Stikkordarkiv: Skatt

Danmark er det første landet i verden til å skatte mettet fett.

Interessert i et semi-naturlig eksperiment innen helseøkonomi? Danmark er det første landet som innfører skatt på mettet fett. Litteraturen er usikker på hva utfallet blir. Danmark ligger etter i forventet levealder og her er detaljene:

Will a fat tax make Denmark healthier?:

Over the weekend, Denmark became the first country to tax saturated fats.

The tax — 16 Danish kroner per kilogram of saturated fat in a food – works out to about $6.27 per pound of saturated fat. It hits all foods with a saturated fat content above 2.3 percent. Danes reportedly began hoarding butter and other fatty products before the new regulation kicked in.

Denmark’s tax is the first of its kind in other ways. “This is a major development for two reasons: It’s an entire country, and they’ve taken on a particular part of the food supply,” says Kelly Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center on Food Policy, who is widely credited with introducing the idea of a soda tax in the 1990s.

The Danish government implemented the tax because it wanted Danes, who lag behind European life expectancy numbers, to get healthier. Will they? The research on “fat taxes” is sparse, but there’s good reason to be skeptical about the potential public health gains.

One thing we do know about food taxes is that they have to be really high to change behavior. Brownell and Tom Frieden, now director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article that the 5 percent taxes on unhealthy foods that states tend to pass just don’t cut it. Brownell’s research has found it takes a 1-cent-per-ounce tax to change behavior; anything lower, will do great at bringing in revenue but likely won’t lower soda consumption.

In reducing fat consumption, the bar may prove to be even higher: While soda isn’t generally thought of as a meal, solid foods are a different ballgame, what people eat when they sit down to dinner or lunch. And what little research we have on fat taxes bears this out. A 2007 study form the Forum for Health Economics and Policy modeled the impact of a 10 percent fat tax on dairy products and found unimpressive results.

“Such a tax results in less than a 1 percent reduction in average fat consumption,” the authors found. “To have a substantial effect, the tax rate would have to be quite high. For example, a 50 percent tax only lowers fat intake by 3 percent.”

Moreover, the authors worried that a fat tax would be quite regressive, hitting lower-income families much harder than higher earners. “The welfare loss to a family earning $20,000 is nearly double that of a family earning $100,000,” they found.

Since the Danish tax covers foods with higher fat content at a greater rate, its impact could be all over the board. It may reduce the consumption of really high-fat foods, but not those with a fat content. Denmark’s Confederation of Industries calculated that the tax adds 12 cents to a bag of chips, 39 cents to a small package of butter and 40 cents to the price of a hamburger.

Denmark’s tax is, in Brownell’s view, an important “bellwether:” He believes it will test both whether the policy works, as well as the political appetite for such levying such fines.

“If foods with saturated fats now cost more, you don’t know what people will eat in their place. The hope is they’ll eat healthier things.”

As we watch the effect of Denmark’s new tax, we’re about to find out.

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Dråpe? Formueskatten er 1% av totale inntekter. Hvordan ser havet ut?

Formueskatten ble endret slik at bunnfradraget ble hevet til 700 000 kroner, 1,4 millioner for ektepar. Av denne formuen skal:
Screen shot 2011 10 04 at 14 55 13(Hentet fra Budsjett 2011)

Hvordan ser statens inntekter ut?
Screen shot 2011 10 04 at 14 35 15Dette er statens inntekter hvis du ignorerer petroleumsektoren. (De som har lagd denne oversikten kunne god ha utbordert Skatt på formue og inntekt)
Hva med utgiftene?
Screen shot 2011 10 04 at 14 35 23
For deg som kan subtraksjon, 800,2 – 935,1 = -135,9.

Norge kjører derfor med et ex ante underskudd, før oljen kommer inn.

Merk at den største utgiftsposten i denne oversikten er Andre utgifter.

