Take your money and leave... so what really would happen?


By American in Japan   Follow   Thu, 28 Apr 2011, 10:52pm   4,047 views   41 comments
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I often hear people say that if the tax rates get to high on people with high incomes (especially unearned incomes), that they will just take their toys (money) and leave.
They US would lose out on the "capital" and decline further. It is an interesting concept. But how much could hey realy take with them (the can't take the land, the oil, natural gas, or coal or other resources) with them. Would the US really take a major hit economically or would average Americans step in to fill the gap?

For the sake of argument, take individuals who get $500,000 or more of *unearned* income...

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  1. CL


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    2   9:38am Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Many here have told me that all income is "earned" income! :)

  2. bob2356


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    3   10:03am Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Leave what? If you don't give up your citizenship you owe the same taxes to the US no matter where you go. If you are in the tax bracket you are talking about you will have to pay 10 years US taxes after you leave and give up citizenship. If you are rich enough the IRS can refuse to accept your renouncing your citizenship and say you owe US taxes forever.

  3. iwog


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    4   10:17am Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike   Protected  

    It's impossible. The only way you can actually take your money and leave is to convert all your wealth into paper currency and KEEP it in US paper dollars. Otherwise no matter what you do with it, you're still contributing it to the pool of capital.

    The Ayn Rand solution is just pure stupidity from people who have absolutely no clue how the economy works.

    The majority of people who flee the country would probably sink their money into government bonds. This would both lower interest rates and provide the government with capital to spend into the economy. Some people might sell dollars for foreign currency, but this doesn't really accomplish anything either since the new owner will have to put dollars into the same dollar denominated assets.

    To the extent that rich people liquidate their capital assets before leaving, it would depress the price of everything involved in wealth creation and be a gigantic boom to the economy. Imagine a fire sale on delivery trucks, sheet metal stamping machines, store fronts, coal mines, timber leases, and office space.

    Thousands of marginal small business ideas would suddenly become viable. People would be able to work again. Markets would open up that were previously dominated by imports. It would be wonderful.

    So seriously..........if you're a billionaire Republican, GET OUT! Sell your shit and go somewhere else.

  4. Cook County resident


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    5   2:45pm Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (4)   Dislike  

    American in Japan says

    I often hear people say that if the tax rates get to high on people with high incomes (especially unearned incomes), that they will just take their toys (money) and leave.

    If the elites could really take enough money out of circulation to make a difference, the FED and/or the Treasury would just take up their slack -- and their power.

    American in Japan says

    Would the US really take a major hit economically or would average Americans step in to fill the gap?

    Aside from financial capital, there's intellectual capital. It's worth remembering that few ideas are truly unique. Nearly all the major innovations were developed in parallel and we only remember the guy who came in first and not the other guys who was a week behind.

    So if the current movers and shakers want to live in some sort of self-imposed exile in which the most competent plumber in the phone book is Donald Trump, that's OK. The rest of us can get along fine.

  5. iwog


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    6   3:53pm Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike   Protected  

    shrekgrinch says

    They don’t have to ‘get out’…they just have to get their money out/assets out. Gone are the days when capital was tied up in conveniently ‘hostage-takeable’ immovable assets like factories that governments can take or merely threaten to take in order to extract rents…er, ‘taxes’ from the capitalists. Nowadays a lot of wealth is more intangible and very, very portable.

    For example, if they have the right brokers/lawyers they can trade their Apple stock directly for Apple ADRs listed in New Zealand’s exchanges.

    I can see my long explanation went right over your head.

    Dollars are not capital assets. Dollars are markers for capital assets. Feel free to pack up a coal mine or a corn field and move it to New Zealand.

  6. Done!


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    7   6:12pm Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Let me look for that address, where Iwog should send all of his worthless old unwanted dollars. brb

  7. iwog


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    8   6:33pm Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike   Protected  

    Tenouncetrout says

    Let me look for that address, where Iwog should send all of his worthless old unwanted dollars. brb

    As I said, dollars are MARKERS FOR ASSETS and therefore have value just like assets do. I can borrow money against my home and take that money overseas, however someone will continue to live in that home and gain value from it.

