Overstock.com now accepts payment in Bitcoin

I wrote a column questioning if 2014 would be the breakout year for the Bitcoin. It appears that it very well may be! John Stossel from Fox Business News reports:

The big online retailer Overstock.com now accepts payment in Bitcoin. That’s good news for lovers of liberty because Bitcoins give us an alternative to government-controlled money. Bitcoins are a currency created by anonymous, private tech nerds, not by government.

Governments don’t like competition, and our government sometimes bans competing currencies. But as more of us use Bitcoins, and more businesses accept payment in Bitcoin, it becomes harder for government to dismiss the currency as illegitimate, or ban it.

There are two advantages to Bitcoin.

First, it’s harder to trace transactions back to people who make trades. I don’t particularly care about that, because at the moment, I don’t hide anything from my government. But I do fear government destroying the value of my dollars by printing more of them, the way governments in Germany before World War II and in Zimbabwe in recent decades did, forcing people to make trades using wheelbarrows of nearly worthless bills.

“Bitcoins are not controlled by anybody,” states Mercatus Center senior research fellow Jerry Brito.

Bitcoins have become a concern for central banks and governments around the world. They are beginning to fear it and with that will come efforts to control it. Bitcoins, much like the TEA Party movement, are hard to control. But that does not mean the powers to be won’t try.

Stossel notes, “The biggest risk to private currencies may be that governments will become jealous of how well these upstart forms of money work. If people all over the world decide to trade in digital currencies, it will become more obvious than ever that government isn’t what makes economic activity happen. It will also be harder to trace — and tax — people’s economic activity. Government doesn’t like to get sidelined. To its credit, the German government announced that it recognizes Bitcoin as a legal alternate currency.” Read more.

Bitcoins will truly breakout when businesses small and large not only accept them but can use them to pay their utility bill, purchase raw materials and pay their employees. If you want to see the future of Bitcoins then watch the new FOX TV series “Almost Human“.

Fasten your seat belts this will be a wild ride.

The Tax Foundation’s Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform goes to —

The Tax Foundation is honoring six individuals with awards for Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform. As the name of the award suggests, the honorees were selected for their extraordinary efforts to advance the cause of simpler, smarter tax policy in the previous year.

2013 was an exciting year for tax reform throughout the states. Numerous legislators made commitments to smarter, more principled tax policy. We are excited to introduce this new award in recognition of their efforts and are encouraged by the growing support for the kinds of policies this year’s honorees have worked toward.

The following individuals are the recipients of the 2013 Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform award:

Indiana Governor Mike Pence in 2013 achieved an income tax reduction while maintaining the state’s scheduled reduction in corporate taxes and elimination of the inheritance tax. Building on the administrative reform work of his predecessor Gov. Mitch Daniels, Pence has sought further business tax reforms, continued budget restraint, and a determination to make Indiana more attractive to investment and growth.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in 2011 achieved the elimination of the state’s unique and economically destructive Michigan Business Tax (MBT) replacing it with a corporate income tax. Snyder has also successfully scaled back overly generous business tax incentives and demanded greater accountability and transparency from the ones that remain.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez proposed a far-reaching business tax reform and, by skillfully working with the Legislature, signed into law in 2013 a final bill that included much of what she had sought. Provisions include a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent over several years, tightening of some tax credits, and improvements to tax administration.

North Carolina Senator Phil Berger in 2013 led the legislative effort to enact the year’s most significant state tax reform, offering an impressive initial proposal and ultimately crafting the version that became law. Provisions include reducing the individual income tax from a top rate of 7.75 percent to a flat rate of 5.75 percent by 2015, a more generous standard deduction for all taxpayers, a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 6.9 percent to 5 percent by 2015, and an immediate repeal of the estate tax.

Ohio activist Ron Alban in 2011 created and coordinated a grassroots effort of thousands that led to the repeal of the state’s estate tax beginning in 2013. With an exemption level of just $338,333, about 8,000 estates each year paid the tax in Ohio, harming family businesses and investment. Alban’s coalition-building skills and persistence overcame strong opposition by special interests and local governments that sought to preserve the tax.

Wisconsin Representative Dale Kooyenga championed pro-growth state tax reform and worked to ensure that the 2013 budget included income tax reductions and some business reforms. While a modest first step, they are a result of Kooyenga’s expertise and ability to craft reasonable, practical solutions to widely acknowledged problems with the state’s tax system.

Tax Topic State Tax and Spending Policy

The 13 Tax Increases of 2013 – Gird Your Loins, more coming in 2014!

Curtis Dubay from The Foundry writes, “It’s about time for us to uncover our eyes and take a hard look at what 2013 did to our finances. Did you feel the pinch of the 13 tax hikes that hit Americans this year?”

Before you review the list below, put these two on your watch list for 2014:

  • Obamacare’s individual mandate. Beginning in 2014, it’s mandatory to purchase health insurance. If you don’t, you’ll pay a penalty that dramatically increases over time. It starts at $95 or 1 percent of your income (whichever is greater). It rises to $325 or 2 percent of income in 2015, and $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016.
  • Obamacare tax on insurance companies. If you liked seeing your premiums go up, you’ll love this new tax on health insurers—which they are most likely to pass on to you.

As you start reviewing your tax information for 2013, here’s what you’re contending with.

The 13 Tax Increases of 2013

1. Payroll Tax: increase in the Social Security portion of the payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent for workers. This hit all Americans earning a paycheck—not just the “wealthy.” For example, The Wall Street Journal calculated that the “typical U.S. family earning $50,000 a year” would lose “an annual income boost of $1,000.”

2. Top marginal tax rate: increase from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for taxable incomes over $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers).

3. Phaseout of personal exemptions for adjusted gross income (AGI) over $300,000 ($250,000 for single filers).

4. Phase down of itemized deductions for AGI over $300,000 ($250,000 for single filers).

5. Tax rates on investment: increase in the rate on dividends and capital gains from 15 percent to 20 percent for taxable incomes over $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers).

6. Death tax: increase in the rate (on estates larger than $5 million) from 35 percent to 40 percent.

7. Taxes on business investment: expiration of full expensing—the immediate deduction of capital purchases by businesses.

Obamacare tax increases that took effect:

8. Another investment tax increase: 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for taxpayers with taxable income exceeding $250,000 ($200,000 for singles).

