Chances are, you’ve heard that tax “reform” is right around the corner—that is, if you can call it “reform” when hundreds or perhaps thousands of new pages are about to be added to the tax code. First, the White House released its tax legislation wish list. Now the Republicans in the House of Representatives have released a proposal called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which fleshes out some of the details.
You can be forgiven if you’re skeptical that Congress will be able to completely overhaul our tax system after failing to overhaul our health care system, but professional advisors are studying the proposal closely nonetheless. We only have the bare outlines of what the initial plan might look like before it goes through the Congressional sausage grinder:
Imagine a person who always, in every circumstance, makes rational decisions with his money. He saves when he ought to and spends exactly as he should spend, in order to maximize the “utility” of whatever wealth he happens to possess. He defers gratification with ease. When he invests, he has instant and total access to all possible information related to every item in his, including the details of every company’s financials and any impactful world events, even if they haven’t reached the news media yet.
You may have read that hackers broke into the Equifax database and stole personal information tied to 143 million people. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. There is no reason to think that data is not for sale to criminals who can use it to open new lines of credit or file phony tax refund requests in peoples’ names.
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be consistently successful at complex and creative tasks, while others see only fitful success and repeated failure? The difference might not lie in talent or motivation, but simply in mindset—in the way these tasks are approached by people who take a professional mindset vs. the great majority of people who function as amateurs.
It’s tax time again, and as you look over your tax payments for calendar 2016, you’re undoubtedly wondering where those dollars are being spent.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a chart which breaks down spending for every $100 of tax receipts—and concludes that the U.S. government is actually a very large insurance company that also happens to have an army.
We hear all the time that medical costs are too high in the U.S., and that Medicare is going to go bankrupt in the future. The President-Elect recently told us in a press conference that drug companies are “getting away with murder.” So how high are drug prices, and are those prices contributing at all to the high medical costs in the U.S.?
Anybody who was surprised that the Federal Reserve Board decided to raise its benchmark interest rate this week probably wasn’t paying attention. The U.S. economy is humming along, the stock market is booming and the unemployment rate has fallen faster than anybody expected. The incoming administration has promised lower taxes and a stimulative $550 billion infrastructure investment. The question on the minds of most observers is: what were they waiting for?
Many of President-Elect Donald Trump’s policy proposals are too vague to analyze, but one area where he has been clear is on reforming our tax system. Here’s a quick primer on the changes that you can expect to be introduced to Congress in the coming year.
1) A shift from seven income tax brackets to three: