Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What We’re Reading, 4/17/12

Happy Tax Day, Tumblr! Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. This being the, ahem, holiday it is, we’re focusing on tax stories. We assure you they’re less taxing than filing your returns.

"Obama’s Politically Astute Tax Returns," by Allan Sloan (Fortune). Much has been made of Romney and Obama’s (very different) tax returns. Sloan has an intriguing hypothesis: “the more I look at Obama’s return, the more it strikes me as being much more a political document than a financial document.”

"For Two Economists, the Buffett Rule Is Just the Start," by Annie Lowrey (New York Times).  Meet the guys behind the current tax fairness frenzy: Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, left-leaning French academics who claim that income inequality is almost as bad as before the Great Depression.

"A Family’s Billions, Artfully Sheltered," by David Kocieniewski (New York Times). Journalism’s version of the Oscars went down yesterday afternoon, and Times business reporter David Kocieniewski walked away with a Pulitzer for explanatory reporting. This fascinating 2011 piece on tax shelters is from his prize-winning series “But Nobody Pays That.” 

"What My Television Says About Our Broken Tax Code," by Rachel Black (Mother Jones). The tax system pays out $1 trillion in the form of reduced tax bills and refunds. (That’s more than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.) But the code’s structure disadvantages 70 percent of taxpayers, paying far more to households that make $100,000 or more.

"Tax Time Pushes Some Americans to Take a Hike," by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian (Reuters). Here’s a novel way to avoid paying taxes — renounce U.S. citizenship all together. Nearly 1,800 people did so last year, eight times more than in 2008.

"Some Tax Breaks Unavailable to Same-Sex Couples," by Tara Siegel Bernard (New York Times). A new study shows that gay couples pay more taxes than their heterosexual peers and face a lot more hurdles in that already painful paperwork. (This is part of the Times’ excellent "Cost of Being Gay" series, which your friendly curator recommends in full.)

In other, less taxing news: Mental Floss has rounded up six stories of kids’ lemonade stands versus the law, baseball attendance is a solid economic indicator, and this video of a military veteran returning to the NYSE trading floor will “warm your heart,” says Business Insider. (“Not many opportunities to call events on the NYSE trading floor ‘heartwarming,’” adds web editor Stacy Rapacon.)

What are you reading?


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