Just in time for tax day, I wrote a post on my Yahoo! Finance contributor page about the biggest tax mistake you can make as an investor. Put simply, the spread between short- and long-term capital gains tax rates is so giant now, you’re better of lighting your wallet on fire than taking profits on investments you’ve held for less than a year. At least all that burning cash might be pretty to look at.
Speaking of taxes and stupid ideas, the New York Times asked a bunch of experts about the worst tax breaks. Their answers should be familiar to regular readers of this blog. I’ve written on just about all of them at some point.
We will be hearing a lot about tax reform in the months ahead, as every presidential candidate will crow about their plans to rein in, reduce, and simplify our country’s insanely complex tax code. The chances that any of these ideas will amount to anything but empty promises on the campaign trail are close to nonexistent, of course, but it can’t hurt to dream, can it?
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.
Something extraordinary happened last week: a politician went against the dogma of his own party and proposed something that might actually boost our economy and improve our country’s long-term fiscal health.
Of course, the plan has no chance of getting a vote, let alone passing congress. And even if it did manage to pass, President Obama would veto it before his first morning cigarette. But just because Representative Dave Camp’s tax reform bill is a lost cause doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy one.