiana (31,044), New York (26,287), and Oklahoma (25,555).

“The diverse job opportunities and high quality of life in Texas continue to drive in-state and out-of-state migration to Texas cities and counties, both big and small,” said Vicki Fullerton, 2017 chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, in a press release. “This is the third consecutive year that Texas has gained more than 500,000 new residents from out of state.”

In the report, Texas ranked second among states to add new residents via domestic migration in 2015 after factoring in outflow. Although over a half million people relocated to Texas, 445,343 left. This means the out-of-state net gain of residents was 107,689. In 2014, it was 103,465. Both years, more people entered than exited and the Texas realtors said the state bested its 2014 net gain by 4 percent.

By comparison, California lost more residents than it gained — 643,710 packed up and went elsewhere, while 514,477 moved to the Golden State.

By Merrill Hope | Breitbart

Remittances to Mexico Rose 25 Percent After Trump’s Election

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Mexicans sent billions of dollars back to Mexico in November after President-elect Donald Trump’s election win.

Immigrant workers and illegal aliens rushed to take money out of the American economy and send it to their home countries, Reuters reports:

Mexicans abroad sent home nearly $2.4 billion in transfers in November, 24.7 percent higher than a year earlier, marking their fastest pace of expansion since March 2006, according to Mexican central bank data on Monday…

Trump’s surprise Nov. 8 election triumph also sent the Mexican currency to record lows in a sell-off fueled by his threats to scrap a trade deal between Mexico and the United States, and to levy punitive tariffs on Mexican-made goods…

Bank BBVA Bancomer has forecast that those Mexicans will have sent a record $27 billion in remittances into Mexico in 2016, an increase of more than $2 billion over 2015.

Not only do Americans give Mexico millions in foreign aid each year, Mexicans take in some $20 billion to $25 billion annually in remittances, according to the World Bank, much of it from the U.S. In total, foreigners took $54.2 billion in remittances out of the U.S. economy in 2014, with Mexico and China receiving the greatest sums from their citizens abroad.

American taxpayers are thus forced to pay for the welfare and schooling of millions of Mexican citizens and their children while enduring the costs of crime (gang activity, drug trafficking) and stagnant wages that unchecked immigration brings.

“The $ 20 billion being sent to immigrants’ grandmothers in Chiapas is forever eliminated from the American economy— unavailable for investment in American companies, the purchase of American products, or hiring American workers. That’s a cost of immigration that Americans are never told about,” conservative author Ann Coulter wrote in the influential Adios America about remittances.

 

“These billions of dollars being drained out of the U.S. economy every year would be bad enough if the money were coming exclusively from cheap-labor employers like Sheldon Adelson. But it’s worse than that,” Coulter continues. “It comes from American taxpayers. Not only do taxpayers have to support Americans who lose their jobs to low-wage immigrant laborers, taxpayers support the immigrants, too.”

Seventy-five percent of immigrant families from Mexico are on government assistance… Seventy-three percent of legal Mexican immigrants send money back to their native land and 83 percent of illegal immigrants do,” she adds.

Remittances also fuel international criminal enterprises, according to one watchdog.

“Remittances can be used to launder proceeds from different types of criminal activities, including drug trafficking and human smuggling, through methods such as structuring,” a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released February 2016 stated. The high reporting threshold of $3,000 lets individuals send broken-up payments without raising questions.

Trump issued a memo in April 2016 telling Mexico he would tax remittances flowing out of the U.S. economy, or the Mexican government could issue a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“Mexico has taken advantage of us in another way as well: gangs, drug traffickers, and cartels have freely exploited our open borders and committed vast numbers of crimes inside the United States,” he wrote. “The United States has borne the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity, including the cost of trials and incarcerations. Not to mention the even greater human cost.”

“We have the moral high ground here and all the leverage,” Trump said.

By Katie Mchugh | Breitbart