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Black Friday is the single biggest shopping day of the year. And this Friday, all eyes will be on Walmart, the nation's single biggest retailer and employer. But while the planned protests at 1,000 of the chain's 4,000 locations will keep the focus on Walmart's below-industry standard pay to its 1.3 million associates, the company's owners are actively working to reduce their tax bill as well.

That's the word from the New York Times, which on Monday reported that Walmart will move up its quarterly dividend payment by six days. Why?

The Walton family, which founded Wal-Mart, could save as much as $180 million in federal income taxes after the huge retailer announced Monday that it would pay out its quarterly dividend on Dec. 27 instead of Jan. 2, as was scheduled.

The change will allow the family and other Wal-Mart shareholders to record the income this year, when the federal tax rate on dividends tops out at 15 percent. Next year, if the Obama administration and Republicans are unable to reach a compromise, that rate is set to jump sharply to 39.6 percent. High earners will have to pay an additional 3.8 percent on most investment income to help pay for the new federal health care law, bringing the total possible tax bite to 43.4 percent.

Now, Walmart is not the only company taking steps to avoid the higher capital gains and dividend tax rates advocated by President Obama. But in Walmart's case, the Times pointed out, "the Waltons own 48 percent of Wal-Mart's stock, or 1.6 billion shares, and control three of the company's 16 board seats." As it turns out, the heirs of Walmart founders Sam and James "Bud" Walton now possess combined wealth equivalent to 49 million American families, 42 percent of the total.

As labor economist Sylvia Allegretto of the University of California and Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute documented this week, the Fed's Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) showed that the crippling recession which began five years ago has been a bonanza for the Walton Six. Between 2007 and 2010, the wealth of the Walton family members jumped from $73.3 billion to $89.5 billion even as median family wealth fell by 38.8 percent. The result?

In 2007, it was reported that the Walton family wealth was as large as the bottom 35 million families in the wealth distribution combined, or 30.5 percent of all American families.

And in 2010, as the Walton's wealth has risen and most other Americans' wealth declined, it is now the case that the Walton family wealth is as large as the bottom 48.8 million families in the wealth distribution (constituting 41.5 percent of all American families) combined.

It's no wonder Walmart chief financial officer Tom Schoewe told Wall Street analysts in the fall of 2007, "Tough times are actually a good time for Walmart."

Good for Walmart, that is, but not good enough for the Walton family.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Because while Alice, Jim and Dobson Walton recused themselves from the recent dividend vote, they've been trying for years to eliminate the estate tax-and with it, their heirs' future multi-billion payment to Uncle Sam.

In 1999, that tax was 55 percent on an individual's estate valued at over $675.000. Thanks to President Obama's capitulation to Congressional Republicans in December 2010, the estate tax dropped to 35 percent starting at $5 million per person. (Despite the fact that only 0.25 percent of estates even had to pay the tax in 2009, Democrat Blanche Lincoln, also once known as the "Senator from Walmart," colluded with Arizona Republican Jon Kyl to force the lower rate.)  President Obama has proposed returning the estate tax to its 2009 level of 45 percent starting at $3.5 million, a move which over the next decade would generate $119 billion for the United States Treasury.

But the Waltons, like other of Mitt Romney's billionaire backers, have another rate in mind: zero.

As Forbes first highlighted last year, between them the six Waltons combined have over $90 billion. As Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders explained in his famous filibuster of December 2010, the elimination of the estate tax could potentially save the Walton family $32.7 billion. Had Mitt Romney become president, the Walmart heirs could have gotten back a return 81,750 times Alice and Jim's original $400,000 Super PAC investment.

But Romney's defeat hardly represents the end of the Walton crusade to abolish the estate tax. As USA Today summed it up in 2005, they've been at it for years:

Led by Sam Walton's only daughter, Alice, the family spent $3.2 million on lobbying, conservative causes and candidates for last year's federal elections. That's more than double what it spent in the previous two elections combined, public documents show.

The Waltons have joined a coterie of wealthy families trying to save fortunes through permanent repeal of the estate tax, government watchdogs say. The election of President Bush and more conservatives to Congress gave momentum to the long-fought effort. The Waltons add more.

