The Beginning Of The End
The Beginning Of The End By Michael T. Snyder - Kindle Version

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They Are Murdering Small Business: The Percentage Of Self-Employed Americans Is At A Record Low

They Are Murdering Small Business - The Percentage Of Self-Employed Americans Is At A Record Low - Photo by Tina McKimmieThe percentage of Americans that are working for themselves has never been lower in the history of the United States.  Once upon a time, the United States was a paradise for entrepreneurs and small businesses, but now the control freak bureaucrats that dominate our society have created a system that absolutely eviscerates them.  This is very unfortunate, because by murdering small business, the bureaucrats are destroying the primary engine of job growth in this country.  One of the big reasons why there are not enough jobs in America today is because small business creation is way down.  As I mentioned yesterday, entrepreneurs and small businesses are being absolutely devastated by rules, regulations, red tape and by oppressive levels of taxation.  If anyone doubts that small business in the United States is dying, just look at the charts below.  Sadly, this is what the bureaucrats that run things want.  They don’t want us to be independent of the system.  Instead, they are much more comfortable when as many of us as possible are heavily dependent on the system in one way or another.  If all of us have to go running to the government or to one of the big corporations for a job, then we are much easier to control.  But as the control freaks continue to construct their bureaucratic utopia, they are also killing off what once made the U.S. economy so great.

The other day I came across the following two charts in an article by Charles Hugh Smith, and I was absolutely stunned by what I saw.  This first chart shows that the number of unincorporated self-employed Americans has dropped back to levels that we have not seen since the mid-1980s even though our population has increased by tens of millions of people since that time…

The Number Of Self-Employed Americans

As you can see, from 1970 to the mid-1990s the number of unincorporated self-employed Americans rose steadily.  But in the mid-1990s it began to level off and now it is falling rapidly.

This next chart shows the percentage of self-employed Americans as a share of non-farm employment.  In other words, those that work on farms are excluded from this chart.  The percentage of self-employed Americans was fairly stable between 1970 and 1990, but since 1990 it has been steadily eroding and it has now reached a level never seen before…

Self-Employed As A Share Of Non-Farm Employment

At this point, only about 7 percent of non-farm workers are self-employed.  That is depressingly low.  That means that an overwhelming majority of those that are employed in America are working for the system in one capacity or another.

But isn’t that what we pound into the heads of our children these days?  We teach them to work hard in school so that they can “get a good job” when they grow up.  From a very early age we train our children to plug themselves into the system.

Not that working for someone else is wrong.  Of course not.  It is just that we are not fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship in America today.  In fact, we seem to be doing everything that we can to kill it off.

In a previous article, I detailed how the number of new businesses (and the number of jobs those businesses create) has been steadily declining.  In particular, this decline has accelerated dramatically under the Obama administration.  According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

Is that a good trend or a bad trend?

It doesn’t take an advanced degree in economics to figure out where things are going.

Kane speculated about why we are witnessing such a decline in his paper

There is anecdotal evidence that the U.S. policy environment has become inadvertently hostile to entrepreneurial employment. At the federal level, high taxes and higher uncertainty about taxes are undoubtedly inhibiting entrepreneurship, but to what degree is unknown. The dominant factor may be new regulations on labor.  The passage of the Affordable Care Act is creating a sweeping alteration of the regulatory environment that directly changes how employers engage their workforces, and it will be some time until those changes are understood by employers or scholars. Separately, there has been a federal crackdown since 2009 by the Internal Revenue Service on U.S. employers that hire U.S. workers as independent contractors rather than employees, raising the question of mandatory benefits. New firms tend to use part-time and contract staffing rather than full-time employees during the startup stage. According to Labor Department data, the typical American today only takes home 70 percent of compensation as pay, while the rest is absorbed by the spiraling cost of benefits (e.g., health insurance). The dilemma for U.S. policy is that an American entrepreneur has zero tax or regulatory burden when hiring a consultant/contractor who resides abroad. But that same employer is subject to paperwork, taxation, and possible IRS harassment if employing U.S.-based contractors. Finally, there has been a steady barrier erected to entrepreneurs at the local policy level. Brink Lindsey points out in his book Human Capitalism that the rise of occupational licensing is destroying startup opportunities for poor and middle class Americans.

In my previous article, I also pointed out some of the other statistics that show that small business in America is dying…

-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the last recession.

-As a share of the population, the percentage of Americans that are self-employed fell by more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2010.

-As a share of the population, the percentage of “new entrepreneurs and business owners” dropped by a staggering 53 percent between 1977 and 2010.

Unfortunately, this is a crisis that has taken decades to develop and that there are not any easy solutions for.  But there are certain factors that should be addressed immediately.  The following are some of the things that are contributing to the murder of self-employment and small business in America…

#1 Taxes: The IRS seems to especially enjoy tormenting entrepreneurs and small businesses.  In fact, things have gotten so bad that even late night talk show hosts are joking about it.  Recently, NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno joked that if Barack Obama really wanted to close down Guantanamo Bay, he should “do what he always does: declare it a small business and tax it out of existence”

#2 Ridiculous Regulations: If you have ever tried to start a small business, you probably know how frustrating it can be dealing with government red tape.  In particular, the federal government has burdened our small businesses with gigantic mountains of rules and regulations and it gets worse with each passing day.

#3 State Governments That Are Openly Hostile To Business: A perfect example of this is the state of California.  In 2011, the state of California ranked 50th out of all 50 states in new business creation, and yet they just continue to pass more legislation that hurts small businesses.

#4 Obamacare: Our broken healthcare system is a tremendous burden on small businesses, and Obamacare is going to make things much worse.

#5 The One World Trade Agenda: In many industries, U.S. small businesses simply cannot compete against products made by workers that are being paid slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.

#6 Predator Corporations: Time after time we have seen corporate giants extract huge tax breaks and other enormous concessions from local officials which give them an overwhelming advantage.  But once the corporate giant moves into town, many of the existing small businesses find that they cannot compete and are forced to shut down.

#7 Our Corrupt Political System: On the national level, elections are almost always won by the politician that raises the most money.  Our politicians know that their careers depend on raising money, so they tend to be very good to those that they get big money from.  There is a reason why big corporations spend billions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying.  They do it because it works.  Over the decades, the big corporations have been able to shift the rules of the game massively in their favor, and this has been to the detriment of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Can you think of any other factors that you would add to this list?  Please feel free to share your opinion by leaving a comment below…

Michael T Snyder's New Book

 

22 Facts That Prove That The Bottom 90 Percent Of America Is Systematically Getting Poorer

22 Facts That Prove That The Bottom 90 Percent Of America Is Systematically Getting Poorer - Photo by Joe MabelThe mainstream media is not telling you this, but the truth is that most Americans are steadily getting poorer.  The middle class is being absolutely eviscerated, and poverty is soaring to unprecedented heights.  The fact that 90 percent of the population is constantly sliding downhill is not good for our society.  The United States is supposed to be a land of opportunity with a vibrant free market system that enables average people to make better lives for themselves.  Unfortunately, free enterprise is being strangled to death in the United States today.  Entrepreneurs and small business are being pounded into oblivion by rules, regulations, red tape and oppressive levels of taxation.  At the same time, millions of jobs have been shipped out of the United States by corporate giants and sent to countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  All of this has happened under both Democrats and Republicans.  Meanwhile, wealth and power continue to become even more heavily concentrated in the hands of big government and big corporations.  Our founding fathers warned that we should not allow such large concentrations of wealth and power, because they tend to funnel the rewards of society into the hands of a select few.  We need to change the rules of the game so that entrepreneurs, small businesses and average workers can thrive in this country once again.  If big government and big corporations continue to gobble up even more wealth and power, the wealth inequality that we see right now will only get even worse.

