Seattle Gun Tax Fails to Generate Projected Revenue, Succeeds in Burdening Rights

On March 16, 2017, the Seattle Times reported that Seattle city officials were reluctant to release data on the revenue generated by the city’s firearms and ammunition tax, citing taxpayer confidentiality concerns. Less than a week later, we now know the more likely reason that Seattle failed to disclose this tax revenue; because the money raised fell woefully short of the figure projected by supporters of the tax.

In July 2015, Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess proposed legislation he dubbed a “Gun Violence Tax,” contending that “It’s time for the gun industry to help defray” the cost of criminal violence perpetrated with guns. Burgess’s proposal was unanimously passed by the city council on August 10, 2015. The legislation imposed a $25 tax on firearm sales, a $.02 per round tax on .22 and smaller caliber ammunition, and a $.05 per round tax on ammunition greater than .22 caliber. The revenue was intended to be used to fund anti-gun research at the Harborview Medical Center.

On August 24, 2015, NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation filed suit in King County Superior Court to prevent the city from enforcing the new tax. NRA’s complaint pointed out that the tax violates the Second Amendment and is also impermissible under Washington law. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that governments are not permitted to attack constitutionally-protected conduct through taxation. In the First Amendment context, the Court struck down a Minnesota use tax on ink and paper used in publishing. In that case – Minneapolis Star Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue – the Court warned that “A power to tax differentially, as opposed to a power to tax generally, gives a government a powerful weapon against the taxpayer selected.”

Washington’s firearms preemption statute also bars Seattle’s tax. Section 9.41.290 of the Revised Code of Washington states,

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components.

and,

Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Washington law does provide a small number of specific exemptions to the state firearm preemption statute, but these concern local zoning in relating to firearms dealers, carry in certain municipal buildings, and the discharge of firearms.

Despite the plain language of Washington’s preemption statute, in December 2015 King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson upheld Seattle’s tax. NRA and our allies have appealed the court’s decision, and the case now sits with the Washington State Supreme Court.

In advocating for the tax, Burgess and other supporters of the legislation repeatedly cited figures from the City Budget Office that claimed the tax would raise between $300,000 and $500,000 a year. In an email to the Times this week, Burgess confessed, “During its first year, the firearms and ammunition tax payments received by the City were less than $200,000.” It is not clear how much less than $200,000 the city collected.

According to the Times, to come up with the outlandish $300,000-$500,000 figure, the City Budget Office “obtained the annual number of background checks for gun sales in Washington. Then they looked up what percentage of Washington’s licensed gun dealers were in Seattle and used that to guess the number of firearms sales in the city.” In addition to the fact that its analysis was too rudimentary to offer an accurate estimate of gun sales in Seattle, the budget office appears to have made no attempt to predict the impact the significant tax would have on the behavior of gun dealers and buyers.

Making this projection appear even more ridiculous is that the 2016 tax shortfall occurred in a year that witnessed record gun sales nationally and in the Evergreen State. In 2016, there were 713,996 NICS background checks conducted in Washington, whereas the 2015 total was 502,280. Washingtonians were buying plenty of guns in 2016, but as many predicted when the tax was proposed, not in Seattle. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Why Do American Companies Leave America?

America is the world’s largest economy, and yet many American companies are moving jobs and factories overseas.

Why do large companies based in the U.S. often move jobs and new factories overseas? Because our current tax system often makes doing business in America a losing proposition compared to expanding internationally. So, just how much more expensive is it to build that next factory or hire that next worker in America?

The American Dream has long evoked the idea that the next generation will have a better life than the previous one. Today, many Americans feel that dream is in jeopardy.

Source: PragerU


European Ruling against Apple and Ireland Vindicates Brexit

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The European Union has shown itself to be a compulsory tax cartel.

 writes: Taxation is bad enough: two consenting parties arrange a mutually-beneficial exchange, and an interloping third party demands a cut.

