Money Messaging Open Thread: Trump Stole Your Tax Refund & Gave It to His Rich Cronies

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
.

If that isn’t part of the Democratic messaging for 2020, shame on the campaigners. I know that financial planners advise that it’s best not to overpay one’s taxes, but lots of Americans (I’ve been among them) still prefer to treat an annual refund as a form of savings account. And the GOP’s ‘tax cut’ scam means that a lot of us are going to get smaller refunds — or be required to pay money we don’t have.

Eric Levitz, at NYMag, “Trump Tax Cuts Are (Probably) About to Become a Political Disaster”:

Even with (allegedly) light withholding, the the tax bill’s breaks for middle-class people weren’t large enough to attract much notice. Between changes in salaries, health-care premiums, and 401(k) contributions, most Americans didn’t detect much tax relief in their paychecks. The Trump tax cuts actually became less popular after they took effect. And, of course, Paul Ryan’s majority drowned in a blue wave.

Now, the bill for the GOP’s (reported) withholding shenanigans is coming due: The average American’s tax refund was 8.4 percent lower in the first week of 2019 than it was one year ago (under the pre-Trump tax code). And while Americans have trouble noticing tax changes when they’re dispersed across 12 to 24 separate paychecks, they do typically pay very close attention to the size of their refunds. About three-quarters of the country typically qualifies for a tax refund most years — and for many of those households, that check from the IRS is the largest lump sum they’ll receive all year…

Now, we’re only one week into tax season. And it isn’t 100 percent certain that the IRS’s withholding tables were way off. But current evidence suggests they were. And if that’s the case, then the GOP’s efforts to game withholding won’t just lend credence to the Democrats’ most hyperbolic attacks on the Trump tax cuts — they could also depress economic growth as the 2020 campaign gets underway [because people won’t have their lump-sum refunds to replace the tires / buy a new phone / take a spring-break vacation]

Running for reelection on the strength of a failed attempt to throw millions off of health insurance — and a tax cut that did a lot for the rich, and only a little for the middle class — seems hard. Doing so after you’ve accidentally led millions of Americans to (falsely) believe that you raised their taxes seems harder.

238 replies
  1. 1

    Can anyone suggest a good article on the Green New Deal that is factual and not written by either a fanboi/girl or OMG we are doomed it is communism.

  2. 2
    Cermet says:

    Sweet, sweet repug tears. Gotta love it; sorry for all the rest of us that knew this was coming and are hit by it.

  3. 3
    Monala says:

    It’s not the withholdings, it’s the deductions.

    I’m seeing a lot of Trump supporters crowing about how stupid Dems are, how they can’t do math and realize that their refunds are smaller because their paychecks were bigger.

    However, as a volunteer tax preparer, I can tell you that a lot of people are seeing lower refunds or higher tax bills because they lost many deductions: not just the caps on state and local taxes. Others deductions reduced or eliminated include personal exemptions, student loan interest, unreimbursed employee expenses, teacher expenses, interest on home equity loans used for anything other than building or improving a first or second home, etc.

    So if you have fewer deductions, guess what? Your taxable income is higher, so even at lower tax rates, you may be paying more.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    Every time you hear anyone complain that they’re not getting the tax refund they had expected, tell them Trump took their refund to pay for his wall.

    We are all Mexico now.

  5. 5
    Yarrow says:

    McConnell said this when they passed it:

    Ultimately, Republicans are banking that the new tax law will not only pay for itself, but also sell itself: Americans will come around once they have more money in their pockets.

    “My view is this,” McConnell said on the floor moments after the Senate passed the tax law last month. “If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.”

    They sure should.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I dont believe there are any.

  7. 7
    khead says:

    @Monala:

    This. Was going to say this but you said it better.

  8. 8
    geg6 says:

    @Baud:

    Agreed. Been trying to find this unicorn myself. Haven’t found it yet.

  9. 9
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I thought this piece by (GND supporter) David Roberts at Vox was reasonable and informative.

  10. 10
    oldgold says:

    The professional class got hammered by this tax bill. As a consequence, the suburbs will continue shifting into the Democratic column.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:

    It’s detailed, but it’s propaganda, which I hate from reporters even if I agree with it.

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    Another thing– people have gotten accustomed to very small annual raises– when your weekly wage goes up by $3.24, you don’t feel like you’ve won the lottery– and this has been happening every year for many years. So, when a ‘tax cut’ produces an itsy-bitsy increase in regular wages, it’s just dismissed, correctly, as a con. This is particularly true for people who were wage-earners in the ’70s, when salaries actually did go up.

  13. 13
    trnc says:

    @Monala: Remind those supporters every chance you get that their property and local taxes go up because fed money that used to go to municipalities for roads, schools etc are now going to billIona ires who already paid little or no income taxes. Or maybe they can think about during the next salmonella outbreak.

  14. 14
    swiftfox says:

    @schrodingers_cat: You’ve probably read it, but KDrum’s commentary on 14 February is the most realistic view. I’d prefer something specific like a carbon tax to replace the corporate income tax.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Yes. Just stay where you are and I’ll have it delivered by a unicorn, riding on a bullet train across the US, powered by sea water.

  16. 16
    trnc says:

    @swiftfox: Replace? What would clear channel pay?

  17. 17
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Monala: I finally spent the $1,000 it costs to get a headlamp for my magnifying glasses I use for work. I waited this long so I wouldn’t have to buy a second battery ($400) because the older models wouldn’t last a whole working day on a single charge, and the new ones do. Just in time for it to not be deductible. It’s saving my eyes and my neck though, so it was still money worth spending but I’ll bet I’m not the only one who had expenses they used to be able to deduct. My boss still has great end of the year deductions for spending for the business, so that didn’t change for him but I know it did for single entities like school teachers, independent truckers, etc.

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Monala: It was also the withholding. The tax cut legislation authorized the Department of the Treasury to change the withholding tables as they saw fit, which was a major change as they’ve always been set by Congress as part of whatever legislation is adjusting the tax code. This was done so Mnuchin could finagle the withholding, thereby giving everyone a small bump in their tax home pay to fulfill Paul Ryan’s promise that tax relief would be felt immediately in everyone’s paychecks.

  19. 19
    The Moar You Know says:

    I have always gotten returns: very small in recent years, but always gotten them.

    Had appointment with tax guy Friday. This year I owe $3800. I have two months to come up with that. Not sure how that is going to happen.

    That’s what an 8% difference amounts to. People will notice that.

  20. 20
    PST says:

    @Monala:

    So if you have fewer deductions, guess what? Your taxable income is higher, so even at lower tax rates, you may be paying more.

    This is not something I can support with evidence, but after working through a couple of sample returns myself, I think there is going to be a big overlap between the people hurt by the tax changes and the educated white suburbanites who are leaving the Republican Party for other reasons. The deductions that have been capped or lost tended to benefit the well-to-do but were trivial to the truly rich. The effect varies a lot by location, but it will be felt by those who earn their living by high salaries, not return on capital, in high-tax, high-property-value parts of the country. Trump may have written off some died-in-the-wool red states, but the consequences could slam him and Republican candidates for Congress in Pennsylvania and some other swing states. This is not just about the psychological impact of lower refund versus lower total tax.

  21. 21
    Hitlesswonder says:

    I predict that if Dems say that people’s tax refunds were taken to build the wall that the media will discover it’s ability to determine the truth value of statements again and will savage the Dems. They will get a billion pinnochios and be belittled. Mickef for being innumerate, as taxed truly were reduced. All the while the removal of deductions will be ignored…too complicated to dive into.

  22. 22
    Yarrow says:

    @PST: Even if white, well off suburbanites weren’t quite ready to give up on the Republican party by the last election they will now do their taxes under the new law and have another surprise. Owing a lot more taxes after Republicans crowed about how great the tax bill would be for everyone is not something people will forget.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: I support the Green New Deal because:
    1. Climate Change is an extistential threat to human civilization, and we’re rapidly running out of time to do something about it
    2. Politically, the smartest and most fair approach to addressing this crisis is to ensure that the solutions to the crisis do not place an undue material burden on most Americans – and in many cases the solutions should be economically and financially beneficial to most Americans

    In a nutshell – rapid decarbonization of our society won’t be easy for people – even under the best circumstances, change is just hard. We’re going to need to make it worth people’s while, so to speak. We can do that by taking back those tax cuts the richest just got, and use that money to create green jobs, do things like give people free electric cars, etc., which will actually grow the economy, unlike the usual BS Republicans offer.

  25. 25

    @Baud: Has Krugman weighed in. I have been busy and haven’t taken a look at the proposals yet.

  26. 26
    Baud says:

    @Hitlesswonder:

    Agree. No benefit to Dems lying with this media.

  27. 27
    khead says:

    @PST:

    Yup. It was SALT that hit me. I live in MD. It’s gonna be a lot worse for suburbia in NY, NJ and PA.

  28. 28
    Ian R says:

    Lack of refunds will really start to stand out as tax season gets into full swing over the next couple of months, just in time for the worldwide recession a no-deal brexit is likely to cause to hit.

  29. 29
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Baud: What makes it “propaganda”?

  30. 30
    Baud says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:

    In a nutshell – rapid decarbonization of our society won’t be easy for people – even under the best circumstances, change is just hard. 

    I don’t disagree. But I would like to take this moment to remember that Hillary Clinton was lambasted (and not just by the right) when she tried to make this point in West Virginia coal country.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    debbie says:

    I adjusted and readjusted my withholding allowance as needed and came out at about the same size of refund as last year. I will need to be more attentive in the future because it’s now considered “frivolous” (and penalty-inducing) if one owes 5% of the total amount of the tax. It used to be 10% or at least as much as the previous year’s tax.

  33. 33
    Baud says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I haven’t seen it if he has. I don’t know that there is enough detail in the GND to do any real economic analysis.

  34. 34
    Yutsano says:

    I’m not going to phrase it as Dolt45 giving tax refunds for the wall because that’s too easy to counter. I would make the argument (because it has more truth to it) that he took tax refunds to give a tax break to himself. Which is why as soon as it’s filed by October 15th the Democrats need to request it. We need to see just how he’s scamming the public.

  35. 35
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: Call it news analysis, or opinion, sure. I just don’t get the propaganda charge.

    An example of this hyperbolic Green New Deal propaganda:

    It’s worth noting just what a high-wire act the authors of this resolution are attempting. It has to offer enough specifics to give it real shape and ambition, without overprescribing solutions or prejudging differences over secondary questions. It has to please a diverse range of interest groups, from environmental justice to labor to climate, without alienating any of them. It has to stand up to intense scrutiny (much of it sure to be bad faith), with lots of people gunning for it from both the right and center.

