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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Part 2

This is part 2 of the Blog from last week: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Part 1.

Last week I was reviewing some old radio show notes, and came across my 2002 Christmas Wish List from the early G.W. Bush Administration, and my review of that list 10 years later in 2012.  It was so interesting that I thought I’d share it, and at the same time bring it up to date.  Here are second 5 points from that list.

Some of the review was depressing, as 13 years later little had changed. Some of the requests we received, but in a limited fashion. But did we really win anything?  Remember that 13 years ago we were coming off 9/11 and the dismal year after (2002), in which the economy and the stock market were hurting. Much of my list was due to the need for economic revival. For 2015, I will update the term “revival” to “survival." 

Here’s part 2 of my 2015 Clint Eastwood review, i.e. “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

  • Wish # 6 was to lift the $3000 annual deduction for net investment losses, or at least to expand it dramatically, and to index the limit to inflation if we still had a limit
  1. This has to fall in the “Ugly” category, as to the best of my knowledge no one even discussed this
  2. 2015 update  – No change, no indexing, no discussion, business as usual – still “Ugly”
  • Wish # 7 was to repeal all estate and gift taxes
  1. This happened (in a modified way) for a year in 2010, but they came back in 2011 (remember that George Steinbrenner died in 2010?)
  2. However, the exemption was raised to $5 Million each, with portability between spouses, and inflation adjustments
  3. Color this one only “Bad+”
  4. 2015 update – All things considered, we came out pretty well, but it still breaks up legitimate family fortunes, which I believe is antithetical to American values, especially after the astronomical taxes the people paid in their lifetimes – still “Bad+”
  • Wish # 8 was to elimination the double tax on corporate dividends
  1. “Ugly” – again, no one talks about it, much less fixes it
  2. 2015 update – No change, no discussion, but the lowest 2 brackets do receive a Zero rate on “qualified dividends,” which is some consolation – upgrade it to “Bad”
  • ​Wish # 9 was to elimination the Clinton-era increase on Social Security benefits to 85% taxable for higher earners
  1. Prior to Clinton, only 50% was taxed, if any, and that should have been zero, as it was when Social Security started, and as was promised to us forever when the System was started
  2. But Clinton took it to 85% taxable for people with even modest incomes
  3. Color it “Ugly”
  4. 2015 update – No changes, and worse yet, I believe it will not be long until Social Security benefits are 100% taxable to everyone – this one is certainly deserving of “Ugly”
  • Wish # 10 – to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
  1. This piece of garbage was aimed at a handful of wealthy people who followed the tax law to pay little or no income taxes – they were following the letter of the law! So the politicians, rather than changing the law for all people, simply added another tax system on top of the existing monstrosity, causing those few people to pay taxes, but to have to prepare two sets of returns at their own expense. Soon it affected many more people. Yes, the limits were made higher, but not inflation-indexed, so the AMT exists, and to me this was the “Ugliest” of all
  2. 2015 update – Some of the presidential candidates are touting tax law changes that would eliminate the AMT, hopefully once and for all!  This could get an upgrade from “Ugly” to “Good”

OK, what’s my point? My “Top 10” was pretty much completely ignored over the last 13-14 years.  My expectations are pretty low, and yet I am still disappointed. We will follow the progress, but don’t expect much that will impact you very much!