If the Waltons and their Republican allies succeed in blocking Obama's proposed changes for the capital gains tax rate (returning to 20 percent from the current 15 percent), the dividend tax rate (which would be the same rate as ordinary income) and increased estate tax rate, the U.S, Treasury would lose an estimated $361 billion over the next decade. That deep hole will have to be filled by all other U.S. taxpayers, also known Walmart customers and workers.

Put another way, it's the high cost of low prices—and low taxes.

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Jon - we will see a lot of this (8+ / 0-)

    It makes a great deal of sense to both accelerate dividend payments and for people to recognize capital gains before the end of the year. This is just rational economic behavior. This happens every time there is a scheduled increase in taxes. You will also see people who are able accelerate bonus payments and other compensation into 2012. This will all give the Treasury a boost for this quarter.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 03:49:40 PM PST

  •  Of course they are looking to slash their (7+ / 0-)

    federal tax payments.  Absolutely.  And there's nothing wrong with looking to pay the lowest tax you legally have to pay.  

    You act like there's something wrong with structuring your affairs so as to pay the lowest tax legally required.  There is nothing wrong with that -- virtually every American who pays federal income tax does it in some way, shape, or form.  That's exactly what a 401(k) is - a way to save for retirement that lessens your federal income tax burden.  And how many people factored that first time home buyers' credit into when they would buy a house?  There's absolutely nothing legally or ethically wrong with structuring your affairs to pay the lowest tax legally required, whether you are an individual or a business that is owned by a group of individuals.  The Supreme Court has recognized this numerous times.  That rule doesn't change when an individual or a business reaches an economic threshold.  Nobody, and no business -- no matter how rich -- has a legal or ethical obligation to behave a way that increases their tax burden.

    It's up to the people who write the tax laws to recognize that fact, and to factor that into the tax laws they write.  And certainly they know that any time the tax laws are going to chance significantly on January 1, people and businesses will take whatever steps they can prior to January 1 to lessen the taxes they ultimately will pay.  That's happened with the capital gains taxes -- when people know that the rates will go up, they sell before those higher rates take effect, and after the rates go up, refrain from selling (if they can) until the rates go back down.

    Tax laws affect behavior.  That is a fundamental economic truth.  And it's kind of silly to pretend it doesn't.  It's even sillier to pretend that people should not alter their behavior so as to get the best tax treatment legally possible.  After all, a lot of tax policy is designed to make people and businesses alter their decision-making and behavior.  

    •  A Couple of Follow Ups (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, Lujane

      I completely agree with you that companies trying to move capital and dividend gains into 2012 makes perfect sense.  It is neither irrational nor illegal.

      As I noted in another comment response, businesses and individuals have done this many times before as tax rates have risen or fallen.  The Reagan reforms in 1986 or Clinton's income tax increase in 1993 and later, capital gains cut, also shifted when taxpayers took gains/losses.

      It is worth noting that not all tax changes influence behavior in the same ways.  For example, there is a fair amount of evidence that lower capital gains taxes don't spur higher investment (that is, the reason claimed for lowering them).  They do, however, drive higher income inequality.  Also, slightly higher top end marginal income tax rates don't have much impact on the economy when tax rates are historically low (as they are now).

      For more background, see here and here.

    •  You are forgetting (5+ / 0-)

      one thing.  The wealthy themselves have structured the tax code in their own favor, and now YOU say there's nothing wrong with them following their own manipulation of the code.  Can an ordinary citizen do that too?  YES, there's something wrong with them being able to structure the tax code in their favor.  Yes, they have the wealth to do it through PAID lobbyists, most of whom are former members of congress and have become nothing more than paid lackeys of the wealthy.  Get a life!

      Without adequate taxation, we can't live in a civilized country.

  •  It may be legal, still looks bad. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane

    Thanks for the diary.

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:03:37 PM PST

  •  We no longer recognize greed as a sin (0+ / 0-)

    or a failing,nor as bad policy,it isn't even a foible. Not in boardrooms,not in the public square,not even here at DK.
    Yes,the Walton's wiil profit mightily off this ever so fiscally prudent maneuver. Nothing to see ,nothing to mention.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:08:57 PM PST

    •  it's simply a recognition that, when it comes to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, winsock

      financial issues, people will act in accord with their own financial best interests. That's actually a truth that is the underlying premise of capitalism.  Yes, they may be altruistic when it comes to giving to a cause or a charity they choose to support. But that has nothing to do with paying federal income taxes.  