    And, of course, it eventually has to give birth to real legislation.

    Given all those demands, the resolution does a remarkably good job of threading the needle. It is bold and unmistakably progressive, matched to the problem as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, while avoiding a few needless fights and leaving room for plenty of debate over priorities and policy tools.

  36. 36
    Yarrow says:

    @Yutsano: I agree. If Dems say Trump took your tax refund to pay for the wall it’ll just shift the conversation to “Is that true? No? Why not?” instead of “Trump hurt regular people by making them pay more tax and giving billionaires–and himself–big tax breaks.”

  37. 37
    Yutsano says:

    @debbie: I’ll do some research on this at work Tuesday, but I don’t recall the 90% estimated tax penalty rule changing, As far as I know as long as you pay 90% of your liability by tax time you don’t get the penalty. But don’t take my word for it just yet.

  38. 38
    tobie says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Jonathan Chait’s critique can be found here. Catherine Rampell’s is here. Both emphasize that the non-binding resolution names lofty goals that exceed the targets suggested by the IPCC for decarbonization but includes no proposals for achieving those goals. I’ll be curious to see what the Committees on Transportation, Energy, and Natural Resources and the Subcommittee on the Climate Crisis will do in terms of crafting proposals this year.

  39. 39
    Another Scott says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Horse’s mouth – HR-109.

    There’s not a whole lot of specifics in it yet. – lots of general statements about the problems and the goals, but not a lot of specifics about what Congress will do about it. It’s a framework of goals – like going to the moon before the decade is out, etc.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  40. 40
    Baud says:

    @Yutsano: I heard that they reduced to 85% this year.

  41. 41
    kindness says:

    There needs to be an Alternate Minimum Tax for corporations.

  42. 42
    debbie says:

    @Yutsano:

    Thanks! I’d be really happy to be wrong!

  43. 43
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Baud: Good lord, we wouldn’t want Dems to advocate for positions that the media, or Republicans, or the good people of West Fucking Virginia, might not like.

    Dems path to power in this century is to stand up for the vulnerable, take on the big challenges, be inspirational, and save the world.

    Like Superwoman. Superwoman doesn’t have time to give a fuck about what Chuck Todd has to say.

  44. 44
    SFAW says:

    Bunch o’ whiners. If they had just budgeted better, and not spent all their money on drugs and Obamaphones and Hitlary bumper stickers, and were just willing to go without food for a few weeks — five or so a couple of months, at most — then they would have almost enough money to survive.

    In any event: based on what I thought I had read when the tax “cut” was passed, I knew we were screwed, based on the capping/killing of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions. I just have no idea how bad the screwing is going to be, yet.

  45. 45
    Baud says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:

    My comments wasn’t aimed at suggesting we don’t do such things. My comment was aimed at the fact that we are in the mess we’re in because too many people were hypocrites about these things in 2016.

  46. 46
    tobie says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:

    We can do that by taking back those tax cuts the richest just got.

    We could probably do even more to generate revenue if we looked at the corporate tax code. Neither Amazon nor Google had to pay federal tax in 2018. Think about that. I still don’t get the focus on individual tax rates when it’s corporations that are making out like bandits.

  47. 47
    Ruckus says:

    @Yarrow:
    What the republicans are doing is not work.
    It’s fucking theft.
    They are stealing from each of us, those who have held actual jobs. We don’t get the infrastructure, the clean water, the fair voting, the equal protection under the law, equality of tax structure, the very lives that a democracy is supposed to give us.
    It’s fucking theft.
    They used to be robing us blind, behind the scenes so that we wouldn’t notice, but now they are doing it out in the open, in our faces. They aren’t just stealing money, they’ve been stealing everything not nailed down and now they are stealing everything else.
    It’s fucking theft.
    They can’t earn it, because the things that they are stealing now are not things we earn, they are things a democracy is supposed to provide us. Conservatives don’t want everyone to have those things, they want the privileges all to themselves.
    It’s fucking theft.
    It’s past time to arrest the thieves and put them out of their life’s work of stealing everything for their selfish bullshit.
    It’s fucking theft.

  48. 48
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @tobie: 100% agree – just keeping my messaging as simple as possible.

  49. 49
    Yutsano says:

    @Baud: I hadn’t heard that either. What’s also going to piss off a lot of people is that the individual mandate still applies for this year. When Congress decided to zero it out (it never got killed, just set to 0. So it can be brought back.) it started for tax year 2019. I can already tell you a lotta cranky people are still to come. I’m REALLY afraid how this is going to hit self-employed folks.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    laura says:

    Spouse dropped off our taxes yesterday- our tax guy said every client he has is getting hosed.
    We’ve lost SALT, student loan interest, my business expenses, and have no idea how much we’ll owe the IRS.
    Our neighbors came back from their tax appointment so pissed off, they planned to spend the rest of the day drinking as the only reasonable response.
    All to benefit the idle rich.

  52. 52
    Old Dan and Little Ann says:

    Tax wise, The wife and I have been getting back about $1,500 for each of the last 15 years. This year. A little over $300.

  53. 53
    Cowboy Diva says:

    for those worried about the federal ES penalty:
    if you can make sure that by 4/15/2019 you have paid 100% of the tax you owed on 4/15/2018 or 85% (this is for this filing season only; usually it’s 90%) of what is due this year, there should be no estimated tax penalty.

  54. 54
    tobie says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: Gotcha. One of the things I’ve been trying to figure out is how hedge fund managers and CEOs of financial institutions like Jaime Diamond are paid. They are very good at figuring out ways to avoid income tax and I’m not sure that raising the marginal tax rate will actually change their tax bill.

  55. 55
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @BaudHuh, okay. Well plenty of GND supporters weren’t hypocrites in 2016, too.

    Why let the hyperbolic support of a few uninformed Bernie Bros hold this idea hostage? Isn’t that playing into Putin’s hands?

    If we let them divide us to prevent us from doing what is necessary and just, then the terrorists have already won.

  56. 56
    surfk9 says:

    When people adjust their withholding to reflect the new taxes, they are going to find out how screwed they were on a weekly basis.

  57. 57
    chopper says:

    and for many of those households, that check from the IRS is the largest lump sum they’ll receive all year

    and for parts of our economy, those windfalls getting immediately spent on things working class people put off until their refund comes in end up being really important. between a lackluster december, a shutdown costing tens of billions, and now this, a consumer-driven economy that’s already seeing recession on the horizon isn’t going to be super happy.

  58. 58
    Baud says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: What are you talking about? No one is telling people not pursue a green agenda.

  59. 59
    Barbara says:

    @laura: Okay, I’m sorry for you and your neighbors, but this made me laugh. On the other hand, I know how horrible I would need to feel that a drunken binge would seem like my only recourse. So really, not funny.

  60. 60
    James E Powell says:

    @oldgold:

    The professional class got hammered by this tax bill. As a consequence, the suburbs will continue shifting into the Democratic column.

    This will test the theory – one that I happen to believe – that white suburbanite Republicans’ votes are more about white tribalism than about favorable policies. They’ve stuck with the Republicans while their economic well-being declined or stagnated since Reagan.

  61. 61
    Obvious Russian Troll says:

    I’m in Toronto now, but I assure you that the change in deductions is going to hit Trump supporters in suburban Milwaukee and other areas in the state that went heavily for Trump.

    As we all know, Trump won Wisconsin pretty narrowly and in large part due to voter suppression.

  62. 62
    Monala says:

    @Adam L Silverman: oh, I know. It’s just that so many articles have talked about the withholdings, I’m just to balance it by pointing out the reduced deductions. In fact, the reduced deductions makes the withholding problem worse: many people owe more, and they’ve paid less throughout the year.

  63. 63
    chopper says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    i hope tax preparers don’t get screwed over here. “you’re telling me i owe uncle same $4000, AND you want $200 for telling me that? fuck that shit!”

  64. 64
    tobie says:

    @Baud: @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: The idea of linking climate legislation with a massive jobs program has been part of Democratic orthodoxy for a long time. It probably goes back to Jimmy Carter in the 1970s and came back in 2000 with Al Gore and has continued since then. I think the party could corral more support for the GND if it were associated with all factions of the caucus (minus Joe Manchin). Richard Blumenthal said on Friday that the Republican’s are trying to personalize the bill (i.e., associate it only with AOC) and paint it as a move to upend capitalism to avoid addressing the climate crisis.

  65. 65
    Barbara says:

    @Monala: They seriously miscalculated the impact of reduced deductions. People might be glad to have a few extra bucks every week, but they seethe with a lot more intensity when you take something away. Studies have been done on this, and it’s why so many people are so risk averse when it comes to investment decisions.

  66. 66
    Yutsano says:

    @chopper: Tax preparation is a scam for most people. I know a lot of people who use preparers who have really simple returns they could do themselves online. With how many deductions are lost now there’s even less reason to need to shell out the $200+ to have someone do them for you,.

  67. 67
    SFAW says:

    @Yutsano:

    Most people (he said, based on zero evidence) are innumerate, or are (unreasonably) scared of stuff like that.

  68. 68
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Baud:
    Unpaid tax penalty is if you paid less than the smaller of either 90% what’s owed this year OR 100% of last year’s.
    https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc306

  69. 69
    Baud says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    I Googled.

    For Americans still scratching their heads over the tax withholding changes introduced last year, the IRS is offering a free pass.

    On Wednesday, the agency announced it will waive penalties for some taxpayers who withheld too little last year. The new threshold for avoiding a penalty will be 85 percent of total tax liability, down from 90 percent in previous years

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bankrate.com/taxes/irs-waiving-under-withholding-penalties/amp/

  70. 70
    AThornton says:

    $200 is cheap insurance to mitigate the risk of being audited.

  71. 71
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Baud: So here’s a fun (sarcasm) thing.
    There’s an announcement of 85%. The reference documentation says 90%. Which do you trust?

    Of course neither is the 95% that started this part of the discussion, so it’s more or less a win either way.

  72. 72
    Barbara says:

    @AThornton: I paid someone to do my mother’s last return, as the executor of her estate based on that kind of reasoning, but some people have really simple returns, year over year.

  73. 73

    I have no idea how our taxes will come out. This is the first year we’re relied entirely on retirement income.

  74. 74
    Kay says:

    Democrats did a good job describing the Trump tax law. Think about it- Republicans are having trouble selling a tax cut. That’s remarkable. It’s a huge change from even 2008.

    Their go-to policy isn’t popular anymore, and they literally have nothing else, other than racism and xenophobia. I think their over-reliance on tax cuts actually got them here- they don’t have any people with actual ideas anymore. They don’t even TRY on health care. The absolute BEST they offer is on health care is …nothing.

