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Wealth (net worth) tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

Some countries’ governments will require declaration of the tax payers’ balance sheet (assets and liabilities), and from that exact a tax on net worth (assets minus liabilities), as a percentage of the net worth, or a percentage of the net worth exceeding a certain level. The tax is in place for both “natural” and in some cases legal “persons”.

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Value added tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

A value added tax (VAT), also known as ‘Goods and Services Tax’ (G.S.T), or ‘Impuesto Indirecto sobre la Prestacion de Servicios’ (I.S.I.), Single Business Tax, or Turnover Tax in some countries, applies the equivalent of a sales tax to every operation that creates value. To give an example, sheet steel is imported by a machine manufacturer. That manufacturer will pay the VAT on the purchase price, remitting that amount to the government. The manufacturer will then transform the steel into a machine, selling the machine for a higher price to a wholesale distributor. The manufacturer will collect the VAT on the higher price, but will remit to the government only the excess related to the “value added” (the price over the cost of the sheet steel). The wholesale distributor will then continue the process, charging the retail distributor the VAT on the entire price to the retailer, but remitting only the amount related to the distribution mark-up to the government. The last VAT amount is paid by the eventual retail customer who cannot recover any of the previously paid VAT. For a VAT and sales tax of identical rates, the total tax paid is the same, but it is paid at differing points in the process.

VAT is usually administrated by requiring the company to complete a VAT return, giving details of VAT it has been charged (referred to as input tax) and VAT it has charged to others (referred to as output tax). The difference between output tax and input tax is payable to the Local Tax Authority. If input tax is greater than output tax the company can claim back money from the Local Tax Authority. VAT was historically used to counter evasion in a sales tax or excise. By collecting the tax at each production level, the theory is that the entire economy helps in the enforcement. However, forged invoices and similar evasion methods have demonstrated that there are always those who will attempt to evade taxation.

Economic theorists have argued that the collection process of VAT minimises the market distortion resulting from the tax, compared to a sales tax. However, VAT is held by some to discourage production.

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Transfer tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

Historically, in many countries, a contract needed to have a stamp affixed to make it valid. The charge for the stamp was either a fixed amount or a percentage of the value of the transaction. In most countries the stamp has been abolished but stamp duty remains. Stamp duty is levied in the UK on the purchase of shares and securities, the issue of bearer instruments, and certain partnership transactions. Its modern derivatives, stamp duty reserve tax and stamp duty land tax, are respectively charged on transactions involving securities and land. Stamp duty has the effect of discouraging speculative purchases of assets by decreasing liquidity. In the US transfer tax is often charged by the state or local government and (in the case of real property transfers) can be tied to the recording of the deed or other transfer documents. Taxes on currency transactions are known as Tobin taxes.

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Toll

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

A toll is a tax or fee charged to travel via a road, bridge, tunnel or other route. Historically tolls have been used to pay for state bridge, road and tunnel projects. They have also been used in privately constructed transport links. The toll is likely to be a fixed charge, possibly graduated for vehicle type, or for distance on long routes.

Shunpiking is the practice of finding another route to avoid payment of tolls. In some situations where tolls were increased or felt to be unreasonably high, informal shunpiking by individuals escalated into a form of boycott by regular users, with the goal of applying the financial stress of lost toll revenue to the authority determining the levy.

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Tariffs

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

An import or export tariff (also called customs duty or impost) is a charge for the movement of goods through a political border. Tariffs discourage trade, and they may be used by governments to protect domestic industries. A proportion of tariff revenues is often hypothecated to pay government to maintain a navy or border police. The classic ways of cheating a tariff are smuggling or declaring a false value of goods. Tax, tariff and trade rules in modern times are usually set together because of their common impact on industrial policy, investment policy, and agricultural policy. A trade bloc is a group of allied countries agreeing to minimize or eliminate tariffs against trade with each other, and possibly to impose protective tariffs on imports from outside the bloc. A customs union has a common external tariff, and, according to an agreed formula, the participating countries share the revenues from tariffs on goods entering the customs union.

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Sales tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

Sales taxes are a form of excise levied when a commodity is sold to its final consumer. Retail organizations contend that such taxes discourage retail sales. The question of whether they are generally progressive or regressive is a subject of much current debate. People with higher incomes spend a lower proportion of them, so a flat-rate sales tax will tend to be regressive. It is therefore common to exempt food, utilities and other necessities from sales taxes, since poor people spend a higher proportion of their incomes on these commodities, so such exemptions would make the tax more progressive. This is the classic “You pay for what you spend” tax, as only those who spend money on non-exempt (i.e. luxury) items pay the tax.

A small number of US states rely entirely on sales taxes for state revenue, as those states do not levy a state income tax. Such states tend to have a moderate to large amount of tourism or inter-state travel that occurs within their borders, allowing the state to benefit from taxes from people the state would otherwise not tax. In this way, the state is able to reduce the tax burden on its citizens. The US states that do not levy a state income tax are Alaska, Tennessee, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington state, and Wyoming. Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee levy state income taxes only on dividends and interest income. Of the above states, only Alaska and New Hampshire do not levy a state sales tax. Additional information can be obtained at the Federation of Tax Administrators website.

