Sneeky Uncle Sam

The Government is Playing Hide and Seek With Airfare Taxes
By Daniel Horowitz:

When purchasing a product or service, we all like to see the itemized list of charges – one that separates the cost of the purchase from the share going to Uncle Sam through the form of taxes and fees. Needless to say, government bureaucrats don’t like that. They desire that we remain blissfully ignorant of government’s burden on our everyday lives. This is one reason why they concocted the withholdings scheme for income tax collection. Now, they are expanding their tentacles into commercial taxes so they can obfuscate the magnitude of taxes and fees on airfare purchases.

Without much fanfare, the Department of Transportation (DOT) enacted a rule which requires airlines to ensconce all government taxes and fees in a single total advertised price with the fare. For example, if you purchase a $350 plane ticket with $50 of taxes and fees, the DOT is demanding that the airline advertise the price as $400. Airline passengers pay over a dozen taxes and fees on any given airplane ticket, but the government doesn’t want us to know that. The rule was finalized last April, but only took effect last week.

The timing of this rule is very fortuitous. This week, Congress will finalize negotiations for a long-term FAA funding bill. This bill authorizes the collection of all taxes – including taxes on aviation fuel, domestic and international ticket taxes, and cargo –directed to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which provides the bulk of FAA funding. As usual, Democrats want to spend more money on wasteful projects, and are all too hungry to increase aviation taxes. What better way to leverage tax increases than by forcing airlines to hide their cost and to shoulder the blame for the perceived higher price tag at the top!

This is yet another insidious plan to raise taxes and place unconstitutional mandates on private enterprise – all by administrative fiat. It must be stopped in its tracks. Today, conservative Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) is introducing a bill, the Travel Transparency Act, which will void the DOT rule, and demand that passengers have the right to view all the aviation taxes in separate line items for each ticket purchased. Graves asserted that “the federal government should not be inserting itself in the private sector to limit consumers’ ability to see how much they’re getting taxed. If the American people can’t see these costs clearly, I fear it will be easier these fees and taxes to be raised without their knowledge.”

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who used to be a Republican, defended the rule as a necessary means to ensure that passengers are treated with “dignity and respect.” The only thing this rule will accomplish is ensuring that passengers retain their “respect” for government, while blaming the airlines for perceived increases in ticket prices.

At present, airline passengers are on the hook for at least 16 different taxes and fees on the average airline ticket. Additionally, they must incur the most harmful backdoor tax; the high cost of jet fuel resulting from decades of anti-energy growth policies. We must ensure that the existing taxes remain transparent so that Congress will have a harder time sneaking through new tax increases. Please ask your member of Congress to cosponsor Tom Graves’s Travel Transparency Act.

Joke du Jour

A man was dining alone in a fancy restaurant.

There was a gorgeous redhead sitting at the next table.

He had been checking her out since he sat down, but lacked the nerve to talk with her.

Suddenly she sneezed, and her glass eye came flying out of its socket towards the man. He reflexively reached out, grabbed it out of the air, and handed it back.

“Oh my, I am so sorry”. the woman said, as she popped her eye back in place. “Let me make it up to you by buying your dinner.”

They enjoyed a wonderful dinner together and afterwards went to the theatre followed by drinks.

They talked, they laughed, she shared her deepest dreams and he, his. She listened to him with interest.

After paying for everything, she asked if he would like to come to her place for a nightcap and stay for breakfast. They had a wonderful, wonderful time.

The next morning, she cooked a gourmet breakfast with all the extras. The guy was amazed. Everything had been so incredible!

“You know”, he said, “you are the perfect woman.. Are you this nice to every guy you meet?”

“No”, she replies. . ..
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> It’s coming ….. ….
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> The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?
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She said … …:
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“You just happened to catch my eye.”

Attribution: Karen

American Hyper-Stupidity

Let’s file this one in the , “Could we get any Dumber”, category.