    You’ve all seen this in action already. Democrats aren’t just NOT defending on raising taxes, they’re RUNNING on raising taxes. That’s new in my adult lifetime. If the Trump tax law were popular it wouldn’t be happening.

  75. 75
    Barbara says:

    @Baud: Yeah, that would have turned a bad situation into a real clusterf*ck.

  76. 76
    H.E.Wolf says:

    Also, the new set of “simplified” Schedules (1 through 5) are, in my opinion, time-wasting cover sheets – the old set of Schedules are still required in many cases.

  77. 77
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @AThornton: How likely is it anymore that a run-of-the-mill tax filer gets audited? I thought I’d heard that contrary to popular belief the IRS gives you many chances to make good on errors.

  78. 78
    Kay says:

    Howard Schult’s plan on health care is “sell insurance across state lines” and “competition”. I wondered what happened to the GOP health care plan and I found it.

    So clever, right? Recognizing that he can’t run in the GOP primary so presenting this Republican as an “independent”

    I like to think about all the overpaid hacks sitting in a room and having this “eureka” moment- “let’s run Mitt Romney but as an independent

  79. 79
    AThornton says:

    @Barbara:

    I agree in general. In specific and given the confusion my feeling is safer is better than sorry especially for those who used to file 1040-EZ.

    YMMV

  80. 80
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    Howard Schult’s plan on health care is “sell insurance across state lines” 

    Quite a departure from Trump’s plan to erase the lines across the states.

  81. 81
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Kay: IMHO quite a lot of the “tax cut” sales pitch has always been “YOU need a tax cut because your taxes are paying for Those People to laze on the couch all day and it’s time for that gravy train to stop.” Maybe what’s happening is that the people who used to get politically aroused by tax cuts as the opposite of welfare now get politically aroused by the outright xenophobia and racism that makes the tax cut gambit seem softcore by comparison.

  82. 82
    WereBear says:

    OT: Happy news from our jacy: her GoFundMe hit goal and she’s very grateful!

  83. 83

    We did our taxes yesterday and weirdly got a big refund. Then again, I bumped my withholding mid-year just to be safe… I calculated what we might owe and aimed for the pessimistic scenario, but it turned out the optimistic one was right.

  84. 84
    Yutsano says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Audits happen more often in situations where dependents are claimed by more than one taxpayer or questionable deductions happen on a schedule A. The truth is Exam targets little fish because they can be closed easily. No one wants the year-long complicated audit still open with your supervisor clamoring for you to close it. It’s part of underfunding the IRS. We can barely do even the basic shit now.

    Oh and another effect of the tax law: if you,your spouse, or your dependent has an ITIN (a tax number used when you’re not eligible for a Social Security Number) you’re no longer eligible for the Child Tax Credit. There’s a LOT of migrant families who are going to owe big time this year.

  85. 85
    Baud says:

    Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/28/full-transcript-donald-trump-presidential-address-congress

  86. 86
    Barbara says:

    @Kay: Howard Schultz: All the same goodies for billionaires, without the embarrassment!

  87. 87
    oldgold says:

    @AThornton:

    Most folks should use tax preparers. That expressed, avoidance of audit is lie on the list of reasons for doing so.

  88. 88
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Yutsano: Ah. Thx for your insight!

  89. 89
    AThornton says:

    FlipYrWhig:

    Due to changes in the tax law statistics based on previous years are worthless for this year.

    People have to figure their own willingness to assume the risks of paying thousands of dollars and tens of hours of time – potentially – should one be audited. That’s what insurance is all about.

  90. 90
    tobie says:

    OT: The President of Belarus has indicated his willingness to have his nation reunite with Russia. I’d like to hear Cheryl’s, Adam’s and our regional expert Gin & Tonic’s thoughts on this. Seems like a big deal.

  91. 91

    @Yutsano:

    Tax preparation is a scam for most people. I know a lot of people who use preparers who have really simple returns they could do themselves online. With how many deductions are lost now there’s even less reason to need to shell out the $200+ to have someone do them for you,.

    We usually do ours at home, but I took one look at the California part-time resident form and just about burst into tears. Next year’s one-state filing will be much simpler.

  92. 92
    Bill Arnold says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    As Another Scott at #39 says, read the text.
    Perhaps start with wikipedia, eventually paying attention to refs and to edit history
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_New_Deal
    Text:
    H. RES. 109 Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FEBRUARY7, 2019
    I was personally surprised how much of it is orthogonal to or perhaps even objectively opposed to urgent action on climate change. Increasing the number of stakeholders and giving many of them veto power[1] is necessary in the long term but it means even less chance of rapid action. There will be plenty of fighting against well-funded political mercenaries paid by or closely aligned with fossil fuel interests. IMO it needs more focus on climate change and less on a social justice agenda that can be conflated with/used by enemies to attack the climate change agenda. This is undoubtedly an unpopular position but RCP 8.5 level climate change will wreak far more than an order of magnitude more havoc with societies/social justice worldwide, starting within a decade. (And this is a mask over the inner Cassandra.)

    [1] e.g.

    (F) ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers to plan, implement, and administer the Green New Deal mobilization at the local level;

  93. 93
    RepubAnon says:

    @MattF: If most Americans can’t pay for an unexpected $400 expense, what happens when the annual refund they’re expecting turns into a tax bill? Do they read about how Amazon paid no taxes while they wait in line at the payday lender?

  94. 94
    kindness says:

    @Baud: I hope that is snark. Last thing I want is a drive to the bottom for crap coverage. My state, California, still requires most of the original ACA requirements for care. Coverage requirements vary from state to state now.

  95. 95
    rikyrah says:

    Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) Tweeted:
    More @akasorority1908 support in Columbia, SC at @KamalaHarris Town Hall. They’re the not-so-secret foot soldiers in her fight to win the SC primary

    https://t.co/28mhQeXW1X https://twitter.com/KyungLahCNN/status/1096852199160926208?s=17

  96. 96

    @Major Major Major Major: I forgot we’ll have two sets of state taxes to deal with too.

  97. 97
    rikyrah says:

    Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) Tweeted:
    This country is a mess on so many fronts and y’all want me to sit up here on Twitter and listen to people—some of whom are probably being paid—talk about how trump isn’t that bad and we can handle four more years.

    Bite me.

    No we can’t.

    https://twitter.com/AngryBlackLady/status/1096827076621942784?s=17

  98. 98
    jacy says:

    @WereBear:

    Yes, I am! I don’t even know what to say. I will tell you that a month ago, this all seemed impossible. I literally didn’t know what I was going to do. And now I can pay the stupid mortgage company AND probably fix the transmission fluid leak in the car. And I have spent my morning so far filling Etsy orders, and I’m not even halfway done with that. (Not that I’m complaining. Filling orders is like production work. It’s soothing.) I am so very, very fortunate.

  99. 99
    Barbara says:

    @Major Major Major Major: This was me when I found out we had to file in four, now six, different states, and that we had farm income.

  100. 100
    AThornton says:

    oldgold:

    The insurance is having a CPA speak for you at an audit like having a lawyer speak for you in a court.

  101. 101
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @AThornton: Sure, but I would submit that for, say, single wage-earners who rent rather than owning a house, using a tax preparer would be a bit like getting the extended warranty at Best Buy. Given the unlikelihood of the downside, the insurance is wasted. People in general seem way more scared of (a) math and (b) the government than they really need to be. YMMV.

  102. 102
    Yutsano says:

    @AThornton: Using a preparer does not guarantee one will not be audited. The best the preparer can do is see if you’re eligible for whatever credits are left. It may reduce the chances, but if your return varies widely from one year to another that can also trigger a second look by the IRS. A human preparer is not an iron-clad defence against an audit, And the IRS isn’t going after your preparer if your return is deemed inaccurate. You are always ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your return.

  103. 103
    Barbara says:

    @rikyrah: I would pay money to see a reporter ask one of these ladies if Harris is “black enough.”

  104. 104
    Redshift says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:

    I thought this piece by (GND supporter) David Roberts at Vox was reasonable and informative.

    I was going to suggest that, too. My main worry about the GND during the campaign season was that it was going to be like the Wilmerites with single-payer – “if you support the same goals but don’t support exactly the same way if getting there, you’re a sellout!” Since the resolution doesn’t seem to be that, I’m now much more enthusiastic.

  105. 105
    rikyrah says:

    Uh huh
    Uh huh 😒😒

    ✊🏿Black Aziz aNANsi✊🏿 (@Freeyourmindkid) Tweeted:
    The FBI literally interfered with black movements to the point where they had black panthers shooting at each other, and I’m not suppose to believe a movement that has random twitter accounts shitting on black Americans who aren’t descended from slaves isn’t being exploited?

    https://twitter.com/Freeyourmindkid/status/1097132629017665536?s=17

  106. 106
    tobie says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    Increasing the number of stakeholders and giving many of them veto power[1] is necessary in the long term but it means even less chance of rapid action.

    Thanks for raising this point. I knew the GND was a proposal not for action but for the framework in which specific actions could be proposed in the future, and that attitude itself was hard to square with the rhetoric of the GND’s biggest supporters that ‘civilization as we know it will end in 10 years.’ I hadn’t thought about whether the framework would help or impede swift climate action in 2020 (assuming Dems retake the White House and the Senate).

  107. 107
    Baud says:

    @kindness: You hope what is snark? That has been the GOP health plan since forever.

  108. 108
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bill Arnold: Fair enough but that’s also a way to address, and protect against, “environmental racism.”

    FWIW I’m not entirely sure why “Green New Deal” is getting so much hype when “Green Jobs” was already a catchphrase 10 or even 15 years ago.

  109. 109
    Gelfling 545 says:

    Let me tell you about “light withholding “. My withholding was reduced by $1.83/month. What was light was my (never very large anyway, but still) refund – by about $300 compared to last year.

  110. 110
    oldgold says:

    @AThornton:

    The most important reason is not paying more than the law requires.

    The chance of a wage earner being audited is near zero. Over-payment is common.

  111. 111
    WereBear says:

    Tax refunds, as noted above, are the very last thing Trump & Co should have screwed with. This is how people get their computer replaced, shoes for the kids, car repairs: all the stuff they have been limping along with until they get the money.

    It’s a freakin’ lifeline. And the Republicans are screwing with it.

  112. 112
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    This was done so Mnuchin could finagle the withholding, thereby giving everyone a small bump in their tax home pay to fulfill Paul Ryan’s promise that tax relief would be felt immediately in everyone’s paychecks.

    Sigh. How does one criticize such cluelessness born of a greed-centered mindset without being accused of anti-semitism? I hate that class-based rhetoric/analysis is deliberately conflated with anti-semitism in the US.

