Michael Mirsky

Biden's fattened up IRS will audit "restaurants, retail, salons and other service-based companies"

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Thursday, May 6th, 2021, 9:54 AM PERMALINK

President Biden's plan to fatten up the IRS by $80 billion will target small businesses with aggressive audits such as "restaurants, retail, salons and other service-based companies."

Experts interviewed by CNBC note the plan would affect many small businesses that depend on usage of cash:

Certain small businesses may face an audit under the plan.

“I think the industries that should be concerned are those in cash,” said Luis Strohmeier, a Miami-based CFP and partner at Octavia Wealth Advisors.

He expects the agency to scrutinize cash-only small businesses like restaurants, retail, salons and other service-based companies.

At a time when Americans are already struggling to stay afloat, Biden also wants the IRS to snoop on every bank account and Venmo/CashApp account in the country.

"The proposal would require banks to report annual account inflows and outflows to the Internal Revenue Service. The requirement would also extend to peer-to-peer payment services such as Venmo," notes the Wall Street Journal.

At a time when Americans are already struggling, these new reporting rules would create unnecessary burdens. As noted in this excerpt from Forbes:

It may create problems, however, that should be considered and addressed as this plan works its way through Congress. For example, consider a young couple saving up to buy a home. All savings are put into the “dream home” savings account. Then, when it comes time to make the down payment, the $50,000 dream home savings goes into the regular checking account, which is then wired to the seller’s escrow account. Buying a home is not a taxable event (at least for federal income tax), selling one is. Will the IRS receive information from the financial institutions that leads to an audit?

Paul Merski, vice president of congressional relations at Independent Community Bankers of America, voiced his criticism of the proposal:

Banks already report millions of transactions a day to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the form of currency transaction reports, in addition to suspicious activity reports, which are required when potential illicit activity is detected by a bank. Banks are required to submit currency transaction reports when a deposit or withdrawal is $10,000 or more, a threshold that’s already very low, Merski said.

Merski said the proposal, as written, is akin to “sending your bank statement to the IRS every month,” which would be opposed by the banking industry because of the reporting burdens already required by federal regulators.

“The federal government can’t track all of that—any more requirements would be adding more hay to that haystack,” he said.

As also noted by the Wall Street Journal, the bank account snooping will give the IRS an "enormous" quantity of new data:

It would also create an enormous flow of information that the IRS would have to learn how to manage and use.

--

Congress will have to weigh the potential burdens and privacy concerns against the revenue gains as it considers the plan.

Observers are rightly skeptical that this plan will be able to generate anywhere near the $780 billion promised by the Biden administration. As noted in this excerpt from Yahoo News:

Previous government estimates put the benefits of increased IRS funding much lower. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that an additional $40 billion of funding over 10 years would increase government revenues by $103 billion.

Even Obama-era IRS chief John Koskinen questioned the Biden $80 billion funding request. "I'm not sure you'd be able to efficiently use that much money," he said.


Former Keystone Pipeline Worker: "I’m just devastated by the decision of this administration to cancel the Keystone XL"

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021, 6:20 PM PERMALINK

 

 

Americans for Tax Reform is collecting personal testimonials of Americans hit by President Biden's executive actions. (If you would like to submit a short video, please send it to Mike Mirsky at mmirsky@atr.org).

Please watch this video from Kasey, a member of Pipeliners Local Union 798:

