Friday, February 28, 2014

WILLIAMS BEING HONORED



Councilwoman Rebecca Williams is  being honored at the United Plainfield Community Development Corporation's Community Service Awards luncheon this year. The UPCDC operates out the United Church of Christ Congregational Church, on West 7th Street in Plainfield. The funds raised go to support the wonderful "Camp Discovery" summer camp for Plainfield children in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.

The luncheon, with delicious food prepared by a Plainfield caterer, will be held on Saturday, March 15, from 12:00 - 3:00 pm in the church's parish hall. Tickets are $60.

Rebecca has some  20 tickets that she can sell. Contact her  by email (see city site) and she will bring the ticket to you as well as pick up the check.

MEMO

The combination of a new household member, the calls of nature, and our extreme not fit for New Jersey man or beast cold weather has resulted in too little time to compose a blog for today.

Despite the fact that weekends are not the ideal time,readership wise, to post a serious blog; I do intend to expand on my "Apartheid" blog and the unanticipated controversy this Saturday.

Meantime I expect to make my  pre-Council meeting visit to the Library Saturday morning. Once again there seems to be the possibility of heavy snow Monday. If the meeting has to be postponed I would hope that the alternate plan is not the unsatisfactory double header.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ABOUT FEDERAL TAXE REFORM



One would think that being retired I had all the time in the world to write my blog. Yet somehow time passes fast for me and as an excuse on Wednesday I somehow did not get around to writing (a) a response to an unfortunate blog, (b) several planned essays on America’s health care, (c) the “House” vacancy, (d) local politics after two months of as new administration-less than 60 days and the customary era of goodwill is 100 days.

I cannot blame all on Dawg; although having been living in an apartment in NYC this country venue has confused him as to the nature of the great outsides. Dawg has been mesmerized by the cars passing by the house and forgets why he is outside. In addition all the normal earth is still covered with snow and there are no local fire hydrants or doggie play parks.

Late evening I was still in the process of getting organized.

So I was happy in the evening to run across this news released from the Washington Post which may be of interest to those of us who pay taxes but do not understand how they are derived.

 “House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp released his long-awaited tax reform plan just now. You can read the draft legislation, the section-by-section summary, the executive summary and more on the committee's Web site.  The following comes directly from Camp's press release announcing the tax reform plan.”
Highlights of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 include:
  • New Individual and Corporate Rate Structure:  Flattens the code by reducing rates and collapsing today’s brackets into two brackets of 10 and 25 percent for virtually all taxable income, ensuring that over 99 percent of all taxpayers face maximum rates of 25 percent or less.  The plan also reduces the corporate rate to 25 percent.
  • Larger Standard Deduction:  Makes the code simpler and fairer by providing a significantly more generous, inflation-adjusted standard deduction of $11,000 for individuals and $22,000 for married couples.
  • Larger Child Tax Credit:  Increases the child tax credit to $1,500 per child, adjusts it for inflation going forward and expands the number of families that can claim the credit.
  • Simpler, Improved Taxation of Investment Income:  Taxes long-term capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, but exempts 40 percent of such income from tax – resulting in a three percentage point decrease from the maximum rates individuals pay today on such income while also achieving the lowest level of double taxation on investment income in modern history.
  • No AMT:  In addition to lowering tax rates for families and all job creators, the plan repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for individuals, pass-through businesses and corporations.
  • Easier Education Benefits: Adopts recommendations stemming from the bipartisan working groups to consolidate education tax benefits so, along with the additional money from stronger economic growth, families can more easily afford the costs of a college education.
  • Modernized International System: Modernizes the international tax code for the first time in more than 50 years while protecting jobs, wages and profits from being shipped overseas.
  • Permanent R&D Incentive:  Invests in innovation by making permanent an improved Research & Development Tax Credit.
  • More Affordable Healthcare: While the plan generally leaves ObamaCare policies untouched and for a later debate on healthcare, there are two main exceptions given strong bipartisan support for: (1) repeal of the medical device tax and (2) repeal of the medicine cabinet tax, which prohibits use of funds from tax-free accounts to purchase over-the-counter medication without first obtaining a prescription.
  • IRS Accountability:  Cracks down on IRS abuses and reduces massive waste, fraud and abuse.  The plan also contains provisions prohibiting implementation of recently proposed rules affecting 501(c)(4) organizations and provides victims with information regarding the status of investigations into violations of their taxpayer rights.
  • Infrastructure Investment:  Dedicates $126.5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to fully fund highway and infrastructure investment through the HTF for eight years.
  • Simplification for Seniors:  Reflecting a proposal supported by AARP and ATR, the plan requires the IRS to develop a simple tax return to be known as Form 1040SR, for individuals over the age of 65 who receive common kinds of retirement income like annuity and Social Security payments, interest, dividends and capital gains.
  • Charitable Giving:  Expands opportunities to make tax-deductible contributions past the end of the tax year, makes permanent conservation easement incentives, simplifies exempt organization taxes and sets a floor instead of a cap to the amount of donations that can be deducted.  The economic growth in this plan will increase charitable giving by $2.2 billion annually.
  • Shrinks and Simplifies the Income Tax Code:  In addition to easing complexity and compliance burdens by adopting a larger standard deduction, an enhanced child tax credit and lower rates, the plan repeals over 220 sections of the tax code; cutting the size of the income tax code by 25 percent. “
There seems to be a question if the plan truly reaches a goal of two tax brackets; 10% and 25%.
Although the Joint Committee on Taxation claims it does already the nayers are pointing out that Camp would impose a 10 percent surtax on certain types of earned income over $411,000 for individuals and $464,000 for families, essentially creating a new 35 percent bracket.  
But quoting from that article ” Moreover, sources familiar with the plan say Camp (R-Mich.) would not eliminate a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income imposed on wealthy households to help pay for President Obama's Affordable Care Act.  By this argument, 35 percent plus 3.8 percent equals a top rate of 38.8 percent -- awfully close to where it is under current law. Aides to Camp declined to comment.

