NC residents may find themselves in a “Land of Confusion” come tax-filing time

Taxes

It’s tax-filing time – are you ready?

Yours truly is now officially a contributor to the Independent Journal Review, and my first piece is on the NC tax reform laws that went into effect last year and how, as a result, some residents of this state might be perplexed on how to fill out their state tax returns come tax-filing time.

Very excited for the opportunity to write for the IJ Review! The NY Times did a surprisingly nice profile on them last November – make sure you read it to understand why the site has become a big deal for conservatives, and make sure to bookmark the site and visit back often. :)

Surprising no one, California loses another business to Texas

**Posted by Phineas

Moving

This time, Perry’s Poachers have snagged Omnitracs LLC of San Diego, a fleet management firm that will be moving to Dallas and taking 450 jobs with it:

Fleet management software company Omnitracs LLC will relocate it headquarters to Dallas from San Diego, creating 450 jobs and $10 million in capital investment, Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Friday.

The company will move into KPMG Centre downtown.

Omnitracs is the latest in a wave of California relocations to North Texas announced this spring and summer.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is providing a $3.9 million incentive to attract Omnitracs. The new headquarters will house jobs in a variety of high-paying fields, including engineering, research and development and finance.

Omnitracs provides fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. Its services include software applications, GPS fleet tracking, platforms and information services.

Omnitracs is just the latest in a long line of businesses that have fled or are about to flee the once-Golden State. The article lists others, including Toyota, and mentions Vista Equity Partners, a California firm that specializes in buying firms and moving them to Texas.

Yes, the one business that California can keep is one that helps others get the heck out.

Well, we bloody well deserve it, with a business climate that’s designed to drive people away, not bring them here. I’m old enough to remember when California was a place to people rushed to, in order to build a future.

Now, thanks to 40 years of progressive misrule, they rush to get out, in order to save what future they have left.

via Stephen Frank

RELATED: Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow Californian, on our frivolous legislature. Must reading.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Report: Government may have erroneously paid out $100 billion in 2013

Money on trees

Apparently, the government thinks money grows on trees.

And people wonder why we think a smaller government is a better government- via the AP:

WASHINGTON — By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them — tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.

Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher.

The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked in 2010. Still, estimates from federal agencies show that some are wasting big money at a time when Congress is squeezing agency budgets and looking to save more.

“Nobody knows exactly how much taxpayer money is wasted through improper payments, but the federal government’s own astounding estimate is more than half a trillion dollars over the past five years,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. “The fact is, improper payments are staggeringly high in programs designed to help those most in need — children, seniors and low-income families.”

Mica chairs the House Oversight subcommittee on government operations. The subcommittee is holding a hearing on improper payments Wednesday afternoon.

Each year, federal agencies are required to estimate the amount of improper payments they issue. They include overpayments, underpayments, payments to the wrong recipient and payments that were made without proper documentation.

Some improper payments are the result of fraud, while others are unintentional, caused by clerical errors or mistakes in awarding benefits without proper verification.

Gotta love the smell of government incompetency first thing in the morning! /sarc o=>

America continues the decline into “part time nation” status

Unemployment line


Photo via the pepperhawkfarm blog.

Via the Washington Post:

In the new landscape of the American labor market, jobs are easier to come by but hours remain in short supply.

New government data slated for release Thursday is expected to show the economy added more than 200,000 jobs for the fifth straight month — the longest streak since the late 1990s. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 6.3 percent after falling more than a percentage point over the past year. [Note from ST: It dropped to 6.1for these reasons]

But there’s a gnawing fear among economists that the improving data provides false comfort. More than 26 million people are in part-time jobs, significantly more than before the recession, making it one of the corners of the labor market that has been slowest to heal. That has led to worries that the workforce may be becoming permanently polarized, with part-timers stuck on one side and full-time workers on the other.

“What we’re seeing is a growing trend of low-quality part-time jobs,” said Carrie Gleason, director of the Fair Work Week Initiative, which is pushing for labor reforms. “It’s creating this massive unproductive workforce that is unable to productively engage in their lives or in the economy.”

