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How the Expiring Bush Tax Cuts Affect You

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Jhhnn

No Lifer
Nov 11, 1999
62,153
14,361
136
Mr. Buffet's low tax rate applies to only a very few taxpayers in a verty specific industry and is not applicable in any way to "rich people" as a whole.
Buffet's rate may not, but low taxes definitely apply. The average tax rate for the top .1% (140K filers) is actually lower than for the rest of the top 1%, as I've shown many times, apparently in vain.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

Just when we'd think that taxes would become progressive, on incomes >$2M, they're actually regressive, becoming increasingly so as income goes up from there. The top 400 filers only paid a little over 17% in 2006, probably even less in 2009-

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=260

Notice that their rates fell by a full third since 1992, and their incomes skyrocketed at the same time...

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joe_conason/2010/02/17/top400

Their average income rose by $81M in 2007- tell me they weren't getting fat off the housing bubble...
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,877
827
126
Buffet's rate may not, but low taxes definitely apply. The average tax rate for the top .1% (140K filers) is actually lower than for the rest of the top 1%, as I've shown many times, apparently in vain.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

Just when we'd think that taxes would become progressive, on incomes >$2M, they're actually regressive, becoming increasingly so as income goes up from there. The top 400 filers only paid a little over 17% in 2006, probably even less in 2009-

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=260

Notice that their rates fell by a full third since 1992, and their incomes skyrocketed at the same time...

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joe_conason/2010/02/17/top400

Their average income rose by $81M in 2007- tell me they weren't getting fat off the housing bubble...
Not in vain, entirely. But that .1%'s income is as Fern pointed out: capital gains. I mean, 144,000 people isnt much. Per your link:

This very top income group actually has a lower average effective tax rate than the rest of the top 1 percent of returns because these extremely high-income returns are more likely to have income from capital gains and dividends, which are typically taxed at lower rates. (Note that in the case of capital gains and dividends, in most cases the income has already been taxed once by the corporate income tax, which is not included here.)
Im not saying its right or wrong, but I *am* saying you cant really compare already-taxed-but-invested money with earnings. Like from work. Apples and oranges.

Also from your link,

The IRS data also shows increases in individual incomes across all income groups
So, although the top .1% increase in earnings grew at a larger rate than everyone else, everyone else DID see an increase.

Just sayin'.
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,386
2
81
Here's a link about it:

http://www.ctj.org/pdf/privateequity071907.pdf

Basically, There are 2 broad categories of income - personal services and investment income.

Personal services type is pretty self explanatory. If we perform actual 'work' like being an employee or a contractor doing construction we spend time doing a particular service to earn our money. I.e., working for a living means being taxed at regular rates and SS tax.

Investment income is getting dividends on our money invested in stocks, or interest or capital gains or rents from real estate. So wealth trust funds types can get away with just paying investment type taxes and no SS.

However, if all I do is own a bunch of rental real estate and spend all my working hours managing that, I'm not investing, I'm actually working and my profits rise to level of personal services. Therefor, I pay normal income tax rates like someone who employed or self-employed, plus social security tax (which not charged on investment typ income).

Similarly, people who do stock market trades and spend all their working hours on it are not generally considered "investors" but actually working and the income from it considered 'personal services' income and they pay regular tax rates and SS tax.

So, under the 'normal' tax rules Buffet and his fellow fund managers should be taxed at regular rates and even pay SS tax. However, Congress made a special rule for them so all their income from managing the fund is 'considered' LT capital gains and so taxed at 15% (and no SS tax applies).

What makes this treatment particularly eggregious is that unlike investors fund managers have no 'risk'. If their fund loses money they don't, they still get paid. So how, in addition to the other rules, can they make LT capital gains when their fund losses money is an absurdity.

If you or I spent all day doing stock market trades we would NOT get the 15% capital gains rate (and no SS tax) but these big time fund managers are excepted because Congress gave them special rules.

Fern
And you're an accountant? Common Fern, you C incorporate those apartment complexes, buy yours a Cadillac HC Plans, cars, other fringe, expenses accounts and retain as much earnings as possible to avoid income tax rates and sell later a LTCG. Or at the very least you S sub-chapter and pass through dividends so you're not taxed employment taxes like SS/med/UE etc.

