August 2, 2007

Hamilton County (OH) News: The Jail Tax/Sales Tax Initiative Is on November Ballot

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:26 pm

What I was hoping for has happened: Hamilton County’s Jail Tax/Sales Tax will get an up-or-down vote from the voters in November.

I just received this from the WeDemandAVote.com coalition:

RE: The Voters Have Spoken

DATE: August 2, 2007

The Voters of Hamilton County have spoken and the Board of Elections has confirmed that it will disclose tomorrow that the Petition Drive to Place the Sales Tax on the Ballot has been successful. It is believed that there are in excess of 10,000 signatures more than required to place the issue on the Ballot.

The NAACP deserves full credit for initiating this process and having the foresight to let the Voters take a look at this $900 million tax increase. Commissioner Pat Dewine has also been very important in holding the line on tax increases for Voters of Hamilton County.

Congrats to the initiative coalition, and to those who put their boots on the ground to make it happen.

I would hope Cuyahoga County would do the same about the ridiculous sale-tax increase their commissioners recently enacted.

Ohio’s Death Tax Should Be Repealed

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:36 am

From a subscribers-only Forbes.com article (HT to an e-mailer) – Ohio’s estate/death tax is doubly out of step with most of the country.

First, it exists:

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia impose their own estate or inheritance taxes on money left to anyone other than a spouse.

Note below that states without death taxes include biggies California, Texas, and Florida:

USdeathTaxMap0700

Second, it kicks in at a ridiculously low level (bold is mine):

While the federal estate tax doesn’t, generally, hit estates of $2 million or less, most of the state levies kick in at lower levels. Ohio, for example, exempts just $338,000 from its estate tax. New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin exempt $675,000. Nine other jurisdictions, (the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee) exempt $1 million. Pennsylvania imposes its quirky inheritance tax on every dollar not left to a spouse, with the rate dependent on who gets the money.

Though not specifically stated, Ohio’s death tax exemption level may be the lowest in the nation. Additionally, Ohio’s tax can be assessed when one spouse dies, even if the other is still alive (federal law, on the other hand, allows an unlimited marital deduction). This is not soak-the-rich stuff. It’s not out of line to think that mid-market homes are being sold, or (further) mortgaged, just to pay state death taxes, even when no federal death taxes are due. That’s ridiculous.

At an absolute minimum, the exemption should be raised to $1 million. Even better, the exemption should get in sync with the federal level ($2 million currently, increasing to $3.5 million by 2009).

The best idea: Repeal it. The $72.1 million in death taxes Ohio collected in the past fiscal year is less than 0.3% of total revenues (tax amount is from the Ohio Office of Budget and Management’s Monthly Financial Report dated July 10, 2007, which covers the entire fiscal year that ended on June 30).

The well-documented out-migration by retirees to Florida and warmer climes, which are and not coincidentally also death tax-free, needs no additional stimulation. Those who decide to stay will usually be net contributors to the state’s economy. Anyone who votes with their feet and leaves the Buckeye State is lost — usually forever.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (080207)

I was saying almost two years ago that Alaska Senator Ted “Bridge to Nowhere” Stevens, known unaffectionately around here as “Waste Ted” Stevens, should resign. Stevens’ latest “problem” has Larry Kudlow agreeing (HT Captain Ed via NixGuy).

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July Federal Budget Results Preview — Receipts are looking good compared to last year, based on the last Daily Treasury Statement:

TreasReceiptsJuly07v06

As has been the case previously, I can’t figure out what “all other receipts” are from the detailed mumbo jumbo in the Daily Reports. I’m estimating that July 2007 receipts reported in July’s Monthly Treasury Statement will come in 5%-7% higher than July 2006.

The trouble is that outlays are almost certain to come in well above last July’s $193 billion. That figure was the lowest of any month in fiscal 2006, and about $30 billion below the fiscal year’s monthly average.

The Monthly Treasury Statement will be released on Friday, August 9 at 2PM.