By Daniel Horowitz (The Madison Project):

Much ink has been poured over the fact that 51% of tax filers paid no federal income taxes in 2009. There is less attention directed towards the more outrageous statistic; 30% of tax filers had a negative tax liability that year. In other words, they made money off the tax system.

Those who won the jackpot on tax day benefited primarily from refundable tax credits; the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Additional Child Tax Credit
(ACTC, the refundable portion of child tax credit), and the now-expired Making Work Pay Credit. In 2011, refundable credits cost the treasury about $94.4 billion. Keep in mind that this is just one small portion of the burgeoning welfare empire, approaching $1 trillion in total federal, state, and local expenditures. While it would be nice to get rid of these redistributive “tax expenditures” for everyone, we could start with illegal aliens.

Last July, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Collection released a shocking report detailing how illegal aliens are able to utilize a filing loophole to obtain billions in ACTC funds. While EITC appropriations are protected from illegals (those who don’t engage in identity theft) because they are only awarded to those who provide a valid Social Security number, the same cannot be said for the ACTC. Illegals can receive the ACTC by merely providing an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on their 1040 form, which is blithely issued by the IRS. In 2010, according to the report, illegals received $4.2 billion in ACTC payouts. That accounts for roughly 15% of all outlays for that refundable credit.

During the December imbroglio over the payroll tax cut, the House inserted a provision to require a valid Social Security number in order to collect the ACTC. Republicans planned to use the savings as part of the offset package. Now that the bill, HR 3630, is pending before the conference committee, we must ensure that the ACTC provision is part of a legitimate proposal to offset the cost of the extenders package.

Originally, the Joint Committee on Taxation scored the savings as $2.6 billion for 1 year and $9.4 billion over 10 years. However, as Joint Committee on Taxation Politico noted earlier this month, that estimate assumes the Bush tax cuts – along with the expansion of the child tax credit – will expire. If you assume a baseline in which the tax cut is extended ($1,000 per child, instead of $500), the ten-year savings can be as much as $24 billion.

Now, obviously $24 billion over 10 years is not enough to offset even the unemployment and doc fix components of the package for just 1 year (a cost of up to $70 billion for the Senate version). Nonetheless, it is a legitimate offset, and should serve as part of a broader package of spending offsets for the bill. If we can’t force the issue on refundable tax credits for illegals, we will never be able to cut one inch from the welfare empire for the broad populace.

Joke of the Day

A woman rushes into the foyer of a large hotel and sprints up to reception desk. She hammers on the bell.

“Yes”, says the receptionist irritably.

“Excuse me”, says the woman, “but I’m in a frightful hurry, could you check me out, please?”

The clerk stares at her, looks her up and down.”Not bad baby,” he smiles, “not bad at all.”

Real Estate can be Taxing

I recently received an email titled: “UNBELIEVABLE” Fwd: If you own a home, please read this!

It was regarding a hidden real estate tax buried in Obamacare.

“Is it true?”, I was asked.

This should clear things up. Although it is not a new, stand alone tax, the short answer is YES.

Settling the Question of a Real Estate Tax in Obamacare

By Kathryn Nix & Derek Pyburn (IBD)

By now, Americans have become well acquainted with the fact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will have a multitude of adverse effects. The new law is certain to add to the federal deficit. It increases taxes on all Americans in a number of different ways, encourages employers to dump coverage, and will cause many to lose their current health plan. However, a circulating claim that the PPACA includes a tax on real estate sales has misinformed the American public.

There is not a new specific tax on all real estate transactions in the PPACA. But that’s not the end of the story. There is a surtax on real estate transactions that are already taxed under current law. Capital gains in excess of $500,000 from the sale of primary residences already face the capital gains tax. The new tax in the PPACA will raise the rate on these gains.