The following are 22 facts that prove that the bottom 90 percent of America is systematically getting poorer…

#1 According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of all U.S. households own 63 percent of all the wealth in the country.

#2 Between 2009 and 2011, the wealth of the bottom 93 percent of all Americans declined by 4 percent, while the wealth of the top 7 percent of all Americans increased by 28 percent.

#3 On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.

#4 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#5 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest one percent of all American households have 288 times the amount of wealth that the average middle class American family does on average.

#6 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#7 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

#8 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#9 In the United States today, corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high, but wages as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time low.

#10 In 1980, CEOs at S&P 500 companies made 42 times as much as their employees did on average.  Today, CEOs at S&P 500 companies make 354 times as much as their employees do on average.  In fact, there are many CEOs that make more than 1000 times what the average employees in their companies make.

#11 According to a report recently issued by the Pew Research Center, Americans over the age of 65 have 47 times as much wealth as Americans under the age of 35 on average.

#12 U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#13 Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”.  Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.

#14 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#15 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#16 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#17 As I mentioned yesterday, the homeownership rate in America is now at its lowest level in nearly 18 years.

#18 The United States now ranks 93rd in the world in income inequality.

#19 Approximately one out of every five households in the United States is now on food stamps.

#20 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

#21 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

#22 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

Even if your income just stays the same, you are still getting poorer because inflation is a tax that is constantly chipping away at the value of every single dollar that you own.  The cost of everything that we buy on a regular basis (food, gas, health insurance, etc.) is constantly going up, and if your income is not keeping pace that means that you are getting poorer.

That is just one reason why the Federal Reserve system is so insidious.  They are killing the middle class with inflation.  For much more on the Federal Reserve and why it should be abolished, please see this article: “10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve“.

So if most Americans are getting poorer, then why aren’t our politicians doing something to fix it?

Well, the sad truth of the matter is that the big corporations fund the campaigns of our corrupt politicians.  They know that the candidate that raises the most money almost always wins, and so it provides an incentive for our politicians to be very good to those that have the money.

Plus, many of our politicians are way too busy having a good time to be bothered with doing anything for us.  Take Barack Obama for example.  According to The Telegraph, Barack Obama has spent twice as much time playing golf and vacationing as he has on attending economic meetings…

In an analysis of the presidential diary and newspaper reports, the Government Accountability Institute found that Mr Obama has spent 976 hours since his January 2009 election on holiday and playing golf.

In contrast, he has only spent 474.4 hours in economic meetings.

“As a government watchdog group, we just tabulate the numbers and let others decide how to interpret them,” said Peter Schweizer, president of GAI, which compiled the report.

But this is a problem that is not going away.  The bottom 90 percent of the country is systematically getting poorer, and if this continues it will inevitably result in massive social problems.  The video posted below does a great job of graphically illustrating the crisis that we are facing…

Michael T Snyder

Abolish The Income Tax: You Won’t Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered

Abolish The Income Tax - You Won't Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered - Photo by TravisThe federal income tax is a bad joke and it needs to be abolished.  All over the nation, hard working American families are being absolutely crushed by oppressive levels of taxation, and our politicians are constantly coming up with new ways to extract money from all of us every single year.  Meanwhile, many ultra-wealthy Americans and many of the most profitable corporations in the country pay little to nothing in taxes.  In fact, as you will see below, there are dozens of very prominent corporations that make billions of dollars in profits and yet don’t pay a dime in taxes.  Tax avoidance has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.  Those that have the resources to “play the game” use shell companies, offshore tax havens and the thousands of loopholes in our tax code to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible.  Meanwhile, the rest of us get absolutely hammered.  This is fundamentally unfair.  The federal income tax system is irreversibly broken at this point, and it is time to abolish it.  If you think that the federal income tax system can be “fixed”, then you probably have never studied it.  Our tax code is nearly 4 million words long and it is absolutely riddled with thousands of loopholes that favor big corporations and the ultra-wealthy.  We should come up with a better, fairer way to fund the government.  The United States once prospered greatly without a federal income tax, and it could do so again.

Many people simply do not believe that it is possible for corporations inside the United States to make billions of dollars in profits each year and not pay a dime in income taxes.

Well, according to a report put out by Public Campaign, that is exactly what is happening.  Posted below are numbers that come directly from their report.  30 large corporations are listed, and 29 of them had a tax burden for 2008 through 2010 that was less than zero even though they all made enormous profits.  And all 30 of them spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

The numbers that you are about to see are for 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined.  For “taxes paid”, please note that for 29 of the corporations a negative number is given.  That means that the net tax liability for 2008 through 2010 was actually less than zero.

After seeing these numbers, is there anyone out there that is still willing to claim that our tax system is “fair”?…

General Electric
U.S. Profits: $10,460,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$4,737,000,000

PG&E Corp.
U.S. Profits: $4,855,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$1,027,000,000

Verizon Communications
U.S. Profits: $32,518,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$951,000,000

Wells Fargo
U.S. Profits: $49,370,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$681,000,000

American Electric Power
U.S. Profits: $5,899,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$545,000,000

Pepco Holdings
U.S. Profits: $882,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$508,000,000

Computer Sciences
U.S. Profits: $1,666,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$305,000,000

CenterPoint Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,931,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$284,000,000

NiSource
U.S. Profits: $1,385,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$227,000,000

Duke Energy
U.S. Profits: $5,475,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$216,000,000

Boeing
U.S. Profits: $9,735,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$178,000,000

NextEra Energy
U.S. Profits: $6,403,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$139,000,000

Consolidated Edison
U.S. Profits: $4,263,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$127,000,000

Paccar
U.S. Profits: $365,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$112,000,000

Integrys Energy Group
U.S. Profits: $818,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$92,000,000

Wisconsin Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,725,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$85,000,000

DuPont
U.S. Profits: $2,124,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$72,000,000

Baxter International
U.S. Profits: $926,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$66,000,000

Tenet Healthcare
U.S. Profits: $415,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$48,000,000

Ryder System
U.S. Profits: $627,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$46,000,000

El Paso
U.S. Profits: $4,105,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$41,000,000

Honeywell International
U.S. Profits: $4,903,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$34,000,000

CMS Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,292,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$29,000,000

Con-­way
U.S. Profits: $286,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$26,000,000

Navistar International
U.S. Profits: $896,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$18,000,000

DTE Energy
U.S. Profits: $2,551,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$17,000,000

Interpublic Group
U.S. Profits: $571,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$15,000,000

Mattel
U.S. Profits: $1,020,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$9,000,000

Corning
U.S. Profits: $1,977,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$4,000,000

FedEx
U.S. Profits: $4,247,000,000
Taxes Paid: $37,000,000 (a rate of less than 1%)

Total
U.S. Profits: $163,691,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$10,602,000,000

Just look at that combined total again.

Those 30 companies had combined profits of more than 163 billion dollars during those three years, and yet the combined net tax liability of those companies was negative 10.6 billion dollars.