In the United States, there is a growing movement for the replacement of all federal payroll and income taxes (both corporate and personal) with a national retail sales tax and monthly tax rebate to households of citizens and legal resident aliens. The tax proposal is named FairTax. In Canada, the federal sales tax is called the Goods and Services tax (GST) and now stands at 6%. All provinces except Alberta also have a provincial sales tax. Most businesses can claim back the taxes they pay and so effectively it is the final consumer who pays the tax.

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Retirement tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

Some countries with social security systems, which provide income to retired workers, fund those systems with specific dedicated taxes. These often differ from comprehensive income taxes in that they are levied only on specific sources of income, generally wages and salary (in which case they are called payroll taxes). A further difference is that the total amount of the taxes paid by or on behalf of a worker is typically considered in the calculation of the retirement benefits to which that worker is entitled. Examples of retirement taxes include the FICA tax, a payroll tax that is collected from employers and employees in the United States to fund the country’s Social Security system; and the National Insurance Contributions (NICs) collected from employers and employees in the United Kingdom to fund the country’s national insurance system.

These taxes are sometimes regressive in their immediate effect. For example, in the United States, each worker, whatever his or her income, pays at the same rate up to a specified cap, but income over the cap is not taxed. A further regressive feature is that such taxes often exclude investment earnings and other forms of income that are more likely to be received by the wealthy. The regressive effect is somewhat offset, however, by the eventual benefit payments, which typically replace a higher percentage of a lower-paid worker’s pre-retirement income.

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Property tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

A property tax is a tax imposed on property by reason of its ownership. A property tax is usually levied on the value of property owned, usually real estate. Property taxes may be charged on a recurrent basis (e.g., yearly). A common type of property tax is an annual charge on the ownership of real estate, where the tax base is the supposed value of the property. For a period of over 150 years from 1695 a window tax was levied in England, with the result that you can still see listed buildings with windows bricked up in order to save their owner’s money. A similar tax on hearths existed in France and elsewhere, with similar results. The two most common type of event driven property taxes are stamp duty, charged upon change of ownership, and inheritance tax, which is imposed in many countries on the estates of the deceased.

In contrast with a tax on buildings, a land value tax is levied only on the unimproved value of the land (“land” in this instance may mean either the economic term, i.e., all natural resources, or the natural resources associated with specific areas of the earth’s surface: “lots” or “land parcels”). Land tax has long been recognised as the only tax which does not distort market relations or carry an excess burden. This holds true only as long as the tax does not exceed the land’s economic rent. Some political economists claim that because land is not the product of labour, is in fixed supply, and because its value is publicly created and not the result of any activity of the owner, it should be the only tax base. See Georgism. When real estate is held by a higher government unit or some other entity not subject to taxation by the local government, the taxing authority may receive a payment in lieu of taxes to compensate it for some or all of the foregone tax revenue.

In many jurisdictions (including many American states), there is a general tax levied periodically on residents who own personal property within the jurisdiction. Vehicle and boat registration fees are subsets of this kind of tax. Usually, the tax is designed with blanket coverage but with large exceptions for obvious things like food and clothing. Household goods are exempt as long as they are kept or used within the household. However, any otherwise non-exempt object can lose its exemption if regularly kept outside the household. Thus, tax collectors often monitor newspaper articles for stories about wealthy people who have lent art to museums for public display, because the artworks have then become subject to personal property tax. And if an artwork had to be sent to another state for some touch-ups, it may have become subject to personal property tax in that state as well.

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Poll tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

A poll tax, also called a per capita tax, or capitation tax, is a tax that levies a set amount per individual. One of the earliest taxes mentioned in the Bible of a half-shekel per annum from each adult Jew (Ex. 30:11-16) was a form of poll tax. Poll taxes are administratively cheap because they are easy to compute and collect and difficult to cheat. Economists have considered poll taxes economically efficient because people are presumed to be in fixed supply. However, poll taxes are very unpopular because they are strongly regressive (poorer people pay a higher proportion of their income than richer people). In addition, the supply of people is in fact not fixed over time: on average, couples will choose to have fewer children if a poll tax is imposed. The introduction of a poll tax in medieval England was the primary cause of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, and in England and Wales in 1990 the change from a progressive local taxation based on property values to a single-rate form of taxation regardless of ability to pay (the Community Charge, but more popularly referred to as the Poll Tax) was instrumental in the demise of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

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Inheritance tax

Posted by financeplanet on June 2, 2007

Inheritance tax, estate tax, and death tax or duty are the names given to various taxes which arise on the death of an individual. In United States tax law, there is a distinction between an estate tax and an inheritance tax: the former taxes the personal representatives of the deceased, while the latter taxes the beneficiaries of the estate. However, this distinction does not apply in other jurisdictions; for example, if using this terminology UK inheritance tax would be an estate tax.

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