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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:56 pm
 


DanSC wrote:
If one wants to look at how sales taxes would work in the States, just look at the many states and municipalities that have sales taxes.
If there was a federal sales tax, do you think state and local jurisdictions would lose sales tax revenue from folks buying less stuff?

----------------------------------------
Caelon, not everyone spends the same percentage of their income which affects how much of their income goes to taxes. Here, I'll make a visual example. Below, periods [......] indicate tax exempt purchase, colons [:::::] indicate taxed purchases, and underlines [____] indicate unspent income, including savings and investments. Let's say each character stands for $5k/year of income.

A poor person would spend almost all of their income, and mostly on tax-exempt necessities.
[..:] ($15k/year, $5k taxable, 33% of income taxed)

For the keeping-up-with-the-Jonses rat-race type of person would spend only a little more on necessities and a lot more on taxed luxuries.
[....::::::] ($50k/year, $30k taxable, 60% of income taxed)

But an investor-type who is all about investments and returns can buy all the necessities and luxuries they want and still not pay as great a proportion of their income as the rat-racer.
[...........::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::_________________________________________________]
($500k/year, $200k taxable, 40% of income taxed)

The effect would be more apparent for folks who make much, much more (like hundreds of millions per year), but that would be awkward to type here.

Sure, the rich pay more in such a tax plan, but not a larger portion of their income. According to the very reasonable principle of progressive taxation, there is less impact from losing a given percentage of your income if the dollar amount of your income is greater. Equality dictates that the impact from taxation should be roughly equal for all taxpayers. Not the dollar amount, not the percentage, but the impact. That means proper taxation sends higher proportions of income to taxes for higher income levels.

No sales tax scheme can handle the investor types because they're not buying things. It requires some combination of income taxes and capital gains taxes to address that rich investor class.

It should be noted that income, sales, and investments are all things that are good for the economy (ditto for tariffs and international trade), so discouraging those behaviors with high taxes can be detrimental to economic growth. Some moderate level is fine, but not so high as to make those behaviors discouragingly expensive.

This whole issue becomes less relevant if we cut spending.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:01 pm
 


Psudo wrote:
If there was a federal sales tax, do you think state and local jurisdictions would lose sales tax revenue from folks buying less stuff?

I think so. I always thought that the Feds and the States/municipalities should tax different things to minimize such an effect, except for maybe the gas tax.


Last edited by DanSC on Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:01 pm
 


Psudo wrote:
If there was a federal sales tax, do you think state and local jurisdictions would lose sales tax revenue from folks buying less stuff?

----------------------------------------
Caelon, not everyone spends the same percentage of their income which affects how much of their income goes to taxes. Here, I'll make a visual example. Below, periods [......] indicate tax exempt purchase, colons [:::::] indicate taxed purchases, and underlines [____] indicate unspent income, including savings and investments. Let's say each character stands for $5k/year of income.

A poor person would spend almost all of their income, and mostly on tax-exempt necessities.
[..:] ($15k/year, $5k taxable, 33% of income taxed)

For the keeping-up-with-the-Jonses rat-race type of person would spend only a little more on necessities and a lot more on taxed luxuries.
[....::::::] ($50k/year, $30k taxable, 60% of income taxed)

But an investor-type who is all about investments and returns can buy all the necessities and luxuries they want and still not pay as great a proportion of their income as the rat-racer.
[...........::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::_________________________________________________]
($500k/year, $200k taxable, 40% of income taxed)

The effect would be more apparent for folks who make much, much more (like hundreds of millions per year), but that would be awkward to type here.

1. Sure, the rich pay more in such a tax plan, but not a larger portion of their income. According to the very reasonable principle of progressive taxation, there is less impact from losing a given percentage of your income if the dollar amount of your income is greater. Equality dictates that the impact from taxation should be roughly equal for all taxpayers. Not the dollar amount, not the percentage, but the impact. That means proper taxation sends higher proportions of income to taxes for higher income levels.

No sales tax scheme can handle the investor types because they're not buying things. It requires some combination of income taxes and capital gains taxes to address that rich investor class.

2. It should be noted that income, sales, and investments are all things that are good for the economy (ditto for tariffs and international trade), so discouraging those behaviors with high taxes can be detrimental to economic growth. Some moderate level is fine, but not so high as to make those behaviors discouragingly expensive.

This whole issue becomes less relevant if we cut spending.


Bold mine.

1. True, but aren't investments already taxed, or the income one gains from them? They are up here. Would that not count as an unfair tax on the rich when the lower and middle classes don't regularly drop millions into investments? Would make things a bit more even again if you ask me.