I wish I could make my taxes look like that.

Another company that is making headlines because of their taxes these days is Facebook.

It turns out that Facebook made more than a billion dollars in 2012 but did not pay a single dime in federal or state income taxes.  The following is from a report that was just released by Citizens for Tax Justice

Earlier this month, the Facebook Inc. released its first “10-K” annual financial report since going public last year. Hidden in the report’s footnotes is an amazing admission: despite $1.1 billion in U.S. profits in 2012, Facebook did not pay even a dime in federal and state income taxes.

Instead, Facebook says it will receive net tax refunds totaling $429 million.

According to Businessweek, Facebook has an additional 2 billion dollars in tax credits that it will be able to use in future years…

Facebook says that it anticipates reducing its tax liability in the future by an additional $2.17 billion by using further net operating loss carry-forwards that it has banked.

And of course when it comes to abusing the tax system, the big Wall Street banks are some of the worst offenders.  The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

—–

Here are just a few examples of how the corporations and Wall Street banks these CEOs work for have significantly harmed our economy and the federal budget:

1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 371.

In 2010, Bank of America operated 371 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens. 204 of these subsidiaries are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which has a corporate tax rate of 0%.

Amount of federal income taxes Bank of America would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.5 billion.

Bank of America has stashed $18.5 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Bank of America would owe an estimated $2.5 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.

Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS in 2010, even though it made $4.4 billion in profits.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.

During the financial crisis, Bank of America received a total of more than $1.3 trillion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $45 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

2. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 83.

In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens.

Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion

JP Morgan Chase has stashed $21.8 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid payng income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $4.9 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion

During the financial crisis, JP Morgan Chase received a total of more than $391 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $25 billion bailout from the Treasury Department, while Jamie DImon served as a director of the New York Federal Reserve.

3. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.

In 2008, Goldman Sachs received a $278 million refund from the IRS, even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion that year.

Number of offshore tax havens in 2010? 39.

In 2010, Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax haven countries.

Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $3.32 billion.

Goldman Sachs has stashed $20.63 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $3.32 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.

During the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received a total of $814 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $10 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

—–

Are you starting to get the picture?

The big banks and the big corporations make billions, but they pay nothing or next to nothing.

The rest of us bust our rear ends to try to get ahead, and we get gouged by dozens of different taxes.

Over time, the percentage of the overall tax burden shouldered by corporations has gotten smaller and smaller.

Back in 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes accounted for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

These days, large corporations have become absolute masters at avoiding taxes.  In fact, there are many international tax havens that are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

But corporations are not the only ones doing this kind of thing.

The ultra-wealthy have also mastered the art of legally not paying taxes.

As I mentioned in a previous article, it has been reported that the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

With that amount of money, you could pay off the entire U.S. national debt and still have enough money left over to buy every product and service produced in the United States during an entire year.

It is time to admit that our tax system is broken.

Congress has had decades to fix it, and yet the abuses just keep getting worse.

What we are doing is not working.

We need to abolish the income tax.

If you are still not convinced that the federal income tax is an abomination and that we need to abolish it, here are some more shocking facts about our tax system from one of my previous articles about taxes

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

11 – Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

12 – The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

13 – According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

14 – Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

15 – The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

16 – Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We have now entered a time of the year when tens of millions of Americans will be filling out their tax returns, and the pain of going through that process will make people even more receptive than normal to the truth about how broken our system is.

So what do you think?

Do you think that it is fair for the ultra-wealthy and hugely profitable corporations to get away with paying zero taxes while you get hammered?

Do you believe that it is time to abolish the income tax?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

No Federal Income Tax

Who Controls The Money? An Unelected, Unaccountable Central Bank Of The World Secretly Does

The Bank For International Settlements at Night - Photo by WladyslawAn immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe.  It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks.  It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City.  It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws.  Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.”  The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system.  Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”.  During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on.  The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.  It is imperative that we get people educated about what this organization is and where it plans to take the global economy.

Sadly, only a very small percentage of people actually know what the Bank for International Settlements is, and even fewer people are aware of the Global Economy Meetings that take place in Basel on a bi-monthly basis.

These Global Economy Meetings were discussed in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal

Every two months, more than a dozen bankers meet here on Sunday evenings to talk and dine on the 18th floor of a cylindrical building looking out on the Rhine.

The dinner discussions on money and economics are more than academic. At the table are the chiefs of the world’s biggest central banks, representing countries that annually produce more than $51 trillion of gross domestic product, three-quarters of the world’s economic output.

The article goes on to describe the room that these Global Economy Meetings are held in.  It sounds like something out of a novel…

The Bank of England’s Mr. King leads the dinner discussions in a room decorated by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, which designed the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the Beijing Olympics. The men have designated seats at a round table in a dining area scented by white orchids and framed by white walls, a black ceiling and panoramic views.

The central bankers that gather for these meetings are not there just to socialize.  No staff members are allowed into these meetings, and they are conducted in an atmosphere of absolute secrecy…

Serious matters follow appetizers, wine and small talk, according to people familiar with the dinners. Mr. King typically asks his colleagues to talk about the outlook in their respective countries. Others ask follow-up questions. The gatherings yield no transcripts or minutes. No staff is allowed.

So the fate of the world economy is determined by unelected central bankers in secret meetings that nobody ever hears about?

That certainly does not sound very “democratic”.

But this is the direction that “global governance” is taking us.  The elite believe that the “big decisions” are far too important to be left “to the people”, and so most of the “international institutions” that have been established by the elite operate independently of the democratic process.

Sadly, the truth is that all of this has been planned for a very long time.

In a recent article entitled “Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings“, I included a quote from Georgetown University history professor Carroll Quigley from a book that he wrote all the way back in 1966 in which he discussed the big plans that the elite had for the Bank for International Settlements…

[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.

Back then, the Bank for International Settlements was only just starting to play a major role in global affairs.  But over the years the BIS began to become increasingly important.  The following is an excerpt from an article by Ellen Brown

For many years the BIS kept a very low profile, operating behind the scenes in an abandoned hotel.  It was here that decisions were reached to devalue or defend currencies, fix the price of gold, regulate offshore banking, and raise or lower short-term interest rates.  In 1977, however, the BIS gave up its anonymity in exchange for more efficient headquarters.  The new building has been described as “an eighteen story-high circular skyscraper that rises above the medieval city like some misplaced nuclear reactor.”  It quickly became known as the “Tower of Basel.”  Today the BIS has governmental immunity, pays no taxes, and has its own private police force.  It is, as Mayer Rothschild envisioned, above the law.

Yes, it most definitely does bear a striking resemblance to the Tower of Babel as you can see from the photo in this article.  Once again the global elite are trying to unite humanity under a single system, and that is most definitely not a good thing.

But many of these elitists are entirely convinced that “global governance” is what humanity desperately needs.  They even publicly tell us what they plan to do, but most people are not listening.

For example, the following is an excerpt from a speech that former president of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet delivered to the Council On Foreign Relations in New York…

In the area of central bank cooperation, the main forum is the Global Economy Meeting (GEM), which gathers at the BIS headquarters in Basel. Over the past few years, this forum has included 31 governors as permanent members plus a number of other governors attending on a rotating basis. The GEM, in which all systemic emerging economies’ Central Bank governors are fully participating, has become the prime group for global governance among central banks.