Yes you and I can pay about 15% if you take full advantage of tax code.
 
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Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,386
2
81
Buffet's rate may not, but low taxes definitely apply. The average tax rate for the top .1% (140K filers) is actually lower than for the rest of the top 1%, as I've shown many times, apparently in vain.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

Just when we'd think that taxes would become progressive, on incomes >$2M, they're actually regressive, becoming increasingly so as income goes up from there. The top 400 filers only paid a little over 17% in 2006, probably even less in 2009-

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=260

Notice that their rates fell by a full third since 1992, and their incomes skyrocketed at the same time...

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joe_conason/2010/02/17/top400

Their average income rose by $81M in 2007- tell me they weren't getting fat off the housing bubble...
I think Fern does not work for them.
 

Jhhnn

No Lifer
Nov 11, 1999
62,153
14,361
136
Not in vain, entirely. But that .1%'s income is as Fern pointed out: capital gains. I mean, 144,000 people isnt much. Per your link:

Im not saying its right or wrong, but I *am* saying you cant really compare already-taxed-but-invested money with earnings. Like from work. Apples and oranges.

So, although the top .1% increase in earnings grew at a larger rate than everyone else, everyone else DID see an increase.

Just sayin'.
Heh. Apples and oranges? funny, it all spends the same.

Already taxed? Who said it was, and at what rate?

Everyone else saw an increase? Not adjusted for inflation-

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/a-decade-with-no-income-gain/

Median incomes got bumpkus, and the lower 50% actually lost ground. That *is* a lot of people, basically half the families in the US...

Otherwise sensible people really, really need to stop apologizing for the greatest transfer of wealth and income in the history of the world, the transfer that's benefited america's wealthiest at the expense of everybody else.

Project the trend into the future- tell me we won't be a nation of lords and serfs, the financial elite and debt slave suckas...
 
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JimKiler

Diamond Member
Oct 10, 2002
3,451
117
106
FYI, we should all ask congressmen and senators to remove the deduction to employers taxable income for compensation based on individual performance goals. What does that mean you might ask? This means all those big bonuses which are always stock options are reducing the taxable income the IRS can tax from corporate America. Aren't we as a nation and as a world always complaining about the high payouts these fat cats get? Yes and at the same time the IRS is promoting it. So lets get it changed. I am not looking forward a 4.7% surtax to pay for health care we will be paying in a few years.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,877
827
126
FYI, we should all ask congressmen and senators to remove the deduction to employers taxable income for compensation based on individual performance goals. What does that mean you might ask? This means all those big bonuses which are always stock options are reducing the taxable income the IRS can tax from corporate America. Aren't we as a nation and as a world always complaining about the high payouts these fat cats get? Yes and at the same time the IRS is promoting it. So lets get it changed. I am not looking forward a 4.7% surtax to pay for health care we will be paying in a few years.
You realize, dont you, that stock options are NOT cash. Nor stock.

Right?
 

Jhhnn

No Lifer
Nov 11, 1999
62,153
14,361
136
Sigh. It's a shame that you've chosen the deliberately obtuse option, blackangst1. Not surprising.

I linked the taxfoundation despite their anti-tax pro-wealthy stance, because they actually give the numbers in a easy to understand format. Their commentary is often misleading, like the passage you quote wrt corporate taxes. They don't give the numbers, they rely on the reader to fill in the gap, leading to conclusions not warranted by fact. Here's the real story wrt corporate taxes-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/11/AR2008081102324.html

which is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yeh, sure, US corporate taxes are among the world's highest, but that's because most other first world nations gave up on that, given the slippery nature of it, preferring to tax individual income instead.

Income benefits the individual regardless of its source, and regardless of the obfuscations of double taxation. I could argue that private enterprise wages are also taxed twice because of corporate taxes, which is no more and no less valid than your argument wrt capital gains. The bookkeeping looks a little different, but the net result is the same- less income for the recipient.

You are mistaken wrt the effect of inflation- a 3% annual rate accounts for the observed result entirely. Another one of those places where the taxfoundation attempts to get us to jump to conclusions, which you just did...
 

JimKiler

Diamond Member
Oct 10, 2002
3,451
117
106
You realize, dont you, that stock options are NOT cash. Nor stock.