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Freiden og Chinn forklarer forskjellen på ‘kort sikt’ og ‘lang sikt’

Samt at minus ikke er pluss:

In Lost Decades, Jeffry Frieden and I argue that fiscal consolidation is a necessary prerequisite for long term recovery; however, fiscal consolidation too soon can derail the recovery, and plunge us further into debt. In contrast, some commentators have asserted that fiscal consolidation can be accomplished painlessly, or even with immediate benefits (e.g., JEC-Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan/Heritage Foundation). Recent empirical work which carefully identifies the relevant episodes concludes that such instances of expansionary fiscal contraction are rare, and usually conducted near full employment. Ball, Leigh and Loungani review the effects of fiscal contraction in «Painful Medicine».

…fiscal consolidations typically have the short-run effect of reducing incomes and raising unemployment. A fiscal consolidation of 1 percent of GDP reduces inflation-adjusted incomes by about 0.6 percent and raises the unemployment rate by almost 0.5 percentage point (see Chart 2) within two years, with some recovery thereafter. Spending by households and firms also declines, with little evidence of a hand­over from public to private sector demand.

The September 2010 WEO cross-country analysis of fiscal contraction effects was discussed in this post (And the absence of expansionary fiscal contraction in the UK here).

Fiscal contractions raise both short-term and long-term unemployment, as shown in Chart 3, but the impact is much greater on the latter. Long-term unemployment refers to spells of unemployment lasting more than six months. Moreover, within three years the rise in short-term unemployment due to fiscal consolidation comes to an end, but long-term unemployment remains higher even after five years.

So, in addition to contracting the economy, fiscal contractions exacerbate the already daunting challenges facing the long term unemployed (keeing in mind long term unemployment is not necessarily the same as structural unemployment). [1] [2]

What about how the burden of adjustment is allocated?

How does fiscal consolidation affect the distribution of income between wage-earners and others? The research shows the pain is not borne equally. Fiscal consolidation reduces the slice of the pie going to wage-earners. For every 1 percent of GDP of fiscal consolidation, inflation-adjusted wage income typically shrinks by 0.9 percent, while inflation-adjusted profit and rents fall by only 0.3 percent. Also, while the decline in wage income persists over time, the decline in profits and rents is short-lived (see Chart 4).

Chart 4 is reproduced below.


Source: Laurence Ball, Daniel Leigh, Prakash Loungani, «Painful Medicine,» Finance and Development 48(3) (September 2011).

The foregoing suggests that the schedule of fiscal consolidation should be such that spending cuts and tax increases are implemented when the economy has recovered. The findings also imply that fiscal consolidation should be accompanied by measures to protect low wage earners and the long term unemployed.

Hence, our fiscal policy prescriptions in Lost Decades:

…with the economy growing only modestly as recovery began,
too rapid a retrenchment in spending and an increase in taxes could
very well be counterproductive, throwing the economy back into
recession and further accumulation of debt. However, the politics of
countercyclical fiscal policy can be perverse, as the Obama administration
found. Recessions hit hardest at poor and working-class
families, who would benefit most from stimulative fiscal policy. But
attempts to undertake these policies face opposition from upperincome
taxpayers who are less affected by the recession and more
concerned about the impact on their future taxes. This opposition
can impede an effective fiscal response to cyclical downturns.
Whatever the difficulty with devising appropriate short-term
fiscal policy, government finances over the next two decades need everyone’s focused attention. The big problems are Americans’
unwillingness to tax themselves, ever since the Bush tax cuts of
2001 and 2003, and the entitlement programs—Medicare, Medicaid,
and Social Security—which are going to consume ever greater
shares of the budget.

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Noen har ikke forstått marginalskatt. M-a-r-g-i-n-a-l!

Det er en grunn til at skattesystemet er komplisert, og det er en grunn til at komplisert ikke betyr enkelt og/eller urettferdig:

A failure to think on the margin:

In our textbook, Modern Principles, Tyler and I have “Thinking on the margin” as one of the “big ideas” in economics (I believe that other guy also mentions this concept.) USA Today, in a feature called Math tips for the rest of us, is sadly unclear on the concept of a marginal tax rate:

“That raise actually might not be as good as it looks. The extra money is nice, but it could very well bump you into the next tax bracket, possibly leaving you with less money than you had before the raise.”