9. Another payroll tax hike: 0.9 percent increase in the Hospital Insurance portion of the payroll tax for incomes over $250,000 ($200,000 for single filers).

10. Medical device tax: 2.3 percent excise tax paid by medical device manufacturers and importers on all their sales.

11. Reducing the income tax deduction for individuals’ medical expenses.

12. Elimination of the corporate income tax deduction for expenses related to the Medicare Part D subsidy.

13. Limitation of the corporate income tax deduction for compensation that health insurance companies pay to their executives.

President Obama demanded these higher taxes, but they did nothing to address the actual cause of our deficit and debt problem: too much spending. The proper way to address this problem is through reforms to entitlement programs.

President Obama promised the American people a “balanced approach” of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce deficits and debt. He achieved the tax increase portion of that approach. Now Congress needs to force him to follow through on the spending cuts.

A special thanks to the 50% of taxpayers who pay 97% of all income taxes

The Tax Foundation has released a summary of who really pays federal income taxes. According to the Tax Foundation:

The Internal Revenue Service has released new data on individual income taxes, reporting on calendar year 2011.[1] The IRS data continues to reflect the fact that half of all taxpayers pay nearly all income taxes. However, the improving economy resulted in a spreading of the tax burden as the number of filers increased along with incomes and taxes paid for all income groups except the top 0.1 percent. The higher incomes pushed taxpayers into higher brackets, resulting in an increase in average income tax rates for all income groups except the top 0.1 percent, whose effective rate remained about the same as in 2010. The income shares of the top 1 and 2 percentiles fell in 2011, as did their shares of taxes paid.

The Top 50 Percent of All Taxpayers Paid 97 Percent of All Income Taxes; the Top 5 Percent Paid 57 Percent of All Income Taxes; and the Top 1 Percent Paid 35 Percent of All Income Taxes in 2011

Table 1 breaks down the latest IRS data on number of returns, adjusted gross income, income taxes paid, and average tax rate by income group. In 2011, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGI) below $34,823) accounted for 11.55 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $30 billion in taxes, or 2.89 percent of all income taxes in 2011. In contrast, the top 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs above $34,823) accounted for 88.5 percent of total AGI. The top 50 percent of taxpayers paid $1.01 trillion in income taxes, or 97.1 percent of all income taxes in 2011.

In 2011, the top 10 percent of taxpayers (with AGIs above $120,000) accounted for 45.4 percent of all AGI and 68.3 percent of all income taxes paid. Taxpayers in the top 5 percent accounted for 33.9 percent of all AGI and 56.5 percent of all income taxes paid. The top 1 percent of all taxpayers accounted for 18.7 percent of all AGI and 35.1 percent of all income taxes paid.

Economy Improved, Pushing Incomes and Taxes Paid for all Income Groups Higher, Except for Those in the Top 0.1 Percent

The improving economy added about 1.6 million new filers, from 135 million in 2010 to 136.6 million in 2011. This alone tended to spread the tax burden, as many of these new filers also paid taxes. As well, incomes and taxes paid increased for all income groups except those in the top 0.1 percent (taxpayers making $1,717,675 or more). (See Tables 3 and 4.) Income increased only slightly for the top 1 percent and remains below the levels seen in 2005 through 2008. Likewise, taxes paid for the top 1 percent remains significantly lower than the peak year of 2007. As a result, the income and tax shares for the top percentiles, including the top 1 and 2 percent, fell in 2011.

Average Tax Rate Increased for All Groups and Remained Essentially Flat for the Top 0.1 Percent

Higher AGIs pushed taxpayers into higher tax brackets, resulting in higher average income tax rates for most income groups (Table 8). The average tax rate for the bottom 50 percent of taxpayer increased from 2.37 percent in 2010 to 3.13 percent in 2011, but still remains lower than the average of 3.4 percent since 2001. This increase in tax rate is likely due to the expiration of the Making Work Pay tax credit. The top 50 percent’s average income tax rate increased from 13.05 percent to 13.76 percent.

The average tax rate for taxpayers in the top 1 percent also increased from 23.4 percent to 23.5 percent—the highest average tax rate of any income group. However, the average tax rate for the top 0.1 percent remained essentially flat, changing from 22.84 in 2010 to 22.82 percent in 2011.

For all taxpayers, the average tax rate increased from 11.81 percent to 12.54 percent.

To view the all data upon which this column is written go here.

Florida veterans hit with massive property insurance rate increase on Veterans Day

Many of Florida’s 1.6 million veterans have their property insurance with United Services Automobile Association (USAA). USAA’s membership base is primarily active duty military, military retirees, veterans and their families. Over the Veterans Day weekend policyholders received their new USAA policies. Florida’s veterans were shocked that, for a second year in a row, they are being hit with a massive increase in property insurance rates. Most of Florida’s veterans are on a fixed income.

Senior Chief Geoff Ross USN (Ret.) from Navarre, Florida in an email to WDW – FL writes, “Today your friendly Senior Chief got into a pissing contest with his homeowners insurance company USAA. They just can’t stop jacking up my rates this time almost doubling my policy. So in my polite and cordial tone I called them up and politely told them where to shove their new rate. The lady actually was very nice and tried very hard not to lose me as a customer after 14 years with this company.”

A Sarasota County veteran who has been a member of USAA for thirty-nine years, saw the property insurance on his modest home go up $741.95. According to his USAA policy, “Of this amount, $693.26 is due to a rate increase, and $48.69 is due to other changes initiated by you or us.” Nothing changed on his home in 2013, which was built in 1990, and he changed nothing on his policy other than increase his deductibles in 2012 to reduce his premium. He raised his risk to keep his costs down, as he is on a fixed income.

WDW – FL contributor Ruth Roman wrote, “Flood insurance premiums for Floridians are expected to rise sharply as the result of new rate hikes which have gone into effect October 1, 2013.  ‘They are not aware of what is about to hit them,’ said Pattit Latshaw of St. Petersburg-based Wright National Flood Insurance Co., the largest underwriter of federal flood insurance in the U.S. The repercussions of these hikes will be devastating for homeowners and small businesses alike.”

When the Sarasota veteran contacted USAA about why the dramatic and costly increase he was referred to paragraph 6 of his policy which states in bold letters, “IN RESPONSE TO FLORIDA LEGISLATION SB1486, LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT COVERAGE THAT YOU MAY WISH TO PURCHASE. YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF FLOOD INSURANCE FROM THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM. WITHOUT THIS COVERAGE, YOU MAY HAVE UNCOVERED LOSSES. PLEASE DISCUSS THESE COVERAGES WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT.”