The Tax Foundation clears the air by explaining how the new tax will work:
The bill would impose essentially a capital gains taxes on some home sales made by a limited number of taxpayers. (The health care law contains a new 3.8 percent tax on “unearned income” for high-income taxpayers. Unearned income includes capital gains.) To be hit by the 3.8 percent capital gains tax, you first have to be a married couple making more than $250,000 in adjusted gross income or $200,000 if you are single. The capital gain on the home sale must also exceed $500,000 if this is a primary home and you are a married couple ($250,000 for singles).
Here’s an example of how the tax would work: Say a couple makes $260,000. They purchase a primary residence at $400,000 and sell it for $1,000,000. This would amount to a capital gain from the sale of their home of $600,000. Capital gains tax plus the new Medicare tax would apply to profits over and above the threshold of $500,000. In this case, the couple’s capital gain of $600,000 exceeds the threshold by $100,000. The couple would pay the capital gains tax, which rises to 20 percent in 2011 under President Obama’s tax hike plan, plus the new 3.8 percent tax for a total tax rate of 23.8 percent on that $100,000. Their tax bill in this scenario is $23,800. The PPACA adds $3,800 to the couple’s final tally in this example.

The new Medicare investment tax provides a disincentive for business expansion. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reports, “The $250,000/$500,000 thresholds only apply to the sale of a primary residence, so the tax will hit other property sales harder.”

NFIB also points out that this tax “marks the first time that non-wage income is designated to fund Medicare.” Beyond its marginal effects on real estate sales, the new application of the Medicare tax to investment income will have substantial effects on the economy at large. Analysts in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis write, “Raising the tax burden on investment income further damages the economy and ultimately affects all members of society.” Their findings show that this tax will result in lost job opportunities, a reduction in productivity, losses in gross domestic product, and reductions in household income.

So is there a sales tax on real estate included in the health care law? In some cases, yes. But will the same provision that taxes some profits from real estate cause widespread damage to the economy? Absolutely.

The Lost Island of New York

There is a small island not 350 yards from the shore of The Bronx, New York, called North Brother Island. It is situated in the East River between The Bronx and Riker’s Island.

From a distance it’s looks quite peaceful with it’s lush vegetation. It is now, but looks can be deceiving.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, New York welcomed a great many immigrants. The welcome wasn’t always pleasant.

Many of these poor immigrannts were forced to live in very cramped & unsanitary condidtions. Conditions that allowed for sickness and disease.

Diseases would inevitably spread and once the health authorities identified a person as having a communicable disease they were seized and forced to live on North Brother Island, where it was first employed as a quarantine centre in 1885.

Conditions were bad. The mortality rate among patients was high and the recovery rate low.

There was no telephone in the early days, so once people were grabbed and taken there, there familes often never heard from them again.

Its first unfortunate guests were patients with communicable diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis, scarlet fever and diphtheria. There were six people suffering from leprosy confined there in wooden huts.

Living conditions were poor at best and when bad weather stopped ferries from running there were food shortages and in winter, frequently little heat. Incarceration on North Brother was often a death sentence. Those who did return from its shores spoke of a hellish environment like “the black hole of Calcutta”.

It’s most famous, or infamous resident was Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary”. She was forcibly incarcerated on North Brother in 1907 until her release in 1910. She had to promise not to work at her former profession as a cook. She broke her promise and was returned to the island in 1915, where she resided in her own cottage on the island until her death in 1938.

In 1942, the island closed for the first time before being used to house World War II veterans who were studying in the city. That idea was quickly abandoned.

In 1952 it underwent its final transformation, hosting an experimental program to treat juvenile drug addicts. It was finally closed for good in 1963 where it remains abandoned and decaying to this day.

A local historian and photographer Ian Ference was granted access to the island. He states, “In 2008, I managed to get NYC park’s department permission to shoot the island. I’ve visited around 15 times since then, documenting what remains and the process of decay. I’m truly fortunate to have been given this exclusive access to one of America’s most significant forbidden places.”