The speech was entitled “Global Governance Today”, and you can find the full transcript right here.  But most people have never even heard that such a thing as a “Global Economy Meeting” even exists because the mainstream media rarely discusses these sorts of things.  They are too busy focusing on the latest celebrity scandal or the latest cat fights between the Republicans and the Democrats.

If you go to the official BIS website, the purposes of the organization sound fairly innocent and quite boring…

The mission of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks.

In broad outline, the BIS pursues its mission by:

  • promoting discussion and facilitating collaboration among central banks;
  • supporting dialogue with other authorities that are responsible for promoting financial stability;
  • conducting research on policy issues confronting central banks and financial supervisory authorities;
  • acting as a prime counterparty for central banks in their financial transactions; and
  • serving as an agent or trustee in connection with international financial operations.

The head office is in Basel, Switzerland and there are two representative offices: in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and in Mexico City.

But when you start looking into the details, things get much more interesting.

So exactly how does the BIS achieve “monetary and financial stability”?  An article posted on investorsinsight.com described how this is accomplished…

It accomplishes this through control of currencies. It currently holds 7% of the world’s available foreign exchange funds, whose unit of account was switched in March of 2003 from the Swiss gold franc to Special Drawing Rights (SDR), an artificial fiat “money” with a value based on a basket of currencies (44% U.S. dollar, 34% euro, 11% Japanese yen, 11% pound sterling).

The bank also controls a huge amount of gold, which it both stores and lends out, giving it great leverage over the metal’s price and the marketplace power that brings, since gold is still the only universal currency. BIS gold reserves were listed on its 2005 annual report (the most recent) as 712 tons. How that breaks down into member banks’ deposits and the BIS personal stash is unknown.

By controlling foreign exchange currency, plus gold, the BIS can go a long way toward determining the economic conditions in any given country. Remember that the next time Ben Bernanke or European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet announces an interest rate hike. You can bet it didn’t happen without the concurrence of the BIS Board.

In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious who really has power over our economy.

When Barack Obama speaks, the markets usually move very little.

When Ben Bernanke speaks, the markets often respond with wild gyrations.

A recent CNBC article entitled “Central Banks: How They Are Ruling the Financial World” detailed the enormous impact that central banks had on the global financial system during 2012…

In all, 13 other central banks in the world have followed the Fed’s lead and set interest rates at or near zero in an effort to keep the liquidity spigots open and prop up their ailing economies. Those 14 economies represent a staggering $65 trillion in combined equity and bond market capitalizations, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Later on in that same article, the author discussed the enormous amounts of money that global central banks were creating out of thin air…

“When you add up all the central banks in the world, it’s going to be over $9 trillion,” said Marc Doss, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. “That’s like creating the second-largest economy in the world out of thin air.”

Indeed, central banking has become an economy unto itself, a multi-trillion-dollar empire that massages and manipulates markets, which respond to the slightest news out of the respective entities’ policy making committees.

So who controls the money?

The central banks of the world do.

And who controls those central banks?

The Bank for International Settlements does.

If we don’t like what the Bank for International Settlements is doing, can we do anything about it?

Nope.  The Bank for International Settlements is above the law

Maybe we’d feel better about the BIS if it were more transparent, but most everything about it, including its bi-monthly member and board meetings, is shrouded in secrecy. And perhaps more worrisome is that the BIS is free from oversight. By rights granted under its agreement with the Swiss Federal Council, all of the bank’s archives, documents and “any data media” are “inviolable at all times and in all places.” Furthermore, officers and employees of BIS “enjoy immunity from criminal and administrative jurisdiction, save to the extent that such immunity is formally waived . . . even after such persons have ceased to be Officials of the Bank.” Finally, no claims against BIS or its deposits may be enforced “without the prior agreement of the Bank.”

In other words they can do whatever they want, without consequences. How’s that for a leak-proof legal umbrella?

If the BIS wants to “intervene” in the financial markets, they simply just do it.

If the BIS wants to bail out big banks or even entire nations, they simply just do it.

The BIS reminds me of this old joke…

Q: Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit?

A: Anywhere it wants to.

So what is next for the Bank for International Settlements?

Well, many have speculated that eventually the goal is to have just a single global currency which will be administered by a single global central bank.  The BIS is already using Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which are considered to be a precursor to the coming global currency.  The BIS played a big role in the adoption of the euro, and more currency integration is almost certainly on the way in future years

But in the end, how you feel about the BIS may come down to how you feel about a one-world currency. The bank was a major player promoting the adoption of the euro as Europe’s common currency. There are rumors that its next project is persuading the U.S., Canada and Mexico to switch to a similar regional money, perhaps to be called the “amero,” and it’s logical to assume the bank’s ultimate goal is a single world currency. That would simplify transactions and really solidify the bank’s control of the planetary economy.

But if the United States ever did give up the U.S. dollar, it would be a massive blow to our national sovereignty.

When someone else controls your money, it doesn’t really matter that much who makes the laws.

Unfortunately, the global elite seem absolutely obsessed with the idea of a global currency, a one world economic system and a global government.

None of those things will happen this year, but that is where we are moving.  With each new crisis that arises, the solutions that we will be given will always involve more centralization and more globalization.

So what do you think about all of this?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…

Your Central Banking Overlords Meet Here - Photo by Yago Veith

How The Super Rich Avoid Taxes Even As They Demand That The Rest Of Us Pay More

The way that we tax people in the United States is fundamentally broken and should be completely discarded.  The U.S. tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that allow the super rich to legally avoid taxes while many of the rest of us are being taxed into oblivion.  In our system of taxation, middle class families that work hard and try to play by the rules are deeply penalized while those that are willing to abuse the system make out like bandits.  There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that enables wealthy politicians such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to pay a smaller percentage of their incomes in taxes than millions of middle class families.  Mitt Romney has millions of dollars parked down in the Cayman Islands and in other tax havens.  He does this to avoid taxes.  Unfortunately, most Americans do not have the resources to funnel money through offshore tax havens.  Most Americans just automatically have their paychecks shredded by taxes and then try to live on whatever is left over.  Most Americans are just trying to survive financially from one month to the next.  But the super rich have options.  Thanks to technology, they can live almost anywhere they want and they can run their companies and manage their investments from anywhere in the world.  The truth is that the wealthier you are the easier it is to avoid taxes.  But even as the ultra-wealthy do their best to avoid taxes, many of them still feel free to demand that the rest of us be taxed more.

So what are some of the ways that the super rich avoid taxes?

Well, let’s start with those that are just “somewhat wealthy”.  Many millionaires still want or need to be U.S. citizens, so they are subject to the U.S. tax code.  Fortunately for them, their tax lawyers know of thousands of loopholes that have been designed to help the rich avoid taxes.

The following is from a recent article by Jen Talley….

Some of the richest people in the country pay the least, relatively speaking, in taxes. How is this possible? Answer: Through the clever manipulation of the U.S. tax code’s loopholes. And it works: as income rises, effective tax rates rise as well, but only up to a point. IRS data shows that the effective income tax rate flattens out at just over 24 percent for those making over a million dollars. As income exceeds $1.5 million, the rate begins to decline; those with incomes above $10 million pay an average income tax rate of around 19 percent. So, how do they do it?

You could write an entire series of books on the technical details of how this gets done.  Trust me, I studied tax law when I was in law school.