As Dean Baker says:

Arghh!!!!!!!! ….No, no and 286,000 times no! The tax system brackets give marginal rates. This means that if the raise bumps you into a higher bracket then you pay more taxes only on the income in the higher bracket. Suppose that the tax bracket for income under $200k is 25 percent, and for income over $200k is 33 percent. If you get a raise that pushes your income from $195,000 to $205,000 then you only pay the higher 33 percent tax rate on the $5,000 that is above the $200k threshold not your whole income. Therefore, there is no (as in none, nada, not any) way that getting more money, and being pushed into a higher tax bracket will leave you with less money after taxes.

(Via Marginal Revolution.)

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Warren Buffett kaller en spade for en spade.

Warren Buffett i NY Times:

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich –

Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

Dette minner meg om denne fra Larry David, samme innhold men med humor.

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Jeg har ventet på en god grunn til å snakke om økonomisk vekst. Her er en unnskyldning.

Bruce Bartlett, som vi har nevnt her tidligere, kommenterer på skattekutt som kilde (eller ikke) for økonomisk vekst og det å sette skattekutt i sentrum for et økonomisk vekst argument er en dårlig idè (les hele, fet er meg):

What Really Matters for Growth (It’s Not Tax Rates):

When Republicans talk about economic growth, they tend to talk as if there is only one factor that affects it: tax rates. Thus, last week former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, put forward an economic plan that he said would raise growth rate of the real gross domestic product to 5 percent per year from its historical level of about half that. His only specific proposal for achieving this ambitious goal was to slash tax rates on the wealthy.

Pawlenty would cut the top individual income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, cut the corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, and eliminate completely all taxation of capital gains, interest and dividends – the principal sources of income for the wealthy. Implausibly, Pawlenty asserted that despite reducing revenues by some $8 trillion over the next 10 years – from the lowest level of federal revenues as a share of GDP in 60 years – that his plan would balance the budget. I could find no data or analysis of how Pawlenty’s plan would actually achieve this goal.

My purpose today is not to criticize the particulars of Pawlenty’s plan, which is very much in the Republican mainstream, but rather to talk about the nature of economic growth and how one-dimensional the GOP view is. The truth is that economists know a lot about what causes growth and what policies will raise the growth rate, and tax rates have a far smaller role than most people and all Republicans believe.

To present the textbook view of what determines long-term economic growth, I turned to an actual textbook by Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for George W. Bush.

Mankiw begins by noting that economic growth is essentially a function of productivity – output per man-hour. How much a worker can produce is a function of several things: physical capital (machines, equipment, public infrastructure), human capital (education and training), natural resources (energy, land), and scientific and technological knowledge.

The key determinant of the amount of capital available to workers is saving – foregone consumption from current production. In general, more saving will lead to more investment, and more investment will raise productivity and growth.

Economists have spent many years trying to figure out how to increase the rate of saving, without much success. Insofar as individuals are concerned, their saving is largely determined by the need to save for retirement, get the down payment on a house, pay for their children’s education, and have a financial cushion for unforeseen circumstances. These are all things people would have to save for even if they got no return on their savings at all. Consequently, reducing the tax rate on saving is very unlikely to raise the personal savings rate. Research on the impact of tax-favored savings accounts, such as Individual Retirement Accounts and 401(k) plans, shows that people mostly shift their saving and don’t increase the total amount. Of vastly more importance, economically, is saving and investment by businesses and governments.

What matters for business investment is not the corporate tax rate, but the ultimate tax rate on capital including the tax on the corporation’s owners, the shareholders. In 2003, that was almost 58 percent – 35 percent at the corporate level and as much as 35 percent at the individual level. Now, that combined rate is at most 45 percent because in 2003 the tax rate on dividends was reduced to a maximum of 15 percent.

Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that the 2003 tax cut did anything to stimulate corporate investment. Indeed, according to the Federal Reserve, nonfinancial corporations have increased their holdings of liquid assets to $1.8 trillion from $1.2 trillion since 2003. Thus it’s implausible that a further reduction in the corporate rate, as Pawlenty and other Republicans favor, would do much to raise investment.

What is holding back business investment is not taxes, but poor economic prospects. For some time, members of the National Federation of Independent Business have listed “poor sales” as their number one problem. Businesses are not going to invest, no matter how low the tax rate is, if there is no demand for their output.

Government mainly affects savings not so much through tax rates as through the budget deficit, which constitutes negative saving. When government borrows, it takes funds out of the economy that would otherwise be available to finance domestic investment. Alternatively, the U.S. must borrow more from foreigners, which increases the trade deficit. In the national income and product accounts, the trade deficit is subtracted from GDP, thus lowering growth.

The bottom line is that neither taxes nor spending by themselves are the most important government contribution to the investment climate; it’s the budget deficit. Consequently, a reduction in tax revenue which raises the deficit is unlikely to stimulate domestic investment because more money will have to be borrowed from abroad. Conversely, a tax increase dedicated to deficit reduction could well be stimulative, as was the case with the 1982 and 1993 tax increases. Contrary to Republican dogma, rapid growth followed on both occasions.

A big cut in the budget deficit would be destabilizing in the short-run, but a reduction in the long-term deficit would free up more national saving for private investment. But if taxes are cut at the same time, as Republicans insist, then the economic consequences are ambiguous. With federal taxes at a historical low – they are currently just 14.8 percent of GDP versus a postwar average of about 18.5 percent – it’s implausible to argue that further tax cuts will stimulate growth. Indeed, there is good reason to think that undermining the government’s ability to raise revenue will raise prospects for future deficits, which will drain saving from the economy and reduce investment. For this reason, I am also very skeptical of the idea just floated by the White House to further cut the payroll tax.

If we want to raise the long-term rate of growth, we have to go back to the textbook and increase saving and investment, channel more public investment into education and basic infrastructure, and do everything in our power to promote scientific research and technological advancement. It’s not sexy and it takes a lot of time, but it works.

For 2 uker siden leverte jeg inn min siste eksamen på masternivå; faget var ‘Økonomisk vekst’. Så poengene Bruce nevner sitter ennå langt framme i hodet. Gi meg noen dager på å formulere en kommentar til dette. I mellomtiden, sjekk her

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Dagens tabell: Bruce Bartlett og skatt. Norge er med i datasettet.

Bruce Bartlett var sentral i både Reagan og Bush senior regjeringene og har regnet litt på skattenivåer i utviklede land med utgangspunkt i data fra OECD. Etter å ha rekalkulert, denne gang med kommunale og fylkesrelevante skatter og avgifter, kommer Bartlett fram til dette:
07economist bartlett1rev blog480 Tabellen rangerer totale skatteinntekter som prosent av brutto nasjonalprodukt for 2008. Norge plasserer seg med 42.6 prosent av BNP i skatteinntekter i 2008. Danmark, Sverige og Finland er alle foran oss, dog innenfor 40%-50% av BNP. Bartlett forklarer i sitt innlegg i NY Times forskjellene mellom noen av skattesystemene. F.eks. regnes barnetrygd som en overføring fra staten, mens i USA er det et skattefradrag.

En annen vesentlig forskjell er helseutgifter. Mange av landene øverst i tabellen har et universelt helsevesen, mens den gjennomsnittlige arbeidende amerikaner betaler for helsetjenester privat. Medicare og Medicaid er det nærmeste USA kommer til universelt helsevesen (dekker helseutgifter for fattige og de eldre).

Kort fortalt, europeere betaler for helse gjennom skatteseddelen, amerikanere gjennom lavere disponibel inntekt. Dette er ikke ny informasjon, men Bartlett presenterer data som bør heve debatten og en gang for alle drepe noen forutinntatte posisjoner.