"We were directly affected, well just a little history first. I married my highschool sweetheart. We have three children. Brady is our oldest, he is soon to sew on his tech sergeant stripes in the Air Force. Our son Tucker is our middle child. He is going to college to become a commercial airline pilot and he’s also a ground supervisor at Delta down in Minneapolis. And then we have our daughter Trinity is 14 and we’re still raising her. These so-called temporary jobs have been our way of life since the day my husband and I were married, even before then. He graduated, his mom bought him luggage to go to college and he got all his graduation money. Well he took that graduation money, bought my engagement ring and proposed to me, took the luggage and went pipelining. That’s how our story began with pipelines. He started out as a laborer and he decided he wanted to further himself. So he spent one whole winter, 8 hours a day 5 days a week, out in our garage teaching himself how to weld. Well he took that test next spring and he became a welder and it just changed our life, financially for sure. And then he was offered another opportunity and he became a 798 union member, and that was one of the best decisions we ever made. 798 has been so good to us and you’ll find out why throughout my story. After a few years of doing that, you know, he said ‘hey, why don’t you come be my helper?’ and I was like ‘hey, yeah I think I’d like that’ cause my husband and I have a very close relationship. So for 10 years we worked side-by-side, 24/7, together, 365 days a week, never had any major issues. We really enjoyed it. I enjoyed pipelining. My family grew, we’re a very close-knit group of people. There is some bad press out there about us, but I’m telling you guys not the people I hang with, not the people, the union I represent. We are held to an extremely high standard. Well, back to the story. So, you know, we built our dream home here on the Lene land and everything was going great. Well in 2018 September I was on a job, the gas company was Northern Natural down in the cities, Minneapolis Saint Paul area. I was getting ready for work one morning and I noticed a lump in my right breast. I tried to brush it off, you know I got to work. That's the mentality of pipeliners, we work hard. And I brushed it off, but something was nagging at me. Long story short I went to get it checked out and it was stage three breast cancer. Boy, talk about your world getting turned upside down. But through the grace of it, was that we had insurance through our union, 798. So, by the grace of god, so thankful, we didn’t have to pay hardly anything for my cancer journey and I had to do the whole thing. I did the chemo, and one chemo treatment was $24,000 just for the medicine itself. I had 16. I had three surgeries. I went through six weeks of radiation five days a week. Not to mention all of the scans, MRIs, specialist, I mean I’m sure I’m a million dollar case. And by having these good temporary union jobs, we had an amazing health insurance plan. Where through that cancer journey, not only did we lose my $65,000 a year income cause of my cancer, but then my husband had to be there to help take care of me so we lost his welding income, but by the grace of god we had this insurance through our union from all the hours we had worked that pretty much paid for my cancer treatments, thank god. We had to pay our deductibles, but then we have an HRA account that covered that. But our insurance is based on hours that we work. So, long story short, had cancer, thank god for my 798 union insurance, that we worked for, through our hours we worked through the years. Then COVID hits. Well my husband can’t find work, I’m still not quite healthy enough to go back to work. Praise God I’m in remission, you know all that. COVID hits, can’t find work, things slow down, so he only worked four months that year. So our insurance is starting to go down because we haven’t worked hours. Well then, we finally got on the Keystone XL in October of this year. And we were so excited, we were finally getting back on our feet. We took our whole family, we loaded up, and we went down to Ada, Oklahoma. Stayed in a wonderful campground, met new family members I love. It was going great. I was at home, in the camper watching the inauguration happening when my husband called me at 2:00. And he says ‘babe, start packing up the camper, we’re going home’. I said ‘what are you talking about’. He said ‘Biden shut it down’. I said ‘what’. He said ‘Biden shut it down’. I said ‘but he just got into office you know’. We only had like maybe six weeks left on that particular job. Yes, we knew that, but that’s twenty grand that we lost out, twenty to thirty grand that we lost out in six weeks. And, there was potential that he was going to go to Montana and do another job come April for the Keystone, and since he was already tested you know it would have been a great opportunity. We were just getting back on our feet after cancer, COVID, and then now the Commander in Chief. So we were hit by the three C’s. He was getting ready to do a 24 inch weld, getting it lined up, getting ready to go, completely left it, job done, shut down. Now not only financially does that scare me, but for my health. Now, we have a few hours built up that will maybe get us through maybe a month or two of insurance, but if my husband can’t find work soon, then I will not be able to continue making sure I stay in remission. I will not be able to afford those scans or MRIs that have to be done to guarantee or the ultrasounds or the bloodwork. I’m going to lose all that. Those of you who say ‘oh you can go on Medicare’ it’s not the same quality of care. In fact, my oncologist wouldn’t even have probably accepted me if I had not had the insurance I had. I picked a good oncologist, it was particular. I mean this is my life we are talking about. Stage three is only one stage away from stage four. So by Biden doing this, he affected more than he knows. He affected possibly my health, my future, our livelihoods, my children's futures, not to mention the countless co-workers’ futures were affected, the campground we stayed at. They were making, when we left, they probably lost four grand a month, just off us pipeliners. I don’t understand, I’m confused, I’m hurt, I’m scared, I’m angry because this is more than just a financial thing for my family, this is a health crisis thing. If we cannot work, we cannot have insurance. I am begging this administration to please consider these things. The oil is still being transported in on rail or truck. It’s still coming into America, people. Why not do it by a pipeline? It costs $30 a barrel to ship it by rail, $10 a barrel by pipeline. Yes, I understand there’s been leaks blah blah blah this and that well I’ve seen a pipeline built, maintained, in process the technology is out of this world now. Things are completely different then when they built them. That’s why Line 3 was so important. Let’s get that old line that is not as up to code, up to standard, up to technology and let’s replace it with the new, advanced technology we have where if there’s a problem we know in an instant. These pipelines are monitored 24/7. Come to Clearbrook, Minnesota we have two tank farms. We have Coke, which I don’t know if there’s still Coke they might have changed their name, and we have Inbridge. I have worked in both stations. I have seen rehabs, I have seen how it all works. The environmental, the testing every weld my husband makes, is 100% x-rayed and if he misses three, he loses his job. Every job he gets, every single job he takes, on these temporary jobs that he’s been doing for 27 years, he has to test and if does not pass that test he does not get that job. There is no safer to transport this oil than via a pipeline. You cannot convince the other way. Do I believe that green energy has a place? Absolutely. But like my fellow 798 member Neal Crabtree said, ‘we have to have that balance, we need both’, and right now his decision is affecting a lot of lives more than he realize, and I feel the blood is on his hands. I thank you for the time to let me tell my story. I pray for this nation, and again I’m just devastated by the decision of this administration to cancel the Keystone pipeline XL. I really really wish that he would reconsider. For the safety and well being of my family, and hundreds of other families that I know personally. So that is my story, sorry to make it a little long, but I am passionate about it. So, God bless”