    (Reading: “Propaganda and Rhetoric in Democracy: History, Theory, Analysis”, 2016. A mix; some essays are pretty good.)

  113. 113
    MomSense says:

    @Kay:

    And the political operatives will say “let’s call it the unity ticket” so the panel on morning joe can all nod their heads about how smart this is.

  114. 114
    Jeffro says:

    @Kay:

    So clever, right? Recognizing that he can’t run in the GOP primary so presenting this Republican as an “independent”

    I like to think about all the overpaid hacks sitting in a room and having this “eureka” moment- “let’s run Mitt Romney but as an independent“

    The hacks = underpants gnomes, just better paid.

    “Hmm…we can’t beat trumpov in the GOP primary…so let’s try to box out the Dems in the general and hope they’re really as radical as the caricature we’re trying to paint, and leave the country with the choice of re-electing trumpov, or electing an ‘independent’. I like it!”

    Only problems with this are:
    – Schultz is an obvious Republican
    – the whole electorate, Dems included but not solely Dems, has shifted left
    – also Schultz is an obvious a-hole
    – plenty of appealing Dems who aren’t “radical” at all

    But go spend that $1-2B, Howard, by all means…better that it go into other folks’ pockets, folks who’ll actually pay taxes on the income and spend most of the rest. Our economy’s going to need all the help it can get in the next several years…

  115. 115
    MomSense says:

    @jacy:

    I’m so happy for you,Jacy!!

  116. 116
    jacy says:

    @Jeffro:

    How is Schultz still taking up the oxygen in the room? How has he not been already swept into the dustbin of history? Don’t get me started on Schultz again, I finally just stopped ranting about him in my head. He’s a fucking parody already. Gah.

  117. 117

    @FlipYrWhig: Because a pretty young woman is one of its promoters.

  118. 118
    SFAW says:

    @RepubAnon:

    If most Americans can’t pay for an unexpected $400 expense, what happens when the annual refund they’re expecting turns into a tax bill?

    They can always avail themselves of the brilliant option spelled out by Wilbur Ross for those who weren’t getting paid during the shutdown.

  119. 119
    SFAW says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Because a pretty young woman is one of its promoters.

    Almost. If you had added “Democrat” and “socialist” — perfection.

  120. 120
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    I wonder who Trump played golf with Saturday morning? He seemed awfully happy when he left.

    And who were those strange men at Trump’s National Emergency speech?

    And just who is buried in Grant’s tomb?

  121. 121
    Bill Arnold says:

    @khead:

    Yup. It was SALT that hit me. I live in MD. It’s gonna be a lot worse for suburbia in NY, NJ and PA.

    Yep. TMI perhaps; my taxes are up about $3000. That is, about 11+K of SALT deduction was taken away. I’m not one to complain about taxes, but it is breathtakingly stupid to be increasing taxes on lower upper middle class people to give to the 0.1% (0.01%, 0.001%, 0.0001%, etc) rather than having it be used for something useful/critical like reliable funding for scientific research (with an increased focus on applied research on anything that is potentially related to decarbonization; cheap energy storage, etc). (Other people have other focuses; that’s fine. What’s not fine is the Republican focus on redistributing more wealth to the wealthy.)

  122. 122
    Kent says:

    The Dems should be making hay with this right now. I would design some sort of online campaign that highlights the “Trump Crony of the Week” or some such. Start with someone like Betsy DeVos. Make up a Wanted Poster style ad:

    Trump Crony of the Week: Betsy DeVos
    Trump’s Secretary of Education
    Worth $5.4 billion
    SAVINGS FROM TRUMP’S TAX PLAN? $550 MILLION

    And then add in other interesting factoids on the bottom
    Owns 10 yachts on which she evades taxes by registering them overseas
    Favors cutting student loans for middle class Americans

    etc. etc.

    Come out with a new crony every week or every day. Just like Atrios’ “Wanker of the Day” or whatever he used to do. Make if fucking personal. Put faces and names to the corruption.

  123. 123
    Amir Khalid says:

    @jacy:
    Remember, there are people with an interest in bigging up Howard Schultz even if he has no realistic chance, just to annoy and distract Democratic voters.

    By the way, congratulations on the fundraising success.

  124. 124
  125. 125
    Kent says:

    Regarding the selling of insurance across state lines. Please explain to me how this isn’t the immediate result:

    I live in Washington and work for a giant corporation, let’s call it W*Mart.

    My employer W*Mart is headquartered in Arkansas and finds that the cheapest group plan available is one based in Arkansas. So that is what I get offered through my employer.

    Under this plan, the closest in-network hospital is in Little Rock Arkansas, a 2500 mile drive from my home in WA and the closest in-network physicians are in Fayetteville Arkansas. That is because no one in Washington wants to deal with this crappy Arkansas-based insurance company and their low reimbursement rates that are based on costs of service in Arkansas.

    When I complain to my insurance regulator in Washington State that the insurance plan I’m paying for doesn’t provide coverage in Washington State they tell me, “sorry, because your plan is headquartered in Arkansas you need to write to the state insurance regulator in Arkansas, we can’t help you.

    Am I missing something?

  126. 126
    jacy says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Thank you!

    And I want to personally punch anyone who says anything positive, or even provacatively neutral – about Howard Schultz. Just not quite as much as I want to punch Howard Schultz himself. For whatever reason, he is — as I tell my kids often enough — ON MY LAST NERVE.

  127. 127

    @jacy: He’s just such an annoying combination of oblivious and entitled.

  128. 128
    Kent says:

    @WereBear: Make it in an easily distributed and forwarded format so that everyone who wants to can forward it along on facebook, twitter, or whever people these days post up social media. People love to forward crap on the internet, make it as easy as possible and in as vivid of format as possible. And keep new material coming every day or every week, especially during tax season.

  129. 129

    @jacy: That’s wonderful. Glad we could help.

  130. 130
    moonbat says:

    @tobie: On the flip side of this issue is the practical application of green deal initiatives. We don’t just want to formulate and implement them; we want them to work and without grassroots support they rarely do. It has been proven whenever top-down implementation of such initiatives have been enacted the effect is patchy at best. You have to show people that it is in their best interests or they won’t play. Take direct the organization and anger that we saw in the blue wave of 2018 and get people involved in determining their future. For massive urgent fast action, give the government the right right to shut down coal fired power plants. On the grassroots level, retrain those coal miners everyone forgets until a national election year in green jobs.

  131. 131
    Tim C. says:

    @Kent: I think this is a might dose of putting the cart before the horse. Real legislation, which frankly is about as likely to get passed as I do of growing a herd of back-hair ents between my shoulder blades, would probably hand-wave this all away. But “selling across state lines” occupies the current GOP talking point on Health Care the way the “Mandate” idea did prior to the Democrats actually pushing it in 2009. It’s not a real policy, it’s a way of sounding like to have something in mind when you really have nothing.

    It also is only there for the rich-libertarian-asshole chunk of the GOP to hear what they want to. (note, the other wing of the party is the Racist-asshole chunk.)

  132. 132
    Monala says:

    @Yutsano: there are also volunteer tax sites where you can get your taxes done for free, for low to moderate income filers and seniors. Go to irs.gov and type in “free tax preparation” in the search bar.

  133. 133
    smintheus says:

    WaPo headline:

    Nauert nomination sunk by nanny issues

    In a better, saner world:

    Nauert nomination sunk by ninny issues

  134. 134
    chris says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Highly recommend this thread from RGW, who is charged with working through the policy details of the Green New Deal. Especially for those who see no connection between carbon & other social/equity/housing/health policies. https://t.co/DwDBkUQeUW— David Roberts (@drvox) 10 February 2019

  135. 135
    SWMBO says:

    @Kent: If you start with Betsy, put a line in there about her child trafficking. She made money off of selling kids through her adoption agency. Kids that they can’t find now. Did she make enough to pay for her yachts that month?

  136. 136
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    @jacy:

    And I want to personally punch anyone who says anything positive, or even provacatively neutral – about Howard Schultz.

    Okay! I’ll play along… Howard Shultz has the benign look of a man who has spent his entire life wondering why he was the one kid who didn’t laugh at the joke; “Did you know that Mickey Mouse wears a Spiro Agnew watch?”

    Sticks out chin.

  137. 137
    Kent says:

    @Tim C.:

    @Kent: I think this is a might dose of putting the cart before the horse. Real legislation, which frankly is about as likely to get passed as I do of growing a herd of back-hair ents between my shoulder blades, would probably hand-wave this all away. But “selling across state lines” occupies the current GOP talking point on Health Care the way the “Mandate” idea did prior to the Democrats actually pushing it in 2009. It’s not a real policy, it’s a way of sounding like to have something in mind when you really have nothing.

    It also is only there for the rich-libertarian-asshole chunk of the GOP to hear what they want to. (note, the other wing of the party is the Racist-asshole chunk.)

    I think we have to take them at their word and show what the consequences of their policies would be. If we truly did just allow the sale of health insurance across state lines this would be the logical result unless the Trump Administration created a whole new national office of health insurance regulation to make sure that this sort of thing didn’t happen. How confident are you that they would do it?

    The point is, that insurance companies can freely operate across state lines today. I live in WA and have Kaiser insurance which is based in CA. The only caveat is that when Kaiser chooses to sell insurance in WA they have to follow WA law. What Trump and Schultz are ACTUALLY proposing is to strip states of the ability to regulate health coverage within their state borders, without replacing that with any kind of comparable regulation at the Federal level.

  138. 138
    opiejeanne says:

    @Kent: So why don’t you do it? A friend designs posters for The Chamomile Tea Party that are interesting and along those lines: A Sample You can get in touch with him through the link on Flickr and he might like to play with your suggestions.

  139. 139
    Kent says:

    @SWMBO:

    @Kent: If you start with Betsy, put a line in there about her child trafficking. She made money off of selling kids through her adoption agency. Kids that they can’t find now. Did she make enough to pay for her yachts that month?

    Exactly. The deeper you dig into any of these horrible people the more you find. I would make it as personal as all hell and make it easy to forward everywhere. One can do the same thing about corporations like Apple and Amazon but that sort of thing doesn’t carry the same sting as putting actual people up there who are Trump Cronies who are raking in millions or billions of dollars on the backs of the rest of us. Keep it personal. Make them uncomfortable. We will NEVER run out of Trump Cronies to highlight.

  140. 140
    Kent says:

    @opiejeanne:

    @Kent: So why don’t you do it? A friend designs posters for The Chamomile Tea Party that are interesting and along those lines: A Sample You can get in touch with him through the link on Flickr and he might like to play with your suggestions.

