July 24, 2015

Speaking Of Pensions And Politics

By Bellwether

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While we’re getting ready to head into summer Pensionpalooza here at Eduwonk, this from Matt Levine’s morning finance newsletter about some of the politics:


 Here’s a story about how teachers unions that don’t like Dan Loeb’s charter school advocacy are criticizing him for avoiding taxes using hedge fund reinsurance. The taxes he avoids could be used to pay for public schools, “this unconscionable tax avoidance scheme must end,” etc. One nice (?) thing about the U.S. tax code is that it provides limitless ammunition for personal attacks: If you have a rich (or corporate) enemy, you can pretty much always criticize him, her or it for avoiding taxes. Because everyone is always doing something that reduces his taxes, relative to some other universe where he did different things to increase his taxes. This is sometimes described as a product of tax complexity but it isn’t really; people criticize Warren Buffett because most of his economic earnings come in the form of unrealized capital gains, which is a pretty simple way to avoid taxes. You can pick any arbitrarily simple tax code, and pick any arbitrary rich person, and you will find him doing something to reduce his taxes under that code. And then you can get mad, if you want.

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