2. Currently the GST is at 5%, it was at 7%. Personally, I think 7% was the best level where you got the most amount of income, but others disagree. Regardless, 5-7% of a purchase is not a huge amount, it's hardly noticable. Only when you get into double digits does it become a pain. 5% is only an extra 5 bucks on a 100 dollar restaurant tab. You give more then that in tips normally. 5% is an extra 50 bucks for a 1000 dollar computer. It's not really a big deal, but it can lead to a huge amount of income for the government.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:00 pm
 


Canadian_Mind wrote:
aren't investments already taxed, or the income one gains from them?
Yes, it's called capital gains tax.

We're either talking about an incremental change to the current environment, where state and local sales taxes would conflict with federal sales taxes and broadening the tax base is better accomplished by eliminating tax credits, or we're talking about the Goods & Services Tax in the abstract, in which case I'm offering a pro-and-con analysis as best I can.

While we're on the subject of pro-and-cost analyses, the capital gains tax is a great way to disproportionately tax the richest and their cash transactions with the largest volumes but it's a challenge to regulate it in such a way that it doesn't discourage middle-class savings accounts like retirement. I imagine 2 or 3 point increase in capital gains tax would usefully increase revenues and wouldn't require folks to change how they do paperwork.

Canadian_Mind wrote:
5% is only an extra 5 bucks on a 100 dollar restaurant tab. You give more then that in tips normally.
Heh, are you suggesting that a sales tax increase would hurt tips?

Overall, you're right, it's no a huge deal. It's a completely workable taxation system (obviously, since it's implemented and working in Canada). I'm not universally against a GST, it's just not my favorite cure for deficits.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:38 pm
 


The HST is when the GST is combined with the PST which is like combining with a state sales tax. Here the feds offer an incentive to do it, plus the administration is far easier for business.
It's supposed to promote lower prices and more jobs through those savings, increased revenues (in BC the tax is now on more things but they've also promised to drop it from 12% to 10% combined)
Supposed to is the operative word.
I haven't been to Washington State for over 10 years, but I seem to remember their sales tax being quite a bit higher and on more things than the BC sales tax at the time.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:53 pm
 


Psudo wrote:
Canadian_Mind wrote:
aren't investments already taxed, or the income one gains from them?
Yes, it's called capital gains tax.

We're either talking about an incremental change to the current environment, where state and local sales taxes would conflict with federal sales taxes and broadening the tax base is better accomplished by eliminating tax credits, or we're talking about the Goods & Services Tax in the abstract, in which case I'm offering a pro-and-con analysis as best I can.

While we're on the subject of pro-and-cost analyses, the capital gains tax is a great way to disproportionately tax the richest and their cash transactions with the largest volumes but it's a challenge to regulate it in such a way that it doesn't discourage middle-class savings accounts like retirement. I imagine 2 or 3 point increase in capital gains tax would usefully increase revenues and wouldn't require folks to change how they do paperwork.

Canadian_Mind wrote:
5% is only an extra 5 bucks on a 100 dollar restaurant tab. You give more then that in tips normally.
Heh, are you suggesting that a sales tax increase would hurt tips?

Overall, you're right, it's no a huge deal. It's a completely workable taxation system (obviously, since it's implemented and working in Canada). I'm not universally against a GST, it's just not my favorite cure for deficits.


Thanks for the info.

And no, I'm not suggesting taking it out of a waitresses tips. I'm just saying that if someone has no issue coughing up 10-25% of the bill on top of the bill for a tip, then a 5% tax would be an insignificant amount of influence on a persons spending habits.

At worst, if a person has 1000 in spending money a month after necessities and bills, and they spend it all on services. Thih gives the government 10% return on whatever is taxed in the process during the economic trickle-down effect, so 100 dollars. You tax this person 5% on these services, which would amount to 1050 dollars in spending. If he/she doesn't have the extra 50, then they have to cut back. Just for the sake of easy math, lets say to 950 per month. So now, the government still gets 10% revenue from the economic trickle down effect, or 95 dollars, plus approximately 47.50 from the 5% sales tax. So overall, you're making 142.50 from the same 1000, where before you were only making 100, and the overall impact on sales in negligible.

I don't actually know how all the diferent tax rates come into play, but I am curious to see (and show) what it would be if government revenues were 15, 20, 25, etc. Hell. if there comes a point where a sales tax would nullify the gains or even result in loses, then I suppose it nullifies my argument.