The Sarasota veteran’s USAA policy also states in paragraph 9, “Your policy does NOT cover loss due to flood from any source. For information about obtaining flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), call USAA at (800) 531-8722, or contact the NFIP directly.”

The NFIP website states, “In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 which calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the NFIP is run. As the law is implemented, some of these changes have already occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders. The changes will mean premium rate increases for some – but not all — policyholders over time.”

Florida is hardest hit as it is both flood and hurricane prone. The Sarasota veterans home is not in, but is near, a floodplain. The Sarasota, Florida veteran also noted that his property insurance policy includes coverage for: Volcanic Eruption; Weight of Ice, Snow or Sleet; Explosion; Riot or Civil Commotion; and Aircraft.

If the Sarasota veteran’s home is not in a flood plain then what caused such a dramatic increase in his annual property insurance premium? Answer: Surcharges.

His USAA policy statement under “surcharges” lists the following:

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT FUND $2.00
FL HURRICANE CATASTROPHE FUND (FHCF) PREMIUM RECOUPMENT $276.45
FL HURRICANE CATASTROPHE EMERGENCY ASSESSMENT $48.51
CITIZENS EMERGENCY ASSESSMENT $37.32
FL INSURANCE GUARANTY ASSOCIATION RECOUPMENT $22.12

Total – $386.40

Chief Ross noted something else strange when talking with his USAA insurance agent.

ross fish pond

Chief Ross’ Koi fish pond. For a larger view click on the image.

“Well what was interesting was this fact. I put in a Koi fish pond a few years ago in my backyard. Its pretty cool and it has fed many Blue Herons in the past that swoop in and steal my aquatic buddies. But check this out. The lady on the phone said I have a beautiful house and my back yard is lovely with a lovely pond. Let me tell you boys and girls I did not tell my insurance company I put in a Koi pond. There is only one way you can see this feature due to my location and that is from the air,” notes Ross.

Ross concludes, “Using my superior skills of decisive intellect and previous life hanging out with CIA operators I conclude these people took aerial pictures of my house to see if I am adding improvements, pool, etc.I am so isolated out here surrounded by trees etc. the only way to see in my back is from above. I asked the lady how did she know I have a fish pond in my backyard and she did not reply. I could here her shuffling the pictures of my home around in her hand. Boys and girls if you have homeowners insurance with USAA and you put in a swimming pool or add on a new room they will know about it…… look above you for the satellite taking pictures. Skinny dippers beware.”

So veterans across Florida are faced with either paying the higher premiums, taking on more risk to reduce their property insurance rate or cancelling their USAA policy. Happy Veterans Day 2013!

Florida cites English Common Law to deny small businessman a jury trial

This is Part II in the series of investigative reports WDW – FL is publishing on the Florida Department of Revenue (FLDOR), the mandated unemployment insurance assessments and an $18 million lawsuit by Florida small businessman Don Baldauf. WDW – FL examines the potential impact of this lawsuit on taxation and regulation in the sunshine state. Governor Rick ScottAttorney General Pam Bondi, 12th Circuit Court Judge K. Douglass Henderson and twenty-three others defendants are named in the lawsuit.

Read Part I by clicking here.

Baldauf protested the mandate that he pay Florida’s unemployment insurance assessment as a sole proprietor business. All businesses are mandated by the Florida Department of Revenue (FLDOR) to pay for unemployment insurance. Florida is the only provider of unemployment insurance. The unemployment insurance assessments are administered by the FLDOR. Currently FLDOR rules deny sole proprietorship businesses benefits, like Baldauf’s Epitome Systems. During the lengthy administrative hearing process Baldauf continually requested a trial by jury. FLDOR consistently denied his request.

On what grounds was Baldauf”s request for a jury trial denied? That is the focus of Part II.

Baldauf states, “I am suing because I have been deprived of my US Constitution Seventh Amendment rights as a Florida small businessman. Each and every one named as defendants is accused of taking part in preventing me from settling this taxation controversy with the State of Florida by invoking my right to a jury trial. What reason was I given for not being able to exercise my right to a trial by jury? Because King George III says I do not have that right. Yep, according to some of the plaintiffs 1776 never happened!” Baldauf started a website titled JuryTrialRights.com where interested individuals may view the lawsuit and related documents.

Article I, § 22, of the Florida Constitution states a right to a jury trial “shall be secure to all and remain inviolate.”

The Governor and FLDOR have denied Baldauf a jury trial citing 1845 English common laws. Exhibit 7-D and Exhibit 20-A specifically cite 1845 English common laws. Exhibit 7-D cites “FOREIGN STATUTES” and 1845 English common laws. The Chief Counsel for the Governor’s office cites 1845 English common law in Exhibit 20-A. Both cite the 1994 Florida Supreme Court case Printing House vs. The Department of Revenue. In that case the Florida Supreme Court found:

Printing House, Inc. v. Department of Revenue, 614 So.2d 1119 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992). We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. We hold that a taxpayer has no right to a jury trial when contesting tax assessments, but a taxpayer who pays the assessment under protest and requests a refund is entitled to a jury trial, as is a taxpayer who challenges a punitive civil penalty. The decision of the district court is approved in part and quashed in part.

Baldauf notes:

  1. The Printing House case is about ad valorem (property) and excise taxes not unemployment insurance assessments.
  2. In November 2011, Tabatha Bookout–Aldous, Revenue Administrator II – SES for the FLDOR, filed a tax lien against Baldauf’s business in Sarasota County, FL violating, according to Baldauf, Florida Statute 443 and denying him his right to due process.
  3. In June 2012 a unemployment insurance assessment was taken directly from Baldauf’s bank account by the FLDOR under protest by Baldauf. Baldauf’s bank was instructed by the to send the FLDOR $1,157.30 out of his bank account. This action was executed by Lisa Vickers by Ewa Zietarska from the FLDOR.
  4. Therefore as the Florida Supreme Court has ruled Baldauf is, given 1, 2  and 3 above, “entitled to a jury trial”.

The Constitution of the State of Florida, Article II  SECTION 5 states:

“(b) Each state and county officer, before entering upon the duties of the office, shall give bond as required by law, and shall swear or affirm:” “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the state; and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of   (title of office)   on which I am now about to enter. So help me God.”

