Tag Archives: Tax rate

New Tax Burden: Pay For The Rich!

 

The Brookings Institution has analyzed the new tax system overhaul that Mitt Romney has proposed and concluded that it would give big tax cuts to high-income households and increase the tax burden for middle- and lower-income households

Because Romney has yet to propose an actual tax plan, the researchers modeled a revenue-neutral income tax change that incorporates some of Mr. Romney’s proposals, which include lowering marginal tax rates, eliminating both the alternative minimum tax and taxation of investment income of most taxpayers, eliminating the estate tax and repealing the additional high-income taxes passed with the Affordable Care Act.

All by themselves, these cuts to personal income and estate taxes would reduce total tax revenue by $360 billion in 2015 relative to what is expected of current policy, according to the Brookings scholars.

Mr. Romney has said that his plan will include offsets to the revenue losses from his proposed lower tax rates, although he has not specified what kinds of policies would offset those cuts (that is, how he would come up with an additional $360 billion to offset the lost $360 billion in tax revenue).

Ann thinks this is funny.

The Brookings analysis assumes that those offsets would be achieved chiefly through reducing or altogether eliminating other tax breaks — like the mortgage interest tax deduction or the child tax credit — and does not factor in spending cuts as a means to offset lost tax revenue.

But even if all possible loopholes for households earning more than $200,000 were eliminated, this group would still be a net gainer under Mr. Romney’s plan, since the marginal tax rate decreases and other changes lop off so much of its tax burden.

As a result, middle- and lower-income households — the 95 percent of the population earning less than about $200,000 annually — would have to make up the difference.

“It is not possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that does not reduce average tax burdens and the share of taxes paid by high-income taxpayers under the conditions described above, even when we try to make the plan as progressive as possible,” write the study’s authors, Samuel Brown, William Gale and Adam Looney.

If the elimination of tax breaks starts with those affecting the top earners, the authors estimate, those earning under $200,000 a year will see their cash income fall by about 1.2 percent, as shown in the chart below. The very top earners — those earning more than $1 million a year — will by contrast see their cash income rise by 4.1 percent.

This analysis assumes that base-broadening -- eliminate of tax expenditures -- occurs “starting at the top” so that tax preferences are reduced or eliminated first for high-income taxpayers in order to make the resulting plan as progressive as possible.

This analysis assumes that base-broadening — elimination of tax expenditures — occurs “starting at the top” so that tax preferences are reduced or eliminated first for high-income taxpayers to make the resulting plan as progressive as possible.

Mitt Romney looked out the window as he chatted with the traveling press corps aboard his campaign's charter plane on Monday.

And still, all of the guys in the top 2-3% make out, while the rest of us get screwed as usual. Don’t vote for Mitt. Please.

 

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Romney’s Returns Refute His Tax Argument.

For all the attention devoted to Mitt Romney’s tax returns last month, one element went largely unnoticed: They directly refute the Republican candidate’s argument that higher tax rates deter capital investment.

Simply put, all of the investments made by Bain Capital LLC, the private-equity company Romney cofounded in 1984 and ran until 1999, occurred when capital-gains rates were much higher than they are today. Yet Bain consistently attracted massive amounts of private capital, and thrived.

Bain’s haul is further evidence that fair tax rates don’t hold back profit-seeking capitalists, at least until those rates reach a point that no one is proposing. From 1984 until 1999, the top rates on capital gains — the profit from investments as opposed to compensation for work — were often at 28 percent, and never lower than 20 percent. Indeed, in 1987, under President Ronald Reagan, the 20 percent rate rose to 28 percent — a 40 percent increase in potential taxation of Bain investment profit. (Yes, Reagan did raise taxes, even on capital.)

An analysis by the Wall Street Journal of 77 Bain deals in that time period showed that the firm “produced about $2.5 billion in gains for its investors,” on about $1.1 billion invested. Clearly, even with capital-gains rates almost double those today, fund managers such as Romney didn’t lack investors.

No Deterrent

Others can debate whether the private-equity crucible created more jobs than it destroyed. One thing is certain, though: Investors signing up for a chance to earn, say, a gross $10 million profit on a deal weren’t deterred by the prospect that taxes meant they would only keep a net $7.2 million.

Potential taxes were certainly disclosed to investors, and figured into the expected rate of return. And individual investors might have had offsets, such as the carried-forward losses from other deals reflected in the Romney tax return.

Particularly remarkable is the windfall Romney received from steep reductions in the capital-gains rate that took place after most of the deals he oversaw had closed. In 1997, the rate was cut to 20 percent, from 28 percent. It was reduced to the current 15 percent in 2003.

No one investing in a private-equity deal in 1990 could possibly say they anticipated the rate would be only 15 percent on profit still being paid out in 2010. Applying the reduced rate to deals previously closed couldn’t possibly be viewed as an incentive to investors.

At the same time, because these rate cuts were applied retroactively, the Romney family enjoyed a windfall of about $600,000 each year in lower taxes paid (assuming the Romneys received the same $12 million in income from carried interest and other capital-gains returns since 2001 as they did in 2010).

When multiplied by thousands of similarly situated taxpayers, this after-the-fact tax-cut windfall contributed significantly to the budget deficit, even though its value to the economy remains dubious, as numerous analysts of capital- gains rate cuts have concluded.

At a time of ballooning federal deficits and frayed social safety nets, higher capital-gains rates can contribute meaningfully to deficit reduction and to helping a middle class that is struggling to stay afloat, without hampering good investments in American businesses.

The Romney tax returns vividly illustrate that fair tax rates don’t deter those whom Republicans now routinely call “job creators” from investing.

As Warren Buffett so aptly put it, “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital-gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”

Conservative commentators will continue to recite their credo that letting the lower Bush-era tax cuts on capital gains expire — and returning to the pre-2001 percent rate of 20 percent — would kill investment and jobs. It will be hard for them to ignore the window provided by Romney’s returns into the real world of private-equity investing and the economy.


Rate on 30-year Mortgage Down to Record 3.88%.

 

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell again this week to a record low. The eighth record low in a year is attracting few takers because most who can afford to buy or refinance have already done so.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage dipped to 3.88 percent this week, down from the old record of 3.89 percent one week ago.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage ticked up to 3.17 percent from 3.16 percent, which was also a record low. Records for mortgage rates date back to the 1950s.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which fell below 1.9 percent this week.

For the past three months, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has hovered near 4 percent. Yet cheap rates on the most popular mortgage option have done little to boost home sales.

High unemployment and scant wage gains have made it harder for many people to qualify for loans. Many don’t want to sink money into a home that they fear could lose value over the next few years.

Previously occupied homes are selling just slightly ahead of 2010’s dismal pace. New-home sales in 2011 will almost certainly be the worst on records going back half a century.

Builders are hopeful that the low rates could boost sales next year. Low mortgage rates were cited as a key reason the National Association of Home Builders survey of builder sentiment rose strongly in December and January.

So far, the low rates have had minimal impact. Mortgage applications have risen about 6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis over the past four weeks, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But they are coming off extremely low levels.

To calculate the average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average rates don’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for the 30-year loan rose to 0.8 from 0.7; the average on the 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 0.8.

For the five-year adjustable loan, the average rate was unchanged at 2.82 percent. The average on the one-year adjustable loan fell to 2.74 percent from 2.76 percent.

The average fee on the five-year adjustable loan rose was unchanged at 0.7; the average on the one-year adjustable-rate loan was unchanged at 0.6.