Attribution: UK Daily Mail

Joke of the Day

Obama goes to a primary school to talk to the kids. After his talk he offers question time. One little boy puts up his hand, and Obama asks him his name.

“Walter,” responds the little boy.

“And what is your question, Walter?”

“I have four questions:

First, Why did the USA Bomb Libya without the support of the Congress?

Second, Why do you keep saying you fixed the economy when it’s actually gotten worse?

Third, Why did you say that Jeremiah Wright was your mentor, then said that you knew nothing about his preaching and beliefs?

Fourth, Why are we lending money to Brazil to drill for oil, but America is not allowed to drill for oil?”

Just then, the bell rings for recess. Obama informs the kiddies that they will continue after recess.

When they resume Obama says, “OK, where were we? Oh, that’s right: question time.. Who has a question?”

Another little boy puts up his hand. Obama points him out and asks him his name.

“Steve,” he responds.

“And what is your question, Steve?”

Actually, I have two questions.

First, Why did the recess bell ring 20 minutes early?

Second, What the heck happened to Walter?”

‘Islamist Firster’ President not What he Claimed

By Charles Hurt, The Washington Times:

GOLAN HEIGHTS — Surveying the live minefields, cratered roads and mortar-pocked concrete buildings along the border here between Syria and Israel, it is hard not to be reminded of the historic and monumental disappointment President Obama has been.

When he was campaigning to become the most powerful man in the last standing superpower on Earth, he spoke passionately about changing the world, restoring America’s greatness and bringing more peace and fairness to everyone.

In both foreign and domestic matters, Mr. Obama had unique credibility to change things as few presidents ever had.

Despite his background as a liberal street organizer, he campaigned on tax cuts and personal
responsibility and preached that the government simply cannot be the answer to every problem. Republicans would have no choice but to go along with an agenda to shrink the tax burden and get the federal government out of our everyday lives.

Instead, Mr. Obama has devoted his administration to raising taxes, adding to the byzantine structure of the federal government, and has created a whole new massive bureaucracy he claims really will cure our every little boo-boo.

As for the rest of the world, Mr. Obama promised to devote himself to healing the grave injustices and halting the atrocities that have afflicted the world since the rise of radical, violent jihadism. With his Muslim roots, Mr. Obama was positioned better than any leader on the global stage to speak with authority to radical Islamists and finally bring about permanent peace.

Instead, Mr. Obama chose to unilaterally alienate perhaps our most strategically important ally in the world and do all he can to cozy up to the very

people who are dedicated to destroying not only Israel, but America as well.

Leading Democrats have been in the news lately sliming Americans who stick up for Israel as being “Israel Firsters.” Well, Mr. Obama has become an “Islamist Firster.”

Since becoming president, he has not once visited our greatest ally in the region. Rather, he has gone to places like Cairo to tell the Muslim world how much he likes it. He also stunningly trashed the oath of office he took by saying it is “part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

And, of course, he apologized for the “sexuality” and “mindless violence” from the West permeating the Internet. But Internet porn and creepy videos are little match for virginity tests, stoning women and beheading Jews — all for the fun of it.

When Mr. Obama finally addressed Israel, he shockingly said the tiny country should further retrench so its well-armed enemies can retake high ground from which to fire rockets at Israelis and move closer so they can hit major population centers such as Tel Aviv.

Such a twisted and half-baked view of justice is bad enough in a president. But things are about to get much more terrifying when Iran finally gets its hands on a nuclear warhead, which appears likely to happen in a matter of months.

It will be a very complicated situation because the most powerful man in the last remaining superpower on the planet is an Islamist Firster

Joke of the Day

After being away on business, Tim thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift.

“How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk.

She showed him a bottle costing $50.00.

“That’s a bit much,” said Tim, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.00.

“That’s still quite a bit,” Tim complained.

Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00 bottle.

“What I mean,” said Tim, “is I’d like to see something really cheap.”

The clerk handed him a mirror.