      If attempting to take legal steps to minimize the federal income taxes you pay is "greed," I'm afraid that I don't know anyone who pays federal income tax who is NOT greedy.

      •  You should broaden your base of (0+ / 0-)

        friends if what you wrote is true,"I'm afraid that I don't know anyone who pays federal income tax who is NOT greedy."

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:29:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are only reading half of that sentence (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny wurster, Argyrios, VClib, winsock

          I said, "if attempting to minimize the federal income taxes you pay is greedy. . . ."

          That means that I don't know ANYONE who pays federal income taxes who doesn't do what they can to try to minimize the taxes they pay.  Do you?  Anyone who takes a deduction is trying to minimize the taxes they pay and is, under that definition of greed (trying to minimize federal income taxes) "greedy."

          Do you know ANYONE who pays federal income taxes without doing things they are legally  entitled to do (like take the standard deduction, or the mortgage interest deduction) to minimize their tax burden?  

          •  Why yes,I do. (0+ / 0-)

            I also know people who are purposefully NOT going to leave huge estates to their children and grandchildren. Imagine that!

            "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

            by tardis10 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:48:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You changed the subject. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib, winsock

              it's about whether minimizing your federal taxes makes you "greedy."  Those people who are purposefully NOT going to leave huge estates to their children or grandchildren -- are they giving it all to the federal government in taxes, above and beyond what they are legally obligated to pay in federal taxes? Or are they maybe -- like Bill Gates and others -- doing something with it NOW, before they die, so that it can go to the causes they want and NOT to the federal government in estate taxes?  

              Show me someone who says, in his or her will, "I direct that the executor of my estate should not take any legally allowable deductions, exemptions, or credits  in calculating the federal estate tax due, and should include as part of my gross estate all possible property, even that property which may not be part of the gross estate as a matter of tax law, and I further direct that my estate pay federal estate taxes on every dollar, not just on those amounts over the legal threshold for estate taxes." Then you might have a point.  Someone who does all of that is not trying to minimize federal taxes.  Someone who fails to do all of that is trying to minimizing federal taxes and is, under that definition, "greedy."  

              When you answer a question by changing the subject, you have no credibility.

              •  Sorry that you can only imagine (0+ / 0-)

                a reality of lockstep drones that all approach everything in just one way. Maybe that is all you know,people that ride their accountants for every single tax advantage. Probably more common than not,but no,everyone does not do every thing legally allowed to minimize their taxes. Or to maximize their profit$$$$$.

                If you do not see the greed & avarice involved in the Walton's of this world,I hope you can at least see that their behaviour is unsustainable.

                "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                by tardis10 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:17:00 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  What are you? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tardis10

                I have to ask, what are you?

                Just because something is legal does not make it moral or even desirable.

                Walmart is sucking the life from the US in as many ways as it possibly can.  It's immoral and it's a traitor to the US because it is a major driver of the downward spiral in the US.

                I could just see you back a few centuries ago--re: slavery--"but it's legal," re: wife and child abuse --"but it's legal."

                The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

                by dfarrah on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:47:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not defending everything Wal-Mart does (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  johnny wurster, winsock, VClib

                  I AM defending the notion that a person, or a business, can do whatever is legal to minimize federal taxes.

                  Because we ALL do what we can to minimize federal taxes.  We take deductions, we take exemptions, we pay on marginal rates (instead of applying the top rate to all of our income).  And there's nothing wrong with that -- whether you do it, whether I do it, or whether a business does it.  

                  There's no moral imperative to pay more in federal taxes than you legally owe.  I reject any notion that, because someone or some business takes advantage of what the law allows to minimize their federal taxes, they are "greedy."  

                  You are completely misstating my posts if you interpret them to mean I am defending Wal-Mart in all things.  I am not.  I am defending the notion that it is completely legal, moral, and ethical to avail yourself of whatever the law allows to minimize the amount of federal taxes you pay.  Because everyone I've ever known has availed themselves of whatever the law allows to minimize the federal taxes they pay.  I've never known someone who paid federal income taxes without taking advantage of any of the deductions legally allowable.  That's minimizing your federal income taxes.  

