Income Taxes Got You Down?

Well, if perfessir Daniel Altman (an adjunct associate perfessir of economics at NYU, and former member of the New York Times editorial board) gets his way, your problem is solved – shelve the darned income tax – not to mention the estate and gift tax – at least for now.

That’s the good news, though Altman has another idea, to solve “the real menace for our long-term prosperity” which he thinks is “not income inequality – it’s wealth inequality…”  And does he ever have a way to fix that – how about a “wealth tax of just 1.5 percent on financial assets and other wealth like housing, cars and business ownership”?

In his recent New York Times dissertation, Altman wrings his hands over the Gini coefficient – a number between 0 and 100 that rises with greater disparities.  “From the late 1970s through the early 1990s, the Census Bureau recorded Gini coefficients for income in the low 40s.  Yet by 1992, the Gini coefficient for wealth had risen into the mid-70s,” quoth Altman.  And since then, “it has risen steadily, to about 80 as of 2010.  In 1992, the top tenth of the population controlled 20 times the wealth controlled by the bottom half.  By 2010, it was 65 times.  Our graduated income tax system redistributes a small amount of money every year but does little to slow the polarization of wealth.”

We wonder how long it will take Obama to latch on to this dude for a czarship, or cabinet post.

Espousing wealth tax rates ranging from zero (for those with as much as $500,000) to 2 percent (for wealth above $1 million), Altman propounds that “these tax rates would garner a small portion of the extra wealth America’s richest families could expect to accrue simply by investing what they already had.”  How nice of the good perfessir to deign that the “richest” among us only be charged a “small portion of the extra.”

Give credit to this pointy-headed shlub for at least paying a little lip service to the “complication” which would arise from phasing in a new scheme such as this, given that “people who already paid income tax on the money used to buy their assets would not want to pay a new tax on them.  Yet a reduced wealth tax – perhaps 1 percent in the top bracket to start (emphasis added) – would collect less from many of them than the current income tax.”

Need we say more about the musings of this presumptuous snob?

CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters.  You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your own particular situation.

Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He may be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at

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