    The fallacy is in assuming that you can simply take your ball and flee the country so no one else can play. It doesn't work that way. Removing dollars doesn't harm the economy, in fact much of our economy is currently dependent on people removing dollars, or removing bonds which are nothing more than paper markers for paper markers for assets.

  8. ¥


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    9   8:39pm Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (4)   Dislike  

    robertoaribas says

    And that since those cuts, we’ve had what? a hell of a recession.

    To be fair, we fell into recession in 2001-2002, and only got out of it with a $10T credit bubble 2003-2006.

    It was the failure of the credit bubble to keep inflating that has led to the recession.

    This chart:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=lk

    shows how total private household/business debt was ~$15T coming out of the 2001 recession, and in the 2003-2007 boom it went up to ~$25T.

    Ten trillion of new debt in just six years. That's $1.5T/year, enough money to fund THIRTY million jobs during this period, one-fourth of the workforce.

    The top marginal rate is neither here nor there compared to these massive credit flows, but you wouldn't know that from watching the financial analysts. Even Krugman doesn't include the ponzi debt angle in his analysis.

    For something to be so blindingly obvious yet totally ignored is really reallly odd.

  9. MarkInSF


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    10   10:01pm Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Troy says

    Even Krugman doesn’t include the ponzi debt angle in his analysis.

    For something to be so blindingly obvious yet totally ignored is really reallly odd.

    It's because Keynesians look at debt as just somebody else's savings, i.e. deferred spending. If somebody borrowed $1000, somebody had to save it, right? Instead of spending $1000, I put it in the bank and somebody else borrows it to run up a $1000 credit card bill. No change to aggregate demand. I spend $1000 less, and the the person with the credit card spends $1000 more. Likewise, when debt is deflating it makes no difference to aggregate demand either. Paying back debt means somebody else is getting extra income, right?

    Of course they are totally wrong, and for some reason they don't get that you don't need savings for debt.

    Consider: If I run a tab with the bartender, and run up a $1000 tab with him, I've added $1000 to aggregate demand. But where was the savings? Who had to defer spending of $1000? Nobody. When I start making $100/week payments to him that is $100 extra spendable income for him, and $100 less spendable income for me, so there it is a wash as far as AD is concerned.

    And look at the US corporations, all flush with "cash". It's really just a that we've been running a tab with them. But the banking system gives the illusion of all those IOUs being cash.

  10. American in Japan


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    11   7:39am Sat 30 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Good discussion here. Some assets are intangible but many many others are very tangible-land, petroleum, rare earths, precious metals, etc.

    Things are not as simple as they would seem...

  11. American in Japan


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    12   9:04pm Sat 30 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @CL

    >"Many here have told me that all income is “earned” income!"

    That may be good to put on "Nominations for the Dumbest things read ..."
    http://patrick.net/forum/?p=605447

  12. iwog


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    13   5:02pm Tue 3 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike   Protected  

    shrekgrinch says

    Sigh. Very, very little hard assets of that kind comprise the total aggregate assets in the economy any more. As I said, as you failed to disprove but decided to ignore anyway as if I didn’t say that.

    Typical Iwogian slight-of-hand BS

    You can say it til the cows come home, but you'll never actually support it. Someday you'll learn that people don't really care what you say. They only care about what you can demonstrate by using logic, historical context, and facts.

    I demonstrated that there are plenty of productive assets that cannot be moved overseas. The logical response would be a list of productive assets that CAN be moved overseas. Good luck with that!

  13. American in Japan


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    14   8:49am Thu 5 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @Iwog

    >I demonstrated that there are plenty of productive assets that cannot be moved overseas. The logical response would be a list of productive assets that CAN be moved overseas. Good luck with that!

    Agreed.
    It's an important point to clarify in this post, since this argument that the "extremely wealthy will just take their money somewhere else" is used for every Nth argument.

  14. ¥


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    15   9:42am Thu 5 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    iwog says

    The logical response would be a list of productive assets that CAN be moved overseas.

    The only thing irreplaceable is their mental faculties should they defect from our economy to join some other (whose, of course, would be an open question. Paraguay's I suppose).