"Canceling this Keystone Pipeline to make a group of people happy has had real life consequences. We got people who can't work now, can't provide for their families."

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, 9:30 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform is collecting personal testimonials of Americans hit by President Biden's policies. (If you would like to submit a short video, please send it to Mike Mirsky at mmirsky@atr.org).

Please watch this video from Neal Crabtree:

"My name is Neal Crabtree. I was welding on the Keystone XL pipeline January the 20th and I was laid off that very same day, the same day that president Biden took office.

One of the biggest issues I have is how people don't seem to care. They say these are just temporary jobs. Well, if you think about it, a lot of jobs in this country are temporary. When a carpenter goes to build a house, he's not working on that same house his entire career. He starts that house and finishes it and moves on to another one.

The same way with a lawyer. When he signs up a client he takes that case to court, and he either wins or loses, and then he moves on to another one. In this case, that pipeline was our client and the government is taking our future away by not letting us work.

To me, leadership -- which, when I say leadership I'm referring to the president, leadership isn't thinking you're solving one problem when you're really creating another one.

Canceling this Keystone Pipeline to make a group of people happy has had real life consequences. We got people who can't work now, can't provide for their families."

WATCH:


Oilfield Welder on Biden's Hostility to Oil and Gas Jobs: "You have to change your whole life up because of politics."

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Friday, February 26th, 2021, 7:00 AM PERMALINK

Reporting from Watford City, North Dakota, the Fargo Forum interviewed local residents regarding President Biden’s hostility to oil and gas workers:

"I think everybody up here feels like we’re absolutely screwed," said Tara Paul, a Denver native who followed her sons to western North Dakota oil country just months before the pandemic hit.

Despite the claims of the Biden administration, workers cannot simply switch to working on solar panels. One of Tara’s sons, Shawn, shared his frustration over Biden’s lack of empathy:

For Shawn, 23, even if oil prices rebound in the next few years, the Biden climate agenda and the newly secured Democratic control in Washington look like writing on the wall for his long-term hopes in the oil business. "You build your lifestyle on these things, and you have to change your whole life up because of politics," Shawn said.

