Taxes


Soda Tax Myths: Do All Foods Really Fit in a Healthy Diet?

By Dana Woldow

Saturated fat will kill you - wait, no it won't. A big glass of orange juice is a healthy way to start the day - or maybe not. It feels like every week brings some new revelation that turns formerly gospel food wisdom on its head. Nutrition is an emerging science, and as more is learned about how our bodies process what we feed them, consumers can feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what they should be eating.

That's why many people rely on registered dietitians (RDs) for nutrition advice they can trust. Often, the advice they receive is that there are no "good" or "bad" foods, and that all foods can fit in a healthy diet; that's what RDs are taught in school.

The Surprising Truth Behind Tax Day: Where Your Taxes Go

By Robin Claremont

If you groan about Tax Day, you’re certainly not alone.

But what if Tax Day was something we could be proud of as members of a democracy? Would you feel differently about paying taxes if you knew they were going to support public services that you, your family, and your community rely on – such as public safety, roads and bridges, schools, health care, social services, and national parks?

Millions of Americans file their federal income tax returns on April 15 each year with no idea what the government actually does with all that money.

Soda Tax Myths: The Arkansas Argument

By Dana Woldow

California state Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) is once again trying to pass statewide legislation to add a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks, to fund statewide childhood obesity prevention activities and programs. The media's response to Monning's proposed measure, no doubt fueled by beverage industry propaganda, provides a preview of what we can expect to see in February when San Francisco Supervisors introduce legislation to levy a 2 cents per ounce tax on distributors of soda and other sugary soft drinks.

School Parcel Taxes: Usage Won't Really Expand With Easier Passage

By Public Policy Institute of California

Lowering the vote threshold for passage of local school parcel taxes would likely allow far more to pass. But there is no evidence that it would expand their use beyond the sort of wealthy Bay Area school districts that already have them. These are the key findings of a report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

The report assesses the potential effect of reducing the vote required to pass these taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent—a proposal the state legislature has been discussing. Although a parcel tax is one of the only local revenue options available to school districts, these taxes are not widespread. Only about 10 percent of districts have passed one, and the money raised amounts to less than 1 percent of total K–12 revenue.

A Corporate Tax Idea That Fixes Lots Of Problems

Dave JohnsonBy Dave Johnson

Here is one thing Congress could do that would create more jobs, boost the economy and reduce both the budget deficit and the trade deficit. This one thing would not only provide a big boost now, but would provide an ongoing boost from now on. Congress should modify the “deferral” tax loophole that lets companies dodge their taxes by moving and keeping profits “out of the country.”

Twenty-Five Ideas for Mayor Garcetti

Peter DreierBy Peter Dreier

Eric Garcetti has enormous potential to be one of L.A.'s great mayors. He is young (just 42), full of energy, experienced in politics and government, passionate about L.A., brimming with policy ideas, compassionate toward the disadvantaged and a great communicator and explainer. I saw many of these traits up-close when I co-taught a course with him at Occidental College in 2000, and have watched him blossom as he joined the City Council and served as its president.

Now he faces the daunting challenges of running America's second-biggest, and most diverse, city.

California Enterprise Zones: Just a "Big-Business Tax Grab"?

By Gary Cohn

John Thomas and Hans Burkhardt have a lot in common. For more than 17 years each man had a good paying union job, with health and pension benefits, near San Francisco Bay. Thomas worked as a warehouseman for VWR International, a medical supply company with a warehouse in Brisbane, south of Candlestick Park. Burkhardt also worked as a warehouseman, for BlueLinx, a building products company with a facility across the bay in Newark.

The similarities don't end there. Both Thomas and Burkhardt are now collecting unemployment, having lost their $22-an-hour jobs after their employers moved to take advantage of California's enterprise zone plan, a controversial state program that is supposed to create jobs.

The IRS's Real Scandal

By Robert Reich

"This systematic abuse cannot be fixed with just one resignation, or two," said David Camp, the Republican chairman of the House tax-writing committee, at an oversight hearing dealing with the IRS. "This is not a personnel problem. This is a problem of the IRS being too large, too intrusive, too abusive."

Building Transportation Infrastructure in a Broken Political System

By Robert Cruickshank

Over at his blog, Alon Levy has an interesting post calling for more democracy in the planning and authorization of transportation infrastructure. Levy points to Switzerland as an example of a political system where transportation projects are routinely put to a referendum and the results are generally positive. He contrasts that with the California high speed rail project, which he argues was the product of a flawed political process:

I've begun to believe that California's original sin with its HSR project is that it refused to do the same. Prop 1A was a referendum for what was billed as one third of the cost, $10 billion. In reality it was $9 billion and $1 billion in extra funds for connecting local transit; in year of expenditure dollars the estimated budget then was $43 billion, so barely a fifth of the project's cost was voted on. The HSR Authority planned on getting the rest of the money from federal funding and private-sector funding. Prop 1A even required a 1:1 match from an external source, so confident the Authority was that it would get extra money.

The Hollowing Out of Government

Robert ReichBy Robert Reich

The West Texas chemical and fertilizer plant where at least 15 were killed and more than 200 injured a few weeks ago hadn't been fully inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. (A partial inspection in 2011 had resulted in $5,250 in fines.)

OSHA and its state partners have a total of 2,200 inspectors charged with ensuring the safety of more than 8 million workplaces employing 130 million workers. That comes to about one inspector for every 59,000 American workers.

There's no way it can do its job with so few resources, but OSHA has been systematically hollowed out for the years under Republican administrations and congresses that have despised the agency since its inception.