Corporate Taxes Poised to Rise After 136-Country Deal

 
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Nearly 140 countries agreed Friday to the most sweeping overhaul of global tax rules in a century, a move that aims to curtail tax avoidance by multinational corporations and raise additional tax revenue of as much as $150 billion annually.

But the accord, which is a decade in the making, now must be implemented by the signatories, a path that is likely to be far from smooth, including in a closely divided U.S. Congress.

The reform sets out a global minimum corporate tax of 15%, targeted at preventing companies from exploiting low-tax jurisdictions.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the floor set by the global minimum tax was a victory for the U.S. and its ability to raise money from companies. She urged Congress to move swiftly to enact the international tax proposals it has been debating, which would help pay for extending the expanded child tax credit and climate-change initiatives, among other policies.

“International tax policy making is a complex issue, but the arcane language of today’s agreement belies how simple and sweeping the stakes are: when this deal is enacted, Americans will find the global economy a much easier place to land a job, earn a living, or scale a business,” Ms. Yellen said.

The agreement among 136 countries also seeks to address the challenges posed by companies, particularly technology giants, that register the intellectual property that drives their profits anywhere in the world. As a result, many of those countries established operations in low-tax countries such as Ireland to reduce their tax bills.

The final deal gained the backing of Ireland, Estonia and Hungary, three members of the European Union that withheld their support for a preliminary agreement in July. But Nigeria, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Pakistan continued to reject the deal.

The new agreement, if implemented, would divide existing tax revenues in a way that favors countries where customers are based. The biggest countries, as well as the low-tax jurisdictions, must implement the agreement in order for it to meaningfully reduce tax avoidance.

Overall, the OECD estimates the new rules could give governments around the world additional revenue of $150 billion annually.

The final deal is expected to receive the backing of leaders from the Group of 20 leading economies when they meet in Rome at the end of this month. Thereafter, the signatories will have to change their national laws and amend international treaties to put the overhaul into practice.

The signatories set 2023 as a target for implementation, which tax experts said was an ambitious goal. And while the agreement would likely survive the failure of a small economy to pass new laws, it would be greatly weakened if a large economy—such as the U.S.—were to fail.

“We are all relying on all the bigger countries being able to move at roughly the same pace together,” said Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. “Were any big economy not to find itself in a position to implement the agreement,  that would matter for the other countries. But that might not become apparent for a while.”

 

Congress’ work on the deal will be divided into two phases. The first, this year, will be to change the minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign income that the U.S. approved in 2017. To comply with the agreement, Democrats intend to raise the rate—the House plan calls for 16.6%—and implement it on a country-by-country basis. Democrats can advance this on their own and they are trying to do so as part of President Biden’s broader policy agenda.

The second phase will be trickier, and the timing is less certain. That is where the U.S. would have to agree to the international deal changing the rules for where income is taxed. Many analysts say that would require a treaty, which would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate and thus some support from Republicans. Ms. Yellen has been more circumspect about the schedule and procedural details of the second phase.

Friction between European countries and the U.S. over the taxation of U.S. tech giants has threatened to trigger a trade war.

In long-running talks about new international tax rules, European officials have argued U.S. tech giants should pay more tax in Europe, and they fought for a system that would reallocate taxing rights on some digital products from countries where the product is produced to where it is consumed.

The U.S., however, resisted. A number of European governments introduced their own taxes on digital services. The U.S. then threatened to respond with new tariffs on imports from Europe.

The compromise was to reallocate taxing rights on all big companies that are above a certain profit threshold.

Under the agreement reached Friday, governments pledged not to introduce any new levies and said they would ultimately withdraw any that are in place. But the timetable for doing that has yet to be settled through bilateral discussions between the U.S. and those countries that have introduced the new levies.

Even though they will likely have to pay more tax after the overhaul, technology companies have long backed efforts to secure an international agreement, which they see as a way to avoid a chaotic network of national levies that threatened to tax the same profit multiple times.

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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has been guiding the tax talks, estimates that some $125 billion in existing tax revenues would be divided among countries in a new way.

Those new rules would be applied to companies with global turnover of €20 billion (about $23 billion) or more, and with a profit margin of 10% or more. That group is likely to include around 100 companies. Governments have agreed to reallocate the taxing rights to a quarter of the profits of each of those companies above 10%.

The agreement announced Friday specifies that its revenue and profitability thresholds for reallocating taxing rights could also apply to a part of a larger company if that segment is reported in its financial accounts. Such a provision would apply to Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud division, Amazon Web Services, even though Amazon as a whole isn’t profitable enough to qualify because of its low-margin e-commerce business.

The other part of the agreement sets a minimum tax rate of 15% on the profits made by large companies. Smaller companies, with revenues of less than $750 million, are exempted because they don’t typically have international operations and can’t therefore take advantage of the loopholes that big multinational companies have benefited from.

Low-tax countries such as Ireland will see an overall decline in revenues. Developing countries are least happy with the final deal, having pushed for both a higher minimum tax rate and the reallocation of a greater share of the profits of the largest companies.