If you are interested in digging into some of the technical details of tax avoidance, a recent Businessweek article detailed 10 ways that the wealthy use our current tax code to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.  It is an article worth reading if you have the time.

Sadly, tax avoidance by the wealthy is not just something that happens in the United States.  The truth is that the exact same kind of thing happens in the UK as well.

There is not an easy fix to this problem.  Our politicians have had decades to try to come up with a fair tax system and they have completely failed.  The wealthy are always several steps ahead of them.

But federal taxes are not the only taxes that can be avoided.  The vast difference in state tax rates creates another opportunity.

One advantage that wealthy Americans have is that they are far more mobile than most other Americans are.  So if they don’t like the tax system in one state they can simply pick up and move to another state.

According to the Tax Foundation, 3.4 million Americans left New York state between 2000 and 2010.

So where did they go?

The following is from a recent CNS News article….

Where are they escaping to?  The Tax Foundation found that more than 600,000 New York residents moved to Florida over the decade – opting perhaps for the Sunshine State’s more lenient tax system – taking nearly $20 billion in adjusted growth income with them.

There is no state income tax in Florida.  So moving from New York to Florida can end up saving you a bundle.

The same kind of migration is happening out west as well.  According to that same CNS article, hundreds of thousands of people have been moving from California (a high tax state) to Texas (no state income tax)….

Between 2000 and 2010, the most recent data available, 551,914 people left California for Texas, taking $14.3 billion in income.  Texas has no state income tax or estate tax.

A total of 48,877 people moved to Texas from California between 2009 and 2010 alone, totaling $1.2 billion in income.  Another 28,088 from California relocated to Nevada and 30,663 to Arizona, a loss of  $699.1 million and $707.8 million in income respectively.

Not that anyone really needs much of an excuse to move away from California.  It is rapidly decaying right in front of our eyes.

But a lot of families do not have the same options that wealthy people do. Unfortunately, most average Americans are tied to their jobs and it would be much more difficult for them to pick up and move across the country.  In this economy it can be economic suicide to give up a good job.

The reality is that most of us simply do not have the resources to play the same kinds of games that the wealthy play.

Sadly, even our most prominent politicians avoid taxes.

Just look at Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.  He has avoided approximately $500,000 in taxes by docking his yacht in Rhode Island rather than in Massachusetts.

Yet Kerry sure does love to call for more taxes on the rest of us, doesn’t he?

Now let’s talk about the “super rich” and the “ultra-wealthy”.  For many people that are worth billions of dollars, tax avoidance has become an art from.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin made national headlines recently when he gave up his U.S. citizenship, but the truth is that his case is small potatoes compared to the global elite and the shadow banking system that supports them.

According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks.

That amount is more than the GDP of the United States for an entire year.

So what do I mean by “offshore banks”?  I defined the term in a previous article….

Well, the term originally developed because the banks on the Channel Islands were “offshore” from the United Kingdom.  Most “offshore banks” are still located on islands today.  The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man are examples of this.  Other “offshore banking centers” such as Monaco are actually not “offshore” at all, but the term applies to them anyway.

Traditionally, these offshore banking centers have been very attractive to both criminals and to the global elite because they would not tell anyone (including governments) about the money that anyone had parked there.

It has been reported that 80 percent of all international banking transactions involve offshore banks.  A whopping 1.4 trillion dollars is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.

An article that appeared in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire planet is being kept in offshore banks.  One of the primary reasons for this is tax avoidance.

A lot of wealthy individuals never even visit these tax havens and yet reap the benefits anyway.  The truth is that tax avoidance has become way too easy.  The following example is from a recent Politico article….

A plausible scenario plays out like this: I hire an accountant. Doing her job, my accountant tells me that if I sign a few legal documents and route my money through a small Caribbean island, I could keep more of my paycheck and pay a lower tax rate. I may have earned my money in the United States, but legally I can claim that it was, in fact, earned in a tax haven.

Are you disgusted yet?

You should be.

But even though they avoid taxes like the plague, many of these elitists have the gall to call for higher taxes on all the rest of us.

For example, let’s review what the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said in a recent interview….

“Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.”

Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? “I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively.” How? “By all paying their tax. Yeah.”

It sounds as if she’s essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you’ve had a nice time and now it’s payback time.

“That’s right.” She nods calmly. “Yeah.”

And what about their children, who can’t conceivably be held responsible? “Well, hey, parents are responsible, right? So parents have to pay their tax.”

Well, it turns out that she doesn’t pay any income taxes at all on her own income….

The IMF chief Christine Lagarde was accused of hypocrisy yesterday after it emerged that she pays no income tax – just days after blaming the Greeks for causing their financial peril by dodging their own bills.

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund is paid a salary of $467,940 (£298,675), automatically increased every year according to inflation. On top of that she receives an allowance of $83,760 – payable without “justification” – and additional expenses for entertainment, making her total package worth more than the amount received by US President Barack Obama according to reports last night.

Her “diplomatic status” allows her to escape all income taxes.

So perhaps she should pay her “fair share” before pointing the finger at anyone else.

But she is not the only one being hypocritical.

The super rich claim that they should pay lower taxes on investment income for the good of our “capitalist system”, but when their banks are about to go under they are more than happy to have those losses be socialized.

As I wrote about yesterday, the stage is already set for another massive round of bailouts when the next great financial crisis strikes.  Once again our taxes will pay for the mistakes of the ultra-wealthy.

The truth is that our system is fundamentally broken.

We need to abolish the income tax and shut down the IRS.

Those two steps alone would do wonders for our economic system.

We also need to shut down the Federal Reserve and break up the too big to fail banks.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are not even willing to consider any of those solutions.

So our fundamentally broken system will continue to chug along.

It really is sad.

24 Outrageous Facts About Taxes In The United States That Will Blow Your Mind

The U.S. tax code is a complete and utter abomination and it needs to be thrown out entirely.  Nobody in their right mind would ever read the whole thing – it is over 3 million words long.  Each year, Americans spend billions of hours and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to comply with federal tax requirements.  Sadly, it is the honest, hard working Americans in the middle class that always get hit the hardest.  The tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that big corporations and the ultra-wealthy use to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible.  Many poor people do not pay any income taxes at all.  The dishonest are rewarded for cheating on their taxes (if they can get away with it) and the ultra-wealthy have moved trillions of dollars to offshore tax havens where they can avoid U.S. taxation altogether.  Our system is incredibly unfair to the millions of hard working people in the middle class and upper middle class that drag themselves out of bed and go to work each day and try to do the right thing.  In addition, the current U.S. tax system is incredibly inefficient, it diverts a tremendous amount of resources away from more valuable economic activities, and it has chased thousands of businesses and trillions of dollars out of the United States.  The U.S. tax code is such a complete and utter mess at this point that it can never be “fixed”.  The only rational thing to do is to abolish it completely, and any politician that tells you otherwise is lying to you.

The following are 24 outrageous facts about taxes in the United States that will blow your mind….

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

11 – Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

12 – The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

13 – According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

14 – Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

15 – The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

16 – Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

17 – The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world (35 percent).  In Ireland, the corporate tax rate is only 12.5 percent.  This is causing thousands of corporations to move operations out of the United States and into other countries.

18 – Some tax havens are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

19 – In 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes will account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

20 – In a previous article, I discussed how many of our largest corporations make huge profits and yet pay less than nothing in taxes….