Right?
Options are bought and sold therefore they are the same as cash when the employee makes a profit from the buying and selling of options. And if they are not cash why would the IRS allow Corporations to reduce taxable income? a CEO salary is capped to only allow a deduction up to $1 million but stock options based on performance metrics is deductible and is exempt from that cap. Seems like it should be included to me.
 

werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,873
460
126
Buffet's rate may not, but low taxes definitely apply. The average tax rate for the top .1% (140K filers) is actually lower than for the rest of the top 1%, as I've shown many times, apparently in vain.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

Just when we'd think that taxes would become progressive, on incomes >$2M, they're actually regressive, becoming increasingly so as income goes up from there. The top 400 filers only paid a little over 17% in 2006, probably even less in 2009-

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=260

Notice that their rates fell by a full third since 1992, and their incomes skyrocketed at the same time...

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joe_conason/2010/02/17/top400

Their average income rose by $81M in 2007- tell me they weren't getting fat off the housing bubble...
This is the amusing thing about liberals voting to elect the very wealthy (or at best the soon-to-be very wealthy) based on a promise to soak the rich and repeatedly getting Byzantine tax laws that benefit the very wealthy whilst handicapping those who are attempting to become very wealthy through the private sector.

That said, there really needs to be a way to differentiate capital gains income from money truly risked, which deserves a 15% capital gains rate, from capital gains income not from money truly risked, which does not deserve a 15% capital gains rate. Investment fund managers' income is simply wage income, no more at risk than any small business owner's at best and probably insulated from failure. Stock options involve zero risk and often zero investment; the executive simply announces that he is exercising his stock options, files the paperwork, and receives a buttload of cash (value of stock above option value) while risking no money. Usually the option contracts are written for values below current stock value, so that even when the executives screw up and stock prices go down they can still get a nice low-tax bonus. This money should be taxed at least as wages and arguably even higher, since it's often money that wasn't earned in any real sense. If lottery winnings can be taxed at 40%, surely a windfall given by oneself should be taxed the same.
 

FallenHero

Diamond Member
Jan 2, 2006
5,659
0
0
No we won't. Until deductions, exclusions, exemptions, various deprecating and depletion schedules, hedge fund salary loophole, and all forms of income are addressed you can't plug hole in our 2-3T deficit. Working people are taxed too much as it is - just ask Buffet or Gates, guys who are straight up honest about it.
Aren't they the ones that begged Bush not to enact his tax breaks for the wealthy?

More on topic: I'd be more then happy to pay more taxes if it meant that our current level of federal spending dropped and we began to pay down significant portions of the debt. Somehow though, I do not think this will be the case.
 

Carmen813

Diamond Member
May 18, 2007
3,189
0
76
So...let me get this straight...by calling the expiration of the Bush tax cut a tax increase and objecting to deficit spending are somehow hypocritical?

Holy shit!

Let me be clear as possible here...I believe in fiscal responsibility. In light of this, I advocated tax increases (especially for the wealthy) as well as reduced spending. By letting the Bush tax cuts expire, it is effectively a very large tax increase for the middle class in the midst of severe economic times. To say this isn't a tax increase (as you have) is ludicrous...and pure bullshit. I'm not saying taxes shouldn't be increased...I'm saying the timing is bad for the middle class to take the full blow and believe the impact should be mitigated.

In regards to deficit spending, I've always been against the $787 billion stimulus package. I've never said "the things in the stimulus bill aren't tax cuts" as you stated (nor said that they are tax cuts for that matter). Perhaps you found that actual facts are of little importance when contrasted with your zeal to call me out for being a hypocrite.

You've obviously went to a lot of work to 'prove' my hypocrisy. Please know that I've no desire to prove yours.
It took quite a bit of effort to type in "tax cuts" and "Doc Savage Fan."

I will maintain that the Bush era tax cuts were little more than an advance. A true tax cut is coupled with permanent spending decreases. Ergo, not a tax cut, so a tax increase is impossible. The Bush and Stimulus bill tax cuts were the exact same thing as the student who pays only interest on their student loan with a hard times deferment.