But wait! What about "PEP and Pease," the current-law phaseouts that increase tax rates for the wealthy? Add those in, and the current top rate is actually closer to 44.6 percent -- making 38.8 percent look like a pretty good deal.”

I don’t believe that I or any of my readers has to worry about that bracket. I am sure that any bill that leaves the house will bear little resemblance to this proposal and wait till the Senate gets hold of it. Save your present software for another year.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

STATEMENT



I am often a creature of habit and as such one of the first things I do in the morning after my breakfast and reading two of my daily, for lack of a better term, newspapers; is to go to my desktop computer open and scan my email before going to my bookmarks and either opening Dan Damon’s Clips or if that date's is not yet on line; I check Bernice’s and David Rutherford’s blog sites.


Today was different. As you may have read that in my dotage a new member has joined my family. At present he is placing demands upon my time that I am sure will be minimal and routine within a few weeks if that long.


Up to now there has been a great deal of uncertainty and disruption in Dawg's short two years but he is coping better than expected as long as does not have to worry about his “daily three squares” and knows that my bed is soft. Already his anxiety state is lessened when I go out for a few minutes.


But I do digress from the subject matter at hand. Because of play sessions amongst other morning related activities with Dawg including trying to button his coat, I abandoned my usual routine and was not aware of David Rutherford’s critical blog until a mid-morning call from a dear friend. It was still later when I did read it.


Of course I did read it and suffice to say it deserves rebuttal. However under present circumstances that may be delayed for a few days in as much as it is obvious that he has completely misinterpreted my February 14 blog “APARTHEID???”.


I want to be sure that, if possible, I can clarify some of his confusion. I did not think that I was to use his words “coming at” him, but rather addressing a specific but broad topic.


On the other hand, I take umbrage at be accused of employing “the tacky maneuver of quoting me before adding his response” (his words). I believe that my comments were peculiarly related to definitive subjects and could be meaningless or even ranting without the presence of the references.


I will ASAP try to elucidate what I believe I was being explicit in each of my commentaries. In the meantime, David please believe that I was not faulting you.


By the way I have read all 25 pages of the Rutgers’s Report.