Tax Code Tops 70,000 Pages; ANC Aide Praises Hitler on Jews; Recession Boosts Beer

Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 03:02 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Income Tax Code Now Spans 70,000 Pages
2. Only Three Nations Approve of US Drone Strikes
3. Paying Back Student Loans Easier for Large Debtors
4. South Africa Political Aide: Hitler Was 'Right' About Jews
5. Beer Sales Surged Since Start of Recession
6. 'Training Wage' Could Lift Teen Employment
 

1. Income Tax Code Now Spans 70,000 Pages

"The income tax system in the United States is a sprawling mass of provisions spread across dozens of volumes and has been called everything from a 'disaster' to an 'abomination.'"

That's how the Tax Foundation begins its report "Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns."

The report discloses that it takes Americans up to 7 billion work hours each year to complete the paperwork required by the IRS, and it costs individual and corporate taxpayers more than $165 billion annually to comply with the income tax code.

In 1913, the federal income tax started as four pages of forms and instructions. Today, the tax code spans more than 70,000 pages.

A year before the United States entered World War II, excise taxes on such items as gasoline and cigarettes were the largest source of revenue for the federal government, followed by Social Security payroll taxes, then corporate income taxes.

Today, individual income taxes are the top source of revenue, expected to amount to $1.38 trillion this year, followed by social insurance taxes ($1.02 trillion), corporate income taxes ($380 billion), and excise taxes ($93 billion).

"Contrary to some claims that high-income households are not paying their fair share of income taxes, the average tax rate for the top 1 percent of earners is actually twice what it is for the rest of Americans," the report states.

"While only about 14 percent of taxpayers earn more than $100,000, they pay the vast majority of all income taxes in America today."

About half of all tax filers earn less than $30,000 a year — 26 percent earn less than $15,000, and 21 percent make between $15,000 and 30,000. Just 3 percent of filers earn between $200,000 and $499,000, and only 1 percent make $500,000 or more.

Taxpayers earning less than $100,000 a year account for 18 percent of all income taxes, while those earning more than $100,000 pay more than 80 percent of the taxes.

Those earning $1 million or more annually make 11 percent of all income, but pay 23 percent of income taxes, while those earning between $200,000 and $1 million account for 17 percent of income and 32 percent of income taxes.

Filers making $30,000 or less receive more back from the IRS than they pay in income taxes due to the Earned Income Tax Credit and other preferences. They account for 11 percent of income and minus-6 percent of income taxes paid.

Looked at another way, the top 1 percent of earners pay 37.4 percent of income taxes, the top 10 percent pay 70.6 percent, and the bottom 90 percent pay 29.4 percent.

The bottom 20 percent of earners receive $8.13 in federal spending for every dollar they pay in federal taxes. The top 20 percent receive $0.25.

The Tax Foundation calls the tax code "steeply progressive and highly redistributive."

Editor's Note:



2. Only Three Nations Approve of US Drone Strikes

People around the world overwhelmingly oppose U.S. drone strikes targeting extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, a new poll reveals.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 48,643 individuals in 44 countries and asked if they "Disapprove" or "Approve" of the drone strikes. A majority of respondents in only three nations approve — the United States (52 percent), Israel (65 percent), and Kenya (53 percent), which has suffered terrorist attacks in recent years.

The strongest opposition to the strikes is in Venezuela, where 92 percent disapprove and just 4 percent approve (some respondents neither approve nor disapprove) followed by Jordan (90 percent disapprove), Greece (89 percent), and Nicaragua (88 percent).

A majority of respondents in several strong U.S. allied nations also disapprove of the drone strikes against extremists, including South Korea (75 percent disapprove), Italy (74 percent), France (72 percent), Germany (67 percent), and the United Kingdom (59 percent).

Not surprisingly, just 3 percent of respondents in Pakistan approve of the strikes.

Pew also found that people around the world generally oppose the National Security Agency's surveillance practices. Asked if they consider U.S. monitoring of citizens from their country "Acceptable" or "Unacceptable," 81 percent say it is unacceptable and just 12 percent consider it acceptable.

Sixty-two percent say U.S. monitoring of Americans is unacceptable.

Asked about monitoring of leaders in their country, 73 percent say it is unacceptable.

However, 64 percent of respondents believe that monitoring terrorist suspects is acceptable, and just 29 percent say it is unacceptable.

Despite the unpopularity of U.S. spying and its use of drones, overall ratings for the United States remain mostly popular, Pew reports — 65 percent have a favorable view of America, while 25 percent have an unfavorable view.

The lowest favorable rating in the survey is in Egypt, just 10 percent.

Editor's Note:



3. Paying Back Student Loans Easier for Large Debtors

In a seeming paradox, Americans with low levels of debt due to student loans can face significantly more financial hardship than those with much larger debt loads, an education expert disclosed.

"A borrower with $10,000 in student debt could be in much worse shape than one with $60,000," says Andrew Kelly, founding director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute.

The reason: Those with higher debt levels were more likely to have finished college with a degree and therefore were more likely to land a good job, while those with low levels frequently did not continue their studies and did not get a degree.

Student loan debt in the United States stands at more than $1 trillion, a threefold increase from a decade ago, according to The New York Times.

But Kelly, in an article for Forbes, cites research showing that while debt loads have increased, borrowers were paying about the same percentage of their income toward monthly loan payments in 2010 as they were in the early 1990s.

He also points to other data showing that the probability of experiencing financial hardship was not directly related to the amount of debt owed.

