Monday, April 15, 2013

Taxes are the price we pay to live in an insane society

It's that time of year again. Time for all Americans to take Uncle Sam's annual insanity quiz: if you can get through the tax forms and still think it all makes sense, congratulations, you're nuts! Notice that I'm not even criticizing tax rates or tax burdens for being too high. At this point I'm only complaining that the process is bat guano crazy.

There are lots of ways to raise as much revenue as we raise today while being immensely more efficient not to mention being fairer. We don't even have to give up all those wonderful special interest giveaways. There are plenty of ways to subsidize them and incentivize behavior otherwise to support all the various things without which society would break down--like jobs for tax preparers, mortgage interest rebates, 366-day stock holdings, and trains running to nowhere. Or would straightforward, simple subsidies be too obviously indefensible?

Regardless, here are my top alternatives to our current tax nightmare (each would be a wholesale replacement of all that befuddles us today):
  • A value-added tax (VAT) applicable to all goods and services--no exceptions.
  • A final goods and services sales tax as described here.
  • A total compensation payroll tax (this means all wages and benefits including education/training, equity including stock options, and health insurance, et al. would be taxable benefits).
The whole mess reminds me of this:



Today also marks the infamous 2-year anniversary of Black Friday as it is known in the poker community. That is the day that a US Attorney unsealed an indictment against Internet poker companies sloppily labeling online poker a crime, a baseless charge that was later dropped, and shutting down effectively all online poker in the United States. As the cases against those charged with money laundering and bank fraud continue to play out and millions of dollars in player funds sit in limbo, it is not at all surprising that a government-created, quasi-black market attracted shady characters and suboptimal market outcomes. The Poker Players Alliance continues the fight for freedom.