On Dec. 19, 2019, Biden said he would be willing to displace "hundreds of thousands of blue collar workers" in pursuit of a "Green New Deal."

Biden also suggested energy workers who lose their job due to his policies should learn to code.

On Dec. 30, 2019, Joe Biden said: "Anybody who can go down 300 to 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well...Give me a break! Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for god's sake!

If you would like to read the rest of the Fargo Forum article, it can be found here.


Compilation of Personal Stories from Americans Hurt by Biden's Energy Policy

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Thursday, February 25th, 2021, 4:02 PM PERMALINK


Study: Gig Economy's Arrival in a City Increases New Business Formation and New Business Loans, Especially In Cities with Challenging Socioeconomic Conditions

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Friday, February 19th, 2021, 1:10 PM PERMALINK

A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the arrival of the gig economy in a city is associated with an increase in entrepreneurial activity: The gig economy leads to increased new business registrations, increased new business loans, and increased Google searches directly related to starting a business.

The study noted the benefits are "particularly strong in cities with worse socioeconomic conditions, where policymakers may be especially interested in encouraging new entrepreneurial activity."

The study used “the arrival of the on-demand, platform enabled gig economy in the form of the staggered rollout of ride hailing in U.S. cities to examine the effect of the arrival of the gig economy on new business formation.”

This study is titled Launching With a Parachute: The Gig Economy and New Business Formation conducted by John M. Barrios of the University of Chicago and Yael V. Hochberg and Hanyi Yi of Rice University.

Entrepreneurs often finance themselves and bear the risk of failure. The arrival of the gig economy in a given city provides a positive spillover effect for entrepreneurs as a result of its flexible work hours and low entry barriers. 

While creating their framework, the researchers used several key measurements to gauge the effects of gig opportunities. The first of those measurements is the quantity of new business launches in areas where Ride Hailing services were introduced:

We estimate four models: column (1) presents estimates from the full sample period, column (2) shortens the sample pre period to post 2005, column (3) restricts to solely ever-treated cities, and column (4) uses only ever-treated cities, but with the sample post-2005. The second pair of models are meant to assuage concerns that any results might be driven solely by differences between ever-treated and never treated cities… Across all four models, we observe a similar pattern. The coefficient ranges from 0.03 to 0.06, depending on the sample employed, consistent with the arrival of the gig economy being associated with an increase of approximately 3 to 6% in new business registrations. 

The second measurement the authors used to collect their data is the quantity of loans given to newly registered businesses in cities with newly introduced Ride Hailing services:

We see that the emergence of the gig economy, in the form of entry of a RH platform, is associated with an increase in loans to new businesses, consistent with—and of a magnitude corresponding to—the increase in new business registrations.

The final measurement used by the authors to determine the influence of the gig economy is gauging entrepreneurial interest through an analysis of Google searches in cities where Ride Hailing services have recently been introduced:

We next turn to a measure which may capture interest in considering entrepreneurial entry more broadly: internet searches for terms and phrases directly related to launching a business—which we term entrepreneurial interest. In Figure 3, we explore the relationship between entrepreneurship search share and business registrations. Figure 3 presents a scatter plot of business registrations against search share for entrepreneurial terms, for the pre-ridehail subsample and the post-ridehail subsample. For both subsamples, the relationship is, as expected, upwards sloping. In the postridehail subsample, however, the slope of the relationship steepens. 

The researchers found two key conclusions. The first is that the gig economy spurs entrepreneurial activity, especially in "cities with worse socioeconomic conditions":

Our findings suggest that the gig economy plays a substantial role in spurring entrepreneurial entry ... by providing a potential income supplement to those who engage in entrepreneurial activity ...This benefit is particularly strong in cities with worse socioeconomic conditions, where policymakers may be especially interested in encouraging new entrepreneurial activity. 