What U.S. corporations are able to get away with is absolutely amazing.

The following figures come directly out of a report by Citizens for Tax Justice.  These are combined figures for the tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

During those three years, all of the corporations below made a lot of money.  Yet all of them paid net taxes that were below zero for those three years combined.

How is that possible?  Well, it turns out that instead of paying in taxes to the federal government, they were actually getting money back.

So for these corporations, their rate of taxation was actually below zero.

If you have not seen these before, you are going to have a hard time believing some of these statistics…..

*Honeywell*

Profits: $4.9 billion

Taxes: -$34 million

*Fed Ex*

Profits: $3 billion

Taxes: -$23 million

*Wells Fargo*

Profits: $49.37 billion

Taxes: -$681 million

*Boeing*

Profits: $9.7 billion

Taxes: -$178 million

*Verizon*

Profits: $32.5 billion

Taxes: -$951 million

*Dupont*

Profits: $2.1 billion

Taxes -$72 million

*American Electric Power*

Profits: $5.89 billion

Taxes -$545 million

*General Electric*

Profits: $7.7 billion

Taxes: -$4.7 billion

Are you starting to get the picture?

21 – Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in taxes in 2009, but not a single penny went to the U.S. government.

22 – Many wealthy Americans hide enormous amounts of money outside the country in order to avoid paying taxes.  According to the IMF, a total of 18 trillion dollars is currently being hidden in offshore banks.

23 – The number of traffic accidents spikes each year right around April 15th.  The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….

Deaths from traffic accidents around April 15, traditionally the last day to file individual income taxes in the U.S., rose 6 percent on average on each of the last 30 years of tax filing days compared with a day during the week prior and a week later, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

24 – Most of the tax debate is focused on income taxes, but the truth is that Americans pay dozens of other taxes every single year.  The following are just a few of the taxes that many Americans pay….

#1 Building Permit Taxes

#2 Capital Gains Taxes

#3 Cigarette Taxes

#4 Court Fines (indirect taxes)

#5 Dog License Taxes

#6 Federal Unemployment Taxes

#7 Fishing License Taxes

#8 Food License Taxes

#9 Gasoline Taxes

#10 Gift Taxes

#11 Hunting License Taxes

#12 Inheritance Taxes

#13 Inventory Taxes

#14 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

#15 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

#16 Liquor Taxes

#17 Luxury Taxes

#18 Marriage License Taxes

#19 Medicare Taxes

#20 Property Taxes

#21 Recreational Vehicle Taxes

#22 Toll Booth Taxes

#23 Sales Taxes

#24 Self-Employment Taxes

#25 School Taxes

#26 Septic Permit Taxes

#27 Service Charge Taxes

#28 Social Security Taxes

#29 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

#30 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes

#31 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes

#32 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes

#33 Telephone State And Local Taxes

#34 Tire Taxes

#35 Toll Bridge Taxes

#36 Toll Tunnel Taxes

#37 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

#38 Utility Taxes

#39 Vehicle License Registration Taxes

#40 Vehicle Sales Taxes

#41 Workers Compensation Taxes

When you account for all forms of taxation on the federal, state and local levels there are many Americans that pay out more than half of their incomes in taxes.

We are being taxed into oblivion, and yet most Americans do not even realize that it is happening.

It is kind of like being killed by thousands of tiny cuts.

So what do all of these taxes buy us?

They buy us a massively bloated government that wastes money on some of the craziest things imaginable.

Millions of Americans work for the federal government, and yet most of them produce very little of real economic value.  The following comes from a recent National Review article….

By 2005, the federal government employed 14.6 million people: 1.9 million civil servants, 770,000 postal workers, 1.44 million uniformed service personnel, 7.6 million contractors, and 2.9 million grantees. This amounted to a ratio of five and a half “shadow” government employees for every civil servant on the federal payroll. Since 1999, the government had grown by over 4.5 million employees.

According to that same article, when you add in state and local government workers the numbers are even more dramatic….

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 3.8 million full-time and 1.5 million part-time employees on state payrolls. Local governments add a further 11 million full-time and 3.2 million part-time personnel. This means that state and local governments combined employ 19.5 million Americans.

Yes, we do need some government.  For example, without any law enforcement at all our society would descend into complete chaos, and without any military at all we would be completely open to foreign conquest.

In order to have a stable, secure society we do need some government.

However, we definitely do not need the massively bloated government that we have today.

The truth is that most government employees are a drain on the system.  Most of them just push paper around.  I used to work in Washington D.C. so I know what pushing paper around is all about.

And as I wrote about yesterday, there are millions of other Americans that enjoy a comfortable existence at the expense of the federal government without doing any work whatsoever.

Of course the biggest welfare recipients of all are the big corporations.  All forms of corporate welfare should be eliminated immediately.

When are U.S. taxpayers going to get sick and tired of paying for all of this?

Every single year, the federal government, state governments and local governments drain massive amounts of desperately needed money from hard working middle class families.

Then they take that money and spend it on incredibly foolish things.

When are American voters going to stand up and boldly declare that they have been taxed enough already and they aren’t going to take it anymore?

The current tax code is completely and utterly broken and it is beyond repair.

Unfortunately, neither the Republicans or the Democrats are proposing that we should get rid of it.

So we are just going to continue to get more of the same year after year, and it is the middle class that will feel the pain.

The Global Elite Are Hiding 18 Trillion Dollars In Offshore Banks

In recent days, the fact that Mitt Romney has millions of dollars parked down in the Cayman Islands has made headlines all over the world.  But when it comes to offshore banking, what Mitt Romney is doing is small potatoes.  The truth is that the global elite are hiding an almost unbelievable amount of money in offshore banks.  According to shocking research done by the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks.  And that figure does not even count any money being held in Switzerland.  That is a staggering amount of money.  Keep in mind that U.S. GDP in 2010 was only 14.58 trillion dollars.  So why do the global elite go to such trouble to hide their money in offshore banks?  Well, there are two main reasons.  One is privacy and the other is low taxation.  Privacy is a big issue for those that are involved in illegal enterprises such as drug running, but the biggest reason why people move money into offshore banks is in order to avoid taxes.  Some set up bank accounts in foreign nations because they want to legally minimize their taxes and others set up bank accounts in foreign nations because they want to illegally avoid taxes.  You would be absolutely amazed at what some large corporations and wealthy individuals do to get out of paying taxes.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the rest of us don’t have the resources or the knowledge to play these games, so we get taxed into oblivion.

So why do they call it “offshore banking”?

Well, the term originally developed because the banks on the Channel Islands were “offshore” from the United Kingdom.  Most “offshore banks” are still located on islands today.  The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man are examples of this.  Other “offshore banking centers” such as Monaco are actually not “offshore” at all, but the term applies to them anyway.

Traditionally, these offshore banking centers have been very attractive to both criminals and to the global elite because they would not tell anyone (including governments) about the money that anyone had parked there.

These days some governments (particularly the U.S. government) are trying to change this, but we certainly will not see the end of offshore banking any time soon.

The amount of money that goes through these offshore banks is absolutely astounding.

It has been estimated that 80 percent of all international banking transactions take place through these offshore banks.  $1.4 trillion is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.

One article in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire globe is being held in offshore banks, and others believe that as much as half of all the capital in the world flows through offshore banks at some point.

Obviously, all of this tax avoidance means that governments around the world are missing out on a whole lot of money.

