Friday, February 03, 2012

Paying the Fair Share Act

The text of the Paying the Fair Share Act was finally released, and it's pretty close to as-advertised. The gist:

- minimum tax is 30% of AGI once a taxpayer hits $2MM in AGI.
- tax phases in between $1MM and $2MM of AGI

A few comments:

- Because of the phase-in, the effective rate on AGI between $1MM and $2MM is pretty high. On a hypothetical NYC resident taxpayer w/ $1MM of long-term capital gains and $250K of non-charitable deductions, the effective rate goes north of 60%. Let's say that again: 60 fucking percent.

- There's a pretty egregious error: the law disallows all credits except for foreign tax credit, something random that I don't remember, and certain oil credits (sketchy). It doesn't except credits for overpayments from previous years, which is pretty fucking stupid.

Not terrible, but it could use a longer phase-in and should include credits for overpayments applied.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update on pure crap:

Google's tax rate isn't 2.4%

This is one of those things that drives me batty. A sloppily written story from Bloomberg implied that Google's effective tax rate is a mere 2.4%, and the blogosphere swallowed it whole. It should take anyone that isn't a moron no more than 20 seconds to pull up Google's audited financials and see that their effective tax rate has been between 22 - 28% for the past 3 years, but people are dumb and gullible.

So where did that number come from? It's basically a recycled Bloomberg story. They did a marginally interesting story in May about transfer pricing, and when they crunched the numbers they found that income that had been routed to Ireland would ultimately be taxed at 2.4% by Ireland (12.5 statutory rate less deductions for fees paid to Bermuda). They recycled that 2.4% figure back into the Google story, and voila! Dipshits all over the blogosphere - even congresspeople! - are vomiting back that piece of crap that they gulped down without thinking.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NY Times sexes up boring case with false corporate personhood angle

On Monday, the SCOTUS granted cert on FCC v AT&T. The case turns on the meaning of “person” as defined in a particular statute (5 USC 552(b)(7)(C)) and, accordingly, has exactly zero to do with the doctrine that corporations are persons as a matter of constitutional law.

That pesky fact doesn’t stop Adam Liptak from the NY Times; he’s got a narrative and he’s sticking with it:

The new cases follow the court’s decision in January in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which ruled that corporations and unions have a First Amendment right to spend money in candidate elections.

The problem: the cases really don’t have anything to do with Citizens United. They follow CU sequentially, but not causally. One may as well say that the sun rising in the east followed Liptak’s article. It’s true, but the two don’t have anything to do with one another.

Liptak’s misleading story was picked up and distorted further, leading to inane posts like this one at The Atlantic Monthly:

While this case is not a carbon copy of Citizens United and justices are not guaranteed to vote similarly, the Citizens breakdown may serve as a helpful barometer of where votes may fall on FCC. After all, both cases have at their core the issue of corporate "personhood" and the rights that accompany it.

Not really. In fact, we _know_ that AT&T is a “person” under FOIA, because FOIA clearly defines “person” to include corporations:

“person” includes an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization other than an agency

So the question for the Supreme Court is how to read the statute, and, specifically, how to interpret the term “personal privacy.” If “personal privacy” is “privacy” that accrues to a “person,” then the definition of “person” per FOIA should control, meaning that corporations have “personal privacy.” If, on the other hand, “personal privacy” is something like a technical term, or a distinct term of its own, then the definition of “person” in the statute isn’t controlling and we would look to ordinary usage to determine its own meaning. A Third Circuit panel – comprising two Clinton appointees and a GWB appointee – found the former:

After all, "personal" is the adjectival form of "person," and FOIA defines "person" to include a corporation. We agree. It would be very odd indeed for an adjectival form of a defined term not to refer back to that defined term…. Further, FOIA's exemptions indicate that Congress knew how to refer solely to human beings (to the exclusion of corporations and other legal entities) when it wanted to. Exemption 7(F), for example, protects information gathered pursuant to a law enforcement investigation that, if released, "could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(F) (emphasis added). Yet, Congress, in Exemption 7(C), did not refer to "the privacy of any individual" or some variant thereof; it used the phrase "personal privacy."

It’s a reasonable opinion, although the opposite reading is reasonable, too. The other position – that “personal privacy” is a term distinct from its component words – is, IMHO, the better reading of the statute, although regardless of which position prevails “corporate personhood” has nothing to do with it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The stupid at Americablog burns

This NYT article discusses how some are planning to oppose the reelection of judges that held that the gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. There are all sorts of interesting issues afoot here: the tension between substantive justice and democratic process, a vanguard judiciary and democratic legitimacy, and so on.

Americablog's take on this topic so pregnant with interesting subjects?
What part of this is any different than the Soviet Union or any other two-bit dictatorship?

What? It's worth it to read that one again, and then step back and really savor the inanity: yes, we're just like the Soviet Union because we have elections.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Democratic Governors Association Complaint: Pure Slop

The DGA filed a complaint against Faux News with the Ohio Election Commission. It's pure crap. Here's the gist: the (R) gubernatorial candidate in OH, John Kasich, was on Faux and they put his fundraising website's address on the screen. According to the thin filing, this was in-kind contribution from a corporation, which is prohibited by ORC 3517.10(I)(5).

Try reading the law next time, guys.

Here's 3517.01(e), creating an exception from the definition of "contribution" for "[a]ny contribution as defined in section 3517.1011 of the Revised Code that is made, received, or used to pay the direct costs of producing or airing an electioneering communication."

Next we turn to 3517.1011 to see how it defines "contribution:"
A communication that appears in a news story, commentary, public service announcement, bona fide news programming, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcast, cable, or satellite television or radio station, unless those facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate

There's plenty of fun to be had from wondering whether Faux News is controlled by a political party, but as a legal matter it clearly falls within the scope of "bona fide news programming." What that tells us is that its communications will not - can not - constitute a in-kind contribution.

In short, the DGA complaint is crap.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Nitpicking: Thinkprogress

Thinkprogress, apparently, doesn't read its own links:

Of course, assassination of this nature is illegal under international law and two Executive Orders,

"Of course," if one reads the first link:
Thus, as long as the international armed conflict with the virtual-State of al-Qa’eda continues, the killing of al-Qa’eda combatants such as al-Havethi is certainly not assassination.
If one reads the second link:
Although such covert attacks might be illegal in the absence of provocation, in the light of the continuing terrorist threat a state-sponsored killing of Usama bin Laden or other terrorist figures would be justifiable as an Article 51 action, as well as permissible under established exceptions to Executive Order 12333.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Palin is the gift that keeps on giving.

From Palin's book:
He then launched into a discussion of nutrition physiology, holding forth on the importance of carbohydrates to cognitive connections and blah-blah-blah.
Whiskey Fire notes:
And in one sublime sentence, an agglomeration of comedy gold on the scale of Scrooge McDuck's money bin, in which Palin says Steve Schmidt is a dick for suggesting she can't make cognitive connections while making a cognitive connection with "blah-blah-blah," we discern the yawning abyss of stupid through which Sarah Palin stumbles as she fails at everything, I can't take any more, the end.
Palin is just fucking outstanding. More like this, please, GOP.