Even my not-at-all-magical crystal ball is clear enough that I could look into it last week and see the future: the liberal wing of House Democrats would whine a lot about the tax package Obama negotiated with the Republicans but in the end they’d just give in like they always do.
Not that this is a bad thing in this case. The Obama-Republican version of the bill means much less for the Treasury than the liberal alternative — and is even (hide your eyes, liberals!) a better deal for the poor, particularly with its temporary payroll tax cut. Indeed the payroll tax cut means even my tax rate will be going down next year, and I haven’t paid federal income tax since .
But, to be on the safe side, I refrained from blogging about this tax plan until it got through Congress and to the President’s desk. But now I’ll highlight some of the features that may be of interest to tax resisters:
- The bill allows for something called “bonus depreciation” of assets that businesses purchase between , at 100%. What this means is that for assets that qualify, a business can write-off the whole cost of the asset as a business expense rather than portioning out the expense over a particular span of time. Tax resisters who have a business or who are self-employed can use this feature to lower their taxable income this year or next year if they are in danger of rising to a taxable income level. The bill also raises the limit for “Section 179” depreciation, which I believe applies to a larger class of business assets.
- The bill temporarily reduces the “employee portion” of the payroll tax by
two percentage points (for only). The
employee portion is what you see on your paycheck stub (your employer pays
what used to be an equivalent amount that you don’t see on your paycheck
stub). Self-employed people will just see their self-employment tax rate
drop by two percentage points (the income tax deduction self-employed
people take based on the amount they’re charged for self-employment tax,
however, will not change, which will make this calculation a
little more complex).
- You may wonder: “isn’t Social Security and Medicare running low on cash? What is going to happen when their trust funds are taking in so much less payroll tax?” Well, as I’ve tried to patiently explain before, these trust funds are just accounting fictions, and the government takes money from wherever it wants and puts it wherever it wants without much regard for trust funds or particularly-earmarked taxes. In this case, the new bill explicitly says that the General Fund (where your income tax money goes) will pay into these trust funds any money they would have received from the payroll tax rate if it had not been lowered by the bill.
- A number of tax credits and deductions that Congress perpetually extends “just one more year” have been extended for one more year yet again. Also extended is the provision that allows people who have reached retirement age to exclude from income amounts they donate to charity directly from their 401ks and IRAs.