    In Shrek and other cases, I really don't see the loss here. Same thing with any inherited wealth.

    Go, take your money with you. We'll just print more.

  15. Matt J


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    16   11:29am Thu 5 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    In regards to american coporations this has already happened and has hurt the ecomomy take GE for instance which made several billion in profiles but paid zero taxes. A friend of mine mention that Peter schiff made a comment that if the corporate tax would lowered or some type of incentive to attract companies back to America. From this there would some job creation and the people would earn money and pay taxes and the Federal government would then get additional tax revenue this way.

  16. ¥


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    17   11:58am Thu 5 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike  

    I'm all for a zero % corporate tax rate. Corporations are legal fictions and taxing their profits is silly.

    Some mix of 10% flat tax, 5% retail sales tax, 5% LVT, 20% social welfare (FICA/Medicare) would be my preferred policy.

    but:

    A friend of mine mention that Peter schiff made a comment that if the corporate tax would lowered or some type of incentive to attract companies back to America.

    this is facile. The upper middle class labor rate in China is still $5/hr. Working class is $2/hr. No amount of tax policy is going to address this basic imbalance.

    Ireland tried being a low-tax tiger the previous decade, didn't do them any good.

    Germany has high taxes, they're doing OK.

    The key thing is to pick your taxes wisely.

    "In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.

    "The next least bad tax is a flat-rate tax on income above an exemption. I could design my ideal tax system it would contain an income tax, but it would not be the kind of monstrosity we have now. It would be a flat-rate tax on all income, from whatever source derived, less only a personal deduction and strict occupational expense, and that kind of income tax I think would be the least inconsistent with a strong free enterprise system. "

    http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/friedman-milton_interview-1978.html

  17. American in Japan


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    18   6:30am Fri 6 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @Troy

    >The key thing is to pick your taxes wisely.

    Agreed.

    @shrekgrinch

    >What might work is a tax holiday for companies that never repatriated wealth (mostly from Europe) over the last 70+ years. That will be a LOT of money coming back in. Quite a bit would be invested here one way or another.

    Would that work?

  18. bob2356


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    19   1:07pm Fri 6 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Troy says

    Ireland tried being a low-tax tiger the previous decade, didn’t do them any good.

    It did them a great amount of good until they went insane speculating on real estate.

  19. Vicente


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    20   2:33pm Fri 6 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    The essential conceit of "Galt" is that certain sorts of people are utterly irreplaceable.

    "The graveyards of the world are full of indispensable people" - Charles De Gaulle

    Maybe if all the Old Money Dinosaurs moved out, the mammals would fill the void.

    You pick up your bags of money and move to a private island and then... what? You sit there spending it on your island? Fine, drop out. You pay no taxes but have to live somewhere that gets pretty dull after a while and has few resources. Meanwhile back home some other primate has taken over your empire.

    The fact is no place else with a high standard of living has as low of a REAL tax rate after all the shortcuts are counted.

  20. ¥


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    21   2:49pm Fri 6 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    bob2356 says

    It did them a great amount of good until they went insane speculating on real estate.

    Can't disagree with that I guess since I also think taxing corporate profits isn't that great an idea.

    Real Estate speculation is a natural part of any economy, since real estate is 20% or so of the cost of living, and is thus the dominant expense in most people's lives (though paying for government is right up there, LOL).

  21. bob2356


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    22   7:02pm Fri 6 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Vicente says

    The fact is no place else with a high standard of living has as low of a REAL tax rate after all the shortcuts are counted.

    There are many places with a high standard of living (depending on your definition) that have much lower taxes than the US. What are shortcuts?

