TOM THE DANCING BUG: Lucky Ducky, in "Gimme Shelter"

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH wealthy HoundCo works so hard to get its corporate tax rate down... but poor Lucky Ducky will always finish as Top Dog! GET Tom the Dancing Bug, by @RubenBolling, emailed to you BEFORE publication, every week! All the cool kids are joining the INNER HIVE for early access and extra TtDB content!

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  1. I love TTDB, and this one is spot-on. There’s a narrative that’s been going for decades about how horribly complicated the US tax code is, and how it needs to be simplified. But it’s not actually true.

    For one thing, about 95% of the tax code doesn’t apply to ordinary citizens. It’s corporate taxes, or trusts and estates, or partnerships or whatever.

    Also, a lot of the complexity stems from the complexity of our lives. Should the tax code gouge a single parent as just hard as a single with no kids? Most Americans would say no – but that adds about 10 pages to the code. How should small business owners be taxed? Regardless of the answer, it’s gonna be complicated.

    Finally, every example I have ever seen of “simplifying the tax code” has been a stalking horse for massive tax cuts for the rich, and massive increases for the poor. If there is an exception, I have never seen it. Hood Robin and his merry men.

    1. when it comes to the personal tax code, I think it’s not so much complicated as weird, weird, weird, and it has to do with these ridiculous incentives, we want people who own houses, have kids, are rich, and/or are old to pay less taxes, apart from our regular graduated income tax system.

      Consider this.  Let’s say you make $1Mil per year and I make $50K per year.  Your income is just straight income, you don’t play any games at all.  If you donate $10,000 to charity, in your tax bracket, the federal government will give you $3,960 back when you file taxes (assuming you itemize deductions).  If I donate $10,000, well first of all, I probably can’t even itemize deductions, and second, I get at most, about $2,500 back.  Why is a millionaire’s donation worth more than a less-wealthy person’s?  

      The tax code is full of this stuff, from a tax deduction for millionaires mansions, but no deductions for apartment dwellers paying their rents.  And to me it’s bizarre that if you’re going to take a year off from working, you can save thousands of dollars in taxes by doing it from June to June (across tax years, and depending how much you earn) instead of within a calendar year.

      1. What I find preposterous is the maximum taxable income for Social Security.
        An employee who earns $113,700 will pay a rate of 6.2% or $7049.40.  An employee that earns $10 Million will pay the exact same amount: $7049.40.  That’s absurd, especially since Social Security is chronically underfunded.  If we didn’t cap the maximum Social Security contribution, but let the rate remain steady, Social Security would have no funding problems at all.  The richest people in the US wouldn’t even be affected either, since they’re almost never classified as employees anyway, and earn their pay from contracts instead of salaries or wages.  It would simply extend the tax upward on the well-off, and those making less than or equal to $113,700 a year wouldn’t be affected.  And anyway, if one makes $113,700 a year as an employee, you can live comfortably *anywhere* in the US.  This is excluding the self employed rate, which I assume includes a great deal of small business owners, who get taxed at double the employee rate for Social Security.

        1. I wholeheartedly agree.

          As for the standard deduction, I have the same issue with a few clients every year. If you add up your deductions and they’re not very much, the government gives you a big fat tax deduction for free. But it feels like that makes all your receipts and logs worthless – and it does. Don’t like it? You’re welcome to take the smaller deduction, and pay more tax. But nobody ever chooses that option.

    2. I’m always annoyed at those who complain about the massive tax code as if every one of the thousands of pages applied to every tax payer.  It’s the same way with regulations.  Extreme right / libertarians act as if each and every regulation impacted each and every business.  They get away with it because of laziness in the media as well as peoples’ tendency to a) distrust government and b) be scared of big-sounding numbers.

    1.  Go to hell, commie! If Lucky Ducky wants a strip, he’ll have to get off of the welfare train,  stop being a “Taker,” knuckle down and earn the right to a strip, the way Hollingsworth Hound did.

      Or, well, the way Hollingsworth Hound’s great-grandfather did.

  2. Tax codes are specifically litigated and lobbied for so that financial engineers can create systems of tax dodging schemes, to be employed one after the other, taking the place of any defunct loopholes that government may have tightened.

    But they sure do make a song and dance of ‘complying with the law’ and I’m starting to notice the bullshit is wearing a little thin.

    1. You know, there is another solution.

      Ban paper and metal money as legal tender, store all legal tender electronically in government-owned banks, and do not allow that money to leave the country except by the government’s own purchasing from other countries.

