• Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:05 PM
    No, I was addressing your false assumption that the Constitution is biblical. Compare the First Amendment's protection of free exercise of religion (note: not free exercise of only Christianity or Judeo-Christian religion) to the following: And the 8th Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment contradicts the many death sentences mandated by the Bible, including striking or cursing a parent (Exodus 21:15, 17), being a rebellious child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), adultery with a married woman (Leviticus 20:10), and working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2).
    20 replies | 329 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:19 PM
    Recognition may not be promotion, but any official preference is an establishment and would likely also violate Equal Protection. Do you honestly think, for example, that the government could constitutionally grant tax exemptions only to Christian churches and universities and to no other religious establishments? Do you really want government bureaucrats making religious determinations ("Gee, Herb, I don't think this church is sufficiently Christian, so I guess it doesn't get .")? Incidentally, if you think the Barnette case was wrong you should take time to read it. It is probably the most well-written SCOTUS decision in history and certainly the most libertarian. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/319/624.html
    20 replies | 329 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:02 PM
    That's what the Establishment Clause means. It certainly didn't mean that Christianity could be designated the official religion of the country. Yet they didn't enshrine Christianity into a preferred position but rather prohibited all religious tests for federal offices. In discussing this prohibition in the debate of the North Carolina Convention on the adoption of the Constitution, James Iredell, later a Justice of the Supreme Court, said: ". . . t is objected that the people of America may, perhaps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for?" Another delegate pointed out that the prohibition "leaves religion on the solid foundation of its own inherent validity, without any connection with temporal authority; and no kind of oppression can take place." The last thing any believer should want is for the government -- whether federal, state, or local -- to use its power to promote any specific religious belief. Those who wish to do so implicitly admit the weakness of their religion to appeal to men's minds.
    20 replies | 329 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:44 PM
    Just the opposite. The Constitution explicitly prohibits any religious test for federal offices, and the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from establishing or giving official preference to any religion (not just a particular Christian sect) or from restricting the free exercise of religion. The First Amendment's prohibitions also apply to the States via the 14th Amendment. In fact, you might want to consider that the First Amendment allows one to be a polytheist, atheist, Muslim, Zoroastrian, or Hindu, all of which are capital offenses in the Bible. All of these provisions are unconstitutional. See Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1960), invalidating Maryland's constitution's provision that any public official must profess a belief in God. Although this is from a case dealing with a slightly different subject, it encapsulates the meaning of freedom of thought against governmental orthodoxy:
    20 replies | 329 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-18-2018, 01:31 PM
    It's only a small step from the generator to the Sokal Hoax. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair
    12 replies | 206 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-16-2018, 01:24 PM
    This test would never be carried out in real life, but let's do a thought experiment: you have 100 people who are suffering from a disease that, if not treated, will likely lead to death but historically there has been a 99.9% survival rate if the disease is treated. You treat 50 with the most up-to-date medical care, while the other 50 are prayed over. Which group do you think will have the largest survival rate? This may not be the Invisible vs. Visible Hand dichotomy you had in mind, but it's in keeping with the Elijah story.
