Some tabs that have slid through my browser in recent days:
- The U.S. Department of Defense budget is notoriously sloppy. This is by design, as it allows for a lot of kickbacks and graft and such, and is the most popular place for politicians to put their pork projects. An independent audit recently conducted by “a Michigan State University economist [Mark Skidmore], working with graduate students and a former government official,” concentrating on the budgets for , found trillions of dollars of Pentagon spending that was never authorized by law. The Defense Department has announced that for the first time ever (!) the agency will conduct an audit of its finances.
- According to a new study by Marius Frunza, the underground economy in the European Union succeeds in resisting €132 billion in Value-Added Tax each year, about 14% of the total amount of that tax the Union collects. Compare this to the “tax gap” in the U.S., which is estimated to be about 16%. This suggests to me that if the U.S. were ever to drop its income and payroll tax in favor of a VAT (as so-called “Fair Tax” promoters advocate), this might not have much effect on the over-all tax gap.
- Reason magazine looks at a new biography of H.D. Thoreau.
- The Greek “Won’t Pay” movement is still at its Archibald Tuttle-like ways: this time surreptitiously reestablishing a family’s utilities over the Christmas holidays after they had been cut off by the government utility monopoly for failure to pay tax-inflated charges.
- Quaker Peace & Social Witness is a project of Britan Yearly Meeting. They have a new project called “Take Action on Militarism.” War tax resistance is nowhere mentioned as one of the actions you might consider taking, however, so chalk this up as another example of the decay of the practice of war tax resistance among Quakers since the end of the Cold War.
- Some Spanish war tax resisters engaged in a collective redirection of their resisted taxes — donating that money to Stop Mare Mortum, which advocates for refugees.
New Tax Law Follies:
- Kimberly Amadeo, at the balance, has written up a good summary of the various aspects of the new U.S. federal tax law. Some of it is still sketchy (she documents parts of the bill that were dropped before the bill was passed, for instance), so read it with caution, but it’s more thorough than most summaries I’ve seen.
- Ruth Benn at NWTRCC looks at how the provisions of the new law may affect war tax resisters in particular.
- Parts of the new law reduce the ability of people to deduct state taxes on their federal tax returns. This has the effect of raising federal taxes on people in higher-tax states — these are typically states like California and New York with high property values and affluent cities… also, not coincidentally, states that tend to vote Democrat. Those states are now considering ways to fight back by rejiggering their own tax systems in such a way that they can bring in as much revenue while preserving their citizens’ federal deductions. This may end up making the new tax law even more damaging to the fiscal health of the federal government than had been originally anticipated.