Second, the researchers found that the gig economy serves as insurance against entrepreneurial-related income volatility:

Consistent with our conceptual framework, the models ... indicate that in cities with higher ex-ante economic uncertainty, the positive effects of the arrival of the gig economy are higher in cities with higher ex-ante economic uncertainty, translating into an additional 1 to 2 percentage point increase in new business registrations for a one standard deviation increase in ex-ante economic uncertainty, on top of the main effect. This bolsters the view that the gig economy provides insurance for would-be entrepreneurs.

The gig economy has been an important lifeline for many Americans, especially in the midst of a pandemic. As the country digs out from the economic damage from the pandemic, the gig economy will continue to play a vital role in new business formation and entrepreneurial activity.

Please see the full study here

 

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Gig Work Provides Vital Income Supplement to New Yorkers During the Pandemic

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, 3:43 PM PERMALINK

As residents of a city hit hard by the pandemic, many New York households are looking to independent contractor work to supplement their income. According to a new article in the Times Union, New Yorkers are increasingly turning to the gig economy to make ends meet. One such resident, single mother Erin Bornt, took advantage of the gig economy when her job as a 911 dispatcher was no longer sufficient. 

“The pandemic made it easier to make money because there were fewer drivers wanting to drive,” Bornt said. Bornt works between 10 and 20 hours a week depending on the week, on top of her 40 hours at the 911 dispatch center. In her best weeks, when she’s both driving people and making food deliveries, via Uber Eats, she has made close to $900.

The gig economy provides invaluable opportunities to New Yorkers by offering them work flexibility. Sixteen percent of drivers in New York said they drove more during the pandemic because they were laid off, furloughed, or had their hours or pay cut because of the pandemic. The increase in production of the gig economy comes as no surprise to Kajal Lahiri, professor of economics at the University of Albany:

“After the lockdown, with the restaurants closed, people are looking for alternatives,” Lahiri said. Though he still believes the demand for rides is low right now and nowhere near where it could be in the future.

These new economic opportunities are being warmly welcomed by New Yorkers. Assemblyman John McDonald surveyed his constituents in district 108 to determine their opinions about gig workers remaining independent contractors or becoming employees. 65 percent of his constituents said that they should remain independent contractors:

A lot of the responders to the survey said they use gig work to help make a little extra money on top of their full-time job and so want the flexibility, McDonald said. “There are a lot of people who want to have that flexible work schedule or they have childcare issues so they choose to drive at night to help with childcare cost.”

If you are interested in reading the full article, it can be found here
 


Kamala Harris Called Out for "Starting from Scratch" Claim

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021, 3:03 PM PERMALINK

Fact checkers are calling out the Biden administration for its "starting from scratch" claims regarding pandemic-related vaccination efforts.

The main claim, echoed daily by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is that the Biden administration took over without any concrete plan on how to fight the pandemic. In an interview with Axios co-founder Mike Allen, Vice President Kamala Harris again pushed this misinformation. When asked about the struggles of the administration's response to the pandemic, Harris said, "There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out. And so in many ways, we're starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year!"

Fact checkers have noted the Biden administration claims are dishonest. Politifact said: "Saying a plan ‘does not really exist’ is beyond saying a plan is lacking. We rate [Biden’s chief of staff Ron] Klain’s claim Mostly False."

Even Axios initially sent out a tweet questioning the validity of the Vice President’s statement, writing: "@VP Harris to @mikeallen: ‘There was no national strategy or plan for [COVID-19]  vaccinations. We’re starting from scratch.’ At a press conference last month, Fauci said ‘we certainly are not starting from scratch’ on vaccine distribution.’"

When Harris began receiving backlash as a result of her comments, Axios deleted its fact-check. They would go on to repost the video, however they removed the additional context that included Fauci’s comments from their new tweet.

Other media outlets such as CNN have simply chosen not to cover the story as it fails to fit their narrative.

Not all liberal media outlets have decided to allow Harris to continue spreading this misinformation. Fact-checkers at the Washington Post rated Kamala's statement as 'two Pinnochios' meaning "Significant omissions and/or exaggerations."

 

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Small Business Owner: Biden's Killing of Keystone Pipeline "Hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in shock for three days."