What compounded injustice then for a fourth party to enter the scene: a super-state/super-bandit who insists that the shakedown wasn’t big enough. No, the victim must hand over more to the lesser thief, even against the recipient’s will and in spite of his protest!

Tim Cook

Thou Shalt Not… Not Steal

Ireland must join the rest of the Union in bleeding the private sector dry.

That is what happened today when the European Commission slapped Apple Inc. with a $14.5 billion bill for back taxes, ruling that Ireland had violated European Union rules by taxing the tech company at too low a rate.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

But the Irish government doesn’t want the money! It had promised the low rates decades ago to entice Apple to set up and keep shop in Ireland, bringing the struggling country desperately needed jobs and economic growth. Irish officials are worried that if they renege on that deal, they will risk driving off the geese that lay the golden eggs: Apple, and other businesses as well.

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But no, insists the European super-state: sustainably prudent parasitism is not an option. The Irish government must join the rest of the Union in recklessly bleeding its private sector hosts dry until the whole system collapses under its own dead weight. Read the rest of this entry »


Tax Rates Now & Tax Rates Under Bernie

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Ready to Bail? Here’s the 20 Most Expensive Cities in Asia-Pacific Region for Expats

 


[VIDEO] Our National Obamacare Nightmare 


BREAKING: Chicago Imposes 9% ‘Anime Tax’, Begins Enforcement of Anime Control Act

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[Also see – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Amusement Tax’ for ‘the Privilege of Chewing Gum’]

[More  – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Netflix Tax’]

 


December in New York, 2014

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Where Did Your Tax Dollars Go?

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The Hipster Libertarian


Tweet from Mitt Romney’s Son, to Harry Reid, on Tax Day


Why Both Sides Wrong About The Fiscal Cliff

Don’t buy all the hysteria about what’s over the cliff. Government spending reduces real growth, while tax cuts only work if they’re paired with a strong dollar. Both sides miss the point.

English: Detail from Government. Mural by Elih...

The point? The destruction of the dollar. It undermines the argument on both sides, according to this essay. It’s an oversimplification, but understanding that “GDP” is an absurd measure, invested with false meaning, is a good start. 

Supply-siders and Keynesians don’t agree on much these days, but when it comes to the alleged “fiscal cliff”, both sides are in agreement that jumping off this ledge would bring tragic economic consequences. Though a strong believer in supply-side principles, I believe even more strongly that conventional wisdom is nearly always wrong. It’s wrong here.

Before getting into why the grand assumptions surrounding the fiscal cliff are ridiculous, it’s best to explain why we’ll never reach this ranch-style house “plunge” onto soft ground. We won’t because the incentives that drive politicians ensure a deal.

“Economies are nothing more than a collection of individuals, and when we break the U.S. economy down to the individual, it’s easy to see how wrong the Keynesians are.”

That’s the case because with the economy still limping, very few politicians will want to be on record as having voted to raise rates of taxation. Every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election in 2014, a third of all senators are, and with an eye on re-election they’re not going to vote for large tax increases. At best with taxes, they’ll compromise: lower rates in return for a reduction in economy-distorting tax loopholes.

Considering spending, though it nearly always occurs at the expense of growth, politicians exist to spend our money. That’s what animates them, and it’s true irrespective of party affiliation. The spending of the money of others is to politicians what oxygen is to the rest of us. Because spending is breath to the political class, there’s no way they’d ever allow automatic spending cuts or, “sequestration.” Repeat after me, we’ll never jump off of the “fiscal cliff”, and breathy commentary suggesting we will is written by writers who haven’t a clue about human nature.

“…with policy in favor of dollar devaluation, why commit capital to economy-enhancing ideas if any returns come back in dollars that have shrunken in value?”

Turning to why supply-siders and Keynesians alike are so fearful of the “cliff”, that’s easy too. For Keynesians, they’re deluded by the false belief that government spending is an economic stimulant. Because they are, automatic reductions in spending by the feds would directly subtract from GDP growth.

