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I was given a copy of some bullet points from one of the new proposed Montana tax simplification bills a few days ago, SB 282.  The key points:

As you can imagine, tax code is frequently vilified for being overly complex.  Montana's is no exception; a simple return can take an experienced out-of-state preparer a few hours to do the first time.  The layout is awkward, and there are obscure credits specialized to Montana (which is not unlike every other state, but still).

Tax simplification is always scary though, because it generally is code for a regressive tax; the simplest tax might be that a flat fee that everyone pays, say, $12,000 a year in taxes!  Simple, easy-to-compute, and horrifically unfair to the less fortunate.  

A flat tax rate is also an awkward tool because again, charging a flat 25% is much more harmful to the person who makes $40,000 and has to relinquish $10,000 to the government than it is to the person making $200,000 and has to giving up $50,000 to the government.  That is why we have the tax scale (0/15%/25%/35% is the simplest way to think of it, although it basically never scales that smoothly).

Follow me below the Orange Cloud of Tax Doom for analysis of the above bill, and why it appears to be a regressive tax bill.

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 06:29 AM PST

Union Hatred in my family

by TylerJ

I thought that it might be instructive to share how I've come to discuss unions with my father, since there are a lot of people out there who hate them (obviously not so much on DK, but I'm sure we all know a few).  As I wrote in my intro diary, I was raised in a pretty conservative (and fairly poor) household.  My parents split, and while they would have been probably around middle class together, they certainly weren't when they were apart.  My dad was a mechanic by trade.  He had gotten his degree in biology, then started working on diesel vehicles.  Mainly though, he wanted to farm.  

He bought a 40-acre farm, and basically quit going to work.  He was good enough at his job that they didn't just fire him; of course, this didn't go over with Mom very well.  After a while, she was tired of working to make farm payments, and he was tired of her not shutting up and doing as she was told (I think that's how it went roughly).  

Shortening the story a bit, we can cut to the chase: my dad quit a solid-paying job to grind out a living on a small farm.  It was a crappy existence, but he hated working FOR someone, having to be on the clock, and showing up every day.  

He has a fairly rabid dislike of unions.  I wouldn't call it a hatred exactly, but something that gets him fired up.  His dislike doesn't stem from some strong personal convictions against unions, but from jealousy, more or less.  He chose a hard life, while they chose a hard life with retirement.

A sample conversation goes like this:

"I was talking to this teacher.  She makes $60,000/year, and she's going to retire in 3 years!  And all she does is TEACH!  And then she's going to go back to work for the government AND STILL COLLECT RETIREMENT.

He's pretty offended by the idea of someone else having such a sweet deal while he grinds out his hours on the farm.

Instead of letting him troll me, I've taken to framing the subject when he goes off.  

Dad, I'd love to teach.  I'd be a good teacher, but I won't teach for 3/4 of what I can make as an accountant.  They go to school as long, or longer than me.  They're expected to either have a masters, or earn one quickly, for a job that averages less than I'm making as a staff accountant (I know that's maybe not the BEST source, but it's what I came up with.  Also, Montana teacher salaries kind of suck).  They are professionals, who are teaching our kids!  They have also negotiated the retirements!  They take crap pay, okay benefits, and a solid retirement!  That teacher you're upset about?  I WILL BE OUTEARNING HER IN FIVE YEARS!  WITH NO MASTERS!  
So, step one: I directly attack his idea that union members are somehow horrible people who are filthy rich because UNIONZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

More below the flapjack.

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 08:45 PM PST

The conversion of a Fundy

by TylerJ

This is my first diary, so rip it up! My parents raised me in a very conservative household.  I'm still fairly conservative in my personal life (April, Em, Liam and I go to Bible study, etc), but my wife and I have certainly changes from say, the beginning of the George W Bush era.

Keep in mind, we both grew up with Rush Limbaugh (although we both listened to NPR as well), we were stunned when the wonderful (hey, maybe not so much now, but at the time) HW Bush lost to that punk Clinton (we've eventually gotten over it EXCEPT OH WAIT HE HAD SEX THAT MANWHORE), and I was heartbroken when Bob Dole lost to Clinton (FOUR MORE YEARS OF THIS CRAP ARE YOU KIDDING ME????).

More below the flipflap.

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