It’s probably never a bad time to be rich. But the good times for America’s wealthy could soon be a little less so.
President Barack Obama wants to boost income taxes for the wealthy to pay for tax cuts for everybody else. He wants to limit the deductions that high-income families take for mortgage interest and charity contributions to help pay for providing more people with health insurance.
House Democrats are planning to hit the wealthy with even higher income taxes to pay for their version of a health care overhaul.
Between the plans, a family of four with an income of $5 million a year would see its annual income taxes skyrocket by more than $440,000. A similar family making $800,000 a year would get a tax increase of $30,000, according to an analysis by the financial services firm Deloitte Tax.
“I still think being wealthy is better than being poor,” Clint Stretch, who heads tax policy at Deloitte Tax, said with a touch of understatement. “But this is a pretty high proposed tax burden.”
Taxing the rich to pay for health insurance would represent a significant departure from the way Americans have financed safety net programmes in the past.
Both Social Security and Medicare are supported by broad based payroll taxes. Although the rich pay more — they have bigger incomes — the burden is shared by the middle class and even the working poor.
By contrast, the health care plan working its way through the House would impose $544 billion in new taxes over the next decade on just 1.2 percent of households — joint filers making more than $350,000 a year.
The bill would impose a new 5.4 percent income surtax on couples making more than $1 million a year, starting in 2011. Couples making more than $350,000 would have to pay a surtax of 1 percent tax and those making more than $500,000 would pay a 1.5 percent surtax.
If certain savings in the health care system are not achieved by 2013, the surtax would rise to 2 percent for families making more than $350,000 and to 3 percent for those making more than $500,000.
For a family of four making $450,000 a year, the initial tax increase would be $1,000, according to the Deloitte analysis. But for the super rich, like a single filer making $5 million a year, the tax increase would be $452,000. The analysis assumes a typical mix of earned income, capital gains and itemised deductions for each income level.
Democrats said that for most of the affected taxpayers, the surtax would be far smaller.
“What we’re talking about is frankly very, very small amounts for the overwhelming majority of people who will pay it,” said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.
The top marginal income tax rate now is 35 percent, on income above $372,950. Obama wants to boost the top rate to 39.6 percent in 2011 by allowing some of the tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush to expire.
The House Democrats’ proposed health care surtax would increase the top rate to 45 percent, making it the highest top rate since 1986, when it was 50 percent.
Republicans complain that some taxpayers would face marginal tax rates above 50 percent, when federal and state taxes are combined. They also say that tax increases on the wealthy hurt small business owners who typically pay their business taxes on their individual returns.
Democrats say the tax increases would affect only 4.1 percent of tax filers who report small business income. Those small businesses, however, tend to be the ones that employ the most workers, according to data from the National Federation of Independent Business.
“We shouldn’t have to resurrect the 1970s to remember that when tax rates go too high, people lose the incentive to build new businesses and create jobs,” said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif. “These massive tax increases are no substitute for real fiscal responsibility.”
Obama has tried to make the rich a popular target for tax increases as Democrats struggle to find ways to pay for his plan, intended to assure that virtually everyone gets health care. He regularly portrays the wealthy as big winners under Bush, noting that their taxes dropped and incomes soared during Bush’s eight years in office.
“I think the best way to fund (health care) is for people like myself who have been very lucky, to pay a little bit more,” Obama said recently.
The argument, however, omits the fact that Bush also cut taxes for middle- and low-income people. Their incomes didn’t jump as much as they did for the wealthy, but effective federal tax rates for middle-income and low-wage workers are at or near 30-year lows.
This year, 47 percent of filers won’t owe any federal income taxes — including some families making as much as $50,000 a year, according to separate projections by the Tax Policy Centre and Deloitte Tax.
“Right now, if you are middle class or below, you are not expected to help pay to solve these problems,” said Stretch, the tax policy adviser.
FG, States, LGAs Share N736.782bn In Oct
The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) has disbursed N736.782 billion from October 2022 Federation Account Revenue to the Federal Government, States and Local Government Councils.
This amount was augmented by an additional N70 billion distributed to the three tiers of government.
Federal Government received N36.876 billion, States got N18.704 billion, Local Government Councils received N14.420 billion.
An extra N30 billion Augmentation was made from non-oil revenue and distributed, with Federal Government getting N15.804 billion, States getting N8.016 billion, and Local Government Councils getting N6.180 billion.
According to the communiqué at the end of the FAAC, at the meeting for November 2022, the N736.782 billion total distributable revenue was made up of N417.724 billion distributable statutory revenue; N213.283 billion Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue; N5.775 billion Exchange Gain revenue.
In October 2022, the total deductions for cost of collection amounted to N33.555 billion and total deductions for transfers, savings and refunds was N186.749 billion.
The balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) still remains at $472,513.64.
The communiqué confirmed that from the total distributable revenue of N736.782 billion, the Federal Government received N293.955 billion, the State Governments received N239.512 billion and the Local Government Councils received N177.086 billion.
The total sum of N26.228 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13 percent derivation revenue.
Gross statutory revenue of N622.270 billion was received for the month of October 2022. This was lower than the sum of N825.710 billion received in the previous month by N203.440 billion.
From the N417.724 billion distributable statutory revenue, the Federal Government received N206.576 billion, the State Governments received N104.778 billion and the Local Government Councils received N80.779 billion. The sum of N25.591 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13 percent derivation revenue.
For the month of October 2022, the gross revenue available from the Value Added Tax (VAT) was N229.041 billion. This was higher than the N203.960 billion available in the month of September 2022 by N25.081billion.
The Federal Government received N31.992 billion, the State Governments received N106.642 billion and the Local Government Councils received N74.649 billion from the N213.283 billion distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue.
The N5.775 billion from the Exchange Gain revenue was distributed as follows: the Federal Government received N2.707 billion, the State Governments received N1.373 billion, the Local Government Councils received N1.058 billion and the relevant States received N0.637 billion as 13 percent derivation revenue.
According to the Communiqué, in the month of October 2022, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Companies Income Tax (CIT) increased significantly while oil and gas royalties, Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) and Import Duty recorded considerable decreases.
$1bn Looted Funds Recovered Since 2015 – Malami
Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has revealed that the current administration has so far recovered about $1 billion looted funds till date.
Malami disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He also disclosed that Council has approved a new Anti-corruption Strategy Document to strengthen anti-graft campaigns in the country.
He said the recovered assets had been deployed to various sectors of the economy, including poverty alleviation.
Malami also expressed government’s concern over cases of budget padding, which he described as worrisome, noting that every necessary measure would be explored to address it.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, had blamed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, for adding N206bn to the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry’s budget.
Nigeria Loses $2bn To Oil Theft In Eight Months
The ad-hoc committee set up by the Senate to investigate oil theft and consequent damage on the nation’s economy has said Nigeria lost $2 billion (an equivalent of N1.3trillion) to oil theft between January and August this year.
The committee’s report, which was adopted by the Senate in plenary on Tuesday, made far-reaching recommendations for stemming the tide.
It, however, failed to name a single person or corporate entity carrying out the oil theft.
In one of its findings, the committee said, “Nigeria lost over $2bn to oil theft between January and August 2022, with consequent loss of revenue that would support the country’s fiscal deficits and budget implementation.”
The report indicated concerted efforts being made against the crime by all stakeholders, saying that they had started yielding results, with Forcados Terminal now producing 500,000 barrels per day as against zero production in the first six months of the year.
“Bonny Terminals was also producing 87,000 barrels of oil per day now as against zero production a couple of months ago due to activities of economic saboteurs”, the report stated.
The 16-point recommendations of the committee as adopted by the Senate stated in part: “ the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited should stop undermining Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority from performing their functions.
“The provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act should be adhered to by NNPCL as regards functions of the established agencies.”
The report called for an immediate streamlining of agencies present at the terminals in line with the relevance of their PIA-delineated upstream and midstream/downstream statutory functions.
According to the report, the NUPRC should fast-track the upgrade of the National Production Monitoring Systems to enable real-time monitoring of flow station and terminal activities.
The NUPRC should expedite the deployment and strict enforcement of the Advance Crude Oil Cargo Declaration solution for the detection and mitigation of illegal movement of vessels to ensure adequate revenue generation and optimal crude oil production, it stated further.
It continued that the Bureau of Public Procurement should expedite all processes of procurement for NUPRC to ensure immediate deployment of an online real-time monitoring system by the commission across all upstream oil and gas production platforms for accuracy in measuring production volume by producers.
The report further said the NUPRC should resume full regulatory oversight of all existing crude oil terminals in Nigeria, including integrated ones, crude oil pipelines, issuance of loading clearance, and processing of export permits in line with section 8(d) of the PIA, as regulatory activities at crude oil terminals are interdependent and contingent.
It also faulted what it called undue interference of the Minister of State in the operations of NUPRC as shown with letters made available to it by the agency, stressing that both the minister and NNPCL should allow PIA to function.
“The PIA as signed into law by the President, must be allowed to function by all stakeholders in the sector as an amendment on it now, will send wrong signals to the International community”, it stated.
Recall that the Senate on April 14, 2022, constituted a 13- member Ad – Hoc Committee on Oil Lifting, Theft, and the impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues under the chairmanship of Senator Akpan Bassey, who is also the chairman, of the Senate Committee on Petroleum ( Upstream).
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