'We need a public healthcare system - tax us more,' say some wealthy Americans

"Households with incomes over $250,000 have saved more than $700 billion from the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. The proposed graduated surtax under the House Ways and Means Committee’s healthcare plan would take back $544 billion over the next 10 years, providing about half the cost of the entire plan, calculates the Joint Economic Committee of Congress."

Read the full article in the Christian Science Monitor

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Massachusetts Sales Tax Increase

On August 1, 2009, Massachusetts increased its sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent to address a severe budget deficit. United for a Fair Economy believes that raising the sales tax was clearly preferable to slashing the budgets of vital public services. However, UFE is disappointed that the Massachusetts Legislature did not raise revenue through progressive sources such as the capital gains tax, the state estate tax, or the personal income tax.

The sales tax is the state’s most regressive major tax, meaning that low- and middle-income people pay a much higher percentage of their income towards it than wealthy people do. The overall Massachusetts tax system was regressive prior to the increase in the sales tax. Rather than raising needed revenue AND making the tax system more fair and progressive, the Massachusetts Legislature just made that system more burdensome for low and middle income families.

 

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Oregon Governor Signs Upper-income Tax Increase Package

"Passed by the Democratic-led Oregon Legislature, one measure raises personal income taxes for individuals with taxable incomes of $125,000 a year or joint filers at more than $250,000. A separate measure raises corporate income taxes."

Read the full article by Brad Cain on Forbes.com.

Learn more about the work of Tax Fairness Oregon.

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Hypocrisy at the NAACP 100th Anniversary Celebration?

Alex Cane cites UFE's 2008 State of the Dream report, Foreclosed, in this critique.

Read the full article on Indypendent.com

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Perverse Incentives (Blog)

"Corporate excess isn’t isolated within the confines of the boardroom; it’s enmeshed with institutions that keep wealth concentrated within an ever-shrinking minority. Whether they’re passing resolutions or marching on Wall Street, activists won’t dismantle inequality without pushing to comprehensively restructure the way the country’s resources are distributed."

Read the full article by Michelle Chen on InTheseTimes.com

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Mind the Gap (Op-ed)

"CEO pay has grown out of control over the past couple decades.  What will it take to get Pandora back in the box?  Transparency is a start.  The right of shareholders to vote on pay is a good next step.  But what we ultimately need is a wholesale transformation in the make-up and thinking of boards and compensation committees."

Read the full article by Mike Lapham, Responsible Wealth Project Director, in The Durango Herald.

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Taxes and the Wisdom of Our Forebears (Op-ed)

"If our elected officials are serious about strengthening the middle class and fostering a more broadly shared prosperity, let them take a moment to consider the wisdom of our forebears."

Read the full article by Brian Miller in the Williston Observer.

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July E-News

 

July 2009:

- Financial Regulation: Which Way is Forward?

- Special Offer to UFE Members from YES! Magazine

- Taxes: A State Budget's Best Friend

- Pope Benedict XVI Calls for a New Economy

 

 

 

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New Hampshire Budget Rejects Taxes on the Wealthy

New Hampshire lawmakers missed a chance to reduce economic inequality while closing the state's $190 million budget deficit.  The NH House and Senate have passed a budget that rejects both a tax on capital gains and a state estate tax.

Read more in this editorial from the Concord Monitor.

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Activist Investors Want "Say On Pay"

"The Obama administration received plenty of attention in the past few days for pushing legislation that would require public companies to run their top executive pay packages by shareholders each year. [...] When President Obama finally signs this bill, he'll have some energetic watchdogs in Boston to thank for its success."

Read more in this article by John Chesto.

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New Hampshire Estate Tax Action Alert

Dear NH supporter of United for a Fair Economy,

New Hampshire faces a clear choice between a budget with revenue from progressive taxes paid by the very wealthy, OR revenue from gambling. It’s time to let your lawmakers know what you want.

The NH Senate budget fills the deficit with revenue from gambling and a suspension of a business tax credit. The NH House budget contains a new capital gains tax and an estate tax on estates larger than $2 million – both taxes would be paid primarily by very wealthy people. Now the final version of the budget will be decided in a House-Senate conference committee, followed by a vote in the House and Senate. The legislature has to pass a final budget by the end of June.

UFE believes progressive taxation – people paying taxes based on their ability to pay – is fundamental to a fair society, a healthy economy, and true democracy. Your Senator, Representative and Governor Lynch need to hear from you that paying for the budget in a fair way is something you care about. When the legislature is making major funding cuts in needed social programs because of budget deficits, the estate tax can help your state meet its obligations to those who have nowhere else to turn.