15%; 1000 = 150, 950 = 142.50 + 47.50 = $190
20%; 1000 = 200, 950 = 190 + 47.50 = $237.50
25%; 1000 = 250, 950 = 212.50 + 47.50 = $260
30%; 1000 = 300, 950 = 285 + 47.50 = $332.50

Eventually, if the government got 100% revenues from that 1000 dollars, then with a sales tax they'd be breaking even. Because whether they got 100% of 1000, or 100% of 950 plus the 5% tax, they'd still be getting 1000 back (well, 997.50, but that's because of the rounding error when I originally took the full 50 dollars off the 1000, in reality it'd be something like $952.40 spent and $47.60 from sales tax).

There would come a point where sales taxes would actually discourage someone from spending, but that would then form a laffer curve (however the hell you spell it.) And the trick would be to find the best average point on the curve between the federal tax and all the different state taxes. A recession is the wrong time to do this, yes. But if you guys have to bail yourselves out again, once you're back on your feet would be the perfect opportunity to implement a federal sales tax for the purpose of eliminating the deficit and paying down your national debt.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:06 pm
 


herbie wrote:
I haven't been to Washington State for over 10 years, but I seem to remember their sales tax being quite a bit higher and on more things than the BC sales tax at the time.
I bet taxes are consistently higher in Washington. Washington has one of the larger state debts, and, being a blue state, generally shares your view of what to do about it. They also seem to be worrying about the Fed passing their budget woes down to the state level like we were predicting a federal sales tax might do.

Canadian_Mind wrote:
I'm not suggesting taking it out of a waitresses tips. I'm just saying that if someone has no issue coughing up 10-25% [...] for a tip, then a 5% tax would be an insignificant amount of influence on a persons spending habits.
Some folks'll go out to eat a little less often or buy a slightly cheaper dish or tip slightly worse. But you're right that a 5% tax probably won't make a worrisome difference. It just made me chuckle, is all.

I'm having a little difficulty following your math, though. The arithmetic is fine, but I don't understand what it proves. I think I'm missing one of the assumptions you put into it. I'll try to imitate your model from my perspective and maybe I'll stumble onto the response you're looking for.

I'm thinking that if 100 people each had a budget that included $1000 a month for taxed luxuries, you can model what their decision looks like pretty easily. Figuring whether they would still buy or not isn't so easy. We could estimate that the same percentage of people would decide not to buy as the tax rate since it's true at taxes = 0 and not a lot of folks are looking to pay double, but in between it's a really, really rough estimate that is more about demonstrating the concept than accurately measuring it, but bear with me a moment.

$1000 is the price after taxes, so the price before taxes is $1000 / (1 + tax_rate). The rest of the $1000 goes to taxes. I've rounded to the nearest dollar.

10%; $1000 = $909 in goods ... $_91 in taxes * 90 people buying = $_8,190 in tax revenue
20%; $1000 = $833 in goods ... $167 in taxes * 80 people buying = $13,360 in tax revenue
30%; $1000 = $769 in goods ... $231 in taxes * 70 people buying = $16,170 in tax revenue
40%; $1000 = $714 in goods ... $286 in taxes * 60 people buying = $17,160 in tax revenue
50%; $1000 = $667 in goods ... $333 in taxes * 50 people buying = $16,650 in tax revenue
60%; $1000 = $625 in goods ... $375 in taxes * 40 people buying = $15,000 in tax revenue
70%; $1000 = $588 in goods ... $412 in taxes * 30 people buying = $12,360 in tax revenue
80%; $1000 = $556 in goods ... $444 in taxes * 20 people buying = $_8,880 in tax revenue
90%; $1000 = $526 in goods ... $474 in taxes * 10 people buying = $_4,740 in tax revenue

This puts the optimum tax rate for revenues in the lower 40s (41.42%). But, as I already admitted, the count of people buying is a wild guess. To judge what direction it needs to go to be accurate consider the question "Would I buy that value of goods for $1000? How many people would?" I remember all the stories about gadgets with sluggish sales and price is almost always a factor. The iPad 2 starts at $500; would half of people still buy it if it were $750 after tax? It seems clear to me that the revenue curve peaks earlier because people hold their money tighter than the above model suggests, especially since people aren't getting a better 3DS or Audi for the extra money.

Even if the revenue-optimal tax rate is definitively known, is that the best tax rate for a government to impose? It leaves no room to look for more in an emergency, and it impedes private transactions in a way that is arguably an unnecessary impediment to freedom of choice.

Anyway, you did spell Laffer curve correctly. If it looks wrong, maybe that's because "Laffer" is a name, so it should be capitalized.

[Edit: bad phrasing, added iPad 2 refenerence.]


Last edited by Psudo on Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:20 pm
 


Psudo wrote:
Heh, are you suggesting that a sales tax increase would hurt tips?