    27 replies | 785 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-12-2018, 01:37 PM
    If you'd read my post #206, you'd see the answer to some of these questions. It's clear you don't know the proper accounting principles that are used to arrive at net profit -- e.g., you can't deduct all your outlays; you must capitalize some of them. You also don't get to deduct value -- you deduct cost. What did your time cost you? Nothing. The costs for the necessities of life aren't attributable solely to your earning pay-for-work, so you need some rule to allocate them between the time you are working and the time you aren't. In addition, many of these costs are capital outlays and as such can't be deducted currently but must be capitalized. The Reading case addresses your cost-of-goods sold argument. The only thing I agree with you is the bit about commuting expenses. I think they should be deductible. But the law has never allowed a deduction for such expenses unless they are incurred "away from home", meaning out of town. But even then they were deductible only to the extent that they exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income. But under the new law none of such out-of-town commuting expenses are deductible.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-10-2018, 07:46 AM
    No, you weren't specific at all. You simply listed a bunch of deductions specifically geared to actors that have little to do with the average wage earner. It's clear you don't have the necessary background in elementary economics and accounting to begin to address this issue.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-09-2018, 08:05 AM
    OK, what are the "necessary expenses and outlays"? Be very specific and keep in mind that what I said earlier about capitalization vs. deduction and allocating expenses between earning pay-for-work and other activities (e.g., leisure). It's not simple at all. See above. With the exception of a capitation tax with no exemptions, the selection of any tax base will favor some over others. Under your preferred system importers and producers of items subject to excises (e.g., luxuries) will be the losers and domestic producers of items that would be subject to tariffs if imported will be the winners. And you're incredibly naÔve if you think the selection of the taxable items won't be influenced by those who are well connected to the Washington sewer rats.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-08-2018, 02:17 PM
    Like it or not, it is a tax question. In your own words, "My question is to explore how a working person is to calculate a taxable profit or gain from gross receipts derived from their labor". In order to calculate "taxable profit", you need to know what should be deducted. The Code is quite clear -- wages are includable in gross income in full, and no deductions for personal living expenses are permitted. But let's look at your post 189: The attempt to offset wage income by a cost of goods sold deduction is addressed in the Reading case I cited. But you have an additional misunderstanding of the economics of the situation. Capital outlays aren't currently deductible but must be capitalized and written off through depreciation or amortization deductions over time.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-07-2018, 04:48 PM
    Yes, and it has repeatedly held that compensation for work is income, period. But in one sense it's really not important whether pay-for-work is"gain", because its receipt can still be taxed. More important, the IRC clearly includes pay-for-work in gross income (IRC Section 61(a)(1)), so it's part of the tax base in any event. Let me give you an example of something that's not income in any way, shape, or form but that is treated as income under the IRC and is therefore taxable. Suppose you want to help out a family member who wants to start a business or buy a house. You agree to loan him $100,000 and because he's family you agree that you won't charge him any interest. In other words, you are intentionally declining to receive interest. This scenario used to involve no adverse tax consequences. But then two things happened: first, the Supreme Court held that the failure to charge interest constituted a gift from the lender to the borrower, resulting in the lender's having made a taxable gift. This makes sense because the lender is clearly bestowing an economic benefit on the borrower. This was followed later on by the enactment of IRC Section 7872, which treats the making of a loan with below-market interest as if the borrower really paid the foregone interest to the lender, who then turned around and transferred the interest to the borrower as a gift. In other words, the lender has to recognize the foregone interest as income, even though he never received anything and had no "gain". But how can this be? How can the lender be taxed on phantom income he never received? Because in reality the tax is an excise on the making of a below market loan, and the measure of the tax is the foregone interest.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-07-2018, 01:55 PM
    Wages, without any deductions, have always been included in income, even as far back as the 1861 income tax. The authority to impose an income tax comes from I.8.1 and not the 16th Amendment (which was enacted to authorize the imposition of an unapportioned income tax on investment income). Indeed, Congress has the power to impose a tax on things that aren't income at all. Most excises tax events or transactions -- for example, the gift tax taxes the gratuitous transfer of property during lifetime, while the estate tax taxes the transfer of property at death. Congress could certainly impose an excise in the form of a gross receipts tax if it wanted to. A tax on wages can be viewed as an excise in the form of a gross receipts tax. In other words, if the gratuitous transfer of property can be taxed, then so can a transfer of property for a consideration. A sales tax is a tax on the transfer of property for a consideration, and the only theoretical difference between it and a tax on wages is that in the latter case the liability falls on the recipient. But there's nothing that says the recipient can't be taxed -- inheritance taxes, for example, fall on the recipient, not on the estate. Moreover, if the donor of a gift fails to pay the gift tax, the donee is liable. So there's no constitutional issue in taxing wages without permitting any offsetting deductions, just as there is no issue in denying certain deductions for business-related activities.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-06-2018, 02:28 PM