Baldauf states, “By citing English common law over the U.S. Constitution all defendants have violated their oath of office.”

Baldauf notes, “The Constitution does not grant rights, it secures them.  In Miranda vs. Arizona found, ‘Where rights are secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making no legislation which would abrogate them.’ Again, if there had been something to site in our own Constitution to support the position it would have never sited English Law. Here is a quote “For too long our rights have been eroded in the shadows. Judges, lawyers and legislators ignore our rights for the benefit of their own absolute power over the people. The only way to stop it is to shine the brightest of lights on it and make this fight a very public one.”

Part III will show the sequence of actions the FLDOR took against Baldauf.

FL Small Business Owner sues Governor Scott & AG Bondi for $18 million

This is Part I of a series of investigative reports we are publishing on the Florida Department of Revenue (FLDOR), the mandated unemployment business tax and a lawsuit by Florida small businessman Don Baldauf. We will examine the potential impact of this lawsuit on taxation and regulation in the sunshine state.

Governor Rick Scott at his first inaugural address stated that the axis of unemployment are taxation, regulation and litigation. Governor Scott has traveled the state to promote his pro-growth and pro-small business agenda. Governor Scott said, “Job creation is an absolute mission.”

So why are Florida Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, 12th Circuit Court Judge K. Douglass Henderson and twenty-three others defendants named in an $18 million lawsuit brought by Don Baldauf a small business owner?

Baldauf states, “I am suing because I have been deprived of my US Constitution Seventh Amendment rights as a Florida small businessman. Each and every one named as defendants is accused of taking part in preventing me from settling this taxation controversy with the State of Florida by invoking my right to a jury trial. What reason was I given for not being able to exercise my right to a trial by jury? Because King George III says I do not have that right. Yep, according to some of the plaintiffs 1776 never happened!” Baldauf started a website titled JuryTrialRights.com where interested individuals may view the lawsuit and related documents.

The Seventh Amendment states:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Background:

Florida has no state income tax, yet all Florida businesses, including sole proprietorships, must file a quarterly income tax return and pay unemployment taxes to the FLDOR.

According to the Florida Department of Revenue website, “Corporations and artificial entities that conduct business, or earn or receive income in Florida, including out-of-state corporations, must file a Florida corporate income tax return unless exempt. They must file a return, even if no tax is due. Sole proprietorships, individuals, estates of decedents, and testamentary trusts are exempted and do not have to file a return.”

Baldauf is the sole proprietor of Epitome Systems, a certified alarm system contractor and Florida “S” corporation. Baldauf was licenced in 2004 and Epitome Systems is headquartered in Bradenton, FL. According to the Digital Media Law Project website on sole proprietorship in Florida, “If you have four or more employees in Florida, you must carry workers’ compensation insurance.” But all Florida business regardless of the number of employees must pay Florida unemployment insurance.

Baldauf is mandated by the FLDOR to pay unemployment taxes, for which Florida is the only provider. Additionally, should Baldauf close Epitome Systems he cannot collect unemployment insurance until he finds a new job or starts another company. According to Baldauf, “As I understand it when Congress expanded unemployment benefits the state had to borrow money from Washington with interest. So when I and all other Florida corporations pay the unemployment tax a portion of that is used to pay the interest on the loan that Florida has with the federal government.”

Jim Stratton in his July 2012 Orlando Sentinel column “Florida owes federal government $700 million for jobless benefits” wrote, “Florida businesses owe the federal government almost $700 million borrowed to make unemployment payments during the past three years. Each year the balance remains unpaid, the amount employers pay on their federal unemployment tax increases slightly. They are already paying 0.6 of a percentage point more per employee than before the recession.”

Medical Office Resources of Florida reported:

“The Governor of Florida has signed the legislative bill [in 2012] which changes the Florida state unemployment tax paid by Florida employers to an $8,000 taxable wage base and rates now range from 1.51% to 5.40%.  The new company rate will remain at 2.70%.

The good news is that the proposed taxable wage base per employee is $8,000; $500 less than the 2012 proposed limit.  This is still a $1,000 increase per taxable wage base per employee from last year.

Additional good news is that the tax rates range from 5.40% to 1.51%.  The proposed lowest rate for 2012 was 2.02%, but it has been decreased to 1.51%.  The 2011 highest rate of 5.4% remains the same, but the lowest rate is now 1.51%.  However, this will adversely impact your tax amount if your current rate is less.”

In 1992 the Florida legislature passed a Taxpayers Bill of Rights, which states, “The Department of Revenue is responsible for administering the tax laws of Florida in a fair and efficient manner. Promoting voluntary compliance, which ensures that all taxpayers pay their applicable taxes, is an important part of the Department’s mission. The Department also has an obligation to monitor compliance and to take action when taxpayers fail to comply with relevant tax laws. The provisions in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights protect taxpayers’ privacy and assets during any actions taken by the Department of Revenue.”

Baldauf has been through a series of administrative processes, telephone conversations, exchanges of documents with the FLDOR and a 12th Circuit Court hearing since April of 2011 to try to settle his case. All to no avail.

Part II of our investigative report will look at the fairness and efficiency of the administrative process to address Baldauf’s original complaint. WDW – FL in Part III will look at how the FLDOR took action against Baldauf, the taxpayer who refused to comply with relevant tax laws. Part IV will look at the potential impact on Florida businesses should Baldauf succeed in his lawsuit.

RELATED VIDEO: Governor Rick Scott speaks about unemployment taxes in 2010. Video courtesy of WTSB Channel 10 News, Tampa Bay:

Exclusive Interview with Candidate Richard DeNapoli (FL-Dist. 74)

WDW sat down with Richard DeNapoli, candidate for FL-District 74. As the 2014 election cycle heats up it is important for voters to know the candidates. WDW will continue to interview candidates and elected officials to educate voters.

DeNapoli served as a prosecutor in Orange County, Florida for a short time after law school, prosecuting third degree felonies, before returning to South Florida to care for his grandmother when his grandfather passed away in June 2003.

In addition to being a Licensed Attorney, Realtor, Mortgage Broker and Notary, DeNapoli is also a Certified Financial Planner. He worked as a Trust and Investment Officer for five years at Northern Trust on a team with $1.8 Billion assets under management providing services to high net worth individuals. Prior to joining Northern Trust, DeNapoli had a successful law practice.