      Basically, go ultra-protectionist combined with total control of all money everywhere in the national system.

      1. As a Spanish guy who makes legal business with American people daily via paypal, I must say I don’t like your idea.

    1. LD pays the same tax rate as the mogul’s company–without having to go through the dance with the IRS!

      Lucky Ducky!

    2. Any strip that features Boss Hound and Lucky Ducky always ends that way.  If you hang out with a certain category of Right Wing Americans (and since I’m a registered Republican, I run across them annoyingly often) you’ll see this behavior in real life – it’s not just comic license.

      Hollingsworth Hound is enraged that he does not pay less taxes than Lucky Ducky, when the born-rich, college-educated Mr. Hound is a “job creator” and “the backbone of America” while born-poor, barely educated Lucky Ducky is clearly a ne’er-do-well, who rarely works (and even when he does, never invests).

      If you look at recent neo-con meme sets, you’ll see one called “skin in the game” where it’s seriously proposed that the poor be taxed heavily, rather than the rich.  Honestly, just google a bit and you’ll see it.  It’s really completely surreal.

      The mathematical incongruity of comparing corporate earnings taxes to consumer sales tax is par for the course, and very much in keeping with the dishonest mathematics used for the “skin in the game” meme.

      1. The “skin in the game” meme is entirely justified, however. It simply isn’t fair that someone who made no income should also get to pay no income tax.

        What ever happened to those shiny days gone by when everybody paid the exact same income tax, and the government kept its grubby paws off our medicare? I want my America back!

        1. Pretty close!  You definitely have the final line down pat; there’s that overtone of clueless, unselfconscious racism.

          Select real quotes from real people:
          Grandmotherly woman: “There was nothing wrong with America taking the land from the Indians – they weren’t doing anything with it.”
          Young auto racing fan: “Yeah, well, anything that is good for the environment is bad for me.”
          Elderly man: “I’m not a racist, I just don’t like Chinese people living in my neighborhood”

          The level of cognitive dissonance in America is generally pretty high, but among the extreme far right it’s just staggering.

          1. Why the hell are you registered Republican? Your opinions put you squarely in the middle of the other party.

          2. I registered Republican to vote against Bush in primaries. Could be similar reasoning here.

          3. Well, back when I registered the Democrats were the party of open, institutionalized color-line racism and Republicans were the champions of clean air and water.  The choice seemed obvious to me at the time.

            Today, I’m not changing because both parties completely suck, and because a Republican vote counts more in my home state.  Delaware is still overwhelmingly Democratic (although far less racist).  If I cast a vote in a Democratic primary I would be one of over 1500 democrats at my polling place, but since I vote in the Republican primary I am one of 90 registered voters, of whom only 45% actually vote… I’ve voted against G.W.Bush four times, and each time my vote was quite powerful compared to those of Democrats.  In the general elections, of course, party registration doesn’t matter.

            When I was a boy Democrats loved the Loser Flag, they flew it over Southern courthouses and capitols.  Nowadays it’s typically black smoker trucks flying it, and rabid anti-environmentalists vote Republican if they vote at all.

            And I still believe in many of the things the Republicans say (but those are the things they never do once elected, of course).

      2. The mathematical incongruity of comparing corporate earnings taxes to consumer sales tax is par for the course…

        There was my problem. My brain couldn’t make the leap required to get to this mirrorverse point of *ahem* logic.

        1. Ah, glad I could help.  The people who start these memes, people like Karl Rove for example, are totally aware of the intellectual dishonesty involved – but the people who popularize them, like Michele Bachman perhaps, are totally convinced and thus can make a believable presentation to other people who also don’t really understand the system being misrepresented.  This may explain why so many of the neo-con and Tea Party charismatic leaders are apparently complete idiots.

    3. A poor person who can afford to eat is an abomination in the eyes of the righteous.

  3. Although what you have said is true, it seems to get less true every day.

    For example: all the landscape maintenance type employers in my area who paid a fair wage have been driven out of business.  The only two-person S-Corporations I see selling lawn care in New Castle County are exploiting illegal Mexicans by paying (in cash) far below minimum wage.

    Our business culture lionizes “greed is good” winner-take-all competition and scoffs at anyone who earnestly wishes to do good in their community,  so people who respect their fellow human beings tend to be driven under by those who don’t.

    1. True, in America if you play business fair and square you are at an immediate disadvantage. That said your landscaper rivalry with illegal labor has nothing to do with the question of how we tax different classes of corps.

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