    You really should read the law and educate yourself. Start with IRC Section 274, which includes various restrictions on the deductibility of entertainment expenses, including limiting the deduction for food and entertainment expenses to only one-half of the cost and completely disallowing any deduction for lavish food and beverage expenses. Deductions are matters of legislative grace. The only exception is that a producer or seller of goods may deduct its cost of goods sold before arriving at gross income. Some wage earners have argued that they should be allowed to deduct their living expenses as an analogue to cost of goods sold, but aside from a specific statutory disallowance of deducting personal living expenses (see IRC Section 262), the analogy is misplaced:
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-04-2018, 02:31 PM
    I don't see anything in Federalist 30 that suggests that an apportioned tax would be the default rule to be used to meet a deficiency. Just the opposite: "Its future necessities admit not of calculation or limitation; and upon the principle, more than once adverted to, the power of making provision for them as they arise ought to be equally unconfined…" Hamilton's distrust of requisitions (which differ little as a practical matter from direct taxes upon the States) is pointed out in Federalist 30, but a more glaring flaw lies in the timing gap between the federal government's need for revenue and the time it would take for the States to come up with their shares. States with no income tax may find it necessary to enact one, and the resistance to such a proposal could easily cause a delay (or complete failure) in enacting it. Even those States with existing income tax systems could experience legislative deadlock in determining whether to raise income taxes or to seek another way to raise the needed revenue. The point is that there will inevitable be a gap between the time Congress passes a direct tax and the time the Treasury receives the money. In the interim, the federal government would either have to divert money from certain programs (as pointed out by Hamilton) or engage in borrowing, thereby increasing the interest on the national debt and compounding the deficiency. Others have pointed out the mammoth increase in consumption taxes that would be necessary if the income tax were eliminated, and the squabbles in the state legislatures on how to meet a direct tax bill would pale in comparison with the fight in Congress on what articles or transactions would be subject to a consumption tax. Increase the gasoline tax? The oil and gas interests would scream. Impose a stock transfer tax? The capital markets would have a stroke. Impose a tax on the internet? No aye vote gets reelected. Relying on consumption taxes has the inevitable result of increasing prices for the objects of the tax, thereby increasing the demand for foreign goods and putting domestic producers at a comparative disadvantage. Attempting to cure this via tariffs simply results in a trade war that does nothing to solve the problem. As I mentioned before, there's no reason to think that a tax plan that might have worked for a nation with 3.6 million people would cut it for one with almost 100 times the population.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-02-2018, 10:08 AM
    Not by relying on consumption taxes. As Hamilton noted in Federalist 30, it is foolish to think that imposts and duties can be relied upon forever, and reliance on the States to supply the revenue deficiency is unworkable.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-01-2018, 12:13 PM
    It has everything to do with your inability to read and understand the taxing clause or to comprehend that your version of the "original tax plan" is completely unworkable in a country of over 300 million.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    01-01-2018, 09:32 AM
    The term "taxes" clearly isn't restricted to duties, imposts, and excises for the simple reason that Congress has the power to impose direct taxes. Whether the term includes something more than direct taxes, duties, imposts, and excises is another matter, although this issue was anticipated over 200 years ago.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    12-26-2017, 09:29 AM
    Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution, authorizing federal taxation - 1787 First federal income tax -- 1861 http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=012/llsl012.db&recNum=340 Unanimous Supreme Court decision upholding its constitutionality - 1880 http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/102/586.html
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    12-24-2017, 10:08 AM
    A tax protester myth. The federal income tax was created 62 years before the Federal Reserve.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    12-24-2017, 10:06 AM
    First of all, state governments don't elect their Congressional Delegations -- the people do, and they aren't about to allow the federal budget to be cut to the bone as your plan would require. Second, Congressional Delegations don't curb their spending habits now, and there's no reason to believe they would do so under your plan.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    12-23-2017, 04:09 PM
    It's not so much a complaint as it is an observation of what would occur with almost 100% certainty under your tax plan.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
  • Sonny Tufts's Avatar
    12-21-2017, 07:56 AM
    But there would be much higher state income taxes, since federal excises wouldn't come close to covering the federal budget, and the states would need to come up with revenue when Congress imposes a direct tax. Since all but a handful of the states already have an income tax system in place, the natural source for the required revenue would be additional income taxes. The notion that the members of Congress (and the people who elect them) would agree to slash federal spending down to the level of the revenue from federal excises is pure fantasy.
    218 replies | 3868 view(s)
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We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two. "At least," as one man said, "there's one advantage about death; it doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
Erwin N. Griswold

Taxes: Of life's two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension.
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