Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Baratunde Thurston makes the point that even beyond income and wealth inequality, there's an obviously unfair distribution of second chances in the U.S. depending on one's race and class. Denis Campbell reports on the link between poverty and childhood obesity, while Jen St. Denis highlights how poverty can cause and exacerbate mental health problems.

- Kyle Bakx points out how a systematic effort to encourage people living in poverty to file their tax returns can result in help getting where it's needed most. And conversely, the Star 's editorial board writes that piling fines on people with no means to pay them serves no useful purpose.

- David Cay Johnston examines the U.S.' tax rolls and finds a large number of wealthy Americans paying no income tax at all:
In 2014, the latest year for which we have data, more than two million of the 148.6 million tax-filing households reported negative incomes. The number of such households has been rising for years. In 1994 it was 0.8% of income tax returns, but in 2014 it hit 1.4%. That's one in 73, up from one in 125.

Some of these households have one-time losses, usually from failed business. But many must be wealthy, too, benefiting from liberal tax avoidance laws set by Congress.

My detailed analysis of the official data shows that those who reported negative incomes on average are wealthier and enjoy more cash flow by far than the average American.

Some surprising facts:
  • More than a fourth of these non-taxpaying households had paying jobs in 2014.
  • These households had vastly more investment income than all but the top half of 1% of all households.
  • One in three negative-income households reported receiving taxable interest, compared to 29% of all taxpayers. The average amount they reported was $6,939. For comparison, those making $75,000 to $100,000 in 2014 reported average taxable interest of just $860.
What we do not know is how many of these are people reporting negative income just once – and how many, like Trump, have reported negative income year-after-year, despite huge incomes that they collect free of income tax.
When you get to even richer households, Donald Trump territory, you still find negative-income taxpayers: The 410,300 tax households reporting incomes of $1 million or more in 2014 had an average income that was more than $3.3 million. But 444 of these million-dollar-plus households – about one in 900 – paid no income tax.
- Doreen Nichol rightly argues that children living on reserves shouldn't face continued systemic discrimination, while Jody Porter reports that First Nations residents needing medical travel are facing regular breaches of privacy compared to other patients. And CBC reports that the Idle No More movement is rightly demanding that Justin Trudeau live up to his promises, rather than pretending that rhetoric is enough to make up for continued unfair treatment.

- In a similar vein, Nathan Cullen discusses the need to hold the Libs to their promise of electoral reform. And Tavia Grant reports on the Libs' failure to follow through on a commitment to ban the use of asbestos.

- Finally, Judith Lavoie comments on the need for renewed anti-SLAPP protection to allow people to participate meaningfully in public debates about the issues that affect them. And Michael Geist offers his suggestions for the future of Canadian journalism.

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