Hele innlegget til Bruce Bartlett finner du her

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Ole Gjems-Onstad vs. Finansdepartementet om skatt.

24. mai, professor Ole Gjems-Onstad:

Uærlig om skattelettelser – BI:
Skattereformen 2006 representerte de hardeste skatteskjerpelser overfor næringslivet på årtier – foreslått av en tidligere finansminister fra Høyre og gjennomført av en fra samme parti.

Advarslene var kraftige, blant annet fra Skattedirektoratet: Dette var mer kompliserte regler om utbyttebeskatning enn det vi kan finne noe annet sted i verden.

Tilstand av sjokk

Jeg var nylig invitert til Cambridge University for å redegjøre for reglene for noen britiske toppfolk fra akademia, skattemyndighetene og private. Detaljveldet rystet dem. Tilstanden forverret seg til sjokk da de hørte at borgerlige finansministre sto bak.

Skattereformen 2006 representerte et forræderi fra Høyre overfor vanlige norske næringsdrivende. I forvirring støttet NHO Høyres skjerpelser. Dermed gikk norsk skattedebatt på grunn. Ap og SV kunne bare si takk og amen.

Finansdepartementet la 1. april 2011 frem en «evaluering» av skattereformen. De samme fagfolk som innførte reformen, er veldig fornøyd. Det har vært stille rundt evalueringen. Høyre og NHO kan ikke føre an i en kritikk av eget selvmål.

Julaften for topprike

En grunn til at Høyre og NHO støtter den rare utbytteskatten med det såkalte skjermingsfradraget, er at det utgjør en kjempefordel for virkelig rike. Aksjekapital på 100.000 kroner er vanlig i norske aksjeselskaper. Det gir 1600 kroner i skattefritt aksjeutbytte – en skattebesparelse på 448 kroner – mindre enn regningen fra revisor for alt styret med utbytteskjemaene.

Men én milliard kroner i aksjekapital gir 16 millioner kroner i skattefritt utbytte, med skatteverdi 4,48 millioner kroner.

Det paradoksale er at ikke bare Høyre og NHO, men også Ap og SV fortsatt vil ha dette skjeve skjermingsfradraget, som er plage for mange, men julaften for topprike. I «evalueringen» av skattereformen poengterer ikke Finansdepartementet denne omvendte omfordeling.

Norge har en relativt særnorsk formuesskatt (bare to eller tre andre land har den). Formuesskatten er en reell plage for de virkelig rike. Skulle man ha formue på én milliard kroner, blir formuesskatten 11 millioner kroner per år – eller 30.000 kroner per døgn – en boskatt på over 1000 kroner per time.

Skattedebattens floskler

Det er lett å tilpasse seg formuesskatten gjennom utflytting. Utflytting av livsviktige gründere frykter nok også Ap – og ikke minst LO – mer enn de sier. Men gjennom skjermingsfradraget får mange rike tilstrekkelig skattefritt aksjeutbytte til at formuesskatten ikke rammer så hardt.

Skattedebattens floskler i essens: Ap er for å ta de rike gjennom formuesskatten, men sørger samtidig for at den ikke biter så hardt ved skattefritt utbytte.

Høyre lot en sjanse til å oppheve formuesskatten gå fra seg, da de innførte utbytteskatten uten å sette hardt mot hardt på å veksle med formuesskatten. Utbytteskatten ville ikke fullt ut finansiert opphevelse av formuesskatten. Den innbringer 14 milliarder kroner.

Høyre og Frp kommer ikke til å finne de pengene. Hver gang Siv Jensen eller Carl I. Hagen hyler opp om dårlig eldreomsorg, betyr det én milliard mindre til å fjerne formuesskatten – og mindre moralsk kapital til å forsvare det.