  22. Vicente


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    23   8:13pm Fri 6 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (4)   Dislike  

    Bob,

    What people supposedly should be paying according to the tax tables in the upper brackets, is not what they are paying. As one example, Warren Buffett is in effectively a lower bracket than the lowest-paid secretary, only paying around 15%. Richy Rich knows he doesn't REALLY have to pay 35% or whatever, that's only a theoretical number that maybe a lottery winner has to pay. Most income of people with lots of assets does not flow to them as straightforward income. Why do you think CEO are always hired at some high but not stratospheric salary but with gobs of options and benefits many times that figure? The tax code is riddled with ways to achieve paying almost nothing, yet of course still reaping all the benefits. One of the more clever examples, Hank Paulson went from Goldman Sachs to Treasury. In the process Hank had to unload 500 MILLION in stocks in order to avoid conflict of interest. Now you and I would have to pay at least 15% on the capital gains, he paid ZERO. So if nothing else a tour through public service after Wall Street lets them evade taxes that "little people" have to pay.

  23. bob2356


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    24   1:06pm Sun 8 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Vicente says

    So if nothing else a tour through public service after Wall Street lets them evade taxes that “little people” have to pay.

    I agree the tax code is screwed, but it's not tax evasion when you legally follow the tax code to lower your taxes. Tax evasion is illegally hiding income to avoid paying taxes. Warren Buffet is simply taking the gift granted to him by politicians whoring out for campaign contributions.

    Also income tax (distorted as it is) is not the only tax. The US has a whole plethora of taxes that many other countries don't. State taxes, local taxes, sales taxes, fees of every description, FICA. Even with all the inequities in the tax code factored in there are still plenty of places world where there is a high standard of living with lower taxes than the US. I pay less in total taxes in NZ ( I have sat down with a calculator on this) than in the US and get more for my taxes including very good health care and NZ's version of SS. My income tax rate is 33% vs 28% bracket in the us and 15% sales tax vs 7% in NJ my current home of record. BUT I don't pay FICA or state income tax or local taxes or fees and property tax is very, very low since schools, police, fire, etc. are national therefor are paid out of income taxes.

    I lived in France and taxes were about a wash. But that was 20 years ago, I don't know about today. There are places in South America (I'm really looking hard at Chili for many reasons), parts of the middle east, in Europe, Asia, and even a couple in Africa that I would live that have both a reasonably high standard of living (again it depends on your definition of high standard of living, if you want 500 channels on cable, fast food on every corner, and a mall every 2 miles then forget it) and lower taxes than the US.

  24. American in Japan


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    25   4:02am Mon 9 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @thunderlips

    >Yet our government is supposedly run by commie-leftist officials who make Ralph Nader look like Ronald Reagan.

    LoL!

    @bob

    Thanks for the comment. It is an interesting comparison!

  25. American in Japan


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    26   7:32am Mon 9 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Commodore 64?

    Don't know any more...

  26. iwog


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    27   9:34am Mon 9 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    I learned to program a PET in Junior high school. It had 8k of memory and a tape recorder to store data.

    Near the end of 8th grade, the school got some really cool hardware but alas I wasn't allowed to touch it. A 32k pet complete with an external floppy disk drive that was bigger than a phone book.

    Good times.

  27. American in Japan


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    28   6:12am Tue 10 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    How does the TRS-80 fit into the timeline?

  28. American in Japan


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    29   6:39pm Tue 17 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Anyway I myself don't care if many (not all) of the billionaires sell off their land and other assets in the US and leave.

  29. iwog


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    30   6:45pm Tue 17 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike   Protected  

    American in Japan says

    Anyway I myself don’t care if many (not all) of the billionaires sell off their land and other assets in the US and leave.

    It would be a great thing for the economy. Prices on capital assets used for production would fall, and people who actually work for a living would start making jobs again.

    Try buying a farm in California these days. Millionaires are hoarding them, protected by Prop. 13, and they are used for weekend corporate retreats instead of actually growing food. My wife actually worked with one of these assholes in the Central Valley. He was sitting on near 200 acres and was lobbying to make it a fox preserve so he could get paid while growing/ranching absolutely nothing.

    Supply side economic theory is a lie and a fraud.

  30. American in Japan


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    31   1:39am Sun 26 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I have studied this a bit more. From what I do know (and I need to learn more), the US would not be hurt nearly as much as some right wing pundits think it would, if many of the billionaires in the US took there money and moved elsewhere (often used as a claim not to raise taxes on very high net worth individuals).

  31. American in Japan


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    32   8:01pm Tue 9 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I am not convinced that the likes of Paris Hilton, Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, etc. (especially inherited money rich) leaving the US with their "assets" would drive this country even further into the pits..