Please call and email your legislators now; phone calls are more effective. For additional information regarding the NH estate tax, see former NH State Representative, Michael Marsh’s, NH Estate Tax Fact Sheet.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION:


Click here to find contact information for your Senator and Representative, or call (603) 271-2111 to be connected to your Senator.

Send your message to the entire House of Representatives at either of the following addresses:

  • HReps@leg.state.nh.us
  • house_communications@leg.state.nh.us
To contact Governor Lynch, click here or call (603) 271-2121.

Write a letter to your local newspaper. If your letter gets published, send a copy to your legislators and to UFE.

Forward this email to friends, family and colleagues in NH who may want to take action.

After taking action, let me know what you find out by sending me an email at lfarris@faireconomy.org.

Thanks for taking action to promote a fair economy,

Lee Farris
Estate Tax Policy Coordinator
United for a Fair Economy
617-423-2148 x133
lfarris@faireconomy.org
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New Hampshire Capital Gains and Estate Tax Amendments

Support the NH Capital Gains and Estate Tax Amendments
By Michael Marsh

A century of Republican control of our state legislature has left New Hampshire with the seventh most regressive tax system in the country. Working people pay four times as much of their income in state and local taxes here than the wealthiest New Hampshire residents. This did not happen by accident, but because previous legislatures consistently voted to increase those taxes that affected working people. The Housebudget includes two provisions that will reverse this policy; the Senate budget does not.

The first provision is a change to our estate tax law, which was in place for 70 years before it was effectively eliminated by Congress under President Bush in 2001. The change puts an 8% tax on estates larger than $2 million (or $4 million for a couple if they havedone estate planning). This will affect only the wealthiest New Hampshire estates – barely 100 people per year. Here are a few facts about the change:
  1. The estate tax limits the further concentration of wealth in this state and will help rebuild a strong middle class.
  2. The estate tax will not affect 99% of the estates in New Hampshire. Every penny will be paid by individuals with at least $2 million in assets or couples with $4 million.
  3. The tax protects surviving spouses because an estate transferred to a spouse is tax-free.
  4. These changes to our estate tax will make our tax system more just. It is not fair that a working person pays state taxes every time he goes to a fast-food restaurant for lunch but a wealthy individual who inherits an estate worth millions pays nothing at all.
  5. The tax is modest – for a couple with a $5 million estate, the effective tax rate is less than 2%.
  6. The tax follows the current federal estate tax rules which include important exceptions that protect family farms and small businesses.
  7. The tax encourages giving to charities because all charitable gifts are tax deductible.

The second important tax provision in the budget is an expansion to our current Interest and Dividends tax. Today we have a 5% state tax on most forms of unearned income, including interest, dividends, and taxable annuities. This tax raised $117 million last year. The budgetextends this tax to include the largest source of unearned income: capital gains. Capital gains are the profits on the sale of assets like stocks, businesses, and real estate. The expansion will also allow usto finally increase the exemption for interest and dividends, reducingthe tax on the fixed-income poor who depend on CD’s and savingsaccounts. In a good year, the capital gains tax could bring in $150 million or more in new revenues. Even in today’s economy, the revenue will be at least $50 million per year. Here are some facts about the capital gains tax:
  1. Who will pay this tax? Overwhelmingly, it will be paid by wealthy New Hampshire residents. In 2006, the last year the IRS has complete data, more than 92% of the capital gains tax would have been paid by people making more than $200,000 per year, and less than 1% of it would be paid by people making under $100,000.
  2. If you are a middle class tax payer, your federal income tax rate is 25%. If you are a wealthy person with a long-term capital gain of any size whatsoever – even millions of dollars – your tax rate is 15%. It is simply not fair that people should pay higher taxes on income earned from working than they do on unearned income. At the minimum, they should be taxed the same. The capital gains tax provision in the budget will start to make these tax rates more even.
  3. Capital gains on the sale of a primary residence are protected. There is a $250,000 exemption ($500,000 for a couple), and only gains above this amount are taxable.
  4. The bill reduces the tax on small savers because it more than doubles the amount of interest and dividends income that is exempt from tax, from the current $2,400 per person to $5,000 (or $10,000 for a couple).
  5. For the great majority of working class and middle class people in this state, the changes to the Interest and Dividends tax in the budget will decrease the amount of tax they pay.
To pay for a range of social services that people depend on, the state has a serious need for additional revenue. This is true not just in the current economic recession, but in normal years as well, because we have a structural budget deficit. The capital gains and estate taxes will address that structural deficit and are the most equitable way to raise new revenue to fund our state needs. They will go a long way tomake our tax system fairer for the working people of our state. Becausethe taxes are modest in scope, they will not affect businesses or investment decisions. They will make New Hampshire a better place to live.
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