In several of your posts you repeatedly cried about the disaster being passed on to the next generation. There is an intellectual inconsistency here that I find hypocritical. The stimulus bill "tax cuts" end this year as well. You want to extend all these tax breaks? So do I (and you have to be DAFT if you think Democrats want to raise middle class taxes in an election year), but I want them paid for. Otherwise we are merely setting ourselves up for a much larger economic meltdown. Personally, I'd rather face a prolonged recession than total economic collapse. So answer me this: how do we pay for it?

Oh and as a side note, the middle class won't receive the full blow. The reversion of middle class tax rates to the pre-2003 levels would still generate revenues that are comparatively small to the increased money collected from the upper classes. The 2003 cuts disproportionately decreased taxes on the highest income bracket.
 
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Nov 30, 2006
15,456
389
121
It took quite a bit of effort to type in "tax cuts" and "Doc Savage Fan."

I will maintain that the Bush era tax cuts were little more than an advance. A true tax cut is coupled with permanent spending decreases. Ergo, not a tax cut, so a tax increase is impossible. The Bush and Stimulus bill tax cuts were the exact same thing as the student who pays only interest on their student loan with a hard times deferment.

In several of your posts you repeatedly cried about the disaster being passed on to the next generation. There is an intellectual inconsistency here that I find hypocritical. The stimulus bill "tax cuts" end this year as well. You want to extend all these tax breaks? So do I (and you have to be DAFT if you think Democrats want to raise middle class taxes in an election year), but I want them paid for. Otherwise we are merely setting ourselves up for a much larger economic meltdown. Personally, I'd rather face a prolonged recession than total economic collapse. So answer me this: how do we pay for it?

Oh and as a side note, the middle class won't receive the full blow. The reversion of middle class tax rates to the pre-2003 levels would still generate revenues that are comparatively small to the increased money collected from the upper classes. The 2003 cuts disproportionately decreased taxes on the highest income bracket.
We agree on all fundamental points...yet you call me the hypocrite. I'm not going to play semantics games with you.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,877
827
126
Sigh. It's a shame that you've chosen the deliberately obtuse option, blackangst1. Not surprising.
And you've chosen to ignore it, which is, as you say, not surprising.

I linked the taxfoundation despite their anti-tax pro-wealthy stance, because they actually give the numbers in a easy to understand format. Their commentary is often misleading, like the passage you quote wrt corporate taxes. They don't give the numbers, they rely on the reader to fill in the gap, leading to conclusions not warranted by fact. Here's the real story wrt corporate taxes-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/11/AR2008081102324.html

which is just the tip of the iceberg.
Sorry, but Im not seeing the anti-tax pro-wealthy stance here. In fact, there is nothing wrong with pro wealthy. If you believe in free markets, that is. If you think we all need to be equal financially, then I guess we'll agree to disagree. Because I dont.

Yeh, sure, US corporate taxes are among the world's highest, but that's because most other first world nations gave up on that, given the slippery nature of it, preferring to tax individual income instead.
Very nice brush off. Not surprising.

Income benefits the individual regardless of its source, and regardless of the obfuscations of double taxation. I could argue that private enterprise wages are also taxed twice because of corporate taxes, which is no more and no less valid than your argument wrt capital gains. The bookkeeping looks a little different, but the net result is the same- less income for the recipient.
No less valid? The bookkeeping looks different? WTF man? This is so...absurd I dont even know how to respond.

You are mistaken wrt the effect of inflation- a 3% annual rate accounts for the observed result entirely. Another one of those places where the taxfoundation attempts to get us to jump to conclusions, which you just did...
OK so take inflation out and 144,000 people increased their wealth by net 25% +/-...so fucking what? The point of striving for success in America is accumulation of wealth. Of course, thats not everyone's goal, but shit man. Whats your problem with being rich? If you were lucky enough to get an inheritance, or win the lottery, Im sure you wouldnt give the fucking check back....

You've proven in this and other similar posts your viewpoint comes from nothing but envy. You stomp your feet like a 5 year old and scream "ITS NOT FAIR!!!"

Perhaps you can explain how if someone takes $500,000, invests it, and later down the road turns it into $5-10 million, who the fuck got hurt by doing that?
 
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spidey07

No Lifer
Aug 4, 2000
65,469
5
76
I love how obama supporters have clearly derailed the largest tax increase in history affecting primarily the low and middle class into railing about something that affects very few people (the fund manager loophole).