What sets DeNapoli apart is his work in Broward County, FL to insure voters rights are protected.

In November 2011 DeNapoli sent an open letter to Dr. Brenda C. Snipes, the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County, about early voting locations. DeNapoli, the then Chair of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC), found that all of the Broward County early voting locations were in heavily Democratic areas. DeNapoli in his letter noted, “Research in numerous scholarly journals has shown that the greater the distance from a voting site, the greater exists the likelihood of non voting. The incidence of early voting is highly sensitive to the location of the early voting location.” Due to his efforts one of seventeen early voting locations was placed in a heavily Republican location.

But DeNapoli was not finished.

In May 2012 DeNapoli and BREC officials, “[C]onducted a search of the Social Security Death Index (“SSDI”) for Broward County for the 2011 calendar year as obtained through www.GeneaologyBank.com.  The search was conducted from May 13-19, 2012.  The results revealed that 9,960 Broward County residents had passed away during the 2011 calendar year.  BREC officials then checked 2,100 of these names without regard to party registration against the Broward SOE’s website: 481 deceased individuals cross referenced by name, birth date, city or zip code were still listed as “active” voters according to the Broward SOE. This is 23 percent of the deceased persons examined.” The featured photo above is of DeNapoli holding the stack of dead voter registrations in Broward. Photo courtesy of the BREC.

It is always interesting and notable to see any political party or politician scrub the voter roles of dead people – Republicans and Democrats alike.

Danita Kilcullen, TEA Party Fort Lauderdale, sent this comment to WDW – FL, “Richard DeNapoli was a fantastic Chairman of the Broward Republican Executive Committee.  He brought tens and tens of new memberships and put his own money where his mouth is. Especially memorable was the evening when CAIR’s South Florida Leader, Nasar Hamze, after months of heckling and creating chaos at Allen West’s Town Hall meetings, decided he would join BREC.  What Richard did to prevent this was maverick and read much like a Perry Mason courtroom drama.  When he tells you he’ll fight for you, that is exactly what he does.”

To learn more about Richard DeNapoli click here.

EDITORS NOTE: WDW will be keeping an eye on those running for public office in Florida. Stay tuned.

Study: Florida’s Marginal Tax Rate at 42.6% – Ouch!

This week the Tax Foundation is featuring two new maps which pull data from a Fiscal Fact released last week, “Individual Tax Rates Impact Business Activity Due to High Number of Pass-Throughs,” and look at the top marginal tax rates for sole proprietorships and S-corporations throughout the states. In his study, economist Kyle Pomerleau explains that more than 30 million pass-through businesses file their taxes at the individual rate, and why a large percentage of those businesses have a marginal tax rate exceeding 40 percent.

According to the Tax Foundation: The map [above] is not examining the effective rates of businesses in the top bracket, but rather, the top marginal tax rate on (S-Corporations/Sole Proprietorships) in each state. A “marginal” rate is the amount that is taxed of the next dollar of income earned by pass-through businesses in each state’s highest tax bracket. These rates reflect the sum of federal, state, and local income taxes (minus the state and local tax deduction); self-employment taxes; and the limitation on itemized deductions.

View the Tax Foundation map archive here.

ABOUT THE TAX FOUNDATION:

Founded in 1937, the Tax Foundation is the nation’s leading independent, non-partisan organization providing sound research and analysis on federal and state tax policy. The Tax Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and our offices are located in the National Press Building in Washington, DC.

Coalition formed to repeal the 16th Amendment

A broad coalition of national organizations, hosted and managed by Competitive Governance Action, whose initial members include Americans For Fair Taxation®, Tea Party Patriots, Free Market America and Americans for Limited Government, announced a joint effort called “Repeal 16: A Coalition to Repeal the 16th Amendment.”

The coalition’s message to Washington lawmakers is straightforward: End the current corrupting tax system and the IRS.

Cynthia T. Canevaro, Executive Director Americans For Fair Taxation

Cynthia T. Canevaro, Executive Director, Americans For Fair Taxation, in an email states, “As FairTax supporters we know how the current tax code has corrupted our economy, our political system, small businesses and the livelihood of countless American citizens.  This summer’s scandalous revelations of IRS abuses are just the latest example of how the IRS, for 100 years, has systematically violated the fiduciary trust given to it by the American people.”

“Although there have been numerous hearings and calls for action, it has turned out to be much ado about nothing because the current tax code is, in reality, an incumbent Member’s delight.  Why? Because it enables the status quo to maintain complete control over you the taxpayer,” notes CGA.

According to CGA, “Repealing the 16th Amendment will allow citizens from all political perspectives to finally have an open, transparent and honest debate about comprehensive tax reform, without getting bogged down on which plan is best. Repeal 16 will finally give supporters of fundamental tax reform a neutral vehicle to address the most pressing issue of the day – eliminating the IRS and Repealing the 16th Amendment.”

Canevaro states, “While supporting the coalition, Americans For Fair Taxation will continue to proudly and aggressively advocate the FairTax Plan as the only viable choice for fundamental tax reform.  With a successful Repeal 16 campaign, we know the FairTax Plan will now be in a position to be the tax reform plan of choice for elected officials and the American people who want jobs and economic growth.”

repeal petition has been posted at www.Repeal16.org for those who see the IRS and income tax as a a threat to American prosperity. The coalition’s initial goal is to recruit 10,000 Americans to sign the petition. “With Congress coming back into session this week, timing is of the essence”, notes Canevaro.

Canevaro, states, “We are excited about the opportunities the new Repeal 16 coalition will bring to the FairTax, and look forward to being on coalition team.”

ABOUT COMPETITIVE GOVERNANCE ACTION

Competitive Governance Action is a 501(C)(4) organization committed to education and advocacy to manifest the concept that problems should be solved by the smallest, least centralized, most local authority that may effectively address the matter. Central to the concept is the devolution of political power from the federal government to state and local governments, to individuals and to non-government community and religious institutions.

Message to “defund Obamacare” resonated with Florida grassroots

Jim DeMint speaks at the “Defund Obamacare” town hall tour in Tampa on August 21, 2013. Photo courtesy of Eve Edelheit, Tampa Bay Times staff.

