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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/2/11

From Democracy to Kleptocracy: What's Being Stolen From Us and How

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 "In the U.S., business incorporation is now completely unregulated," says Jason Sharman, a professor at Griffith University in Nathan, Australia, who is preparing a study for the World Bank on corporate formation worldwide.   "Somalia has slightly higher standards than Wyoming and Nevada."


No surprise then that the US was declared "non-compliant" in 4 out of 40 categories monitored by the Financial Action Task Force, an international group fighting money laundering and terrorism finance, in a 2006 evaluation report, its most recent.   Two of those ratings relate to scant information collected on the owners of corporations.   The task force named Wyoming, Nevada and Delaware as secrecy havens.   Only three states -- Alaska, Arizona and Montana -- require regular disclosure of corporate shareholders in some form.  


4.         Just as in Greece, taxes are optional for our nation's financial elites.   In Greece, to avoid the "swimming pool tax, you simply don't mention your swimming pool" when filling out your income tax forms.   Here in the U.S., that sort of tax avoidance is against the law.   So here you must hire a sharp tax attorney to escape taxation legally (well, mostly legally).


5.         If you are unfortunate enough to be a successful small entrepreneur who nets a mere $100,000 a year, you pay 15.3% self-employment and 25% Federal tax on the bulk of your income, a combined rate of 40.3%, and a combined rate of 43.3% on all income above $82,400.    By contrast, those who net millions pay less than half that amount, somewhere between 17%, for the top 1/10th of 1%.  


In contrast to what is paid by the top 1/10th of 1% , the small businessperson in California earning $100,000 pays between 5% and 9% state tax, so their combined state and Federal tax burden on their highest earnings is a whopping 50%.   Then there are property taxes and the 9.5% sales tax, and endless junk fees that are skimmed from small businesses.   Add all that together and the total taxes paid rises to the 60% level, or roughly triple what the top 1% pay !


The Super Rich See Their Federal Taxes Drop Dramatically


The Internal Revenue Service tracks the tax returns of the 400 highest adjusted gross incomes each year.   The average income on those returns in 2007, the latest year for IRS data, was nearly $345 million.   This means that their average federal income tax rate was 17%, down from 26% in 1992.   That's a 35% reduction in taxes.


Do you really think we don't live in a kleptocracy ?   If so, why do you think that?   Is it because the truth hurts?


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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)

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