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Ohioans (including Ted “CAIR Kumbaya Banquet” Strickland) who believe that terrorism is only a worry for people who live on the coasts need to read the last two July posts (here and here) at COAT, along with this Columbus Dispatch article. Or perhaps you believe that blowing up a Columbus shopping mall is just a “Bumper Sticker slogan.”

Update, 10:00 a.m.: The first sentence of the Dispatch article really needs to be emphasized (bold is mine) –

Nuradin Abdi smiled and laughed with his attorney before admitting in a federal court yesterday that he had worked with terrorists to help plot against the United States.

Update, 11:30 a.m.: The Dispatch un-helpfully does not identify Abdi and his alleged accomplices as Muslims until Paragraph 12, and only then because of someone else the paper quoted. It seems that if Muslims ever get smart enough never to use the M-word themselves, we’ll never it again.

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Like Pho, I am definitely underwhelmed by the new Ohio.com (Akron Beacon Journal [ABJ]) blogs — which is why I’m not linking to them. Old Media refugee Bill Sloat at The Bellwether Daily is way, way beyond that point.

Update, 7:45 a.m.: Pho also made several good points yesterday about the mess ABJ has inflicted on itself by giving space to these two clowns. His best one is that ABJ is associated with their content (perhaps not legally, but definitely in perception), and can’t disclaim their way out of that association.

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This is a great big, and impressive, “it’s about time”:

Citizen journalism website gets multi-million-dollar boost

NowPublic announced Monday that the fast-growing citizen journalism website has scored 10.6 million dollars (US) in financing to fuel its drive to become the world’s largest news agency.
The Vancouver-based start-up says it is growing at a rate of 35 percent monthly and has nearly 120,000 contributing “reporters” in more than 140 countries.

In part of a trend referred to as “citizen journalism,” NowPublic lets anyone with digital cameras or a camera-enable mobile telephones upload images or news snippets for dissemination via the Internet.

Time Magazine lists NowPublic among its top 50 websites of 2007.

Participatory journalism is expected to influence traditional news operations as reporters get tips or ideas from people online or respond to news broken by people in the right places at the right times.

“We become the early warning system,” Brody said.

“Breaking news will be owned by organizations like NowPublic, while the analysis side will be owned by AFP and other organizations. That is the big change we are making.”

Let’s hope. Because if all AFP, AP, and others have left is analysis, others who actually know what they’re talking about (i.e., the “subject matter experts” so often referred to by Kevin and Gregg at Pundit Review) will run circles around them.

Now excuse me while I see if there’s a place at NowPublic for yours truly. Who, what, where, when, why. Who, what, where, when, why…..

Positivity: Tiny Survivor Has Fighting Spirit

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Albany, NY:

July 25, 2007

On August 8, Carsyn Grayce Wolford turns five months old. The day will represent yet one more milestone in the short life of the preemie born March 8 at St. Peter’s Hospital.

At birth she weighed 15 ounces; less than one pound and measured just 10 inches. Her survival is nothing less than a miracle, according to Austyn Wolford, her mother. And her doctors agree.

Carsyn is the smallest baby to ever have survived at St. Peter’s, weighing in at just 429 grams at birth. Her original due date was June 15 but because Austyn suffered in early March from pre-eclampsia (or pregnancy-related hypertension) and a placental disruption (when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus prematurely) an emergency caesarean had to be performed.

Before Carsyn’s birth, the smallest baby to survive at St. Peter’s was born December 2004 at 23 weeks gestation (three weeks sooner than Carsyn), weighing 15.4 ounces.

Survival of babies weighing over 500 grams (more than one pound) is pretty commonplace, but for those that weigh less than 500 grams, survival to this point is rare, said physician Karen Narkewicz, chief of Neonatology at St. Peter’s.

“She was strong and feisty, right from the start. … Of the 75 to 80 percent of these babies that do survive, most have major problems. Carsyn does not appear to have any major problems. She will have challenges with gaining weight. … Developmentally, she has met all of the milestones and is doing great,” she said.

Go here for the rest of the story.