Monday, May 16, 2011

Too Much On-line Weekly, 16 May 2011

This Week

The total U.S. tax burden, from local, state, and federal taxes combined, has now dropped to its lowest level since 1958. Our overall tax bill, new Commerce Department data show, has dropped half a trillion dollars in just a generation.

For some wealthy Americans, the tax bill simply can't drop much lower. About 4,000 Americans who make over $1 million a year, a news analysis last week revealed, will pay not one cent of federal income tax for 2010.

How can that legally be? Charitable donation games explain a good bit of those zero tax bills. One popular game: The wealthy donate shares of stock that have gone up steeply in value, then deduct the high current share value off their taxes, without having to pay any tax on the share value run-up.

But no big deal, right? So some billionaires play donation games on their tax returns. Why quibble? We all benefit immensely from philanthropy, don't we? Maybe not. This week, in Too Much, we take a look at a new study that examines, from up close, what billionaire philanthropy is actually doing for us — and to us. ...

Read more Too Much to find out how "billionaire philanthropy" is not enough.

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