One handy thing about GST at 5% is that it makes it very easy to calculate the tip;

Cheap bastards: 1-2 times the GST
Average tipper: 3 times GST
Generous tipper: 4 times the GST

With 7% it was easy too, just double it for a decent tip, while great tippers gave three times GST. Of course, that usually meant cheapos only gave 1 times GST, but what can you do?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:26 pm
 


raydan wrote:
Who's cares if we pay more... we live in Canada.
That makes up for everything.


And no, I'm not being sarcastic. :D


I fully endorse this sentiment.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:42 pm
 


mentalfloss wrote:
raydan wrote:
Who's cares if we pay more... we live in Canada.
That makes up for everything.


And no, I'm not being sarcastic. :D


I fully endorse this sentiment.

I'm getting endorsed almost 4 months after the post... :?



WTF took you so long? :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:25 pm
 


Psudo wrote:
Some folks'll go out to eat a little less often or buy a slightly cheaper dish or tip slightly worse. But you're right that a 5% tax probably won't make a worrisome difference. It just made me chuckle, is all.

I'm having a little difficulty following your math, though. The arithmetic is fine, but I don't understand what it proves. I think I'm missing one of the assumptions you put into it. I'll try to imitate your model from my perspective and maybe I'll stumble onto the response you're looking for.

I'm thinking that if 100 people each had a budget that included $1000 a month for taxed luxuries, you can model what their decision looks like pretty easily. Figuring whether they would still buy or not isn't so easy. We could estimate that the same percentage of people would decide not to buy as the tax rate since it's true at taxes = 0 and not a lot of folks are looking to pay double, but in between it's a really, really rough estimate that is more about demonstrating the concept than accurately measuring it, but bear with me a moment.

$1000 is the price after taxes, so the price before taxes is $1000 / (1 + tax_rate). The rest of the $1000 goes to taxes. I've rounded to the nearest dollar.

10%; $1000 = $909 in goods ... $_91 in taxes * 90 people buying = $_8,190 in tax revenue
20%; $1000 = $833 in goods ... $167 in taxes * 80 people buying = $13,360 in tax revenue
30%; $1000 = $769 in goods ... $231 in taxes * 70 people buying = $16,170 in tax revenue
40%; $1000 = $714 in goods ... $286 in taxes * 60 people buying = $17,160 in tax revenue
50%; $1000 = $667 in goods ... $333 in taxes * 50 people buying = $16,650 in tax revenue
60%; $1000 = $625 in goods ... $375 in taxes * 40 people buying = $15,000 in tax revenue
70%; $1000 = $588 in goods ... $412 in taxes * 30 people buying = $12,360 in tax revenue
80%; $1000 = $556 in goods ... $444 in taxes * 20 people buying = $_8,880 in tax revenue
90%; $1000 = $526 in goods ... $474 in taxes * 10 people buying = $_4,740 in tax revenue

This puts the optimum tax rate for revenues in the lower 40s (41.42%). But, as I already admitted, the count of people buying is a wild guess. To judge what direction it needs to go to be accurate consider the question "Would I buy that value of goods for $1000? How many people would?" I remember all the stories about gadgets with sluggish sales and price is almost always a factor. The iPad 2 starts at $500; would half of people still buy it if it were $750 after tax? It seems clear to me that the revenue curve peaks earlier because people hold their money tighter than the above model suggests, especially since people aren't getting a better 3DS or Audi for the extra money.

Even if the revenue-optimal tax rate is definitively known, is that the best tax rate for a government to impose? It leaves no room to look for more in an emergency, and it impedes private transactions in a way that is arguably an unnecessary impediment to freedom of choice.

Anyway, you did spell Laffer curve correctly. If it looks wrong, maybe that's because "Laffer" is a name, so it should be capitalized.

[Edit: bad phrasing, added iPad 2 refenerence.]


Oh, I was more concerned about how much of the $1000 goes to the government through various sources. Examples being income taxes from the wages, fuel taxes from shipping, any sort of tariffs from importing, etc. So in your chart, the 41.42% ratio would lead to the most revenue from a service tax. But now, how would it affect the revenue stream from the actual goods purchased? With almost half the services being provided no longer being paid for, how many jobs would be lost, hence less people able to make purchases, so less purchases, meaning even less people, etc. etc. etc.

This is why I think a modest 5-7% would be the best. Following your model, most businesses and services should be able to survive a 5-7% drop in sales and services provided, with minimal impact on workers (maybe a slight wage/hours cut, couple people out of 100 laid off, etc). No it does not provide the most sales tax, but would it provide the best overall revenue stream?