In an artificially absurd sense, the Keynesians are right. GDP would decline in the very near term amid automatic spending cuts, but all this tells us is that Gross Domestic Product is a worthless number. Governments have no resources, so for governments to spend is for them to tax or borrow limited resources from the private sector that will be consumed in a wasteful ways.

Economies are nothing more than a collection of individuals, and when we break the U.S. economy down to the individual, it’s easy to see how wrong the Keynesians are. Indeed, are you better off when the federal government taxes away your earnings and consumes limited capital that might otherwise fund a future Microsoft? No? Well, you’re the economy.

In short, government spending is an economic retardant. Because it tautologically weighs on economic growth, any reduction in the burden that is government would boost the economy.

Read the rest of this entry »


When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Crony

Too good not to repost. Enjoy!

via Ricochet.com


New book shows U.S. top earners pay larger share of taxes than any other industrialized nation

The United States is actually more dependent on rich people to pay taxes than even many of the more socialized economies of Europe. According to the Tax Foundation, the United States gets 45 percent of its total taxes from the top 10 percent of tax filers, whereas the international average in industrialized nations is 32 percent. America’s rich carry a larger share of the tax burden than do the rich in Belgium 25 percent, Germany 31 percent, France 28 percent, and even Sweden 27 percent.”

Consider what happened each time the U.S. reduced the tax rate significantly:

  • 1920s: The top tax rate fell from 73 percent to 25 percent, yet the rich (in those days, those earning $50,000 and up) went from paying 44.2 percent of the tax burden in 1921 to paying more than 78 percent in 1928.
  • 1960s: President John F. Kennedy slashed the top tax rate from 91 percent to 70 percent. In the ensuing three years, those making more than $50,000 annually saw their tax payments rise by 57 percent, and their share of the tax burden climbed from 11.6 percent to 15.1 percent.
  • 1980s: The Reagan years saw the top rate fall from 70 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 1988. What happened to the rich? The top 1 percent went from shouldering 17.6 percent of the income tax burden in 1981 to paying 27.5 percent of the total in 1988. The top 10 percent saw their share of the burden climb from 48 percent in 1981 to over 57 percent in 1988.

More >> via Washington Times

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America


Poll: 57% Say Obama’s Tax Hikes Will Fund Even Higher Spending, Not Reduce Debt

43% say the weather’s fine on Mars.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters believe that tax increases will fund further spending, according to a new Public Notice survey conducted by a Republican-leaning pollster, The Tarrance Group. That number is even higher among independents, as 60 percent of that voting bloc think Obama wants tax hikes for to increase spending. Obama has convinced a majority (58 percent) of Democrats, though, that he will use taxes to lower the deficit.

This seems pretty important to me. I would say that raising taxes is the centerpiece of Obama’s agenda, but that’s not quite right — a centerpiece implies there are other pieces around the periphery.

I don’t think Obama really has any other policy — he’s just about increasing taxes.

That’s a bad strategy in any campaign, but it seems he’s losing big on his only real plan for a next term.

Via Ace of Spades HQ

 


The IRS Has Gone Rogue

Did Congress intend to offer tax credits through federal exchanges?

A president who says “I haven’t raised taxes” has authorized his Internal Revenue Service issue a “final rule” that will illegally tax some 12 million individuals, plus large employers, in as many as 40 states beginning in 2014. Oklahoma’s attorney general has asked a federal court to block this rule. Members of Congress have introduced legislation in both the House and the Senate to quash it.

At first glance, it might not seem that the IRS is up to anything nefarious. The rule in question concerns the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s tax credits, not the law’s tax increases. The tax credits are intended to offset the cost of insurance premiums for low- and middle-income workers.

For many Americans, however, those tax credits are like an anchor disguised as a life vest. The mere fact that a taxpayer is eligible for a tax credit can trigger tax liabilities against both the taxpayer (under the act’s “individual mandate”) and her employer (under the “employer mandate”). In 2016, these tax credits will trigger a tax of $2,085 on many families of four earning as little as $24,000. An employer with 100 workers could face a tax of $140,000 if even one of his workers is eligible for a tax credit.