Not to mention dividends are going to be taxed as normal income and not capital gains, that is just flat out wrong and discourages growth and reinvestment.

The phase out rules for deductions are going to kill people in addition to the higher rates.
 
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blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,877
827
126
I love how obama supporters have clearly derailed the largest tax increase in history affecting primarily the low and middle class into railing about something that affects very few people (the fund manager loophole).

Not to mention dividends are going to be taxed as normal income and not capital gains, that is just flat out wrong and discourages growth and reinvestment.

The phase out rules for deductions are going to kill people in addition to the higher rates.
The tax increases not talked about much are the marriage penalty tax (standard deduction will no longer be doubled), child tax credit will be cut in half, lowest tax rate increase of 50%, dependant and adoption credits go away, and the AMT tax will hit about 28 million families, instead of the approx 4 million it affects now.

But hey. Im sure this only affects the top .1% who can afford it ;)
 

spidey07

No Lifer
Aug 4, 2000
65,469
5
76
The tax increases not talked about much are the marriage penalty tax (standard deduction will no longer be doubled), child tax credit will be cut in half, lowest tax rate increase of 50%, dependant and adoption credits go away, and the AMT tax will hit about 28 million families, instead of the approx 4 million it affects now.

But hey. Im sure this only affects the top .1% who can afford it ;)
I've railed against Obama's constant marriage penalty in every one of his tax increases or credits. The marriage penalty and the huge increase in low and middle class will affect most people on this board.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
60
91
You think money is tight now, wait till the taxes are increased and see what happens. Small businesses would completely fold or have to pass the increase in operating costs onto the poorest of the poor. Look for immediate inflation if this occurs.
 

spidey07

No Lifer
Aug 4, 2000
65,469
5
76
You think money is tight now, wait till the taxes are increased and see what happens. Small businesses would completely fold or have to pass the increase in operating costs onto the poorest of the poor. Look for immediate inflation if this occurs.
That's also the point of this thread. So you can prepare now and do what you need to do to protect yourself financially from the sweeping obama tax hikes.

Sell your good stocks, realize as much of your capital gain in this year, prepare for the massive increase on dividends and maybe drop your dividend re-investment programs and just take the cash.
Put off this years charitable deductions until next year to double it.
If you are going to realize a loss, try to realize it in 2011 if you can.
Save as much as you can, stop spending and hold onto your wallet. You're going to need some serious capital to withstand obama's onslaught.
 

Fern

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 30, 2003
26,907
173
106
And you're an accountant? Common Fern, you C incorporate those apartment complexes, buy yours a Cadillac HC Plans, cars, other fringe, expenses accounts and retain as much earnings as possible to avoid income tax rates and sell later a LTCG. Or at the very least you S sub-chapter and pass through dividends so you're not taxed employment taxes like SS/med/UE etc.

Yes you and I can pay about 15% if you take full advantage of tax code.
Nope.

1. C corp brings problems of double taxation, a whole lot of rules about the correct amount of compensation and excessive accumulated retained earnings which are all expensive problems.

2. S corp would not be able to pass through 'dividends' under the circumstances I described, instead it would flow through as 'earned income'. But really since S corp dividends are taxed at normal rates (not special dividend rates. The term "dividend" is a highly specialized term under tax law and flow-through profits from an S corp are not actually "dividends") the only difference would be the SS (or self employment) tax due on the real rental profits.

Edit: I forgot to mention the 'collaspable corporation' rules that prevents another of your suggestions.

Fern
 
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Fern

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 30, 2003
26,907
173
106
Buffet's rate may not, but low taxes definitely apply. The average tax rate for the top .1% (140K filers) is actually lower than for the rest of the top 1%, as I've shown many times, apparently in vain.

-snip-
Nothing in vain about it...

Their lower rate is because much of their compensation is from qualified stock options (usually I.S.O. stock options specifically).

Edit: My mistake, we now have a rule that says ISO's in excess of $100K are treated as non-qualified stock options - meaning there's no special tax break at all.

But despair not, charging the execs only 15% on ISO income is a fair, if not good, deal for a number of reasons including the fact that the government makes more tax revenue from it than regular salary.