    I’m a 50-something HS science teacher with no graphic arts or social media skills and not much free time. I wouldn’t know where to start. There seems to be a ton of progressive money out there floating around looking for ways to gain leverage against Trump. Like Bloomberg offering up $500 million and the Tom Steyer multi-million dollar impeachement campaign. It just seems like there should be a wealth of talent and money out there to do this sort of thing.

  141. 141
    John says:

    Well…I just did my taxes. As an upper-income self-employed professional filing single with no kids who derives his entire income from salary I just paid, for the first time, >50% of my income in taxes. That’s federal, NY state, local, plus my ultra-high property tax combined.

    Why is it that the professionals get hammered by every tax plan, Democratic or Republican? This is just brutal. As someone whose income is directly linked to the number of hours worked, this is actually a major disincentive to work more. Do I spend an extra hour working when 50% of that is taken away? Or do I go ride my bike or go for a hike?

  142. 142
    Bill Arnold says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Fair enough but that’s also a way to address, and protect against, “environmental racism.”

    Yes, that’s the reason for including such language. And it’s a real effect, though the definition of “environmental racism” is pretty hard to pin down and a lot of the effect is due to class/power, and the resulting stalling may not be globally (beyond the neighborhood) optimal. White well-off NIMBYs were the first with techniques[1] for fighting locally undesirable projects AFAIK, but all groups are learning them now.
    The point is simply that delays addressing climate change will be costly in many ways including 10s(+) of millions of human lives.

    [1] Decades ago I saw a single local neighborhood person who happened to be a lawyer (retired?) stall a large corporate campus development for something like a decade until the corporation gave up. More recently, (ostensibly) “asthetics”-driven opposition to wind farms or solar panels on utility poles[2] or solar panels on roofs or small solar farms or …
    [2] Solar Panels Rise Pole by Pole, Followed by Gasps of ‘Eyesore’ (MIREYA NAVARROAPRIL 27, 2011)
    Note: Europeans and many others laugh at the US’s (mostly) overhead utility infrastructure.

  143. 143
    opiejeanne says:

    @Kent: That’s why I gave you the link to my friend’s flickr account and a sample of his work. He’s newly retired (worked for the National Gallery, I think) and he’s an artist. He might like your suggestions as he’s always looking for new ideas.
    Take a look at some of his stuff, then mail him through flickr. If you can’t do that I can get you in touch with him through Facebook, which is one of the places where he displays his work. Let me know if you need help getting in touch with him. ETA for correction: He was with the Smithsonian Art Gallery and The Renwick Gallery.
    His webpage/blog:
    https://outtacontext.com/?fbclid=IwAR0lgpbisKZgq_X_1uQYjysburTU5gyRjL9ja-q5YfJMUWldp97nosr3Yb8

  144. 144
    Barbara says:

    @Kent: Well, it does depend on how it would be done, but yes, most likely you are missing the details. Honestly, it is just too complex to respond to in detail, but the short answer is that even in your nightmare scenario, Big Corp. would end up paying humongous rates on out of network utilization.

  145. 145
    Aleta says:

    @opiejeanne: impressive work

  146. 146
    Fair Economist says:

    @rikyrah: Aren’t the attacks on black Americans who aren’t descended from slaves directed at Kamala Harris? Whose African-American descent comes from Jamaica, so she actually is descended from slaves?

    As usual, conservative arguments are both irrelevant AND factually incorrect.

  147. 147
    Juice Box says:

    @Yutsano: I’m also a volunteer tax preparer. We do it all for free! We have certain limitations on what we are allowed to handle, but unless you have rental income, depreciation, or a lot of business income, we can probably do your taxes.

    I’ve had to explain to people over and over this year that their tax refund is lower because their withholding was lower. They’re still disappointed—even the ones who voted for you-know-who. They all seem to think that he had promised “no taxes” for anyone who made less than $50K.

  148. 148
    Bill Arnold says:

    @chris:

    Highly recommend this thread from RGW

    Unconvincing (though worth a read). This sort of coalition building will be easily wedged into multiple squabbling pieces by right wing propagandists.
    I hate speaking from the wrong side of the litmus test here (not my personal position, TBH), but we need to remember the relentlessness and dishonesty of the opposition.

  149. 149
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Kent:

    What Trump and Schultz are ACTUALLY proposing is to strip states of the ability to regulate health coverage within their state borders, without replacing that with any kind of comparable regulation at the Federal level.

    Well stated.
    Race to the bottom as policy.

  150. 150
    germy says:

    Etsy sellers say their bank accounts were emptied in major billing snafu

    People who sell crafts and other goods on Etsy, an e-commerce site focused on handmade and small-batch products, say they woke up to a nasty surprise Friday morning when thousands of dollars were withdrawn from the bank accounts and credit cards sellers are required to have on file in order to have an Etsy storefront.

    The amounts of those surprise withdrawals varied wildly, from a few hundred dollars, to tens of thousands.

    https://boingboing.net/2019/02/17/etsy-sellers-say-their-bank-ac.html

  151. 151
    tobie says:

    @moonbat: I just typed a long response to you that my computer ate, so in a nutshell: the 2009 stimulus contained massive funding for job retraining and even projects that would utilize those skills. Coal country wasn’t interested. I don’t know how you reach folks who are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face.

    My sense is that what drove people to the polls in 2018 was not the progressive agenda per se but horror at Trump and the complete breakdown of the social contract. I’m not sure where they stand ideologically.

  152. 152
    vizzini says:

    @laura:

    We’ve lost SALT, student loan interest,

    Yes, many people have been screwed by the tax “cut”.

    However student loan interest is still deductible. If you are being told it isn’t, you may want to reconsider the quality of information.

  153. 153

    @chris: @Bill Arnold: I read it too. Lots of buzzwords but no real substance, would be my summary

  154. 154
    Kent says:

    @Barbara:

    @Kent: Well, it does depend on how it would be done, but yes, most likely you are missing the details. Honestly, it is just too complex to respond to in detail, but the short answer is that even in your nightmare scenario, Big Corp. would end up paying humongous rates on out of network utilization.

    I understand that patients would pay hugely for out-of-network utiliation as that is exactly what happens today. Who is the “Big Corp” in your answer? The insurer or the employer? And how would they be forced to pay humongous rates when patients go out of network in another state?

    The point I’m making is that this whole topic of selling insurance across state lines is really a deliberate deception. Insurance companies are free to sell across state lines today and the big companies all do this. What they are really talking about is eliminating the ability of states to regulate the health insurance that is sold within the borders of that state. Which is an entirely different proposition, and one that most people, including Republicans, are likely to be skeptical of.

  155. 155
    Martin says:

    2.6 million Californians are paying more in taxes after the tax cut than they were before. In case anyone is wondering why there are no Republicans representing Orange County any longer. We don’t even need to thread the needle between withholding and refund, we’re just straight up paying more.

  156. 156
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @tobie: I really don’t understand why people in coal mining families want to… STAY COAL MINERS. Coal mining sucks! “Here’s a thing you can do that pays as much as coal mining and gives you at least the same sense of purpose and satisfaction as coal mining, only without the pesky coal mining” should be an easy proposition. But apparently it isn’t.

  157. 157
    debbie says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    I’d be more concerned about the “some” in “some taxpayers” than anything else.

  158. 158
    Yutsano says:

    @Monala: @Juice Box: To be fair, I’m not mentioning you guys for a couple reasons. Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) has been a long standing staple for tax preparation for decades. Y’all are trained by the IRS on how to do returns correctly, and most VITA prepared returns aren’t selected for audit.

    I wasn’t including VITA in my critique because A) you have no profit motive and B) there is a limit on the population you serve. Theoretically the only limit on a preparer is the limit the client can pay. And I have seen charges of over $500 before.

  159. 159
    WereBear says:

    @FlipYrWhig: From my time spent in such cultures, I would say part of the problem with retraining and revitalization is that it would require people — especially white men — to change and adapt.

    Sad to say, many of them graduated from high school, got a job, and got married in a short span of time; and then they put their brain on a shelf marked For Emergency Use Only.

  160. 160
    debbie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    It will be interesting next year to see how your NY city and state taxes compare to those in CA.

  161. 161
    debbie says:

    @jacy:

    In case you missed my comment last night, pay your mortgage as early as you can.

  162. 162
    tobie says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I don’t get it either. One thing I’ve noticed when miners are interviewed on TV is that they often say their grandfather was a miner, their daddy was a miner, and they will be a miner too. You don’t have to be trained in psychology to see this is some kind of identity issue.

    ETA: WereBear in #157 has a better hypothesis.

  163. 163
    debbie says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I think it’s the “New Deal” part of the name. Everyone knows that was FDR’s hidden agenda to turn the country red. //

  164. 164
    debbie says:

    @tobie:

    I believe it’s because the pay is far better than any other job available to them.

  165. 165
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @WereBear: I get that but what’s still odd to me is that most men I’ve known who are vaguely that type _also_ have a lot of pride in being able to use tools to build and fix things and put in an honest day’s sweaty, tiring labor. I’m sure “retraining” can be scary if you’re retraining from a shower-after-work job to a shower-before-work job. Maybe even both scary *and* psychologically emasculating. But if you’re going from a shower-after-work job to a *different* shower-after-work job, what’s the hangup? You’re not going to stand for the humiliation of… driving a road grader for the county, or turning a wrench for a different kind of company, instead? I don’t get it.

  166. 166
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @tobie: You don’t have to be trained in psychology to see this is some kind of identity issue.

    I think you’re right. Coal mining is real man’s work. What kind of man makes frou-frou solar panels. That sounds almost commie, or worse… French.

  167. 167
    chris says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    we need to remember the relentlessness and dishonesty of the opposition.

    Of course. No one said it would be easy. IMHO the GND is a success because it is being discussed fairly or otherwise. That discussion has been sorely lacking for a long time.

  168. 168
    Jeffro says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I guess a winning politician will have to tell them that “yes, there is nothing wrong with being a coal miner and yes, your ancestors did the worlds most noble work in being a coalminer … but those jobs are going away, and we have other jobs providing precious precious energy to America like your coal mining ancestors did so please take the green job . Also, look! See the pretty blue sky? Now you will be able to enjoy the pretty blue sky while you work instead of oh never “

  169. 169
    Redshift says:

    @tobie:

    My sense is that what drove people to the polls in 2018 was not the progressive agenda per se but horror at Trump and the complete breakdown of the social contract. I’m not sure where they stand ideologically.

    I suspect there’s a lot of truth to that, but I’m hopeful that people who have broken with their former tribe once will be easier to persuade in the future. We have an advantage in that the things we advocate for are actually the ends we want to achieve, whereas theirs are a smokescreen to benefit the rich, maintained by demands to distrust anyone outside the bubble.