Washington has begun to take notice. As the unemployment rate has dropped, the debate among policymakers has expanded from providing aid to those without a job to include improving conditions for those who do. President Obama has raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers, many of whom are part-time. The White House is also building support for a measure that would require companies to provide paid sick leave. Nationwide protests at retailers and fast-food chains that heavily rely on part-time labor have called for more reliable schedules.

NONE of which will “fix” the problem. Frankly, at this point the only thing that would fix it is to have another President in the White House who understands basic economics.  November 2016 can’t come soon enough.

Surprise: Bill & Hillary Clinton are hypocrites on the estate tax

Bill and Hillary Clinton

Masters of deception.

Bloomberg has an intriguing report detailing just exactly how hypocritical the Clintons are on the issue of the estate tax (hat tip):

Bill and Hillary Clinton have long supported an estate tax to prevent the U.S. from being dominated by inherited wealth. That doesn’t mean they want to pay it.

To reduce the tax pinch, the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now tops out at 40 percent of assets upon death.

The Clintons created residence trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York house into them in 2011, according to federal financial disclosures and local property records.

Among the tax advantages of such trusts is that any appreciation in the house’s value can happen outside their taxable estate. The move could save the Clintons hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes, said David Scott Sloan, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston.

“The goal is really be thoughtful and try to build up the nontaxable estate, and that’s really what this is,” Sloan said. “You’re creating things that are going to be on the nontaxable side of the balance sheet when they die.”

The Clintons’ finances are receiving attention as Hillary Clinton tours the country promoting her book, “Hard Choices.” She said in an interview on ABC television that the couple was “dead broke” and in debt when they left the White House in early 2001. After being criticized for her comments, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she understood the financial struggles of Americans.

Look,  I have no issue with people who want to keep more of their own money – whether they keep it themselves or try to keep it in the family. I do, however, have an issue with those who advocate one set of rules for some people while they do just the opposite, something the Clintons – Bill and Hillary both – are infamous for.

Make sure to read the full article – and take note of the journalist who wrote it, Richard Rubin, who is soon to be added to the Clinton “Enemies List” in advance of her likely decision to run for President … if he hasn’t been already.

Obamacare penalties to slam low-income Americans

**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Wait. I thought the whole point of this rolling fiasco was to make insurance  affordable for the least among us. But, according to the Congressional Budget Office, roughly one million Americans will pay the fine tax whatever the heck Roberts decided it was. Via The Washington Free Beacon:

“All told, CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] JCT estimate that about four million people will pay a penalty because they are uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf),” the report said. “An estimated $4 billion will be collected from those who are uninsured in 2016, and, on average, an estimated $5 billion will be collected per year over the 2017–2024 period.”

A chart accompanying the report revealed that 200,000 of those paying the penalty earn less than 100 percent of the poverty line. An additional 800,000 are considered low-income, earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level.

The article then points out how Obama was originally against the individual mandate, because it would be unfair to the poor. During a 2008 debate with Hillary Clinton Lady Macbeth, he said:

“You can have a situation, which we are seeing right now in the state of Massachusetts, where people are being fined for not having purchased health care, but choose to accept the fine because they still can’t afford it even with the subsidies,” he said. “They are then worse off, they then have no health care and are paying a fine above and beyond that.”

Which is …erm… kind of what’s about to happen right now under your system, sir. Not to be picky, or anything.

Of course, this is one of those predictible outcomes, like Obamacare causing increased use of emergency rooms instead of decreased use, that critics on the right have been warning about for several years. When faced with two painful choices –buy insurance you can’t afford or pay a fine– the vast majority will choose the least painful option. This was how the system was designed.

It’s a pity the Democrats who wrote it and shoved it down the nation’s throat didn’t bother read and understand it before voting on it and causing so many poor people so much pain. A pity, but not my problem, because not a single Republican voted for this anti-constitutional monstrosity.

And we need to remind them of that in November.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Half of NYC Council to Walmart: Stop making “dangerous” charitable contributions

Walmart

We’ll call this “Stuck on Stupid: NYC Edition” – via the NY Post (hat tip):

More than half the members of the City Council have fired off a letter to Walmart demanding that it stop making millions in charitable contributions to local groups here.