                  An action that is completely legal, moral and ethical (such as availing your self of legal avenues to minimize federal taxes) does not become an immoral or unethical action because the entity doing it may OTHERWISE be a bad actor.  

                  •  Legal,yes. (0+ / 0-)

                    Moral and ethical? How so? Are you saying that someone who does not avail themselves of every credit and deduction on purpose,is immoral or unethical?
                    Your case that corporations must avail themselves of every tax strategy is ethically defensible but certainly not true at all for individuals.

                    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                    by tardis10 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:22:59 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Again, misstating what I am saying (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Utahrd, twigg, winsock, VClib

                      I am not saying that one is obligated to take advantage of every deduction or exemption.  Many people do not take the time to learn about everything they are entitled to deduct.  I am NOT saying that either an individual, or a business, MUST take advantage of every deduction, exemption, etc. that they are entitled to.  I AM saying that it is not immoral, unethical, or greedy if they do.  

                      Doing whatever you legally can do to reduce your federal income taxes is the very reason that H&R Block and Turbo Tax stay in business -- because most people do not even know every potential deduction, and they promise to help you minimize the federal income taxes you pay.  Paying H&R Block or Turbo Tax to help you find ways to minimize the federal income taxes you pay is no more immoral, unethical, or greedy than is paying a tax accountant, or tax lawyer, to do the same thing -- which is exactly what is being criticized in this case.  Any tax accountant, or tax lawyer, who DIDN'T recommend something like this to reduce federal income taxes may be committing malpractice.  

                      I AM saying that virtually everyone who pays federal income taxes takes SOME steps to minimize the taxes they pay -- even if it's as simple as taking the standard deduction.  There's nothing immoral, or unethical, about not taking every deduction you are entitled to, and there's nothing immoral or unethical about taking advantage of every single deduction or exemption or provision for minimizing your taxes that you are entitled to take.  No sense of morality, or ethics, compels anyone -- any individual or any business -- to forgo some provision for legally reducing their federal income taxes.  It's kind of ridiculous to imply -- as this diary does -- that there's something "wrong" or "greedy" about doing what you legally can do to reduce the federal income taxes you pay.  Everyone who pays federal income taxes  does that to some extent.  

                      •  This is true, up to a point. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        tardis10

                        People who need their income to pay for their lifestyle can, and should, do everything they can to minimise their tax burden.

                        The tax system is set up in the expectation that citizens will do that.

                        However, their does come a point where some people are not funding a lifestyle, they are accumulating wealth.

                        At that point, while it is reasonable that they use the regular tax code provisions, what is NOT reasonable is that they also seek to invent new ones.

                        They invent vehicles that do not exist in the tax code as a way to avoid paying any reasonable amount, or any at all. Some of those things are later deemed unlawful, but many are not because the IRS doesn't have the capacity to test everything.

                        That is highly immoral, and should be fiercely resisted. They may say "I pay everything I am legally obliged to pay" ... but that isn't even remotely the point.

                        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                        by twigg on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:07:45 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  In those cases, it's a question of legality (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          winsock, twigg, VClib

                          and I am certainly NOT defending taking tax positions of questionable legality.  

                          What this diary attacks, however, is a decision to pay a dividend BEFORE January 1 rather than after January 1.  There's nothing questionable about that.  People are advised to do things before, or after, year end so as to affect their income tax burden all the time.  See, for example,here and here and here and here.

                          I've even seen couples select a wedding day (when they wanted to get married during mid-winter, deciding before or after January 1) in part based on tax considerations.  

                            If you use a program like Turbo Tax, you'll get standard advice about the timing of certain transactions so as to get the best tax effect.  It's called "tax planning."  And with a transaction that is not questionable in the least -- like the timing of a dividend, which is the event that prompted this diary -- there's nothing immoral, unethical, or greedy involved.

                          •  Yep .. I agree :) (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            tardis10

                            I would add though that it's not just a matter of legality.

                            The seeking of tax shelters, in ever creative manners, is not illegal.

