Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Eric Levitz exposes the unsoundness of the right-wing excuses for allowing the accumulation of obscene wealth. And Toby Sanger weighs on the effect of increased tax rates on extremely wealthy individuals - along with the other policies which need to accompany more progressive taxation:
(T)here isn’t much evidence that raising top income tax rates actually leads to a large out-migrations. Significant differences in income tax rates in the New York City region haven’t led to many people moving to take advantage of lower tax rates, except for those in retirement age. Other lifestyle factors, including the quality of life and public services, tend to be much more important for people, especially for those with higher incomes.

There’s also little convincing evidence that those with top incomes significantly reduce their work efforts in response to higher income tax rates to the degree that it would result in lower revenues.  Instead, most economists agree that by far the largest behavioral response to higher top income tax rates involves tax avoidance (and evasion) by income shifting. When there’s income shifting for tax purposes, the income often shows up in other places, although taxed at a lower rate.

For those with the money and means, this can be achieved in many ways, some legal and others illegal, including by taking advantage by the lower rates of tax for private corporations, lower rates of tax on stock options, capital gains, and investments, use of private family trusts, tax evasion and taking advantage of tax havens.

Canada’s wealthy are already so proficient at using these loopholes and other means to reduce their taxes that the average reported income tax rate on the very top 0.01% is actually lowerthan the income tax rate on the top 0.1%. If we included the offshore and other unreported income of the wealthiest, their tax rates would be even lower still.

What this all means is that there is considerable room to increase top income tax rates, but it must be combined with much more significant actions to eliminate tax loopholes and preferences that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, by more serious action to crack down on use tax havens and by more aggressive enforcement and penalties against wealthy tax evaders and those who profit from them.
- Francine Kopun reports on a proposal to alleviate Toronto's housing crisis by developing currently-unused properties. And CBC News discusses Daniel Dutton's observation that investment in social supports produces immense returns in the form of reduced health care costs.

- Meanwhile, Sarah Giles, Danyaal Raza and Rupinder Brar remind us why a privatized health care system produces worse outcomes for everybody except profiteers. 

- Mitchell Anderson warns against being distracted by populist theatre by governments working against their citizens in substance.

- Finally, George Monbiot writes that any genuine crisis of masculinity lies in the culture of fear and repression which has caused readily-avoidable harm to men and women alike.

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