Heritage Foundation President and former Senator Jim DeMint and Raphael Cruz, father of Senator Ted Cruz, came to Tampa, Florida to bring their message that now is the time to defund the Affordable Care Act. The Heritage Action for America sponsored event was over booked. Tampa was the third stop on a nine city tour. Over 850 signed up for the event, with only 550 seats available.

Raphael Cruz gave the invocation and was greeted with a standing ovation when he was introduced by Karen Jaroch, Tampa Regional Coordinator for Heritage Action, as the father of Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz ended the event with a stirring call to action.

Senator DeMint then took the stage to a standing ovation. DeMint looked over a packed house of diverse concerned citizens, who traveled from across the state of Florida. DeMint then said in his soft southern voice, “We had you wait in line to get into this event so you can get used to standing in line to get medical care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. With the over 550 people jammed into this hall you now know what your doctor’s waiting room will look like very soon.” These comments were like throwing raw meat to the grassroots activists in the audience.

Senator DeMint then went into detail on how the Affordable Care Act can be defunded. DeMint explained defunding Obamacare means attaching a legislative rider to a “must pass” bill (e.g. debt limit, annual spending bill or continuing resolution to fund the government) that 1) prohibits any funds from being spent on any activities to implement or enforce Obamacare; 2) rescinds any unspent balances that have already been appropriated for implementation; and 3) turns off the exchange subsidy and new Medicaid spending that are on auto-pilot.

DeMint was then joined by Mike Needham, Chief Executive Officer for Heritage Action for America, to answer questions. The issue of what is the urgency to defund Obama care now was raised. According to DeMint and Needham on January 1, 2014, Obamacare’s new main entitlements – the Medicaid expansion and the exchange subsidies – are scheduled to take effect. Open enrollment for both programs begins on October 1, 2013, at the start of the new fiscal year. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal government will spend $48 billion in 2014 and nearly $1.8 trillion through 2023 on these new entitlement programs. Also on January 1, Americans will be forced by their government to buy a product, health insurance, for the first time in history. Individuals and families who don’t comply will be penalized by tax penalties administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

One Floridian asked Senator DeMint isn’t is mean to not provide the funding for healthcare. Senator DeMint replied that it is mean for the President to promise Americans that they can keep their current insurance and doctors under Obamacare. It is mean for the President to say that health insurance premiums will go down $2,000 when in fact they will go up over $2,000 or more in some states. It is mean for the President to say everyone will receive better health care when we know from the experiences of Canada and England that socialized medicine leads to rationing and poor care, even to patients dying for lack of attention..

The question of some House Republicans supporting the repeal of Obamacare but not defunding it came up.

DeMint noted that some fear if they take a stand on Obamacare it will hurt them in the 2014 elections. He then pointed out that same tactic of “first do no harm” lost Republicans the US Senate and White House twice. DeMint noted that when he was in the Senate, and since he has become President of the Heritage Foundation, he experienced a Republican leadership that will “cut the legs out from under any who oppose them”.

DeMint said that Republicans took the House of Representatives in 2010 and retained the majority in 2012 on the promise of repealing Obamacare. Either Republicans keep their promise or go home and explain why they lied. DeMint noted that repealing Obamacare is not enough. The House has had numerous votes to repeal the law, but the chances of statutorily repealing the law decreased once President Obama won a second term. Those who oppose Obamacare, he said, cannot wait another three and a half years to ” begin dismantling Obamacare; they need to leverage current opportunities to defund using ‘must-pass’ spending bills.” DeMint said time and again, it is now or never.

The Tampa Bay Times PolitiFact blog took exception to four of the things Senator DeMint said during his presentation. However, DeMint’s message clearly resonated with the audience. The devil is always in the details.

ABOUT HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA:

RELATED:

Congressman Mark Meadows : Letter Encouraging House Leadership to Defund Obamacare

Should We Delay or Defund Obamacare?

Did you know Florida’s highest paid public employee is a basketball coach?

Ruben Fisher-Baum from DeadSpin.com reports, “You may have heard that the highest-paid employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach. Based on data drawn from media reports and state salary databases, the ranks of the highest-paid active public employees include 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, one hockey coach, and 10 dorks who aren’t even in charge of a team.”

For a larger view click on the map.

To view how much in revenues college sports in Florida generated in 2012 click here.

So are Florida’s hard-earned tax dollars paying these coaches?

According to Fischer-Baum, “Probably not. The bulk of this coaching money—especially at the big football schools—is paid out of the revenue that the teams generate.”

So what’s the problem then? These guys make tons of money for Florida schools; shouldn’t they be paid accordingly?

Fischer-Baum says there are at least three problems.

  1. Coaches don’t generate revenue on their own; you could make the exact same case for the student-athletes who actually play the game and score the points and fracture their legs.
  2. It can be tough to attribute this revenue directly to the performance of the head coach. In 2011-2012, Mack Brown was paid $5 million to lead a mediocre 8-5 Texas team to the Holiday Bowl. The team still generated $103.8 million in revenue, the most in college football. You don’t have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.
  3. This revenue rarely makes its way back to the general funds of these universities. Looking at data from 2011-2012, athletic departments at 99 major schools lost an average of $5 million once you take out revenue generated from “student fees” and “university subsidies.” If you take out “contributions and donations”—some of which might have gone to the universities had they not been lavished on the athletic departments—this drops to an average loss of $17 million, with just one school (Army) in the black. All this football/basketball revenue is sucked up by coach and AD salaries, by administrative and facility costs, and by the athletic department’s non-revenue generating sports; it’s not like it’s going to microscopes and Bunsen burners.

Did you know that  471 University of Florida employees pulling down over $200,000 a year. UF has the most high-salaried employees of any state university in Florida, according to figures taken from state data for Spring 2013. In fact, 2,031 of its employees made at least $100,000.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office has expanded its public records website — floridahasarighttoknow.com — to include the $2.66 billion in salaries for more than 52,000 workers at Florida’s 11 universities.

To find the salary of any employee working for the state of Florida click here.

Florida Tenth Amendment Center launches petition to stop Common Core

There is a growing movement at the state level to stop Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. There is a new twist to the movement. The Florida Tenth Amendment Center (FLTAC) has launched county-level e-campaigns for local resolutions to stop CCSS.

FLTAC campaign links are listed by county at the bottom of this article.

FLTAC’s intent is to pressure all of Florida’s 67 county commissions to pass non binding resolutions against CCSS. One of the petitions was launched in Sarasota County, Florida.