Regular salary is tax deductible by the corporation at 35% and taxable to the exec at 35%. So the government is getting 35% (not including SS taxes).

However ISO amounts are NOT deductible by the corporation so the government keeps that 35% and the exec pays in an extra 15% for total of 50% going to the government.

All things considered, there's nothing unfair about it. In fact, even if qualified stock options didn't exist (no special tax benefit), you can do almost the exact same thing under the 'regular rules' - meaning it's available to you and I.

Fern
 
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Fern

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 30, 2003
26,907
173
106
-snip-
Otherwise sensible people really, really need to stop apologizing for the greatest transfer of wealth and income in the history of the world, the transfer that's benefited america's wealthiest at the expense of everybody else.

Project the trend into the future- tell me we won't be a nation of lords and serfs, the financial elite and debt slave suckas...
There's no apologizing, it's simply a fact.

Now, there are exceptions where lower income people can readily move into the upper level, but to the extent they are hampered it is BECAUSE of government. Yes, that's right, government and it's rules and regulations hamper/stiffle the 'little guy' from innovation and moving into the upper echelon.

Do you think Henry Ford could start an auto manufacturing company today? Of course not. Try creating an auto and see how many millions of $'s it takes to shepherd it through the government approval process. There are plenty of good/successful auto's sold elsewhere around the world but not here because of that.

Same thing goes medicine/drugs. Jonas Salk couldn't get his vacine through the FDA unless he personally had upteen millions.

Then there's the whole realm of 'legal' issues (required disclosures, contracts etc).

Regulation = money, and big money.

Bottom line is it takes money to make money, now so more than ever (because of government and regulation). So you must expect the wealthy, who have the most money, to make more faster than the rest of of us. And that's a consequence of the current system - one that you seem to support, so no need to complain about it.

I'd have to think on it a bit longer, but seems to me in cases with a big strong powerful central government you're gonna find big disparities in wealth. It just comes with the territory.

Fern
 

Fern

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 30, 2003
26,907
173
106
-snip-
That said, there really needs to be a way to differentiate capital gains income from money truly risked, which deserves a 15% capital gains rate, from capital gains income not from money truly risked, which does not deserve a 15% capital gains rate. Investment fund managers' income is simply wage income, no more at risk than any small business owner's at best and probably insulated from failure.
Yes, the fund managers' income is wage income.

However, IMO, LT captial gains do not deserve a tax break because of risk. gambling winnings are taxed at regular rates and they come with a butt-load of risk. They deserve it because of inflation. If you buy and hold a piece of real estate (or stock or whatever) and hold it for 20 years, yeah, you'll end up with more money than you paid for it but is it profit after accounting for inflation? In many cases people are paying LT cap gains tax on nothing but inflation - there is no real profit.

Other countries actually require that inflation be accounted for (adjust the original purchase cost upwards) and then tax that inflation adjusted gain by regular rates. Our government just doesn't want to bother to go through all that.


Stock options involve zero risk and often zero investment; the executive simply announces that he is exercising his stock options, files the paperwork, and receives a buttload of cash (value of stock above option value) while risking no money. Usually the option contracts are written for values below current stock value, so that even when the executives screw up and stock prices go down they can still get a nice low-tax bonus. This money should be taxed at least as wages and arguably even higher, since it's often money that wasn't earned in any real sense. If lottery winnings can be taxed at 40%, surely a windfall given by oneself should be taxed the same.
Well, lets be careful here, stock options can get damn complicated.

Generally granting stock options at a below FMV rate (discount) does result in wage income subject to regular rates, SS tax and withholding (and teh corporation gets a deduction for those 'wages"). Now, you can get around recognizing this income at grant time, but you'll get hit with the 'regular' tax when you excercise (actually own) the options.

Notwithstanding the above, I would argue that there is always risk for the exec in stock options. After all, they are agreeing to forgo some amount of (guaranteed) straight-up wages for the chance to make even more with options. Which would you take: A guaranteed $7.5 Mil, or a guaranteed $5 mil with a possible $5 mil more in stock options? (adjust the amounts as you like and vary the risk).

Edit: Jeebus, looking back it seems like I'm spamming the crap out of this thread ;)

Fern
 
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