                            But when you have more wealth or income than you need to sustain your already lavish lifestyle, then it is immoral.

                            And yes, there is a place for morals in tax payment. Ask J K Rowling.

                            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                            by twigg on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:31:51 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  twigg - no there is not (0+ / 0-)

                            ask Judge Learned Hand.

                            In addition, the decision by the board of directors at Walmart benefits all Walmart shareholders, not just the family. The board has a fiduciary duty to do what is in the best interest of the shareholders. It has no duty to the US Treasury.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:47:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I wasn't actually referring to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            tardis10

                            the Walmart decision. That makes good sense and is not the "morality" I mean.

                            And yes, there is :)

                            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                            by twigg on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:51:52 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Nobady likes to say it plainly ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    tardis10

                    but plainly said - they have more than they will ever need - period.

                    How many billions is enough?

                    "They want more things ... lament the kings" and such attitudes start real revolutions.

                    I'm sorry, that is an old and tired argument from old and tired people who owe their entire wealth to the very citizenry they refuse to respect, and nation they seek to exploit.

                    Exploitation of labor and government safety nets, food stamps, medicare, and every other government program have enriched these people beyond all measure.

                    The government - and it's ability to level the playing field between the modern aristocracy and the common man is the very principle by which our nation was founded.

                    Yeah - they owe it, and we need to demand it - bottom line.

                    Greedy? you bet they are ... Morality is the least of it.

                    If not us ... who? If not here ... where? If not now ... when?

                    by RUNDOWN on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:11:02 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  tardis - the size of estate that you leave (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              johnny wurster

              to your family has nothing to do with how much you pay each year in federal income tax.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:04:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Greed Became A Virtue in 1981 nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, CA wildwoman

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:21:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for the date... (0+ / 0-)

        Just today I was wondering when 'The Midas Touch' became a goal instead of a cautionary tail about the tragedy that follows unchecked greed.

        The amount of money these people have accumulated from families that are barely making ends meet & needing government assistance while employed by Walmart is hideous.

        I am a believer that those who can afford to pay taxes are the balance against those who don't earn enough to be able to. After all, the rich & corporations get more benefits from infrastructure & a stable society than the poor.

        Excessive wealth (esp. unearned) is immoral in my opinion.

        Something that doesn't make good sense, makes bad sense. That means someone is being deliberately hurtful & selfish. Look for motives behind actions & words.

        by CA wildwoman on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 05:15:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  tardis - this is just rational economic behavior (0+ / 0-)

      You will see lots of corporations moving up their dividends and bonus payments to take advantage of the lower 2012 tax rates.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:03:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For the ultra rich buying influence, politicians (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Mama, tardis10

    and laws is a deal - one of the best returns on investment possible.  Sure maybe this election year was not great but they still have the House and the leverage to make sure the government works for them.

  •  Well, Walmart would be immune from suits like this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, winsock, VClib

    But if a publicly-traded company says, "We're paying dividends in 2013 so they will be taxed at a higher rate", I think that would generate a lawsuit from shareholders.

    Company boards have a responsibility to protect their shareholder's investment.

    Or at the very least, shareholders would toss out a board that did that.

  •  Not common with Democratic contributors. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster

    A least one Democratic contributor have also benefited from tax avoidance.

    Micky Arison's dad had renounced his US citizenship so that Carnival Cruise Lines would not be subject to inheritance tax.

     

  •  I am Ready to Go Over The Cliff (0+ / 0-)

      Come on guys it is a nice little jump. I for one am sick of being manipulated by the Uber Wealthy Boogey Man.
       I actually believe that based on where all of the tax rates and cuts fall into we the average man would be better off. That living under this constant threat by loonie right wing leaders acting as if we didn't have an election that changed anything???
       THEY NEED A GOOD OLD DOSE OF REALITY!!!!

    •  Not sure this is what you were talking about, but (0+ / 0-)

      I think that a genuinely flat tax of 22% to 25% of all income from any source, may well be the answer. Everyone else pays the same rate. The ONLY exemption would be that those below the poverty line pay no income tax at all. NO other exemptions, exceptions, or deductions of any sort.