It has been estimated that the U.S. government is missing out on $100 billion a year because of these offshore banks.  Others would put that figure significantly higher.

Avoiding taxes is a game that the global elite have mastered.  They are playing a whole different ballgame than you and I are.  They don’t just sit there like idiots and get blasted with taxes.  Instead, they hire the best experts and they employ every trick in the book to hold on to as much money as they possibly can.

These days, taking advantage of offshore tax havens is not that complicated to do.  The following is from a recent Politico article….

A plausible scenario plays out like this: I hire an accountant. Doing her job, my accountant tells me that if I sign a few legal documents and route my money through a small Caribbean island, I could keep more of my paycheck and pay a lower tax rate. I may have earned my money in the United States, but legally I can claim that it was, in fact, earned in a tax haven.

If it is legal, perhaps more of us should look into this.

After all, if playing these kinds of games is good enough for Mitt Romney, then why isn’t it good enough for all the rest of us?

During a campaign stop recently, Romney said the following….

“I can tell you we follow the tax laws”

I certainly believe him when he says that.  But it is what he said next that is troubling….

“And if there’s an opportunity to save taxes, we like anybody else in this country will follow that opportunity.”

I certainly believe him when he says that too.

ABC News recently revealed that Bain Capital has established an astounding 138 different offshore funds in the Cayman Islands.

Something has got to work pretty well to want to do it 138 times.

But Bain Capital was also very busy over in other offshore banking centers as well.

One of the largest shell companies that Bain set up down in the Caribbean was called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd.  It did not have an office in Bermuda and it had no staff in Bermuda.  But it helped clients of Bain Capital avoid a whole lot of taxes.

The following comes from a 2007 Los Angeles Times article….

In Bermuda, Romney served as president and sole shareholder for four years of Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. It funneled money into Bain Capital’s Sankaty family of hedge funds, which invest in bonds and other debt issued by corporations, as well as bank loans.

Like thousands of similar financial entities, Sankaty maintains no office or staff in Bermuda. Its only presence consists of a nameplate at a lawyer’s office in downtown Hamilton, capital of the British island territory.

“It’s just a mail drop, essentially,” said Marc B. Wolpow, who worked with Romney for nine years at Bain Capital and who set up Sankaty Ltd. in October 1997 without ever visiting Bermuda. “There’s no one doing any work down there other than lawyers.”

The amount of money being funneled through Sankaty today is absolutely stunning….

Today, Bain Capital manages $60 billion in assets, according to a spokesman. The total includes $23 billion in Sankaty debt and credit funds. Half a dozen Sankaty affiliates now are active in Bermuda, corporate registry records show.

The Sankaty debt hedge funds are organized as partnerships in Delaware that produce taxable business income by investing in fixed-income bonds and other debt instruments. Under tax law, even tax-exempt U.S. institutions may face a 35% tax if they invest directly in such hedge funds. By investing instead through a Bermuda corporation, the taxes are legally blocked, experts say.

Of course all of this is perfectly legal.

So nobody gets into trouble for any of this.

By keeping money offshore, even those managing these kinds of funds can avoid being taxed.

Victor Fleischer, a tax professor at the University of Colorado Law School, recently explained how this works….

“The idea behind some of the Cayman Island strategies was that the income that the fund managers receive for managing the money would be kept offshore in the Cayman Island — and the chief benefit is that you can defer when you recognize that income until a later date and you can reinvest the money from the Cayman islands and none of those reinvested funds get taxed until you bring them back either”

So was Romney doing this?

We may never know unless he shows us his tax returns.

What we do know is that Romney has millions of dollars of his own personal wealth invested in offshore tax havens.

The following comes from ABC News….

In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.

But Romney does not just have money invested down in the Cayman Islands.  Apparently his money is invested in a whole host of offshore tax havens.

The following quote comes from a Reuters article….

Bain funds in which Romney is invested are scattered from Delaware to the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, Ireland and Hong Kong, according to a Reuters analysis of securities filings.

So is there anything wrong with this?

Well, it depends on how you define “wrong”.

What Romney is doing is perfectly legal.

But it also stinks.  Washington lawyer Jack Blum recently told ABC News the following about Romney’s finances….

“His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system”

So now we may have a few hints as to why Romney may not want to release his old tax returns.

But as noted above, what Romney is doing is just small potatoes compared to what the ultra-wealthy do.

The U.S. Congress has been trying to clamp down on offshore banking, but the ultra-wealthy are always two or three steps ahead of them.

The ultra-wealthy will go to just about any extreme in order to avoid paying taxes.

In fact, the Washington Post has reported that an increasing number of wealthy individuals are actually deciding to renounce their citizenship rather than face the wrath of the IRS.

The ultra-wealthy aren’t really concerned that much with national citizenship anyway.  If they want to influence an election, they can have far more influence by donating a few million bucks to a “Super PAC” than they can by casting the few votes that they have.

In a previous article, I described how the ultra-wealthy use offshore banks as a “shadow banking system” that plays by rules that most people don’t even know exist….

It is a shadow banking system that most Americans don’t know anything about. Most Americans don’t have the resources to be able to set up shell companies in half a dozen different countries so that they can “filter” their profits.  Most Americans don’t know a thing about complicated tax avoidance plans that tax lawyers use such as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich”.  Most Americans would have no idea how to eventually have most of the money that they make end up in Bermuda so that it can avoid taxes.

Most among the global elite simply do not care that U.S. debt is climbing into the stratosphere.  All they care about is keeping as much of their own money in their pockets as they possibly can.

Of course there are always exceptions to this rule.  Warren Buffett recently wrote a check to the U.S. Treasury for a little more than $49,000 to help pay off the national debt.

But considering the fact that the U.S. national debt is increasing by more than 100 million dollars an hour, that didn’t exactly do much to help.

Our system is deeply broken and the global elite are getting away with bloody murder.  Over the decades, they have carefully crafted the rules so that as much wealth as possible is funneled into their pockets, and they have carefully crafted the rules so that as much wealth as possible stays in their pockets.

Of course if we got rid of the personal income tax and the corporate income tax entirely and replaced them with a completely new system we could get rid of all of this game playing once and for all.

But what do you think the odds are of that happening?

Taxed Into Oblivion

In the United States today, we are being taxed into oblivion, yet it is being done so stealthily that most Americans don’t even realize what is happening.  Most people are fixated on federal income tax rates, but the federal income tax is only one of the dozens of different taxes that each of us pay each year.  The politicians have learned that people get really upset when income tax rates are raised, so they have found hundreds of other ways to raise taxes on us.  What most taxpayers in the United States today are facing is “death by a thousand cuts”.  When you add up all forms of taxation from all levels of government, approximately 40 percent of all the income in the country is taken in as taxes by government.  Large numbers of Americans end up paying well over 50 percent of their income in taxes, and many of them don’t even realize that it is happening.  We truly are being taxed into oblivion, and yet the politicians just keep coming back for more.

On all levels, government just keeps growing, and all of this government has got to be paid for somehow.  Politicians have become masters at finding ways to tax us so that we won’t even feel it.  They have an endless hunger to spend more money, and they depend on us to feed that addiction.  Today, the combination of federal government spending, state government spending and local government spending now accounts for a larger share of U.S. GDP than at any other time in our history.