Twenty-six of the 51 members of the Council charged in the letter that the world’s biggest retailer’s support of local causes is a cynical ploy to enter the market here.

“We know how desperate you are to find a foothold in New York City to buy influence and support here,” says the letter, obtained by The Post and addressed to Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation.

“Stop spending your dangerous dollars in our city,” the testy letter demands. “That’s right: this is a cease-and-desist letter.”

Last week, Walmart announced that it distributed $3 million last year to charities here, including $1 million to the New York Women’s Foundation, which offers job training, and $30,000 to Bailey House, which distributes groceries to low-income residents.

Walmart, which has been thwarted by union-backed opposition for more than a decade, said the handouts “can make a difference on big issues like hunger relief and career development.”

The retail giant said its business agenda “aligns with supporting the local organizations that are important to our customers and associates.”

But Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called the donations “toxic money,” and accused Walmart of waging a “cynical public-relations campaign that disguises Walmart’s backwards anti-job agenda.”

Hot Air’s Erika Johnsen provides a partial transcript of an interview Fox News’ Neil Cavuto did yesterday with NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in which Van Bramer tries to defend his stance:

BRAMER: Walmart has a history of abusing its workers and profiting on the backs of hardworking men and women. … I think that where the [charitable donations] come from and where the money has been accumulated matters.  …

CAVUTO: If you are a New York City resident and you’re paying through the nose for everything from milk and coffee to bread to drugs, what’s wrong with a big-box retailer like Walmart coming in and offering you $4 prescription drugs, offering consumers in this city who could surely use a break, a break?

BRAMER: I don’t think you have to choose between having a retailer that offers competitive prices for its good and a retailer that treats its workers well. … When Walmart comes into a city, they take more than they give.

CAVUTO: Do you know how many people apply for the roughly 200 positions that the typical Walmart offers? 8,000. 8,000.

BRAMER: It doesn’t mean that those are good jobs.

Dontcha just love it?  Walmart is engaged in a number of things here that liberals normally would be over the moon about: They provide low cost prescription drugs and other goods and services to residents who need them. They employee hundreds of thousands of people with steady jobs.  They donate millions to charities that help minorities and working families.  But because it’s not the “right” kind of jobs – i.e., union jobs with a “living wage”, they aren’t “good enough” for the community and therefore they should stop doing all of it – stop providing low cost goods, decent paying  jobs, and generous contributions to charity.  The liberals who signed onto this letter to Walmart would rather citizens go without the low-cost prescriptions they need, be out of work and on unemployment, and have local charities have to turn people away all over their hatred of capitalism as demonstrated by Walmart.

And as far as Walmart trying to “buy” influence among NYC’s politicos, since when did New York Democrats EVER have a problem with a donor supposedly trying to “buy” their way into the good graces of local and state governments?

If this isn’t a classic example of the warped, chillingly controlling nature of the liberal Democrat mindset, I don’t know what is.  Disturbing.

Austinite who always votes for raising taxes can’t afford to live there anymore

Overtaxed

Will the rest of American left soon come to the same realization when it comes to overtaxing & change their ways? Don’t count on it!

How much do you want to bet this person is a liberal Democrat?

On a recent evening, more than 300 homeowners who are worried about their rising property tax bills filled First Unitarian Universalist Church in North Austin for a town hall meeting. If something doesn’t change, many said, they will soon be priced out of their homes.

Two nights later, a similar discussion played out in South Austin, where homeowners gathered at Grace United Methodist Church in Travis Heights to talk about what can be done to slow escalating residential tax values.

“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.

“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”

These are the same types of people who, when faced with similar situations, move to other cities or states with lower taxes and then turn around and try to do the same d*mn thing there!   Then, they move again. And again, not understanding that they put themselves into their own over-taxed predicament time and time again. I have zero sympathy for them. Zilch, nada. They made their beds – now they get to lay in them.   And while we’re on the subject, I hope they stay the hell out of my state. Their attitudes and hypocritical stances on taxes and government intrusion into my wallet are not welcomed.