      I still favor a progressive income tax, because I reason that as a person's or household's income rises they receive disproportionately more services and more valuable services from the Federal Government, but a flat tax at this level would have the advantage of being simple, straight forward, and extremely difficult to manipulate.

      Businesses of any form (corporation, partnership, LLP, the works) could only deduct specific expenses from gross revenues and those expense deductions would be limited (e.g. compensation in excess of 40 times the salary of the company's lowest paid worker would not be deductible for tax purposes).

      •  A "genuinely flat tax" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tim DeLaney

        with NO deductions would be a crushing burden on average working families. I am barely getting by but am not below the poverty level. However, if you added state and local taxes, fees and property taxes to a 22-25% federal tax, I would be paying  40% or more of my income in taxes — not even including sales taxes — and I would be below the poverty level.

        The flat tax is one of the most horrible and unjust of all rightwing proposals.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 11:23:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  A flat tax is a horrid idea (0+ / 0-)
        ... but a flat tax at this level would have the advantage of being simple, straight forward, and extremely difficult to manipulate.
        This is just silly. We could just as easily make a graduated tax code simple. Simplicity is NOT enhanced by flatness. We have computers, you know. Calculating taxes from a graduated tax code is an exercise that a fifth grader could master in an hour or two.

        You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. --Bob Dylan-- -7.25, -6.21

        by Tim DeLaney on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 04:21:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  All of this misses why our tax code is complex. (0+ / 0-)

        For one a "Flat Tax" is an awful idea. It would only serve to increase the economic disparity in this country and it would do so at lightening speed. Our tax code is complex because individuals and companies find way to avoid paying taxes leading congress to pave over those loopholes and that requires pages of federal legislation defining definitions and new tax laws and enforceability. Then add tax credits for corporations and individuals of all economic backgrounds and you add more complexity. Yes we could have a relatively simple progressive tax code, but doing so would mean getting rid of all deductions even those that benefit the middle class.

  •  I would do the same thing as Walmart.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marcellus Shale, winsock

    ...I plan on winning the powerball tomorrow night.  I will make sure I then collect the winnings before the new year in order to save on taxes.  Why would anyone do otherwise?

    I fully agree that the rich pay too little in taxes.  I frankly think we should go back to that socialist Eisenhower's tax rates.  But if I was in a position such as Walmart, which I fully expect to be (on a smaller scale) on Sunday morning, I'd do the same thing.

    •  Don't let the existing circumstance blind you... (0+ / 0-)

      ...to the very long term intent of most of our Financial Overlords: Unearned income completely free of taxation at any point.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 03:09:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  DAMMMMMMMMITTT (0+ / 0-)

    LETS CALL THESE ASSHOLES WHAT THEY ARE! SOCIALISTS.

    Parenthetically, I can't believe I wasted so much time commenting and reading a site where you can't even say "socialist"

    You can trust me to be objective, I've been attacked by both sides.

    by Marcellus Shale on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:47:56 PM PST

  •  They Deserve Every Bit Of It (0+ / 0-)

    And I most definitely hope that the Walton family gets exactly what's coming to them.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:59:30 PM PST

  •  This post is not balanced (0+ / 0-)

    Basically this post boils down to "Hey, the Waltons have gotten really rich and they want to lower their taxes.  Look how much they have to pay and how much they are spending to reduce that."

    Wouldn't it be more effective to discuss the arguments they are using to try to justify reduced or eliminated taxes on capital gains and estates.   If you don't refute the double taxation argument and other such arguments they use, you are unlikely to win the policy debate.

    Just saying, "wow, look at how well they've done during these rough economic times and how much their tax bill will go down if their chosen reps get control" doesn't persuade me.

  •  Um.. so they should pay MORE (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winsock

    taxes than they are obligated to? I really don't get the point of this?

  •  Interesting . . . "rational economic behavior" (6+ / 0-)

    Yet someone walking away from an underwater mortgage on a hideously overpriced property is solely responsible for societal decay, and is making an immoral choice that hurts us all.

    And, judging from the mountains of U.S. flag-oriented and -adorned property for sale at Wal-Mart, I'm pretty sure they'd go along with the jingoistic notion that "freedom isn't free." I wonder why the Walton family is so opposed to helping to pay for the system that's enriched them?