Say the government gets 20% revenue from sales through income taxes of workers, fuel taxes, tariffs, etc, before a sales tax. I'm going to see if I can modify your formula a bit...

0%; $1000 = $1000 in goods * 0 = $0 in taxes
$0 in taxes * 100 buying = $0 in tax revenue
$100 000 in sales * .20 = $20 000 in other revenue
$0 + $20 000 = $20 000 in total government revenue, $80 000 returned to economy, $0 saved/unspent

10%; $1000 = $909 in goods
$909 * 90 people buying = $ 81 810 in sales
$81 810 in sales * .10 = $8 181 in tax revenue
$81 810 in sales * .20 = $16 362 in other revenue
$8 181 + $16 362 = $24 543 in total revenue, $65 448 returned to economy, $10 009 saved/unspent

20%; $1000 = $833 in goods
$833 * 80 people buying = $66 640 in sales
$66 640 in sales * .20 = $13 328 in tax revenue
$66 640 in sales * .20 = $13 328 in other revenue
$13 328 + $13 328 = $26 656 in total revenue, $53 312 returned to economy, $20 032 saved/unspent

30%; $1000 = $769 in goods
$769 * 70 people buying = $53 830 in sales
$53 830 in sales * .30 = $16 149 in tax revenue
$53 830 in sales * .20 = $10 766 in other revenue
$16 149 + $10 766 = $26 915 in total revenue, $43 064 returned to economy, $30 021 saved/unspent

40%; $1000 = $714 in goods
$714 * 60 people buying = $42 840in sales
$42 840 * .40 = $17 136 in tax revenue
$42 840 * .20 = $8 568 in other revenue
$17 136 + $8 568 = $ 25 704 in total revenue, $34 272 returned to economy, $40 024 saved/unspent

50%; $1000 = $667 in goods
$667 * 50 people buying = $33 350 in sales
$33 350 * .50 = $16 675 in tax revenue
$33 350 * .20 = $6 670 in other revenue
$16 675 + $6 670 = $23 345 in total revenue, $26 680 returned to economy, $49 975 saved/unspent

From this, it turns out that because you are now cutting into other government revenues when you increase service taxes, the ideal level drops significantly. I don't have a scientific calculator handy, but I'd guess somewhere in-between 20-30%. Something else to note, however, is the amount of money returning to the economy, and the amount of money unspent. In the first figure, with 0% sales taxes, we still only have an 80% return to our little economic community. The other 20% has to come from elsewhere. say half comes from exports of goods, and half comes from the government (the other 10% goes towards who knows what), giving us $100 000 total, and 100 people happily employed and shopping.

But as you go down, revenue goes down, and even if the government returned half the taxes to the economy, and exports were increased to match this, there is still that unspent money. This is kinda like the situation the government is in right now, but without the sales taxes. How would a reduced amount of money going into the economy effect jobs, how many would be lost, etc? This would in turn effect the amount of money being spent, and it would be a re-circulating issue. I actually don't know if a point of equilibrium would be reached or not. I think at lower tax levels, like 5% there would be, but at higher levels, not so much. but again, I'm not 100% sure, and I'm hoping you could do the calculations for that, if you're willing.

It wouldn't be a problem if people spent all their excess money, or the savings could be taxed in another fashion, but unfortunately that isn't always the case. The government can't really spend money to make money, cause that's what you guys have already been doing. What has to be done is the export side of things has to become more competitive. You guys have to buy more american within your own country to keep the monies in, and sell more american abroad to bring dollars. One easy way to do this is to devalue your dollar.

Doing this, in conjunction with raising taxes, will bring you guys out of the hole, and you'll start having surpluses again.

Unfortunately, looking at this, it makes it clearer to me that unless America can find a way to produce shit of better quality than china, and cheaper prices then china, the only way out is a massive amount of inflation/devaluing of your dollar, more efficient taxes, and reduced government spending. Exactly what Canada and Australia went through in the 90s.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:06 pm
 


You must live in the land of big tippers. They're so cheap here they squeak when they walk.
My old lady just about quit the bar when the tip for a birthday party for 30 people was a whole $6.00. And that was the week before Christmas.
Whenever we go out I end up calling a friend a cheap fuck, they all seem to round off the bill and leave the poor waitress with a loonie and somthing...


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:26 pm
 


Wow, I usually tip 20%, up or down depending on service...


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:13 am
 


Canadian_Mind wrote:
Wow, I usually tip 20%, up or down depending on service...
Same here. 20% if service is good.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:59 am
 


I would think what matters is the difference in the price of goods. Yesterday I paid $3.89 for a loaf of ordinary (big Bakery) whole wheat bread. I'm betting that no where in the US is the price of bread this high.


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