  32. American in Japan


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    33   4:14am Tue 16 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    It would be interesting to see more on these Enviro Groups...

  33. HousingWatcher


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    34   9:19pm Fri 19 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    How does one actually move their money offshore to avoid being taxed? Sure, you could avoid being taxed if you physically left the country and immigrated elsewhere, but if you remain in the US and put your money in a Swiss bank account, the IRS will most certainly come after you. Secret offshore bank accounts are becoming a thing of the past.

  34. futuresmc


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    35   4:15pm Sat 20 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Cook County resident says

    They don't have to 'get out'...they just have to get their money out/assets out. Gone are the days when capital was tied up in conveniently 'hostage-takeable' immovable assets like factories that governments can take or merely threaten to take in order to extract rents...er, 'taxes' from the capitalists. Nowadays a lot of wealth is more intangible and very, very portable.

    More than that. It's digital so that a few strokes on your keyboard and the 'assets' are halfway around the globe. But here's truth FOX's owner and benefactors don't want you to know, the large governments of the world have ACE computer geeks who can wipe out anybody anytime. If that failed, the president could call a press conference and make it a global hacker challenge to destroy this individual's financial assets in exchange for a big, fat reward from the US government and the thanks of a greatful nation. This BS that the government has no power over multinationals and the internationalist businessmen that run them is garbage. Those elected to government are just too dependent on them for their own financial gain to bring the hammer down. But the hammer still exists, even if it's not used.

  35. American in Japan


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    36   11:58pm Sat 20 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @Thunderlips

    Thanks again for the informative posts. I have learned a lot from you.

  36. bob2356


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    37   6:19am Sun 21 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    HousingWatcher says

    How does one actually move their money offshore to avoid being taxed? Sure, you could avoid being taxed if you physically left the country and immigrated elsewhere, but if you remain in the US and put your money in a Swiss bank account, the IRS will most certainly come after you. Secret offshore bank accounts are becoming a thing of the past.

    If you are truly talking tax evasion then you need to be out of the US no matter what living in a country without an extradition treaty with the US.

    What thunderlips fails to note is that your new foreign company would be subject to taxes in the new foreign country. If the purpose creating the company is just tax evasion then you better be very, very sure of the laws in the country you pick to do it in don't make such a thing illegal there. Perhaps thunderlips would like to give some examples of where this would be both legal and feasible.

    Here's a pretty interesting website on the subject I stumbled onto a few years ago. http://www.panamalaw.org/how_to_disappear_one_step_beyond_asset_protection.html

  37. American in Japan


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    38   1:41am Wed 31 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @thunderlips

    Very good argument above.

  38. bob2356


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    39   9:15am Wed 31 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    You are very correct about the tax system being so skewed as to be a total disaster to wage earners. Yet the call for tax cuts to the wealthy continues on and on. Amazing.

    thunderlips11 says

    The basic principle behind corporate employment of offshore tax havens:
    http://www.rjmintz.com/offshore-havens/common-tax-strategies/

    Good points about how to minimize taxation as an importer/exporter but you were responding to a question about moving financial assets overseas to avoid taxation which is an entirely different set of problems. Not that many people are going to take their financial portfolios and set up an import/export business. For one thing you can lose your ass fast in international import/export if you don't know what you are doing.

    From your article by Schwartz International concerning moving financial assets to tax havens: "Most of these strategies for U.S. citizens and residents cannot be accomplished legally". That sums it up very nicely although "most" is seriously understated.

  39. American in Japan


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    40   10:23pm Fri 8 Mar 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I wonder if opinons have changed in the US about this....the holders of wealth are the main ones creating wealth for everyone else.

  40. marcus


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    41   11:58pm Fri 8 Mar 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    OF course.

    They're the makers not the takers. Yes, they're the job creators.

    Some of us know, what they are the maker of, is propaganda. Lots and lots of propaganda. And somehow they've managed to get most of the guns gays and god crowd eating up that propaganda and backing their BS.

    Maybe some would say that since they believe it, it's not propaganda.

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