Umoderne skatt

Formuesskatten er i seg selv en umoderne skatt, der Norge ligger langt etter andre lands fornyelse av sin skattepolitikk. Formuesskatten rammer også små «formuer». Innslagspunktet på 700.000 kroner er ikke engang nok til å kjøpe et toalett på Majorstuen i Oslo.

Aps toppolitikere snakker usant om at formuesskatten skal ta de rike. Hvis det var målet, ville man heve innslagspunktet virkelig mye. Men da ville man miste mange skattekroner fra vanlige folk.

Det er alminnelige menneskers bidrag til formuesskatten som gjør det vanskelig å fjerne den, ikke de rikes.

Det muliges kunst overfor formuesskatten er for Høyre og Frp å unnta arbeidende kapital. I klartekst er det lavere satser eller nullsats for aksjer i ikke-børsnoterte selskaper.

Du kan dø i fred, borger!

Den andre skattelettelsen Høyre og Frp kan gjennomføre er å ta arveavgiften. Det er en ideologisk skatt. Venstresiden påstår mot bedre vitende at den skal ta dem som er født med sølvskje i munnen. Sannheten er at arveavgiften rammer vanlige arvelodder. Den gir bare to milliarder kroner i året til staten – to promille av skatteinntektene.

Vinner Høyre og Frp neste stortingsvalg, burde de valgnatten proklamere: Vi takker ved fra i dag å fjerne arveavgiften. Den truer overføring av landsteder og familieeiendommer. Det er en urettferdig skatt som ødelegger for vanlige familier. Fra i dag kan du dø i fred, borger!

Det ville være enestående: Sann tale om skatt fra toppolitikere.»

6. juni, tilsvar fra statssekretær Roger Schjerva:

– Ærlig talt, Gjems-Onstad – «I DN 24. mai langer professor Ole Gjems-Onstad igjen ut mot Regjeringens skattepolitikk og skattereformen 2006. I  innlegget  ”Uærlig om skattelettelser” er han mer unyansert enn det er grunn til å vente seg av en professor i skatterett.

Gjems-Onstad hevder at den norske aksjonærmodellen innebærer ”mer kompliserte regler om utbyttebeskatning enn det vi kan finne noe annet sted i verden”. Han sikter da til reglene om skjerming. Skjermingen innebærer at aksjonæren kun betaler skatt på utbytte som overstiger det han kunne oppnådd ved å sette pengene i banken. Utbytteskatten kommer i tillegg til den skatten som er betalt på overskuddet i selskapet.  Uten skjerming ville utbytteskatten gjort det mindre attraktivt å plassere penger i næringsvirksomhet, med fare for å svekke kapitaltilgangen til bedriftene.

Gjems-Onstad tar åpenbart ikke slike samfunnsøkonomiske hensyn med i sine vurderinger av skattereformen. Disse hensynene står imidlertid sentralt i evalueringen av reformen. Når Regjeringen konkluderer med at reformen har vært vellykket, er det fordi en har lykkes i å innføre en utbytteskatt som har styrket omfordelingen gjennom skattesystemet og som samtidig opprettholder gode vilkår for å satse på næringsvirksomhet. Reformen lukker også muligheten for å omdanne høyt beskattet arbeidsinntekt til lavt beskattet utbytte ved å tilpasse seg en hullete delingsmodell. Løsningen ble å jevne ut de høyeste skattesatsene ved å redusere skatten på lønn og innføre utbytteskatt.

Det er riktig at Norge var det første landet til å innføre skatt på aksjeinntekter med skjerming av normalavkastningen. Det blir imidlertid stadig mer oppmerksomhet om denne type modeller internasjonalt. En tilsvarende modell ble nylig anbefalt i den britiske Mirrlees Review, et arbeid som ble ledet av nobelprisvinner James Mirrlees, og hvor nærmere 80 fremragende økonomer har bidratt. I rapporten vises det til den norske aksjonærmodellen som et eksempel til etterfølgelse. Det er derfor svært misvisende når Gjems-Onstad gir inntrykk av at ”toppfolk fra akademia, skattemyndigheter og private” er ”rystet” og i ”sjokk”. 