  170. 170
    Fair Economist says:

    @Bill Arnold: In general I agree with the basic principles of a Green New Deal but I am disappointed with the actual document. There is overlap between climate change and economic justice but it’s not perfect, and the proposal reads like a wishlist because no effort was made to focus on the actual overlaps. For example, employment-tied healthcare is a problem, but it’s not one that gets meaningfully worse in the context of a GND. On the other hand, suburban transportation *does* become much more of a problem with Green New Deal policies and it’s already a huge problem for the tens of millions below-average income folks there. That problem got short shrift. Similarly with high crime rates in many older cities, which reduce the population of physically well-built non-sprawl areas by millions.

    I can see political reasons for ducking suburban land use issues but I don’t get the impression that’s why it was left out. So basically it looks like a proposal by somebody who didn’t do their homework.

  171. 171
    chris says:

    Also:

    What's most surreal to me about the climate conversation is that almost no one is talking or acting like it's real – even the people who "believe" it. The hair-splitting legalisms, the tone policing, just the general glibness … it all sounds so tinny in light of the tragedy.— David Roberts (@drvox) 8 February 2019

  172. 172
    hitchhiker says:

    @Kay:

    We can also run on the 40% increase in the federal deficit over the last year. They really did pass a tax HIKE for most Americans and borrowed a phenomenal amount of money to give a CUT to our corporate sponsors.

    So, all of us are in debt AND most of us still have to pay more.

  173. 173
    trollhattan says:

    Chris Wallace tries to do journalism to Stephen Miller.

  174. 174
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @debbie: But that can be addressed. The pay at the next job doesn’t *have* to be less. I mean, I know I’m not saying anything all that surprising. But it has always struck me as rather odd. I’m a man but this is a sort of Man Thing that I suppose I am just not wired to comprehend.

  175. 175

    I work at a library, and one of my key jobs is making sure we get the tax forms in each year for people to use. (yes, people – especially retirees – like working on printed paper instead of online)

    The first thing i noticed about the new forms was that they got rid of the 1040A and EZ formats. The second thing I noticed was they had gotten rid of of a lot of credits and deductions just on the main 1040 itself. They had literally cut both sides of the page in half.

    I realized then a lot of people were suddenly going to see a lot of popular deductions – especially the mortgage interest – disappear, and would have to rely on the standard deductions that may not give them a large enough refund.

    Everything I’m seeing online is proving me right: a lot of people are missing their deductions and finding they have to pay more instead of getting money back.

    If this can only break a lot of middle-class and low-income Whites out of their fear of minorities to realize that the Republican Party are a bunch of crooks… I doubt it, but if it can…

  176. 176
    Old Man by the Sea says:

    @Kay: Mondale ran on raising taxes (as a necessary evil).

  177. 177
    Martin says:

    @schrodingers_cat: The single biggest component to California’s success with addressing climate change has been conservation and rewriting regulation that incentivizes conservation over consumption. That’s a key thing to look for in a GND – does it contain policies that are designed to reduce the consumption of goods whose production involves the release of carbon emissions.

    That can be done in a whole host of ways – a carbon tax, cap and trade, but also price regulation as you find in every utility market. Only CA has an electricity market that rewards power companies more when their consumers use less power than when they use more.

    I’ll say it again, the GND should simply co-opt entirely the lessons learned from CA. Cap and trade has worked. In fact, it’s worked well enough without damage to the economy that we’re replacing it bit by bit with a straight up carbon tax, which is easier to implement. Conservation works. The lesson we can’t help that much on is transportation – that hasn’t gone so smoothly. EVs look like a promising route, and we have half the nations EVs, but it needs to move MUCH faster. Mass transit would almost certainly have been better, and we’ve made some good headway on that, but I can’t say we’ve been sufficiently successful there. I’d say to look at NYC, but the $3B they offered Amazon should have been spent on unfucking the subway, so I’m not sure they have terribly good policies to draw from.

  178. 178
    Brachiator says:

    @Yutsano:

    I’ll do some research on this at work Tuesday, but I don’t recall the 90% estimated tax penalty rule changing, As far as I know as long as you pay 90% of your liability by tax time you don’t get the penalty. But don’t take my word for it just yet.

    The threshold has been lowered to 85 percent. This is noted in the Form 2210 instructions. Note that some tax software is not handling this correctly for e-filing.

    Some members of Congress are pushing for greater relief.

  179. 179
    khead says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Actually, it is (or was) a thing for a lot of us (grandson of miners here). New technology is not the only reason why the population of southern WV has decreased drastically in the last 50 years. My #1 goal in the first 20 years of my life was to build a life to escape the mines. When you sit around in your teen years listening to your grandfather tell stories about the gold ol’ days of union busting – in between sucking on the breathing machine because of his black lung – you are plenty motivated to get the hell out of there. A lot of us just voted with our feet instead of staying and banging our head against the wall that is coal politics.

  180. 180
    opiejeanne says:

    @Yutsano: We paid our tax guy about $325 last year. We started having someone do our taxes when I realized that David, who is an engineer, was missing a lot of deductions we were entitled to because he’s not a tax expert and the laws change a little (or a lot) every year, but he simply did not know what to look for.
    Ask him to design a freeway and he’s your man. He can calculate how many tons of paving you’ll need like nobody’s business, as well as design the freeway. If you’ve driven in Southern California on a freeway there’s a good chance you’ve driven on a piece that he designed.
    Don’t ever let him be the banker if you play Monopoly, because his math suddenly becomes very faulty.

  181. 181
    WereBear says:

    @FlipYrWhig: @tobie: One doesn’t have to be a blue-collar worker to have this lack of flexibility.

    I’ve mostly worked in offices, mostly as IT, and what I get then is a form of:

    Why should I switch to Lotus? I like VisiCalc!

    Why should I switch to Excel? I like Lotus!

    Google Sheets? But I have Excel!

  182. 182
    debbie says:

    @Brachiator:

    Isn’t it odd that that isn’t what’s in Pub. 17, though?

  183. 183
    SFAW says:

    @debbie:

    I think it’s the “New Deal” part of the name. Everyone knows that was FDR’s hidden agenda to turn the country red.

    I know you said it as snark, but that’s actually one of the big RWMF drivers. A bunch of them used to talk about “the Constitution in exile,” starting with the New Deal. I don’t know if it’s a Federalist Society thing, or just various flavors of RWMF, but it’s pernicious.

    ETA: I fixed the “Constitution in exile,” my feeble brain was mixing that with Rushbo’s “America held hostage” when Bill Clinton was elected.

  184. 184
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    The coal miner who attended a HRC town hall and got so much press said later that he didn’t want to hear about any job-training because god put that coal in the ground to provide a living for him and his family.

    How do you argue with somebody like that?

  185. 185
    SFAW says:

    @WereBear:
    Are you saying there’s something newer than VisiCalc? And it runs on CP/M? Interesting.

  186. 186
    Martin says:

    @chris: I agree with this. I think that’s one thing that is a bit further along in CA. You have millions of households here that are making decisions to either:

    1) Conserve
    2) Add residential solar (over 1 million homes)
    3) Switch to an EV or Plug-in Hybrid (~500,000 now – 10% of all new cars sales)

    We’re continuing to move from ‘support policy decisions’ to ‘I’ll take the initiative and do it myself’ among the general public – and that’s really important. You get there when the public puts it as a front of mind item. I’m not sure how common that is outside of CA, but the numbers suggest that it’s fairly rare.

  187. 187
    Chyron HR says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    You don’t argue, you cast off your foul Identity Politics and exalt him as a glorious member of the White Working Class.

  188. 188

    @jacy:
    I’m so relieved for you.

  189. 189
    Amir Khalid says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    Who says the market for coal is dying? Democrats. Who is saying that the use of coal fuel — of the fruit of their labours — contributes to global warming and harms the environment? Democrats. Who’s telling them they need to give up their identity as coal miners? Democrats.
    Who promises that there will always be a market for coal? Republicans. Who tells them that global warming is a lie spread by China? Republicans. Who is reassuring them that they can keep on being coal miners, doing what they know, like their fathers before them? Republicans.
    Bitter truths have a way of losing out to sweet lies.

  190. 190
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Sure, but I would submit that for, say, single wage-earners who rent rather than owning a house, using a tax preparer would be a bit like getting the extended warranty at Best Buy. Given the unlikelihood of the downside, the insurance is wasted. People in general seem way more scared of (a) math and (b) the government than they really need to be.

    This is a tough call. There have been massive changes this year, so even if an individual’s income and situation has not changed, the new tax law might yield a significantly different result. It’s not just about the math.

    So I might recommend using a tax preparer. At least read the What’s New section in the Form 1040 instructions. I am not sure how good the hints and help are in popular tax prep software this year.

    And the trick is to find a good preparer. I have talked to some preparers this season who are not quite up to speed. But others have it all down and are ready to rock and roll.

  191. 191
    trnc says:

    @Kent: And she thinks a loan is a liability for the lending institution.

    Banks, how do they work.

  192. 192
    khead says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    It’s… difficult. WereBear and tobie are hitting most of the right notes in this discussion.

    Also, no, most miners really can’t make more (or even the same) in another job for their educational level.

  193. 193
    Another Scott says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Respectfully, not too many people like dying early because of coal dust, or being injured and living the rest of their life in pain.

    WV coal miners start around $60k/yr.

    78% of the jobs that show up at ZipRecruiter for WV are in the $17-38k/yr range.

    Would you be enthusiastic about being retrained for a new career that involved a 50-75% cut in pay? I wouldn’t.

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  194. 194
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Yep, I’m one of those Americans who will be getting less than half of the refund I’ve gotten for years. Thanks Trump!!

  195. 195
    Brachiator says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    The coal miner who attended a HRC town hall and got so much press said later that he didn’t want to hear about any job-training because god put that coal in the ground to provide a living for him and his family.

    Others have noted that the job training programs are inadequate and are not job guarantees.

    Trump had an advantage here because he could simply lie and promise that he would make sure that miners would still have their jobs and current wages. It is easier to sell a lie than acknowledge uncertainty.

  196. 196
    Kent says:

    @Brachiator:

    This is a tough call. There have been massive changes this year, so even if an individual’s income and situation has not changed, the new tax law might yield a significantly different result. It’s not just about the math.

    So I might recommend using a tax preparer. At least read the What’s New section in the Form 1040 instructions. I am not sure how good the hints and help are in popular tax prep software this year.

    And the trick is to find a good preparer. I have talked to some preparers this season who are not quite up to speed. But others have it all down and are ready to rock and roll.