"Instead, the incidence of financial hardship was highest among individuals with low levels of debt (less than $5,000) and those with some college and no degree. High-debt borrowers were often the least financially troubled (because they'd gotten more education)."

Kelly noted that a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last year found that borrowers who defaulted on their student loans actually had a lower average balance compared to those who were actively repaying.

A major problem related to student loans is that they encourage college attendance no matter the cost, the college, or the program, leading the government to subsidize failure.

Kelly observes: "About 37 percent of loan disbursements in the Stafford and Parent PLUS programs (loans for undergraduates) in 2012-2013 went to colleges with six-year graduation rates that were 40 percent or lower. That's a lot of loans to people whose chances of finishing a degree are worse than flipping a coin."

Editor's Note:



4. South African Political Aide: Hitler Was 'Right' About Jews

An aide with the African National Congress, South Africa's ruling party, has drawn sharp rebukes from Jewish groups for an outrageous Facebook post praising Adolf Hitler for the Holocaust.

Rene Smit, a social media manager with the ANC in the Western Cape province, posted an image of Hitler with the comment: "Yes, man, you were right!"

Below Hitler's face were the words: "I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to tell you why I was killing them."

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies wrote to the ANC's secretary-general to protest the post, The Jewish Daily Forward reported.

Wendy Kahn, director of the Board of Deputies, called the post "appalling and upsetting to the Jewish community" and said the ANC should "distance itself from such comments and say it would not work with that volunteer again."

According to the Guardian newspaper, a spokesman for the ANC in Western Cape, Cobus Grobler, said Smit is "not employed by the ANC" and "she assisted in our recent election campaign. Anybody can help us as a volunteer."

Smit later said, amazingly: "I remorsefully removed [the post] immediately once I became aware that it is inappropriate and offensive."

Smit's original post came just days after ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte posted a statement on the ANC's website comparing Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi war crimes.

"As we move toward the month of August and are reminded of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, surely we must ask the people of Israel: Has the term 'lest we forget' lost its meaning?"

The Jewish Board of Deputies called the statement "venomous and insulting."

South Africa's Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein wrote that Duarte's statement was a "hate-filled outburst" and said her "comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany and Gaza to the Holocaust death camps is abhorrent and beyond the pale of civilized discourse. She must be held accountable for her morally repugnant words, which have brought the ANC into disrepute."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center also attacked Duarte.

"The ANC anti-Israel attack is a despicable pack of lies," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center. "With this despicable attack, the ANC is also guilty of desecrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela, the ultimate icon of a freedom fighter."

Jewish settlers began to arrive in South Africa in significant numbers in the 1820s. There were about 75,500 Jews in the nation at the time of the 2001 census.

Editor's Note:



5. Beer Sales Surged Since Start of Recession

A boom period has been brewing in at least one U.S. industry since the beginning of the Great Recession — beer.

From December 2007, when the economy first tanked, until 2012, the number of breweries in the United States rose from 398 to 869, an increase of 118 percent, according to new data released this month by the Census Bureau.

Of the 471 new brewing establishments, 412 are small-scale breweries employing 19 or fewer people.

According to the Census, a brewing establishment is a "single physical location," as opposed to a single brewing company that might operate at multiple locations.

The number of separate companies owning breweries also rose sharply over the five-year period, from 371 to 833.

The value of the products shipped from U.S. breweries surged from about $21.2 billion to $28.3 billion, a rise of 33.6 percent.

And the number of people employed by breweries rose 17.2 percent to 26,077.

Employment at wineries also rose from the start of the recession, from 33,390 in 2007 to 37,602 in 2012.

Data on beer and wine sales is contained in the Census Bureau's Economic Census, which is conducted every five years and "provides a comprehensive and detailed profile of the U.S. economy, covering millions of businesses and representing more than 1,000 industries," according to the Bureau.

The Economic Census offers some intriguing figures on other American industries. For instance, there are 98 companies making burial caskets, employing 3,494 people; 14 companies in the beet sugar manufacturing field, employing 6,214 people; and 308 companies in the "ice manufacturing" industry.

There are also 211 companies selling roasted nuts and peanut butter, 133 hosiery and sock mills, 179 companies making brooms, brushes and mops, 362 mattress manufacturers, 341 firms making blinds and shades, and 29 creamery butter manufacturers.

The Census indicates that there are no buggy-whip companies in America.

Editor's Note:



6. 'Training Wage' Could Lift Teen Employment

Setting a minimum wage for teenagers below the current minimum wage could boost teen employment at a time when rising minimums are pricing them out of the workforce, according to Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation.

Nearly half of U.S. states have enacted minimum wages above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, and Seattle has raised its minimum to $15 an hour.

But when the federal minimum wage was last raised, in three stages in 2007 and 2008, the national teen unemployment rate nearly doubled.

Unemployment was up for every age group due to the recession, but the rate for teens rose even faster than for other groups.

"A minimum wage of $10 an hour, as the Obama administration wants, slams the employment door shut on workers [who] aren't worth this amount because they have few on-the-job skills and almost no experience," Moore writes in an article that originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

"Wouldn't it be better for kids to have a job that pays $5 or $6 an hour than no job at all? Let's help every young American who wants a job get one by setting a federal teen minimum wage of $5 an hour. Call it a training wage."

This would boost teen employment and teach them vital job skills at a young age, Moore asserts, adding: "The first job can be the hardest one to get, and when we raise the minimum wage, we make that job search all the more difficult."

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