Yes, federal income tax rates were significantly higher 30 or 40 years ago.  But virtually every other tax you can think of has gone way up since then or did not exist back then.

Federal income taxes definitely still hurt, but the reality is that where we really get hit is in all of the other taxes that we pay.  American families pay Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, death taxes, various excise taxes, gasoline taxes, tire taxes, utility taxes, liquor taxes, telephone taxes and cigarette taxes just to name a few.  The truth is that there are dozens and dozens of different taxes that most Americans pay each year, and there are a whole bunch of others that get passed on to us through businesses that we deal with.

Speaking of cigarette taxes, there is legislation in Congress right now that would send taxes on tobacco products absolutely skyrocketing yet again.

I don’t smoke and I never will smoke, but I find the attack on smokers by our politicians to be seriously offensive.  If smoking is legal, then leave them alone.  Don’t tax them into oblivion just because you don’t like what they are doing.

An excerpt from S. 1403 (The IDEA Full Funding Act) is posted below.  You will notice that a portion of this legislation even refers to itself as the “Saving Lives by Lowering Tobacco Use Act”.  They are openly admitting that they want to make tobacco so expensive that people cannot afford to use it….

SEC. 3. TOBACCO TAX INCREASE AND PARITY.

(a) Short Title- This section may be cited as the ‘Saving Lives by Lowering Tobacco Use Act’.

(b) Increase in Excise Tax on Small Cigars and Cigarettes-

(1) SMALL CIGARS- Section 5701(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ‘$50.33’ and inserting ‘$100.50’.

(2) CIGARETTES- Section 5701(b) of such Code is amended–

(A) by striking ‘$50.33’ in paragraph (1) and inserting ‘$100.50’, and

(B) by striking ‘$105.69’ in paragraph (2) and inserting ‘$211.04’.

(c) Tax Parity for Pipe Tobacco and Roll-Your-Own Tobacco-

(1) PIPE TOBACCO- Section 5701(f) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ‘$2.8311 cents’ and inserting ‘$49.55’.

(2) ROLL-YOUR-OWN TOBACCO- Section 5701(g) of such Code is amended by striking ‘$24.78’ and inserting ‘$49.55’.

(d) Clarification of Definition of Small Cigars- Paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 5701(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 are each amended by striking ‘three pounds per thousand’ and inserting ‘four and one-half pounds per thousand’.

(e) Clarification of Definition of Cigarette- Paragraph (2) of section 5702(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting before the final period the following: ‘, which includes any roll for smoking containing tobacco that weighs no more than four and a half pounds per thousand, unless it is wrapped in whole tobacco leaf and does not have a cellulose acetate or other cigarette-style filter’.

(f) Tax Parity for Smokeless Tobacco-

(1) IN GENERAL- Section 5701(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended–

(A) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘$1.51’ and inserting ‘$26.79’;

(B) in paragraph (2), by striking ‘50.33 cents’ and inserting ‘$10.72’; and

(C) by adding at the end the following:

‘(3) SMOKELESS TOBACCO SOLD IN DISCRETE SINGLE-USE UNITS- On discrete single-use units, $100.50 per each 1,000 single-use units.’.

You can view the full text of this legislation right here.  Please notice that some of the tax increases are absolutely mind blowing.  For example, the tax rate on pipe tobacco is going from 2.8311 cents to $49.55.

Now that is a tax increase you can really sink your teeth into.

We are seeing “quiet” tax increases like this happen on every level of government all over the United States.

Of course I haven’t even mentioned all of the fines and fees and “registration” charges that state and local governments are hitting us with.

Have you gone to renew your car registration lately?  In some states (such as California) the fees have gotten absolutely ridiculous.

Speaking of California, it looks like they are getting ready to target cellphone users once again.

According to USA Today, California is getting ready to seriously jack up the fines for talking on a cellphone while driving….

The state Senate has sent a bill to Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. raising the basic fine for a first automotive offense from $20 to $50, the Sacramento Bee reports. For subsequent offenses, the fine would rise from $50 to $100. That’s not the worst of it: by the time state and local assessments are added on, the total for a first offense rises to between $208 to $328. For additional tickets, make that $328 to $528.

Yes, talking on a cellphone while driving is dangerous.  But hitting people with tickets of $300, $400 or even $500 is not about safety.  It is all about revenue generation.

Right now we are seeing an epidemic of speed traps all over the country.  State and local governments are desperate for money, and they see speeders as an easy source of revenue. You can read more about this phenomenon right here.

Speaking of “revenue”, that seems to have become Barack Obama’s new favorite word lately.  He seems absolutely obsessed with raising more money for the federal government.  The Obamacare law was absolutely packed to the gills with new taxes, but now he wants even more.

Yes, it is true that the wealthy are getting away with murder under our current tax system.  I find it highly offensive that many people that make millions of dollars each year are able to find ways to pay much, much smaller percentages of their incomes in taxes than I do.

But raising tax rates isn’t going to solve the problem.  Those that are masters at avoiding taxes are going to continue to do so.  Meanwhile, middle class Americans and small businesses will continue to get bled to death.

Our current tax system is fundamentally broken and needs to be completely thrown out and replaced.

However, no system is going to work until the federal government gets a handle on its spending addiction.

In the past couple of years, spending by the federal government as a share of GDP has been the highest that it has been since World War II.

You would think that there should be plenty of fat to trim, but as the recent debt ceiling deal clearly demonstrated, our politicians do not intend to significantly reduce government spending.

They are just going to keep borrowing, spending and finding more ways to tax us.

All of this nonsense in Washington D.C. is part of the reason why Americans are so displeased with Congress at this point.  According to Gallup, 84 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job, which is a brand new all-time high.

The truth is that sending more money to Washington D.C. is not going to “fix” things.

The federal government has multiplied in size over the past several decades, and yet the number of poor people just continues to increase.

Giving the poor more handouts may ease their suffering for a little while, but it is not the solution to their problems.  What they really need are good jobs, but our politicians have very busy setting up unfair trade agreements that allow millions of our jobs to be shipped overseas, and they continue to suffocate businesses in this country with mountains of ridiculous regulations.

No, the people that truly benefit when more money flows to the federal government are the fatcats that live and work around Washington D.C.

The past few decades have been a bonanza for government contractors, lobbyists and lawyers in the D.C. area.

According to the Washington Post, those living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area now have a higher median household income than anyone else in the country….

Washingtonians now enjoy the highest median household income of any metropolitan area in the country, and five of the top 10 jurisdictions in America — Loudoun, Howard and Fairfax counties, and Falls Church and Fairfax City — are here, census data shows.

The signs of that wealth are on display all over, from the string of luxury boutiques such as Gucci and Tory Burch opening at Tysons Galleria to the $15 cocktails served over artisanal ice at the W Hotel in the District to the ever-larger houses rising off River Road in Potomac.

There is a ton of money in the D.C. area.  I know.  I used to work there.  Approximately one third of the GDP of the region comes from spending by the federal government.  Even during this recent economic downturn, the Washington D.C. region continues to do really, really well.

So, no, raising taxes is not going to fix what ails us.  It would just feed the monster that we have created in Washington.

We are already being taxed into oblivion.  Middle class America can’t take much more of this.

We need to change our entire approach to taxation in this country, because right now our tax system is fundamentally unfair and it is not working.

So what do all of you think about our tax system?  Please feel free to post a comment with your opinion below….

 

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