A Careful Look at Issues
Aug 30

Tax loopholes are not mistakes. Loopholes are incentives designed into the tax code to encourage behaviors that the government prefers. Home ownership is considered a good thing, so the interest on a home mortgage is a tax deduction. That makes owning a home more affordable, so home ownership is encouraged. The mortgage deduction is a loophole. The pattern of all loopholes is that they cause economic decisions to be altered away from some things and towards others. The tax code has over 60,000 pages, with each loophole designed to favor something deemed good, at least by the Congressman who managed to get the loophole included.

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The debate over raising the debt ceiling has passed, but the debt crisis will be with us for years to come. Unlike news of celebrity meltdowns and notorious crimes, the debt crisis has some tricky points that the press has not well explained. Everyone needs to know about debt ceilings and default and their consequences, taxing the rich, what the people really want (a miracle, of course), and the balanced budget amendment. There never was a danger of default, but the shape of the real problem has been left ill-defined by the press.

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If tax rates on the rich get too high, they may just pick up and move out. There are rich, so they can afford to pick up and move. The same logic applies to rich corporations wishing to escape taxes. In days past, “picking up and moving” meant exactly that, a physical move. Now activities can be moved over the Internet independent of the physical beings.

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