WASHINGTON -- Thousands of protesters descended on the nation's Capitol for April 15 tax deadline protests as activists offered up a new "Contract From America" aimed at using the winning formula of the 1994 Republican revolution while also developing a direction for the burgeoning movement.
The document was created by compiling votes of visitors to the contractfromamerica.org, website to propose and vote upon an agenda. Their results are not a list "handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country."
In less than two months, half a million votes were registered and the Contract from America has now been shaped into a blueprint designed to serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future.
When the votes of more than 443,000 were cast, the top ten planks in the contract included:
(1) Require each bill to identify its constitutional authorization
(2) Defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care
(3) Demand a balanced budget
(4) End runaway government spending by imposing a statutory cap limiting growth in federal spending
(5) Enact fundamental reform to simplify and lower taxes
(6) Create a Blue Ribbon task force that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs
(7) Reject cap-and-trade
(8) Pass an “all of the above” energy policy
(9) Stop the 2011 tax hikes
(10) Stop the pork
If by some miracle, cap-and-trade becomes law, (Cap-and-trade is scheduled to be considered by the Senate this April,) or, more likely, if politicians short-circuit the legislative process and the administration enacts it as a regulation to be overseen by the EPA, your taxes, fees, and costs are projected to increase by $2,000 - $4,000 per year once fully implemented.
Government spending is out of control. Spending is off the chart. Regulatory agencies are rampantly adopting rules and regulations that will have a decidedly negative impact upon virtually every aspect of your life in the future. Why should any of this matter to you? Future decisions will affect your financial well-being and your retirement, not to mention those of your children and grand children. What can you do? Be vigilant, do your research, and contact your congress persons and voice your opinions.
Are you comfortable with the amount of taxes you are paying? According to the latest Rasmussen poll, when the average American thinks about all the services provided by their federal, state and local governments, 75% of voters nationwide say the average American should pay no more than 20% of their income in taxes.
Sixty-six percent (66%) believe that America is overtaxed. Only 25% disagree.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans believe the nation is overtaxed. So do 73% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Democrats are evenly divided on the question. Among those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement, 96% believe the nation is overtaxed, and only one percent (1%) disagree.
Sixty-five percent (65%) believe that the middle class pays a larger share of their income in taxes than the wealthy. A national sales tax remains unpopular, and most oppose ‘sin taxes’ on junk food and soft drinks.
Last week’s revelation that 47% of Americans pay no income tax was a sobering revelation to many taxpayers. “No wonder our taxes are so high if only half the people in America are paying income taxes,” said one citizen.
A few questions for reflection follow. Are you satisfied with the amount of taxes you are paying? Do you feel that you are paying more than you should be? Do you feel that congressional spending is giving you your money’s worth of goods and services for the amount of federal taxes you are paying?
Data Source: Rasmussen Poll 4/11/10
Is it too late to build a significant retirement nest egg? According to an April 6, 2010 article by Eileen Ambrose, Personal Finance Writer of the Baltimore Sun it is never too late. Ambrose writes: Not only isn't it too late, but a serious saver could accumulate well over $400,000 in a decade, according to calculations by Baltimore's T. Rowe Price Associates.
"Don't give up hope," says Christine Fahlund, Price's senior financial planner. "It's still something you can accomplish if you get out there and get going."
The earlier you start saving for retirement the better, of course. Even small amounts over many years can add up to a healthy pot of money without crimping your lifestyle. But in reality, many workers get a late start and some don't set aside dollars - even though they have the money to do so.
An annual survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute recently found that 29 percent of those age 55 and older had less than $10,000 saved for retirement, excluding houses and pensions.
The longer workers put off saving for retirement, the more overwhelming it can seem. So much so, planners say, that some workers might never get started.
That's why Price ran the numbers. By saving in a 401(k) at work, Price says, you can salt away a tidy sum in a decade.
Price ran scenarios for an individual making $80,000 and getting a 3 percent raise annually. It assumes an annual return of 8 percent.
A worker who saves 6 percent of pay per year - usually the minimum to get a 3 percent employer match in a 401(k) - would end up with $147,340 at the end of 10 years.
But what if a worker maxes out contributions, each year putting in $16,500 plus a $5,500 catch-up contribution permitted for those 50 and older? That's an ambitious 27.5 percent of pay initially. This worker would accumulate $444,610 over a decade.
Is that enough for retirement? That depends on your lifestyle.
But if you took the $444,610 and purchased an annuity that started immediately to pay out benefits, you would receive $2,705 a month for life, according to ImmediateAnnuities.com. And if you start taking Social Security the next year at your normal retirement age - 66 and two months - your monthly benefit would be $2,053, according to the agency's online calculator. That's a total of $57,096 a year. (Social Security also is adjusted annually for inflation.)
Putting away that much may seem impossible, but retirement experts say it may be more doable than you think.
Credit: Baltimore Sun, 6 April 2010.
VAT or Value Added Tax, is a term you need to become familiar with and understand. The VAT is a tax that is added to the price of goods or services before a consumer purchases them. It takes the form of an indirect tax in that the cost is added at various stages throughout the manufacturing process, or is added to the cost of services before you receive the bill.
Suppose you are standing at the checkout stand at your local big box store to purchase an item that costs $100 today. When the clerk tenders your sale and asks for your money they ask for $100, plus $10 for state and local taxes which brings your total bill to $110.
When the Value Added Tax is applied the same item that retails for $100 today will suddenly retail for $120. When the clerk tenders your sale you will owe $120, plus $10 for state and local taxes which brings your total bill to $130.00. You can clearly see the difference. Instead of paying $10 in taxes, you are now paying $30 in taxes for the same $100 item (not to mention the other taxes that were already embedded in the price of the product at the time of this writing.)
Where did the VAT come from? The short answer is: your Federal Government, though the idea is not new. Presently, they are studying every ramification of this and have plans to implement it in the near future. The VAT has been in use in Europe for many years. For example, Germany collects an additional 19%, France and Italy collect an additional 20%, while most of Scandinavia collects an additional 25%.
Value Added Taxes are in place to add more revenue to governmental coffers to pay for programs as Universal Health Care and others. America’s leadership has bought into the European Socialism model. We have now become a socialist state much like the old Soviet Russia and most of modern Europe. In addition, the Healthcare Bill also included the provision to tax your retirement monies an ADDITIONAL 3.8% over and above what you would have paid last month.
When will the VAT be applied? It is coming sooner that many believed it would. In fact, a 12% VAT is scheduled to begin on April 1, this Thursday, on toll fees on select toll roads across America. It is just the beginning; more VATs will follow. Federal spending is totally out of control. In addition, many cities, counties, and a few states (California, and Michigan,) are facing possible bankruptcy.
Don’t like what you are reading? It is even more disturbing to write. With a $13-20 trillion federal deficit projected by the end of this decade now is the time to make changes to our spending habits. Some answers: 1. Call your local, state, and federal elected officials and demand a spending freeze. Or be even more radical and demand that all programs be cut by 10%. 2. Elect fiscally responsible people to serve at all levels of government…local, state, and federal levels. 3. Run for public office and bring about needed changes. 4. Suggest remedies of your own.