Gjems-Onstads kritikk synes blant annet å være basert på en antagelse om at selskapenes administrative byrde ville reduseres hvis skjermingen ble fjernet. Det virker som om Gjems-Onstad ser bort fra at mange av de opplysningene som rapporteres til aksjonærregisteret, herunder inngangsverdier og salgsverdier for aksjer, uansett er nødvendige for en korrekt gevinstbeskatning. En avvikling av skjermingen vil derfor i liten grad redusere selskapenes administrative kostnader.

Gjems-Onstad gjentar videre sin påstand om at skattereformen gagner de rikeste. Da vil jeg minne om at personlige aksjonærer overhode ikke betalte skatt på utbytte før reformen. Med reformen har samlet skatt på aksjeinntekter økt. Dette har ikke gagnet de rikeste. Aksjeeierne kan heller ikke unngå skatten ved å holde utbyttene lavere enn skjermingsfradraget. Skatten forskyves bare til et senere tidspunkt, og det er ingen rentefordel knyttet til å vente. I praksis hindrer ikke skjermingen at de rikeste betaler utbytteskatt. Om lag 85 pst. av mottatt utbytte har vært skattepliktig, og aksjonærene som har høye skjermingsfradrag har også en relativt stor andel skattepliktig utbytte.

Videre sikrer formuesskatten, en skatt Gjems-Onstad er en sterk motstander av, at de mest formuende betaler skatt løpende uavhengig av utbytteatferd og nivået på skjermingsfradraget. I motsetning til det Gjems-Onstad gir inntrykk av er det kun 17 pst. av befolkningen som betaler formuesskatt, og disse har gjennomgående god skatteevne. «

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Ezra Klein spør økonomer i USA om skatt. Svarene er avslørende i å vise avstanden mellom økonomi og politikk.

All yours Ezra:

Why does the GOP hate taxes so much?:

The GOP doesn’t just hate taxes. They hate taxes so much that their stated position is they’d prefer no deficit reduction, and even a default on the debt ceiling, to even a dollar in new taxes. They hate taxes, in other words, more than they like balanced budgets, or fear a federal default. Hating taxes is the absolute, number-one core belief of the modern GOP. The question is, why?

Disliking taxes, of course, is understandable. No one likes taxes, just like no one likes visiting the dentist or going to the DMV. But most of us accept them because the alternatives are worse. The GOP’s argument, however, is that a federal default and a second financial crisis are preferable to even modest tax hikes. Now, you can argue that this is just a bargaining position, or a political posture, or an effort to keep faith with certain interest groups and donors. But I think such double-games are rarer than people think in Washington. And so I’m inclined to take John Boehner at his word.

Which is why I spent much of yesterday asking right-leaning economists to walk me through two quotes that seemed to summarize the Republican Party’s argument against taxes. The first came from Boehner on the ‘Today Show.’ ‘The fact is you can’t tax the people we expect to invest in the economy and create jobs,’ he said. The second came from Louis Woodhill, a member of the anti-tax Club for Growth’s leadership council. ‘To stimulate GDP growth, a tax cut has to cut the marginal tax rates upon which the decision-makers in the economy base their decisions to work and, above all, to invest.’

As I saw it, the argument embedded in these quotes is almost Randian. It’s that the economy depends on the actions of — and thus the taxes on — ‘the people we expect to invest in the economy and create jobs,’ ‘the decision makers.’ But I didn’t find many takers for that point among Republican elites.

Glenn Hubbard is dean of Columbia’s School of Business and former chief economist to George W. Bush. He was sitting on the stage when Boehner delivered Monday’s broadside against taxes. ‘There are two arguments,’ Hubbard told me. ‘The first is arithmetic and the second is economics. First is tax increases on the wealthy can’t be a big part of the solution. I could double taxes on the top 1 percent and it’d be a quarter of this year’s deficit. The only way you could get the deficit down through taxation is to go after middle-income taxpayers. The economics argument is that marginal tax rates effect work, entrepreneurship, savings, investment.’

