March 15, 2019
Quote of the Week: “If they do not put it (gun control) up for a vote, there are seven senators sitting in seats where Tim Walz won — and we are coming.”
Quote of the Week: “Bring it on.”
Factoid of the Week: The Minnesota legislature has introduced over 5,000 bills this session, a record. Legislators may continue to introduce bills until May 21st.
In This Issue:
TAX AVOIDANCE: IT’S GOOD
While Star Tribune is often a repository of the inane and banal, an opinion column this week was ridiculous enough to earn a spot in the Watchdog’s weekly commentary.
The thesis of the opinion piece was that “tax avoidance” is an “unseemly” activity that is “unfair.”
“Unseemly” how and “unfair” to whom were questions left unanswered, perhaps because the answer would have been as ridiculous as the question.
To be clear, “tax avoidance “isn’t “tax evasion.” Tax evasion is the intentional underpayment of taxes owed and due by the letter of the law.
“Tax avoidance” is the reduction of one’s tax bill through legal means.
To begin, the question is rather foolish because the tax code isn’t a moral document, nor should it be.
The tax code, ideally, is nothing more than a device to raise revenue for the government.
In many respects, it’s a math exercise. Punch in the numbers, get the result.
Of course, there are elements of morality underpinning the crafting of tax law.
We have a progressive tax because it is “fair” in the eyes of some policy makers to punish success.
We tax tobacco at a high level because it’s part of the family of “sin” taxes.
On the other hand, drug dealers are allowed to write off business expenses.
Gambling losses are tax deductible.
Moreover, many aspects of tax avoidance are arguably a public good and certainly are viewed in the eyes of many as “right” and simply “good.”
The tax code offers a tax deduction or credit for the activity, thus reducing the tax obligation, thus making it “tax avoidance.”
Donation to a qualified charity.
Purchase of a tax-exempt bond for a school.
The deduction of expenses associated with the adoption of a child.
The deduction of expenses associated with organ donation.
These are all “tax avoidance schemes.”
At another level, it’s simply no one’s business, including government, what legal and legitimate actions taxpayers undertake to reduce their liability.
Moving from Minnesota to Texas (or pretty much any state in the union) to lower one’s tax burden is a private matter.
The same holds true for a business.
In fact, it could be argued that a company moving from Minnesota to Texas to avoid high taxes is not only not unseemly, it’s a good thing.
The extra money the firm retains by not paying confiscatory taxes means more retained earnings to increase pay, enhance worker training, buy more equipment and otherwise put that money to work in the private economy.
Yes, it’s sad and tragic that government won’t get as much money to squander on public art and failed software architecture, but somehow government will survive.
At core, if government is worried about tax flight, government can certainly do something about it.
Quit taxing people at a level that causes them to alter their behavior.
It’s been nothing short of high comedy these days watching liberal states with high taxes whine and complain that people and businesses won’t sit still and take a taxation beating from them.
Oh, yeah. If any taxpayer feels that they’re paying too little, they can always write an extra check to government.
The problem is that liberals always envision higher taxes being paid by someone else.
Now get out there and avoid those taxes, Watchdogs.
MOST RIDICULOUS ITEM OF THE WEEK
There’s no shortage of candidates for this category while the legislature is in session.
This week “winner” is a taxpayer funded painting that depicts law enforcement as Nazis and Klansmen while showing President Trump molesting a woman.
The painting also portrays the eco-terrorists who disrupted the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock as heroes.
Again, this is a taxpayer-funded project.
In addition to the offensive subject matter, the painting utterly lacks artistic merit.
To say it looks like a third grader painted it would be an insult to third graders.
In fact, it looks like something a bored teenager would scribble on a notepad while sitting in detention.
The painter who swindled the taxpayers out of $10,000 is named Jim Denomie, we think his real name is John Bender.
Of course, the bureaucrats who offered up the money have bleated “free speech” and blathered on about the value of the arts in our culture.
That’s true, but not the point.
The simple point is that if anyone wants to produce trash like this, have at it. Just don’t do it with taxpayer money.
By the way, just what did this guy spend $10,000 on regarding the painting?
Your tax dollars at work.
This tripe won’t be hanging in the Louvre anytime soon.
ALL ABOARD, STONERS!
Taxpayers got bad news this week when Amtrak revealed that it’s considering renewing service between Saint Paul and Duluth.
Amtrak, never known for sound fiscal decisions, abandoned that route in 1985 because the route was such a financial loser even Amtrak couldn’t hack it.
Here we go again.
How timely it was this week when the Wall Street Journal ran a report that Amtrak, not surprisingly, is having a tough time screening its employees for drugs and alcohol.
If you didn’t figure it out, having railroad employees high or drunk at work is kind of a safety hazard.
The article stated that some 322 Amtrak employees in “safety sensitive” positions tested positive for drugs or alcohol or had medical claims indicating such use.
The article further noted that Amtrak has failed to follow through on testing and screening requirements.
Government can’t even run a railroad.
But let’s have them run healthcare.
Welcome to my web site!
I created this website in response to governmental waste and abuse in Anoka County.
Many taxpayers don’t know that our local governments spend millions of tax dollars every year on things like public relations teams, lobbyists, and junkets to places like Hawaii.
Since there seemed to be no place to turn for the “other side” of these issues, I created the Anoka County Watchdog. My intent is to create a one-stop-shop where concerned taxpayers can find fact-supported information and other resources to counter the governmental machine. Many people want to confront their elected officials regarding waste and abuse but feel they don’t have the information they need to make an effective argument. This web site offers that information.
Some of our elected officials in Anoka County have become arrogant and unresponsive, forgetting that they work for the very people who put them in office. It’s high time to hold them accountable for their decisions.
Harold E. Hamilton
US Mail: Anoka County Watchdog
7956 Main Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55432
(Anonymous submissions accepted!)