    For most people, the decision is not tax preparer vs paper forms, it is tax preparer vs TaxCut or TurboTax.

    I have been using TaxCut for 10 years and TurboTax before that. The step-by-step interview process you go through when using these types of software is pretty comprehensive. For a person with wage income and no obscure quirky tax issues I see nothing that an ordinary tax preparer adds to the equation. I have friends who work as tax preparers and they use the same type of software themselves, it’s just them plugging in the numbers not you.

    Yes, if you are running your own business and have all kinds of complicated and gray area issues regarding expenses and deductions then hiring an accountant is probably the way to go. My brother runs a construction contracting business and he has no time to deal with his own taxes which are infinitely more complicated than mine. But the ordinary person who has primarily wage income and ordinary deductions? I see nothing gained by going to a tax preparer.

  197. 197
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Another Scott: That’s why there should be reinvestment in those areas to replace the waning jobs with jobs that require comparable skill and receive comparable pay. Some sort of thing like they did during the Depression to pay people to do public works. Had a catchy name, too. ;)

  198. 198
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Another Scott: Would you be enthusiastic about being retrained for a new career that involved a 50-75% cut in pay? I wouldn’t.

    welp, there’s a helluva stumbling block

    @FlipYrWhig: I forget who said, Bobby Byrd would’ve paved the state with federal dollars if he could have. And, I’ll add, named the paving after himself.

  199. 199
    danielx says:

    To escape from depressing topics…is it a good day for cat pics/stories? Of course it is!

    Disclaimer: pic is of the parties involved before Christmas, even though this happened two days ago. Didn’t have a camera to hand, which I regret extremely. Further disclaimer, they are both about a year and a half old, cat teens more or less, and very fond of each other.

    The continuing exploits of Natasha and (not so much) Boris…falling into the “I shoulda had video” category.

    They are racing around with Boris in hot pursuit of his adoptive sister. Natasha is an Olympic quality athlete, perfect combination of strength and agility. She leaps from the top of the love seat to the top of the waist-high bookcase dividing the family room and living room, about five and a half feet – amazing, just floating through the air. My man Boris, who outweighs his sister by about fifty percent, is going full tilt and attempts the same leap without thinking about it…and smacks right into the bookcase with front paws just at the top of the bookcase, just like Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner. He was uninjured, just doing that whole “I meant to do that” cat embarrassment thing after a clumsy landing.

    The tears of laughter, they runneth over.

  200. 200
    Another Scott says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: One of the earliest stories I heard about WV when I moved to NoVA was that the state department of transportation was the largest employer. Byrd knew what he was doing. I don’t think that’s the case any more, though.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  201. 201
    MomSense says:

    @danielx:

    A gray tabbie and a tuxy? So cute. I wish I could have a cat or 20.

  202. 202
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Another Scott: Byrd knew what he was doing. I don’t think that’s the case any more, though.

    I wouldn’t count him out yet for a comeback. All he needs is a good campaign manager with a ouija board

  203. 203
    Another Scott says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Hillary had a sensible plan for Appalachia that addressed all these issues. Too many didn’t want to hear it, and too many others didn’t believe her. (With lots of help from Wilmer and the horse-race-Clinton-hating press.)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  204. 204
    Yutsano says:

    @Brachiator: @debbie: Oh look conflicting instructions! No one saw that coming! I kept telling folks that things were going to cross like this. It’s probably not the only one out there.

  205. 205
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    open thread, so…

    Sean Sullivan @ WaPoSean
    Booker asked about Medicare For All. He notes he supports the bill and wants universal coverage. But adds what he calls the “hard truth” abt getting 60 votes in the Senate and talks abt more incremental steps if that can’t be done. He mentions extending coverage down to age 55.

    Warren made similar statements indicating a less ambitious, or less maximalist, approach

  206. 206
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Trump has lost his war against the so-called war on coal so you could just give them some facts. Just joking. They don’t care about facts. If Fox News or Trump isn’t pushing it, they don’t believe it.

  207. 207
    Brachiator says:

    @Kent:

    . I have friends who work as tax preparers and they use the same type of software themselves, it’s just them plugging in the numbers not you.

    There’s an old joke about a guy who complained about paying $100 to get a shot from a doctor.

    The doctor replies, “It’s $10 for the medicine and $90 for me to know where to inject it.”

    You talk about a guy with wage income and ordinary deductions. Yep, but do you know which deductions were repealed this year? Or subject to new limits? If you live in California or certain other states that don’t conform to federal law, do you know how to compute the difference and where to enter it?

    I agree that a lot of returns are or should be simple. And the help built into most tax prep software should be useful. But the tax law changes are so comprehensive that folks cannot say “It’s just like last year.”

  208. 208
    Martin says:

    @trnc: Banks don’t do small lending any more. Part of that is the lack of small banks. Part of that is that there’s more money and less risk in buying/selling larger loans. A small loan is generally a lot of labor to do well, labor they can minimize by buying a stack of mortgages instead. Small lending is almost entirely payday loans. Issuing the loan is all automated with such outrageous interest rates that the defaults caused by the automation are easily absorbed.

    So, as it turns out, that’s not how banks work. It’s how they should work.

  209. 209
    Achrachno says:

    @WereBear: Yeah, learning new software when yore already under pressure getting your actual job done is a pain best postponed as long as possible. Especially since half the time the new software results in only marginal improvement in productivity.

  210. 210
    Brachiator says:

    @Kent:

    Yes, if you are running your own business and have all kinds of complicated and gray area issues regarding expenses and deductions then hiring an accountant is probably the way to go

    You are a single Uber driver who gets a Form 1099 Miscellaneous. Your girlfriend lived with you and might qualify as your dependent. Your 2017 and 2018 tax returns are significantly different.

  211. 211
    BR says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I haven’t seen any good analysis of the supposed Green New Deal (which I support if nothing but for the name, but they really need to figure out what they’re talking about someday).

    One thing that I’m really disappointed about is that they have yet to support a meaningful policy like the Carbon Dividend bill that was put forward last year and should be a core part of any climate legislation:

    https://citizensclimatelobby.org/energy-innovation-and-carbon-dividend-act/

    It’s possibly the simplest, most popular, and most effective thing we could do for the climate and environment generally. But ironically it’s not complicated enough for some traditional progressives, who have stuck with more complex (and unfortunately game-able) cap and trade or carbon tax schemes. Anyway, hope more folks here and elsewhere reach out to their reps about the Carbon Dividend Act.

  212. 212
    tobie says:

    @BR: I think Ted Deutch’s Carbon Dividend Act will come up for a vote this Congress. My suspicion is that there will be some outliers on the left who will oppose it but otherwise it has the overwhelming support of the caucus. I don’t know if any member of the GOP will have the gumption to sign on. Sigh.

  213. 213
    Brachiator says:

    @debbie:

    Isn’t it odd that that isn’t what’s in Pub. 17, though?

    Pub 17 wasn’t even released until January 30, very late.

    The Trump administration has a fundamental contempt for the government they are supposed to be leading, and a lot of their nonsense made it much harder for the IRS to do their job and to help taxpayers get ready for the filing season.

    This is the worst that I have ever seen it. And most of it was totally unnecessary.

  214. 214
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Another Scott: The 60k/year coal-mining jobs in Appalachia are for a workforce that’s been automated down to a fraction of the body-count twenty or thirty years ago. It’s the same with the big open-cast mines in South Dakota, they’re squeezing people out of the process as much as possible — the giant dump trucks that move the coal to the railheads are being adapted for autonomous autopilot control to reduce the payroll and cost of production even further.

    Coal is going to be an important part of the energy mix in the US for the next couple of decades because of this determined drive for economy. Last year coal produced about 27% of America’s electricity, not something that got big headlines because it’s Business As Usual. Any long-term displacement of coal from the market is being forced by cheap gas which is increasing its share of the US electricity generation portfolio and of course gas dumps fossil CO2 into the atmosphere, just not as much per MWh produced.

  215. 215
    Martin says:

    @Another Scott: That’s kind of bullshit, to be honest.

    There are 13,000 people employed in the coal industry in West Virginia. The state is hiring 3,000 nurses a year, less than a ⅓ of which are coming out of WV residents because not enough of them are trained to be nurses. So that’s 2,000 jobs each year that could be going to retrained workers that aren’t. Hospitals in WV are paying a $25K signing bonus and paying for housing to get hires. And while many of the jobs only initially pay $50K-$60K (with benefits) that goes up to $80K-$100K with additional training and higher if you are willing to be a traveling nurse.

    That’s not a significant cut in pay. These are local jobs. They are good, safe, reliable jobs. They are generally funded by taxpayers outside of WV (Medicare, etc.). But they aren’t manly jobs. They require empathy. They involve a real amount of training (which has been offered to them free of charge). This is a cultural problem more than an economic one. We put the resources forward. We did the economic work. They wouldn’t put forward the cultural work. It’s been a real boon for young people in NoVA and PA that have gone through nursing programs, though. They’re making M.S. money out of an A.S. degree.

  216. 216
    debbie says:

    @Brachiator:

    As far as you know, is that 85% figure just for 2018 taxes, or is it the new standard? (I like to plan my trickery in advance.)

  217. 217
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Fair Economist:

    In general I agree with the basic principles of a Green New Deal but I am disappointed with the actual document.

    Likewise, I was a bit surprised at the actual document, in an oh-shit way.
    My concern is how the Green New Deal could be modified to make it a lot more resistant to wedge attacks and other attacks.
    I see stuff like this:
    The Green New Deal Challenges The Domination Of Capital (February 13, 2019 – Ed Walker)
    Which is fine for what it is (I’m closer to it than it might appear but entirely argue with the analysis) but SO easily attacked in the current US political climate.

    So basically it looks like a proposal by somebody who didn’t do their homework.

    Part of the homework is laying down a practical political roadmap (secret would be fine, perhaps necessary). I don’t see any hint of it so far. And TBH I personally need to evaluated it more dispassionately; it’s deliberately setting off emotional buttons. But it will do so for others as well, including those who aren’t decided.

  218. 218
    Brachiator says:

    @debbie:

    As far as you know, is that 85% figure just for 2018 taxes, or is it the new standard? (I like to plan my trickery in advance.)

    Good question. I honestly do not know.

    Congress wants to provide additional relief.

    The original new tax law was written without any input from the Democrats. Now that the Democrats control the House, things should be different.

    I think that a conservative approach would be to try to hit the old 90 percent target.

  219. 219
    Brachiator says:

    @Martin:

    The state is hiring 3,000 nurses a year, less than a ⅓ of which are coming out of WV residents because not enough of them are trained to be nurses. So that’s 2,000 jobs each year that could be going to retrained workers that aren’t.