According to the FLTAC website,  “This campaign is launched to demand a strong stand, however non binding and symbolic that might be, by the Sarasota county government in passing a resolution to stop Common Core Standards. Common Core is the latest effort by Washington to eliminate local control, i.e., parents and local government from exerting their rightful role over the education of the County’s public school children.”

The non binding Resolution reads as follows:

RESOLUTION OPPOSING “NATIONALIZED” COMMON CORE STANDARDS

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution reserves the control of education to the States and the people; and is not an enumerated power delegated to the General government in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Florida Executive Branch officials committed this state to adopting common standards with a consortium of states through the Race to the Top grant created by the federal Executive Branch; and

WHEREAS, this participation required the State of Florida to adopt common standards in K-12 English language arts and mathematics (now known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative) and to commit to implementing the aligned assessments developed by a consortium of states with federal money, all without the consent of the people exercised through their Legislative Branch despite the fact that the people fund K-12 education with over $1 billion in state and local taxes each year; and

WHEREAS, adoption of Common Core obliterates Florida’s constitutional autonomy over the educational standards for Florida’s children in English language arts and mathematics because 100 percent of the Common Core standards must be delivered through Florida’s curriculum, yet the standards belong to unaccountable private interests in Washington, D.C.
which have copyright authority and do not allow any standards to be deleted or changed, but only allow Florida to add 15 percent to those standards; and

WHEREAS, this push to nationalize standards will inevitably lead to more centralization of education in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments; removing education of Florida’s children from the government closest to them to unelected and unaccountable officials outside of Florida;

WHEREAS, both the Common Core standards and the PARCC tests will create new tax burdens to pay for enormous unfunded mandates on our state and our local school districts; and

WHEREAS, the Race to the Top grant conditions require the collection and sharing of massive amounts of student-level data through the PARCC agreement which violates student privacy;

THEREFORE, the County/City/Township of ___________ resolves that the legislature of the State of Florida should:

Withdraw Florida from the Common Core State Standards Initiative; Withdraw Florida from the PARCC consortium and its planned assessments for Florida’s students, and any other testing aligned with the Common Core standards;

Prohibit all state officials from entering into any agreements that cede any measure of control over Florida education to entities outside the state and ensure that all content standards as well as curriculum decisions supporting those standards are adopted through a transparent statewide and/or local process fully accountable to the citizens in every school district of Florida; and

Prohibit the collection, tracking, and sharing of personally identifiable student and teacher data except with schools or educational agencies within the state.

Be it further resolved that the Board of County Commissioners, County of SARASOTA, State of Florida, declare that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Governor of the State of Florida, the President of the Florida Senate, the Speaker of the Florida House and the sitting State representative(s) and State senator(s) who represent the people of SARASOTA County.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA TENTH AMENDMENT CENTER:

The Florida Tenth Amendment Center is not affiliated with any political party. FLTAC does not subscribe to any ideology but the Constitution as intended by the Framers and Ratifiers. This is the standard by which we measure all holders of public office, regardless of that person’s party affiliation. We believe very simply in the following: The Constitution. Every Issue, Every Time. No Exceptions, No Excuses.

FLTAC petition links listed by county:

Alachua County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e418e8-e7a0-470b-877a-434032741282
Baker County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a20b-4da0-4bb9-a89e-60b332741282
Bay County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a32a-d588-450e-9b2e-6b8432741282
Bradford County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a43a-974c-468c-b4bd-654632741282
Brevard County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a5ae-ce9c-46a1-bccc-6ba532741282
Broward County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a6fc-37c8-4299-bb21-6c0e32741282
Calhoun County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a9af-f11c-428c-87f1-6c2a32741282
Charlotte County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6abbb-f7d8-469d-a711-6c9632741282
Citrus County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6acd2-e324-4c35-b91c-6cc832741282
Clay County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6af5e-f87c-4d66-81e2-6cfb32741282
Collier County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6b071-bf94-49da-97c3-6cc632741282
Columbia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6b209-95dc-4172-97c8-6d7c32741282
DeSoto http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6bb55-ef24-4db2-b9df-6f1b32741282
Dixie County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6bce7-7754-422c-822e-6f1e32741282
Duval County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6be18-0954-41c8-93a1-6f6b32741282
Escambia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6beb8-31dc-4a6b-9241-6f1e32741282
Flagler County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6cf23-a984-4973-bacd-704232741282
Franklin County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d045-b914-4d32-b2c0-724532741282
Gadsden County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d101-91ec-427c-ae26-718532741282
Gilchrist County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d246-05e8-4dce-be4d-726332741282
Glades County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d51f-ae60-42d5-b95f-72a532741282
Gulf County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f237-5e90-4c9b-baae-73c432741282
Hamilton County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f307-fe70-484a-b798-759a32741282
Hardee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f5bb-a264-41d9-aff4-75fa32741282
Hendry County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f669-1240-443c-919c-761632741282
Hernando County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f716-709c-465e-adc3-762f32741282
Highlands County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f7cd-e394-4e6b-8714-765332741282
Hillsborough County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f87d-0018-4a54-a05d-765332741282
Holmes County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f933-91d8-4136-abee-76a632741282
Indian River County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fa71-59b4-4dd0-9989-762732741282
Jackson County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fb37-ca7c-48f2-9370-72a532741282
Jefferson County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fc18-faf4-4278-b7d6-773332741282
Lafayette County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fcb2-8fc8-4300-ad42-776c32741282
Lake County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fd39-01c4-4966-b68c-769e32741282
Lee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fe9a-b340-478a-b655-77e932741282
Leon County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71554-4170-42fa-9da2-795b32741282
Levy County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e715ef-02e8-4b55-89c8-7ab832741282
Liberty County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7167f-adfc-4364-9594-7acd32741282
Madison County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71731-8210-493b-bd83-7aeb32741282
Manatee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e717e8-3418-4991-acf0-7b2632741282
Marion County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71881-be9c-4267-b169-7ad532741282
Martin County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7190d-20c4-43e4-97dc-7ad532741282
Miami-Dade County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71a62-b48c-4453-8e07-7af832741282
Monroe County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71b3d-38d8-4d63-b3b2-7b9632741282
Nassau County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71c0a-ae20-41c9-aad1-7b8632741282
Okaloosa County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71cd8-3e3c-4b1d-8d73-7b8632741282
Okeechobee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71f5a-6950-4023-aa05-7be732741282
Orange County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e72010-f780-4e78-8a51-7c6632741282
Osceola County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75c54-48e8-48e2-a4ee-016732741282
Palm Beach County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75d42-cc88-464b-be63-024332741282
Pasco County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75df8-8fc8-40bd-a4dc-024032741282
Pinellas County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75ec4-bd24-4222-8439-02d832741282
Polk County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75f5d-ae84-4cbf-8872-027c32741282
Putnam County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75fee-36b0-423a-a870-02d832741282
Santa Rosa County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7608c-8718-4237-85e0-023e32741282
Sarasota County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76127-7584-4b06-8424-025032741282
Seminole County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e761a9-cda0-4f95-8905-03ad32741282
St Johns County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7622f-69fc-491f-ac52-041532741282
St Lucie County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e762ca-c650-458e-a7db-041b32741282
Sumter County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e763f2-d3c8-45a6-aa78-049032741282
Suwannee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7648c-3fe4-47af-a4c2-04b232741282
Taylor County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76608-a710-437b-b154-04e232741282
Union County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76750-2e5c-47b7-ba40-04e132741282
Volusia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7685b-70b0-43a5-a2f6-04e232741282
Wakulla County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7699b-af14-4044-8d43-04e132741282
Walton County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76a76-b410-40f1-b085-058332741282
Washington County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76b64-3210-4520-b289-05b532741282

