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45

Down with Idiotic Taxes!

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Piketty, T. (2017). Down with Idiotic Taxes!. In Piketty, T. Chronicles: On Our Political and Economic Crisis. Penguin Books, pp. 45-47

45

It’s easy to denounce the idiocy of a tax. For a simple reason: all taxes are more or less idiotic, in the sense that they all tax people and activities that, in the abstract, it would be desirable not to tax. Things get complicated when, having proudly announced the elimination of an idiotic tax, political leaders go off in search of new revenues to finance the spending that we all, by and large, consider desirable: education, health, roads, pensions. The exercise can then prove perilous—all the more so since with taxes, it’s always possible to come up with something more idiotic. [...]

by Thomas Piketty 1 year, 1 month ago

It’s easy to denounce the idiocy of a tax. For a simple reason: all taxes are more or less idiotic, in the sense that they all tax people and activities that, in the abstract, it would be desirable not to tax. Things get complicated when, having proudly announced the elimination of an idiotic tax, political leaders go off in search of new revenues to finance the spending that we all, by and large, consider desirable: education, health, roads, pensions. The exercise can then prove perilous—all the more so since with taxes, it’s always possible to come up with something more idiotic. [...]

—p.45 by Thomas Piketty 1 year, 1 month ago
46

Let’s also recall that no taxes are paid by businesses: ultimately, every euro of tax is always paid by households. In this fallen world, there is unfortunately nobody except physical, flesh-and-blood people who can pay taxes. The fact that businesses are technically required to remit some of them—in other words, to send a check to the tax authorities—says nothing about their final incidence. Inevitably, firms pass on everything they pay, to their workers (by reducing their wages), or to their shareholders (by reducing dividends or accumulating less capital in their name), or to consumers (by raising prices). The final distribution can’t always be seen with the naked eye, but one way or another all taxes end up being passed on either to the factors of production or to consumption. For example, businesses submit payroll-tax payments, calculated on the basis of their wage bill. It’s generally accepted that this tax is mainly paid by wages, which would be higher if the tax didn’t exist.

by Thomas Piketty 1 year, 1 month ago

Let’s also recall that no taxes are paid by businesses: ultimately, every euro of tax is always paid by households. In this fallen world, there is unfortunately nobody except physical, flesh-and-blood people who can pay taxes. The fact that businesses are technically required to remit some of them—in other words, to send a check to the tax authorities—says nothing about their final incidence. Inevitably, firms pass on everything they pay, to their workers (by reducing their wages), or to their shareholders (by reducing dividends or accumulating less capital in their name), or to consumers (by raising prices). The final distribution can’t always be seen with the naked eye, but one way or another all taxes end up being passed on either to the factors of production or to consumption. For example, businesses submit payroll-tax payments, calculated on the basis of their wage bill. It’s generally accepted that this tax is mainly paid by wages, which would be higher if the tax didn’t exist.

—p.46 by Thomas Piketty 1 year, 1 month ago