Taxing the Rich Not the Better Way to Narrow the Income Gap?

Richard Wilkinson, is a professor emeritus of social epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School and co-founder of the U.K.-based think tank The Equality Trust. He has an interesting theory about narrowing the income gap in Canada and that merely taxing the rich more will not address the real problem.

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Technical Schmectnical – Ridiculous Border Issue

I suppose no one should be surprised but this story of the US Border Patrol is enough to infuriate. Harrassment, pure and simple.

In advance of the awarding of the annual $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, tonight at the Politics and the Pen Gala in Ottawa, Huffington Post Canada will be running excerpts from the five finalists.  Jacques Poitras‘ book is about “the first boundary between Canada and the U.S., [which] was drawn between Maine and New Brunswick and it has served as a microcosm for relations between the two nations ever since. For centuries, friends, lovers, and smugglers reached across the line to one another, but now, post 9/11, political and security concerns have begun to isolate friendly neighbours from one another. Colourful community eccentricities — driveways that straddle an international border — have been transformed by new restrictions.”

FOR A MILE and a half, Russell Road follows the border almost perfectly: the eastern shoulder of the road is in Canada and the western shoulder is in the United States. This did not pose particular challenges to the residents of the road until January of 2003. Marion Pedersen was driving to the large white farmhouse she had shared with her husband Nickolaj for 53 years, the only home on the Canadian side of the road, when she was stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol right in front of her driveway. Continue reading.


Shulman’s successor

According to Charles S. Clark, (article in Government Executive, April 11, 2012), the IRS is likely to get a temporary successor. Due to the fact that IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman’s term ends the same month as the elections, it is highly unlikely that Obama will appoint a successor in the event he does not win the election.
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A Very Sad Case

I noticed a news feature on CNN this morning, concerning a man named Joe Stack who committed suicide in 2010 by flying his plane into an IRS building in Austin. I vaguely remembered the incident though doubt I noticed at the time that it involved the IRS because my own issues with FUBAR, etc, had yet to happen. Apparently they will air a show  (“The Faith and the Fury”), about this on Sunday night; it seems to also be available on the CNN website and there is also a version on YouTube.

Among other things, Mr. Stack felt destroyed by the fact he could not work independently as a software engineer. This was due to a law which affected the 1986 Tax Reform Act.  According to the NYT:

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Senator Obama’s Promises to Americans Abroad

A couple of days ago in a reply to the thread about Shulman not accepting a second term as IRS Commissioner, Roger Conklin wrote this:

“Petros, Allow me to make one important clarification: I think you will find that the Expat community voted heavily in favor of Obama because during his campaign he comitted to “level the playling field” for US citizens living abroad. He was very clear in this. But once elected he promptly did nothing to keep this vote-getting commitment.  ACA leadership has made many attempts to follow him up on this commitment, but the response has been absolutey zero.  It is if this commitment had never been made.  His actions speak much louder than his words.  I suspect and sincerely hope that in this next election the vote will be very lopsided against him. To those of you who are expats, please keep this in mind.”

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Shulman won’t accept a 2nd term (Did anyone really ask him to stay?)

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, on Thursday (April 5), in a question and answer session at the National Press Club in Washington, indicated he would step down when his term expires in November. As we have all heard before, he repeates the numbers of how many have come forward  (33,000) and how much they have collected ($4.4 billion).  Yawn, yawn.  And particularly offensive is the following:

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A different kind of disclosure path for expats?

Just retweeted this courtesy of Terry Ritchie.

US Citizens in Canada – Status of Penalty Forgiveness

Monday, March 05, 2012 by Kevyn Nightingale

I have written previously about Americans in Canada who are delinquent in filing their US tax returns and Foreign Bank Account Reports.

What We Already Know

On December 1, 2011, David Jacobson, the US Ambassador to Canada suggested that the IRS may provide these people with some relief from the over-the-top penalties that can apply.  The IRS issued a fact sheet on December 8, but that sheet basically reiterated the Service’s longstanding position. The IRS will evaluate each filing to determine whether the taxpayer has “reasonable cause” for filing late. There are no specifics about relief from penalties, so there is no certainty whether penalties will apply.  Each taxpayer is dependent on the vagaries of the particular IRS agent assigned to her case.

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And now, for something completely different!

I came across this while doing yet another search regarding renounciation of US citizenship. At first, it seemed beyond ridiculous but it does give food for thought. I very much like the idea of subtracting the amount of tax one owes that is used for war and directing it toward something more constructive, useful. And I like the emphasis on on “whole” (i.e., world) vs nationalities. There are some fees for joining, for the documents (which seem to be optional) and so on but they are not exhorbitant. Maybe this isn’t realistic at this point in time, but if it could work, it would definitely be better than what is going on in the world right now.

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Letters from IRS starting to come in

Yesterday I received a computer-generated letter from the IRS regarding the first of four 1040 returns I sent in mid-December. I check the mailbox everyday, thinking the notice from hell may arrive, though I really did not expect to hear a word for months. So I wondered before opening it, am I about to lose my sense of calm gained by renouncing and trying to focus, at least occasionally, on something else.  I posted a bit about this yesterday but was unable to copy/paste the letter; Petros asked today that I include it in a new post.

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