 

How do Americans with jobs get to work?

I have reported on the growing costs of running publicly funded transportation systems (buses, light rail, AMTRAK). Public bus systems rarely pay for themselves. Rather they are heavily subsidized by federal, state and local governments. For example, in Sarasota County, FL government runs two bus services and both are monopolies. SCAT is run by the County and the other run by Sarasota County School Board. Both are paid for by county property taxpayers.

NPR’s Shiva Koohi portrays in two simple charts how Americans who have jobs get to work.

Since 1960 American workers get to work primarily, and in ever increasing numbers, via private transportation. Use of public transportation has declined by over half since 1960, while use of private transportation has increased by 20% (see below charts). The use of bikes, taxis and walking by workers have all declined since 1960 and 1980. The number of those working at home has doubled since 1980 but remains a small number of total workers. Telecommuting has not yet caught on.

Click on the chart for a larger view.

Koohi reports, “More than ever, Americans are getting to work by driving alone. As the graph above shows, the share of Americans driving to work rose sharply in the second half of the 20th century, as the nation became more suburban. The rate has been flat for the past few decades — but during that time the percentage of people who carpool fell (even as carpool lanes proliferated).”

Koohi notes:

Today, only 5 percent of workers take public transportation, down from 11 percent in 1960; only 4 percent walk to work, down from 7 percent in 1960.

One surprising detail in the numbers: The share of workers who work at home is actually lower today than it was 50 years ago (4 percent today versus 7 percent in 1960). A 1998 Census report pointed to “the steep decline in the number of family farmers and the growing tendency of professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, to leave their home and join group practices resulted in a loss each decade of the number of at-home workers.” The share of people working at home has been rising for the past few decades, as telecommuting has become more popular, but the rise hasn’t been nearly enough to make up for the earlier decline.

In October, 2009 Catherine Rampell posted the below map on Economix. It shows the percentages of workers who drove to work alone by state and is based on U.S. Census data.

 

Richard Florida noted patterns in Rampell’s map. Florida reported:

Income and Economic Output: The richer the state, the less likely people were to drive alone. Driving alone was negatively correlated with state income levels (-.46) and output per capita (-.41).

Class and Human Capital
: States with higher percentages of college graduates (-.47) and the creative class (-.43) were less likely to have people driving alone. Driving alone was much more likely in states with large working class concentrations (.62).

Professional and Creative Jobs:
 Driving alone was less likely in states with high concentrations of virtually every type of professional, knowledge-based and creative jobs. But it was least likely in states with large concentrations of artists, designers, and entertainers (-.63), architects and engineers (-.61), scientists (-.56 ), and lawyers (-.55).

Florida Federal Judge Bans Enforcement of HHS Mandate

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced that this past Monday, Federal District Court Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich of the Middle District of Florida granted its Motion for a Preliminary Injunction barring enforcement of the HHS Mandate.  The motion for a Preliminary Injunction was filed by TMLC on behalf of Plaintiffs Thomas R. Beckwith and his family’s company, Beckwith Electric.

The government claimed that once a business owner chooses to enter into the marketplace or incorporate his business, he surrenders his right to exercise his religious beliefs.

However, Judge Kovachevich’s 37-page decision which mentioned Thomas R. Beckwith’s unique family history—Beckwith’s ancestors arrived on the shores of America in 1626 to escape religious persecution from England — ended with a powerful statement on religious freedom:

 “The First Amendment, and its statutory corollary the RFRA, endow upon the citizens of the United States the unalienable right to exercise religion, and that right is not relinquished by efforts to engage in free enterprise under the corporate form. No legislative, executive, or judicial officer shall corrupt the Framers’ initial expression, through their enactment of laws, enforcement of those laws, or more importantly, their interpretation of those laws. And any action that debases, or cheapens, the intrinsic value of the tenet of religious tolerance that is entrenched in the Constitution cannot stand.” (Emphasis added)

Erin Mersino, TMLC’s lead attorney representing Beckwith, commented, “Tom Beckwith was fighting the Federal Government for the freedom to practice his Southern Baptist faith.  The HHS Mandate would have forced him to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in violation of his religious beliefs or face up to $6 million in annual penalties. Kovachevich’s ruling halts enforcement of the HHS mandate until a final decision is reached in this case.”

 Click here to read Judge Kovachevich’s entire opinion.

Judge Kovachevich’s ruling is the first injunction against the HHS Mandate granted in the State of Florida.  It also marks the twenty-second injunction against the HHS Mandate granted by Federal Courts on religious freedom grounds across the country. The Government is expected to appeal the ruling to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Thomas More Law Center was assisted by local counsel Paul Pizzo and Scott Richards of the firm Fowler White Boggs, P.A. located in Tampa, Florida.

The Attorney General of the State of Florida filed a friend of the court brief in support of the Thomas More Law Center, as did several other Christian organizations, including the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

ABOUT THE THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER:

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.