    A 55 year old coal miner with a high school education, or even a college education, is not going to retrain to become a nurse.

  220. 220
    Martin says:

    @debbie: This is why we started hiring someone to do our taxes a few years ago. This whipsaw changes in policy have coincided with our personal need to back out of some large cap gain investments, as well as paying for college and some other off-baseline tax situations. Back in 2012 I think it was I went into tax season expecting to pay a few grand, only to discover that despite $120K in wages and cap gains, our tax liability for the previous year was… $0. We were refunded every dollar withheld. That was great and all, though it seemed profoundly unfair, but I decided that it was just not feasible for me to keep up with the tax laws. And that was before Trump said ‘fuck it, government doesn’t need to run properly’.

  221. 221
    Martin says:

    @Brachiator: No, the 55 year old should stay in the mines until they retire. Nobody believed the mines were going to close tomorrow. It’s the 30 year old coal miner that needs too retrain. But they won’t do it either.

  222. 222
    khead says:

    @Martin:

    The 55 year old WILL try to tough it out and stay. The 30 year old miner will just move if they have the resources. Also, less than 5% of miners have any kind of degree.

  223. 223
    Kent says:

    @Brachiator:

    There’s an old joke about a guy who complained about paying $100 to get a shot from a doctor.

    The doctor replies, “It’s $10 for the medicine and $90 for me to know where to inject it.”

    You talk about a guy with wage income and ordinary deductions. Yep, but do you know which deductions were repealed this year? Or subject to new limits? If you live in California or certain other states that don’t conform to federal law, do you know how to compute the difference and where to enter it?

    I agree that a lot of returns are or should be simple. And the help built into most tax prep software should be useful. But the tax law changes are so comprehensive that folks cannot say “It’s just like last year.”

    I don’t have to know what has changed because H&R Block’s Tax Cut software knows. It would be a MASSIVE scandal if they botched something that basic. And they constantly update their software with last minute tax changes. So before I file the sofware checks for any last minute updates. Maybe I should’t trust them. But I do, and frankly I trust a company like TaxCut or TurboTax to get is more right than some tax preparer in a strip mall.

  224. 224
  225. 225
    debbie says:

    @Martin:

    I had an accountant back when I needed it and it made sense. Wall Street took care of that though.

  226. 226
    Kent says:

    @Brachiator:

    You are a single Uber driver who gets a Form 1099 Miscellaneous. Your girlfriend lived with you and might qualify as your dependent. Your 2017 and 2018 tax returns are significantly different.

    No argument from me. All I am saying is that all of the main tax prep software packages on the market are going to catch this sort of thing. That is what they do. Sure, if you are the old duffer who goes to the library and picks up the paper forms you are likely to miss stuff and had better be aware of what is going on and what has changed. But the tax prep software on the market today is pretty comprehensive. Have you ever actually used it and can you point to examples of where these sorts of examples are missed by people doing their taxes on TurboTax or TaxCut?

    To me this sort of thing sounds a lot like the Edward Jones guy down the street telling me that I need to pay him 1.5% to invest my money because he has the “secret sauce” that will find me those secret investment returns that I’m not going to get by paying 0.1% fees to go the DIY route with Vanguard index funds.

  227. 227
    sgrAstar says:

    @Ruckus: preach it, Ruckus!

  228. 228
    Monala says:

    @Kent: I caught two errors when I tried to do my taxes with H&R Block software this year. I tried to let customer service know, to no avail. I ended up having to use a different software program.

  229. 229
    Brachiator says:

    @Kent:

    No argument from me. All I am saying is that all of the main tax prep software packages on the market are going to catch this sort of thing

    I already noted that these software packages include help and interview modes. HR Block and TurboTax also let you talk to a CPA or EA because they have seen where this help fails.

    Have you ever actually used it and can you point to examples of where these sorts of examples are missed by people doing their taxes on TurboTax or TaxCut?

    Yeah. I can. All day long. I can also point out where fed and state software is wrong. TurboTax got bit bad with some states a couple of years ago. This year every tax prep company is doing more updates.

    If I were a wage earner, and insistent on doing my own taxes, I would at least look at the What’s New section of the Form 1040 instructions. If I had a simple Schedule C, I would also look at the What’s New section of the Form 1040-ES instructions as well as the Schedule C instructions. This is even built into some tax prep software.

    And, because of the magnitude of changes this year, I might consider using a good preparer, at least for this year.

    HR Block used to have a second look offer that would review self prepared returns. They claimed that they found $1 billion in missed deductions and credits.

  230. 230
    Another Scott says:

    @Martin: (Late to the party, but I’ll post this anyway.)

    My comment was addressing why areas where people had been miners for decades weren’t enthusiastic about retraining, and why they were so vociferous about protecting coal jobs.

    How many, say, 48 year old coal miners do you think are willing to go to school for 2+ years to get a baseline nursing certificate? While earning $0 going to school? (My mom wanted to be a nurse for all her life. Kids and lots of other things got in the way, but she eventually got her nursing pin. it took her decades.)

    I’m not saying that WV coal miners should have jobs until the heat death of the universe. I know, as we all do, that humans are being phased out in many mining jobs in the developing world. And we know that WV mines are competing with western US mines, as well as mines in Australia, in addition to gas and wind and solar and all the rest when it comes to getting a decent market price. Even if coal is around for 20 more years, that doesn’t mean that coal mines in WV will be supplying it. (IIRC, JR in WV said that the WV mines are basically played out.)

    I’m saying that those 13,000 (or whatever) people working in the mines aren’t going to give up those jobs that pay their bills and put food on their families on the political promise that there will be “good jobs” waiting for them if they only go to school for 2+ years. They can look out their windows and talk to their neighbors and know whether there are $60,000/yr jobs in the area now or not.

    I’m well aware that hospitals want more nurses. Nursing is often backbreaking work for 12+ hour days with far too often little respect from other people in the hospitals and clinics. Who would want to go to school for 2+ years to be able to meet the requirements only to end up in a job like that? It’s no wonder that there’s a shortage of them, especially in rural and economically-depressed areas. That doesn’t mean that coal miners are a good fit for those jobs.

    I’m also saying that this is a very difficult problem to address in an actually meaningful way. You have to address the well-paid people who have recently lost their mining jobs. You have to address the people who have been underemployed for decades. You have to address the people in school now. And you have to get political support for however-many tens of billions of dollars that you want to spend over tens of decades – why there as opposed to rust-belt cities, or areas of coastal cities that will be washed away, or western cities and ranches and farm lands that will turn into dust bowls?

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  231. 231
  232. 232
    rikyrah says:

    @WereBear:
    Yeah 👏👏 👏🤗 🤗

  233. 233
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Another Scott: Jesus Fucking Christ. Even if coal “makes a comeback” those $60K+ jobs are never coming back. Before they dig a pound of Appalachian coal they’ll strip mine it in Wyoming, because that’s cheaper. Before they hire a miner to dig a pound of Appalachian coal they’ll tear off the mountaintops & sort it out of the rubble (while trashing the valleys & streams with the leftovers). Repeat after me:

    High-paying coal mining jobs ain’t never nohow coming back!

    Imbeciles.

  234. 234
    Bess says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    Coal is going to be an important part of the energy mix in the US for the next couple of decades because of this determined drive for economy. Last year coal produced about 27% of America’s electricity, not something that got big headlines because it’s Business As Usual.

    Coal produced 57% of US electricity in 1985. Now it’s fallen to less than half of that. The early drops were due to lower cost natural gas but now wind and solar are also cheaper than most coal plants and are also helping speed coal’s end.

    In 1985 fossil fuels provided 72.6% of US electricity while non-hydro renewables provided 0.4% (geothermal).

    By 2017 fossil fuel market share dropped to 62.4% and non-hydro renewables rose to 9.6%. The rate of FF replacement is accelerating while NG’s share hasn’t really grown since 2012.

    Coal has become non-competitive in markets where the fuel has to be imported/shipped. The only place where coal is holding out is where plants are located close to large open pit mines.

  235. 235
    John Fremont says:

    @Kent: Exactly. Our own. David Anderson hosted a discussion on these issues.

    https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/01/07/health-insurance-across-state-lines-coerci

  236. 236
    Brachiator says:

    @Bess:

    Coal has become non-competitive in markets where the fuel has to be imported/shipped. The only place where coal is holding out is where plants are located close to large open pit mines.

    These sad souls are fighting against reality. Coal mining is a zombie industry that has been dying for decades.

    US employment in coal mining peaked in 1923, when there were 863,000 coal miners. Since then, mechanization has greatly improved productivity in coal mining, so that employment has declined at the same time coal production increased. The average number of coal mining employees declined to 50,500 in 2016.

  237. 237
    catclub says:

    @Yutsano: QBI -wonderful deduction for me. So good I suspect I am doing it wrong.
    But no clear examples of what is QBI.

  238. 238
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Brachiator: Coal jobs and coal production aren’t the same thing. There’s been a large reduction in the amount of coal mining and consumption in the US over the past few decades but that’s happened because gas has become so cheap it’s displacing coal for electricity generation. However gas is still a fossil carbon fuel and adds CO2 to the atmosphere when it’s burnt even in Green states like California.

    Electricity demand in the US is set to increase as more and more people use electric vehicles. Combine that with a growing population and more gas production and consumption and the result is continuing increases of CO2 output, offset by less use of oil and petroleum. The human race needs the actual levels of CO2 to be going down, not cheering simply because the rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is slowing down and anyway it isn’t, it’s actually getting faster (about 2.7 parts per million added each year, up from about 2.2 ppm annual addition in the last decade).

    The Bad News: there’s no cheap way to stop burning fossil carbon for energy. It’s going to cost money, a lot of it and poor people are going to have to pay more for heating, electricity, transport and the other things that energy provides for them if the world stops extracting and burning fossil fuel as it has to to survive. Jobs are going to be lost, millions of them, in the oil industry — Texas and Louisiana for example are states which depend on their oil and gas businesses. Stop all oil and gas production and they’re going to look like West Virginia coal towns but multiplied a thousand. Same for South Dakota, the people there and their two Senators aren’t going to vote for poverty when there are billions of tonnes of coal there that can be dug up for profit.

    As someone else upthread pointed out it’s taken thirty years of cost-no-object and Government subsidies to get US electricity supply to 10% renewables (wind and solar). It might take twenty years more to double that to 20%, a capacity which won’t keep up with the decommissioning of the non-carbon nuclear reactor fleet (currently supplying 20% of America’s electricity demand) which is ageing out and with no replacements planned. That will mean more gas pumping and burning, not less.

Comments are closed.