Seattle approves $15 minimum wage, higher unemployment

**Posted by Phineas

Obama loan officer at work

Seattle minimum wage proponent

I wrote about this last week, when it was still just a proposal, noting how some businesses were already slowing hiring and moving out of the city, and how even progressives were coming to have second thoughts.

Well, they did it:

Seattle’s city council on Monday unanimously approved an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it the nation’s highest by far.

The increase was formally proposed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and his spokesman said he intends to sign the ordinance on Tuesday.

Washington already has the nation’s highest state-level minimum wage, at $9.32. That rate also applies to the city.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, and Democrats in Congress have been pushing for a gradual increase to $10.10, but so far to little effect.

The increase to $15 in Seattle will take place over several years based on a scale that considers the size of and benefits offered by an employer. It will apply first to many large businesses in 2017 and then to all businesses by 2021.

The first increase, on April 1, 2015, brings the minimum wage to $10 for some businesses and $11 for others.

While the law phases in increases starting only with “large businesses,” that designation includes franchises. In other words, if you’re a franchisee with only a couple of Taco Bells, you’re still considered a large employer because you’re part of a large chain; even though your revenue only comes from two locations, you’re still on the hook for $15 per hour starting in 2017. You’re welcome.

This is going to be a good experiment (and, dare I say it? A “teachable moment?”) for several reasons. Advocates of raising the wage say it’s only fair, that minimum wage earners aren’t paid enough to live on, and that the costs to society will be minimal as businesses adjust. And there is some little evidence for the latter, as we have indeed learned to live with the costs previous minimum wage increases. (Whether those wage increases have been worth the costs, however, is another argument for another time.) Advocates in Seattle argue that raising the wage will help around 100,000 people.

Critics, on the other hand (and including your humble correspondent), argue that the laws of economics cannot be repealed by legislative fiat: raise the cost of labor, and businesses will be faced with a choice from among four options — pass the costs on to the consumer; reduce labor costs by cutting hours or whole jobs; eat the costs and accept lower profits; or cease doing business in that jurisdiction, either by moving or closing shop. We’ve already seen in the Seattle case that some businesses are moving to nearby towns that have not raised their wage. And, here in California, where the wage was recently raised to $9 per our and there is a proposal to raise it statewide to $13, some businesses are closing, choosing to put their capital to work where they can get a better return on investment. In each case, these are jobs lost.

Critics also maintain that raising the cost of labor gradually prices out the unskilled, such as teens looking for their first jobs, where they can acquire valuable skills and habits for later, better-paying work. A very interesting piece at AEI (h/t Andrew Garland in the Sister Toldjah comments section) argues for this very point by examining the effects on teen hiring as the minimum wage rose 41% between 2007 and 2009:

And that’s exactly what happened when the minimum wage rose by 41% between 2007 and 2009 – it had a disastrous effect on teenagers. The jobless rate for 16-19 year olds increased by ten percentage points, from about 16% in 2007 to more than 26% in 2009.  Of course, the overall US jobless rate was increasing at the same time, from about 5% to 10%. Therefore, the graph attempts to better isolate the effects of the minimum wage increases between 2007 and 2009 on teenagers by plotting the difference between the teenage jobless rate and the overall jobless rate, i.e. “excess teen unemployment,” and the minimum wage.

During the 2002-2007 period when the minimum wage was $5.15 per hour, teenage unemployment exceeded the national jobless rate by about 11% on average. Each of the three minimum wage increases was accompanied by a 2 percentage point increase in the amount that the teenage jobless rate exceeded the overall rate, from 11 to 13% after the 2007 increase from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour, from 13% to 15% following the second hike to $6.55 per hour, and from 15% to 17% following the last increase to $7.25. The 17.5% “excess teen unemployment” in October 2009 was the highest on record, going back to at least 1972, and was almost 5 percent higher than the peak teen jobless rate gap following the last recession (12.7% in June 2003).

Bottom Line: Artificially raising wages for unskilled workers reduces the demand for those workers at the same time that it increases the number of unskilled workers looking for work, which results in an excess supply of unskilled workers. Period. And another term for an “excess supply of unskilled workers” is an “increase in the teenage jobless rate.”

