Tag Archives: capital gains

a taxing proposal for investors

No matter who is in office, or which party he (or she) belongs to, I always look forward to the State of the Union address. Even though I never got to attend the speech in person, watching it always reminds me of the summer I worked in Washington D.C. as an intern for the House Minority Leader.

My “office” that summer (actually a very small desk in a larger office) was just off the Capitol’s rotunda.  I would arrive at 9 AM(-ish) every morning, write one page responses to constituent mail on issues ranging from gun control to NASA, and then continue to perform my duty as an (unpaid) civil servant at cocktail parties and other social events around town. It was a fun time, and it gave me a lot of respect for people who work in government. Politics aside, most of them–including President Obama–are decent human beings trying their best to do right by the country. They don’t always succeed, of course. Many of their policy initiatives are well-intentioned but misguided, which brings me to the tax reform proposals the President spoke about last night. One is a good idea that will only affect a select few. The other is a less-than-good idea that could affect a whole lot of folks.

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hate doing your taxes? it’s your own damn fault they’re so complicated!

With the horrible events in Boston earlier this week, and in Texas last night, it seems like I should talk about something pleasant and diversionary today. So how about a post on, oh I don’t know  taxes?

On Sunday, the Times ran a couple of columns on the horrors of our tax code. One piece focused on the code’s unfairness, and how working people often wind up paying higher tax rates than hedge fund managers like me. Another documented how hopelessly complicated the code is, noting that Americans spend 9.14 billion hours filling out IRS forms every year. These twin critiques are not new. I’m old enough to remember when then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter called the tax code “a disgrace to the human race.” And yet, Carter and every other would-be reformer after him have failed to make taxes fairer or simpler. If anything, the code has gotten both more complex and less equitable since Carter left office. Why is that?

It’s your fault, that’s why. And mine. And everybody’s else’s. Continue reading