But Hubbard emphasized that what mattered for decision-making was marginal tax rates — the taxes that effect whether you do one more thing. Think about it like this: Imagine you make $1,000,000 annually and we impose a 50 percent tax on every dollar of income above $1,000,000. That makes doing more worth less to you. But let’s say we cut the deduction for your health-care insurance, or your mortgage interest. That raises your taxes, and you may not like it. But it doesn’t give you a reason to work less. Quite the opposite, in fact. But Hubbard didn’t feel Boehner was giving sufficient weight to this distinction. ‘When I heard the speaker,’ he said, ‘I didn’t just hear him rule out marginal increases. I heard him rule out cutting tax expenditures, too.’ To Hubbard, that didn’t make much sense. Cutting tax expenditures wasn’t like raising tax rates. It wouldn’t be apocalyptic for the economy. It wouldn’t keep the decision-makers from investing. It might even keep them from over-investing in things we want less of, like expensive health-care insurance policies and homes.

Josh Barro, the Walter B. Wriston fellow at the Manhattan Institute, chided me for being so naive. ‘A lot of this is political,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t assume Boehner’s doing whatever he’s doing as a first-best policy preference.’ The fear animating Republicans, according to Barro, is that we end up with three rounds of tax increases: first, the tax increases in the Affordable Care Act, the bulk of which fell on the wealthy. Second, an expiration of the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000. And third, further tax increases on the rich as part of a coming budget deal. Add all that together and you’re looking at very, very high taxes on the rich — much higher than what we saw under Clinton.

At that point, the standard fears apply with particular force. ‘Marginal tax rates effect behavior,’ Barro continues. ‘That’s uncontroversial. ‘What’s controversial is how much they affect behavior, and what Republicans believe is that high-income people are especially sensitive because they have more flexibility to decide how much they’ll work.’ And as Barro pointed out, it’s not only Republicans who believe this. The Congressional Budget Office agrees, too. So as Barro sees it, even if Boehner thinks that in 2013 or 2014, he’s going to have to cut a deal that raises taxes, it’s a smart play to hold the line until then in order to keep total tax rates, particularly on the rich, from being raised repeatedly, to levels where they really will hurt the economy.

But Andrew Samwick, who served as chief economist on the staff of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, found the whole discussion exasperating. ‘I just find this to be a ridiculous distraction,’ he told me. ‘These are small tax changes we’re talking about. It defies any sort of logical reasoning that there’d be such large effects.’ To Samwick, the specific set-up of the tax code is, for the moment, a distant, second-order concern. The deficit looms much larger. Once we get that under control, we can worry about the precise way to set up the tax code to maximize the incentives to work and invest. But getting the deficit under control is almost certainly going to require some revenue increases. ‘I don’t think any Republican should be taken seriously on matters related to budget until they lay out a set of circumstances under which they’d be willing to raise tax rates,’ he said. ‘And I haven’t heard any Republican in leadership give even a hint of that.’

Leonard Burman isn’t a Republican economist, but he is a tax expert. He was actually deputy undersecretary for tax analysis in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department. And when I reached him for comment, he found the whole conversation baffling. ‘You can build these models where people are very sensitive to changes in taxes,’ he said, ‘ but in practice, there’s scant evidence of it actually working out that way. And lucky for us. If we really needed to get the tax code just right in order for the economy to grow, we’d have been in a depression for the last 40 years.’

The bottom line, he says, is that these theories were tested, and recently. ‘In the 1990s, we raised taxes, particularly on the rich. And a lot of these people were saying our tax increases were going to kill the economy. But remember what actually happened? We got rid of our deficits and the economy grew really robustly for 10 years. And what if it happened again? We might get rid of our deficits and the economy would grow really robustly for another 10 years. Maybe it’s good for the economy to actually get the deficit under control.’

(Via Ezra Klein.)

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