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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 8, 2005 / 6 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Tax reforms tax our basic understanding of taxes

By Robert Robb

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The recommendations issued last week by President Bush's tax reform panel illustrate that a simpler, more growth-friendly income tax code that raises just as much money from basically the same people as the existing code is possible.

The question is whether a tax reform so constrained is worth the political fight.

The panel advanced two proposals, the differences being basically in whether business facilities and equipment are depreciated or expensed and the individual tax treatment of investment income.

But both proposals are constructed around the same basic bargain: a limitation on deductions favoring wealthy taxpayers in exchange for lower rates and abolishing the alternative minimum tax.

The recommendations do more to achieve simplicity than to promote economic growth. The number of existing credits and deductions would be reduced, consolidated and available to all taxpayers, not just those who itemize. A variety of tax-preferred retirement options would be reduced to one. The same would happen with tax preferences for higher-education expenses.

Businesses would either get to fully expense facilities and equipment or take advantage of simpler, quicker depreciation formulas.

Simplicity is an important value in its own right. The panel estimates that compliance with the tax code costs about $140 billion a year. Anything that reduces that and allows that money to be put to more productive uses is worthwhile.

But what is achieved on the growth side is rather thin. The recommendations do attempt to eliminate or reduce discriminatory and counterproductive treatment of investment income. But marginal tax rates would be reduced only modestly. For individuals, one plan reduces the top rate to 33 percent from 35 percent. The other brings it down to 30 percent. For corporations, the rate would be reduced to 31.5 percent in one plan and 30 percent in the other from 35 percent.

The panel accepted revenue and burden neutrality as practical political constraints. But that substantially limits what can be done to bring down marginal tax rates, as the panel's recommendations demonstrate.

Simplicity comes at the expense of tax preferences carved out by various interest groups over the years. They will fight a fierce battle to preserve them. Given the modest rate reductions, there might not be anyone particularly interested in fighting back.

The current incidence of the personal income tax makes fundamental tax reform politically very difficult. The lowest 40 percent of wage earners basically pay no income tax. Those making over $100,000 a year pay nearly 80 percent of federal income taxes, even though they only make slightly more than half the money.

The top-heavy incidence of the federal income tax limits the ability to capitalize on the public's resentment about the current code. People find complexity and compliance a pain. But they aren't likely to want to pay more to relieve it.

According to the panel's report, a flat rate of just 15 percent could raise the same amount of money as the current code on a base with the following features: for individuals, only the standard deduction and personal exemptions; no double-taxation of dividend income; for corporations, no special tax preferences but simplified and quicker depreciation.

Now, that's a tax reform worth fighting for. It would be immensely simpler than even the panel's recommendations and do far more to promote economic growth and efficiency.

But it would slightly shift the income tax burden away from the affluent, although they would continue to pay a higher percentage of the income tax than their percentage of income earned.

Fundamental tax reform requires abandoning the restraint of revenue neutrality, in the belief that faster economic growth will more than make up for any theoretical shortfall from a static analysis. Or it requires most people to accept a slight, short-term increase in their tax bill in exchange for simplicity and a better-performing economy. Abandoning the restraint of revenue neutrality would be the preferred option, both economically and politically.

What people believe about the income tax, that it favors the wealthy, is simply not true. Until there is a sounder public understanding of where the incidence of the income tax actually falls, and the economically counterproductive nature of the current code, fundamental tax reform, or even modest improvements such as recommended by Bush's panel, isn't likely to happen.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2005, The Arizona Republic

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