  •  I'll wager this family was all in for Mittens (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    And like many on the right I bet they are just outraged by the deficit and government spending. They probably think that we need to slash spending on Medicare and Medicaid and those damn food stamps, right?

    If they have as much wealth as is reported, equal to 41.5% of all American families wouldn't it be nice if they paid taxes on that wealth that would be comparable to that wealth? How the hell do we fix the deficit without breaking the backs of the bottom 1%?

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:24:02 PM PST

  •  The estate tax was proposed (6+ / 0-)

    by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations, not as a fiscal measure, but as a way of preventing dynasties from forming.  Aristocracy, he realized, is the enemy of Democracy.

    For the same reason, Bush slashed the estate tax.  And he called it "death tax" and got factory workers and retail clerks up in arms against it.  Our opponents are not stupid.  Evil, but not stupid.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:25:33 PM PST

  •  This one of those truly rare occassions when... (0+ / 0-)

    people are acting in their rational self-interest.

    Most people do not.
    Example? Ask any trained experienced sales person and they will tell you that the overwhelming majority of people are almost completely irrational while making a buying decision. It's the primary reason that the "free-market," as I have observed it in action, almost never functions as the theorists tell us it will.

  •  Great Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fiona Mackenzie, Egalitare

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:29:13 PM PST

  •  "But it's legal..." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anastasia p, tardis10

    What is WRONG with people?  Do you like being victims so much that you cover for the bullies?

    It's okay to leach all the wealth out of the American society and into a few pockets because "it's legal"?  Do you have any idea at all where laws come from?   Are they given by god, or do they come down from the mountain?  NO.  They are made by legislators, a great deal of whose campaign money and political future is provided (remember "Citizens United"?) by the very people who are depriving you of the opportunity to make a reasonable living for yourself and your family.

    This is supposed to be a country operated "by the people."  What kind of people, instead of standing up like men and women, electing representatives who will serve them, and fixing inequitable laws, choose to wimp out and say, "Well, yes, my children can't have medical care and food and shelter, but that's okay--it's the LAW"?

    I am so sick of submissive, autocrat-worshiping wimps.  You are the ones Washington and Jefferson feared would give away the republic, end democracy, for lack of character.  And son of a gun, you're doing it.  Because it's "legal"!

  •  As Rush says (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anastasia p

    We give and we give, and they are never happy.  They always want more.  Maybe when they have wealth equal to the bottom 47% they will be happy.

  •  Question for Johnny Wurster or VClib (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster

    If dividend income is taxed higher than capital gains, won't dividends will tend to disappear? Instead of declaring dividends, a company could simply buy back stock, thus converting profits to capital gains instead of paying them as dividends.

    Is there some technical reason that this isn't feasible?  

    You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. --Bob Dylan-- -7.25, -6.21

    by Tim DeLaney on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 04:34:59 AM PST

    •  hi Tim - we'll see two things happen: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tim DeLaney

      dividend paying stocks will get hammered in the market.  prices would have to fall by more than 50%, and closer to 75%, for the dividend to generate the same after-tax yield.

      the second thing is exactly what you note: increased pressure to convert dividends to taxable gains through fewer dividends and more stock buybacks.  and, from a tax standpoint, that could be interesting, because the IRS can recharacterize stock purchases as dividends if the economic effect is more dividend than sale (for example, they look to whether there's been a change in the economics between the shareholders.  if everyone's shares have ratably decreased and they're all left in the same ex post position that they were in ex ante, its a disguised dividend).  because dividends and cap gains have been correctly equalized for so long, we've only see this come up in a handful of oddball areas of tax (viz, qualified small business stock sale exclusion), but it'll come roaring back if the rates diverge again.

  •  I swear (0+ / 0-)

    These people do not make the world a better place, in fact, without the Waltons it would be marginally more pleasant.

    We shouldn't tolerate these greedy, opportunistic assclowns, the Waltons.

    I should like to see this family of hucksters tarred, feathered, and run out of America on a rail. Who's with me!

    THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM. You can write that down in your book in great big letters. -- L. Ron Hubbard Technique 88

    by xenubarb on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:14:16 AM PST

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