“For many Americans, however, those tax credits are like an anchor disguised as a life vest”

So it is significant that the PPACA explicitly and repeatedly restricts eligibility for tax credits to people who purchase health insurance “through an Exchange [i.e., government agency] established by the state” in which they live. That means that under the statute Congress enacted, a state can block those hefty taxes simply by declining to create an exchange. The PPACA directs the federal government to create an exchange in any state that declines to create one itself, and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius estimates she may have to do so in as many as 30 states. (Some experts put the number closer to 40.) However, because the statute withholds tax credits in federal exchanges, the creation of a federal exchange does not trigger tax liabilities. By our count, as many as 12 million low- and middle-income Americans would be exempt from those taxes, including 250,000 Oklahomans.

It is here that the IRS has gone rogue…

More via >> Michael F. Cannon & Jonathan H. Adler – National Review Online.


How Much More Does It Cost to Hire a Federal Bureaucrat?

…Conversely, how much do taxpayers save by eliminating one federal bureaucrat position?

When politicians claim that they will save money by “in-sourcing” federal functions from contractors, or will respond to some new need by expanding the federal workforce, that has a cost to taxpayers. 

How much is that cost?

Read on, via >>  Americans for Tax Reform 


Tocqueville on the 47 Percent

Noting Romney’s “inelegant” comments about the 47% who don’t pay taxes, Powerline turns to the always elegant Alexis de Tocqueville, quoting from his chapter in Book 1:

 CHARGES LEVIED BY THE STATE UNDER THE RULE OF THE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY:

Let us now suppose that the legislative authority is vested in the lowest order: there are two striking reasons which show that the tendency of the expenditures will be to increase, not to diminish.

As the great majority of those who create the laws have no taxable property, all the money that is spent for the community appears to be spent to their advantage, at no cost of their own, and those who have some little property readily find means of so regulating the taxes that they weigh upon the wealthy and profit the poor, although the rich cannot take the same advantage when they are in possession of the government.

In countries in which the poor have the exclusive power of making the laws, no great economy of public expenditure ought to be expected; that expenditure will always be considerable either because the taxes cannot weigh upon those who levy them or because they are levied in such a manner as not to reach these poorer classes. In other words, the government of the democracy is the only one under which the power that votes the taxes escapes the payment of them.

In vain will it be objected that the true interest of the people is to spare the fortunes of the rich, since they must suffer in the long run from the general impoverishment which will ensue. . .

Here we should observe that Tocqueville inclines toward supply-side economics.  To continue:

Again, it may be objected that the poor never have the sole power of making the laws; but I reply that wherever universal suffrage has been established, the majority unquestionably exercises the legislative authority; and if it be proved that the poor always constitute the majority, may it not be added with perfect truth that in the countries in which they possess the elective franchise they possess the sole power of making the laws? It is certain that in all the nations of the world the greater number has always consisted of those persons who hold no property, or of those whose property is insufficient to exempt them from the necessity of working in order to procure a comfortable subsistence. Universal suffrage, therefore, in point of fact does invest the poor with the government of society.

The disastrous influence that popular authority may sometimes exercise upon the finances of a state was clearly seen in some of the democratic republics of antiquity, in which the public treasure was exhausted in order to relieve indigent citizens or to supply games and theatrical amusements for the populace. It is true that the representative system was then almost unknown, and that at the present time the influence of popular passions is less felt in the conduct of public affairs; but it may well be believed that in the end the delegate will conform to the principles of his constituents and favor their propensities as much as their interests.

But then Tocqueville provides the remedy that is missing from Romney’s rhetoric—how opportunity and social mobility, rather than redistribution, is the better road to advancement:

The extravagance of democracy is less to be dreaded, however, in proportion as the people acquire a share of property, because, on the one hand, the contributions of the rich are then less needed, and, on the other, it is more difficult to impose taxes that will not reach the imposers.

via Tocqueville on the 47 Percent | Power Line