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Friday, April 12, 2013

ABC’s weird take on perfectly rational taxation policies

Or “Today’s adventure in sensationalist google bait.”
ABC News: President Obama has plenty of big taxes in his budget proposal.

To achieve $1.8 trillion in new revenue, the president suggested a few of the policies he’s raised while battling Republicans over the past four years: taxing higher incomes by capping itemized tax deductions, rolling back domestic-production credits for oil companies, instituting the “Buffett Rule” of a 30 percent minimum tax rate for people making over $1 million in a year, and taxing investment managers’ “carried interest” profits as regular income top the list.

But the tax code is a jungle of odd rules, and the penny-pinching side of Obama’s budget raises some new taxes (or closes some “loopholes”) that might not readily occur to most taxpayers filling out run-of-the-mill 1040s this weekend.
What follows is the dreaded “listicle”; i.e., something that in it’s best form is an article in the form of a list and at its worst is a list pretending to be an article. To his credit, author Chris Good manages the former. But that’s where any credit stops. Here’s Ed Kilgore’s breakdown of the “weird” taxes Pres. Obama proposes:

Good identifies five revenue raisers as self-evidently risible: (1) eliminating an exemption from distilled spirits taxes for flavored vodkas (“Obama wants to tax your Stoli Razberi”); (2) eliminating the practice of claiming land conservation tax credits for golf courses; (3) boosting federal cigarette taxes to pay for a national pre-K program (“Obama smokes from time to time”); (4) getting rid of the corporate jet tax write off (“Perhaps a dead horse by now, but Obama is still beating it”); and (5) stopping businesses from writing off punitive damages they are assessed, typically for egregiously harmful behavior.
Yeah, it’s pretty dishonest and awful. “The whole thing seems to add up to one of those ‘if it moves, liberals will tax it’ kind of ‘stories’ that conservatives trot out before April 15 every year,” Kilgore explains. “It’s less news coverage than agitprop disguised as stand-up, but I’m sure it will get good circulation at golf resort clubhouses where tobacco executives smarting from punitive damages meet to sip Stoli Razberi and complain about Obama before boarding their corporate jets to go home.”

In short, how out of touch would you have to be to find any of this beyond the pale? I mean, why do flavored vodkas get a tax exemption anyway? If anything, Obama’s eliminating a weirdness with that one. And you have to pay taxes on your corporate Gulfstream? Cry me a river, Richie Rich.

Weird is finding any of this weird.

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