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021, 11:11 AM PERMALINK

Reporting from Midland, South Dakota, The Washington Examiner interviewed residents regarding President Biden's killing of the Keystone XL pipeline.  One such resident, Laurie Cox, shared how her business -- and the community of workers she has grown to love -- were torn apart by Biden's executive order: 

For Cox, the owner of the two-story Stroppel Hotel in Midland, South Dakota, news of a shutdown also meant her business would take a major hit. "I had a real gut-sinking feeling and was watching little snips of the news and Facebook to see what was going to happen after the inauguration," she told the Washington Examiner. A few hours later, when news broke that Biden had revoked the pipeline's presidential permit, Cox's fear came into focus. "It hit me like a ton of bricks," she said. "I was in shock for three days." 

Other residents see this order as a sign of more harmful policies to come. Trudy Flesner, the owner of a local stop, fears that politicians are too out of touch to understand the consequences of these type of decisions. 

Flesner blames an anti-Trump movement for the cancellation of the XL pipeline and told the Washington Examiner she believes Biden killed the project as political payback. "Anything Trump has done, [Biden] wants to undo," she said. "They are totally turning the tables on us." Flesner fears the deepening beltway divide in Washington will continue to take a toll on South Dakotans and said "clueless" politicians are playing with people's lives. 

While many residents are disheartened by the president’s actions, some, like Phillip Mayor Michael Vetter, do not believe this is the end of the pipeline.

"I'm quite certain this project is on pause, not stop," Vetter said. "It has dragged out for several years. Each time beginning and stopping on the whims of individual presidents or judges. And each time, thousands of American jobs hang in the balance. A decision of finality is needed, one way or the other."

If you would like to read the rest of this investigative report, the piece is available here.

 

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Grover's 14 Points for Reviving America

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021, 11:02 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist has a new op-ed in The National Interest magazine describing 14 steps America can take to revive the economy.

On tax policy, Norquist outlines three steps. The first is to maintain the lower corporate and personal income taxes enacted in 2017:

This part is easy as long as the GOP holds a majority in the Senate and/or House. Most Republicans have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, promising their constituents that they will “oppose and vote against” any and all tax increases. The reduction of the corporate rate from 35 percent (higher than communist China’s 25 percent) to 21 percent in 2017 led to strong economic growth. The median family income rose in 2018 alone by 6.8 percent. The unemployment rate for all Americans fell to a historic fifty-year low of 3.5 percent by spring 2020, just before the coronavirus-inspired economic shutdown unemployed 20 million Americans. Yet, the underlying low-tax, reduced regulatory environment allowed the economy to recover quickly. By election day 2020, unemployment fell from 14.7 percent to 6.9 percent. That compared favorably to Obama’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent as he ran for re-election in 2012. The 2017 tax reform also eliminated the tax deductibility of state and local taxes of more than $10,000 from one’s taxable income for federal income tax purposes. This ended a significant subsidy for high-tax cities and states at the expense of states with low taxes. This puts pressure on high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to limit their abusive tax rates, which has driven 12 million of their residents to other states over the past decade.

Norquist urges ending the double taxation of Americans working overseas:

The United States and Eritrea are the only two countries that tax individuals for work they do while living in another country. The United States has a worldwide tax system. The rest of the world, minus Eritrea, has a territorial tax structure. Republicans ended the double taxation of American corporate income in the 2017 bill. Several trillion dollars of U.S. corporate earnings were trapped overseas, unable to be repatriated to the United States lest they pay an American tax penalty. That ended, and trillions were made available for investment in the United States. Now America should leave Eritrea all alone and end the double taxation on individuals. There are 5 to 8 million Americans working overseas, and they pay billions each year in excess U.S. taxation. As a result, it costs more to hire an American than a German in France because the American must be compensated for his higher (American worldwide) tax burden.

Norquist also calls for an end to the inflation tax on capital gains. This can be done by statute or administratively via the President and Treasury Department:

President Trump has the authority to define the “cost” of an asset when calculating capital gains taxes as the original sale plus inflation. The average stock sale price is 40 percent inflation gain. There is no reason people should pay capital gains taxes on inflation.

If you would like to read the rest of Grover’s recommendations, the piece is available here.


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