It will be interesting and edifying how Seattle’s experiment in progressive labor law plays out. I suspect it won’t have nearly the benefit that advocates like Seattle Mayor Murray or California State Senator Leno predict.

And it’s a shame others have to suffer for their hubris.

RELATED: This Center for Freedom and Prosperity video provides a good overview of why minimum wage laws are job killers.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

California Senate passes $13 minimum wage, jobs flee in terror

**Posted by Phineas

Depression-era unemployment

“But at least they raised the minimum wage!”

Perhaps they didn’t want to be left behind by their progressive friends in Seattle, but the California State Senate last Wednesday passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2017. From the legislative analyst’s summary:

SB 935, as amended, Leno. Minimum wage: annual adjustment.

Existing law requires that, on and after July 1, 2014, the minimum wage for all industries be not less than $9 per hour. Existing law further increases the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $10 per hour.

This bill would increase the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2015, to not less than $11 per hour, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $12 per hour, and on and after January 1, 2017, to not less than $13 per hour. The bill would require the automatic adjustment of the minimum wage annually thereafter, to maintain employee purchasing power diminished by the rate of inflation during the previous year. The adjustment would be calculated using the California Consumer Price Index, as specified. The bill would prohibit the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) from reducing the minimum wage and from adjusting the minimum wage if the average percentage of inflation for the previous year was negative. The bill would require the IWC to publicize the automatically adjusted minimum wage.

The bill would provide that its provisions not be construed to preclude the IWC from increasing the minimum wage to an amount greater than the calculation would provide or to preclude or supersede an increase of the minimum wage that is greater than the state minimum wage by any local government or tribal government.
The bill would apply to all industries, including public and private employment.

(h/t California Political Review)

“Leno” is Senator Mark Leno, whose district includes, naturally, San Francisco. You can kind of guess his politics. (He also backed a bill allowing children to have more than two parents. Yes, you read that right.) He’s also a prime example of Thomas Sowell’s observation about politicians who don’t have to suffer the consequences of decisions they impose on others. In this case, causing the cost of labor to skyrocket forces business owners to decide whether to pass on the cost to consumers, cut workers’ hours or whole jobs, or go out of business. As the head of CKE Restaurants told CNBC, people are doing all three:

CKE Restaurants’ roots began in California roughly seven decades ago, but you won’t see the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s expanding there much anymore.

What’s causing what company CEO Andy Puzder describes as “very little growth” in the state?

In part it’s because “the minimum wage is so high so it’s harder to come up with profitable business models,” Puzder said in an interview. The state’s minimum wage is set to rise to $9 in July, making it among the nation’s highest, and $10 by January 2016.

In cities in other states where the minimum wage has gone up considerably, Puzder said “franchisees are closing locations” after riding out lease expirations.

If the federal minimum hourly pay shoots up to $10.10 from the current $7.25—as many lawmakers and President Barack Obama are advocating—Puzder predicts fewer entry-level jobs will be created. If this happens, CKE would also create fewer positions, he forecast.

A recent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office study also predicted mass job losses, estimating that a hike to $10.10 could result in a loss of about half a million jobs by late 2016, even as it lifted many above the poverty line.

(h/t California Political Review)

For some reason, I don’t think those who lose their jobs because of the wage increase will see themselves as “lifted out of poverty.”

Minimum-wage jobs are not meant to be lifelong careers. For people just entering the labor market, they’re ways to acquire skills needed to move on to better-paying jobs. For others, they’re a means to bring in additional, supplementary income into the household. The pro-increase arguments distort facts and wrap them in myth, all to disguise what is really a wealth redistribution program.

CKE’s Puzder goes on to relate how, when minimum wage increases are combined with the added expenses imposed by Obamacare, franchisees have chosen not to open new restaurants or have even closed locations, meaning these are jobs lost. But they do it because they can get a better return on their investment money elsewhere, such as by putting it in bonds.

It’s called economic common sense, something Senator Leno and his colleagues are woefully lacking in.

PS: SB 935 has now gone to the Assembly, and I will be shocked if it doesn’t pass. It’s frightening to think we have to rely on Governor Brown to be the sane one in the room and veto this bill when it shows up on his desk.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)