 
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What The New Outlook For Social Security Means For You

Whew! The pandemic had a smaller impact on the Social Security trust funds — that is, Social Security’s solvency — than many feared during the depths of the pandemic downturn.

According to the new 2021 annual report from the Social Security Trustees, the depletion date for the combined trust funds —retirement and disability — is 2033 without any changes to program benefits. That would be when today’s 54-year-olds reach Social Security’s Full Retirement Age. Still, that’s one year earlier than last year’s 2034 estimate.

Depletion date or insolvency doesn’t mean bankruptcy — far from it. Funding from payroll tax receipts will be enough to pay 78% of promised benefits after the combined Social Security trust funds depletion date is reached.

“The trust fund report should be seen as a strength,” says Eric Kingson, professor of social work and public administration at Syracuse University and co-author with Nancy Altman of “Social Security Works for Everyone: Protecting and Expanding the Insurance Americans Love and Count On.”

What the Social Security Trustees Said

The report, Kingson said, “provides information for Congress and the public on what needs to be done to maintain benefits.”

And Altman, president of Social Security Works, chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition and a rumored possible Biden appointee to run the Social Security Administration, said this when the Trustees report came out on Wednesday: “Today’s report shows that Social Security remains strong and continues to work well, despite a once-in-a-century pandemic. That this year’s projections are so similar to last year’s proves once again that our Social Security system is built to withstand times of crisis, providing a source of certainty in uncertain times.”

But the Social Security Trustees are strikingly cautious about their estimates involving the impact of the pandemic on the Social Security trust fund and its sister trust fund for Medicare, the federal health insurance program primarily for people 65 and older.

Despite the dry language of actuaries, the uncertainty is apparent.

Employment, earnings, interest rates and gross domestic product (GDP) dropped substantially in the second quarter of 2020, the worst economic period of the pandemic. As a result, the decline in payroll-tax receipts which pay for Social Security benefits eroded the trust funds, though the drop in payroll taxes was offset somewhat by higher mortality rates.

“Given the unprecedented level of uncertainty, the Trustees currently assume that the pandemic will have no net effect on the individual long range ultimate assumptions,” they write.

The Pandemic and Social Security Solvency

But, they add, “At this time, there is no consensus on what the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the long-term experience might be, if any.”

The Trustees say they “will continue to monitor developments and modify the projections in later reports.”

Translation: the status quo remains and the forecast for the pandemic’s effect on Social Security’s solvency is cloudy.

Odds are the coming Social Security financing shortfall won’t get sustained attention from either the Biden administration or Congress despite the need to take action before 2034.

The Trustees aren’t too happy about that.

Their report says: “The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes gradually and give workers and beneficiaries time to adjust to them. Implementing changes sooner rather than later would allow more generations to share in the needed revenue increases or reductions in scheduled benefits… With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, Social Security can continue to protect future generations.”

The Political Outlook for Social Security Reforms

But the Biden administration and its Congressional allies are instead focused on threading the political needle for an ambitious $3.5 trillion infrastructure spending package, while also dealing with the fallout from the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Leading Republican legislators have called for so-called entitlement reform (think Social Security benefit cuts), but that’s a tough sell in the current Democratically controlled Congress.

“Does the report mean the timetable argues for real concrete action on [addressing solvency issues of] Social Security? Probably not. Will it revive the rhetoric that the sky is falling? Sure,” says Robert Blancato, national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition advocacy group, president of Matz Blancato and Associates and a 2016 Next Avenue Influencer in Aging.

The issue over how best to restore financial solvency to Social Security isn’t going away. That’s because the program is fundamental to the economic security of retired Americans. Social Security currently pays benefits to 49 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers (as well as survivor benefits to six million younger people and 10 million disabled people).

However, the tenor of the longer-term solvency discussion has significantly changed in recent years.

To be sure, a number of leading Republicans still want to cut Social Security retirement benefits to reduce the impending shortfall. Their latest maneuver is what’s known as The TRUST Act, sponsored by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

It calls for closed-door meetings of congressionally appointed bipartisan committees to come up with legislation to restore solvency by June 1 of the following year. The TRUST act would also limit Congress to voting yes or no on the proposals. No amendments allowed.

What’s Different About Future Social Security Changes

AARP, responding to the Trustees report news, came out vehemently against The TRUST Act’s closed-door reform plan. “All members of Congress should be held accountable for any action on Social Security and Medicare,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said.

“The concern seems to be they would look to cuts first, versus a more comprehensive approach,” says Blancato. A more comprehensive approach could include tax increases for the wealthy and technical changes to the Social Security system.

Something else that’s different is that liberals are no longer trying to simply stave off benefit cuts and preserve the program exactly as it is — the main tactic since Republican Newt Gingrich was House Majority Leader in the mid-1990s. That have bigger and bolder ideas.

Most Democratic members of Congress have co-sponsored legislation to expand Social Security or voted in support of incremental increases in benefits, such as providing more for the oldest old and a new minimum Social Security benefit equal to at least 125% of the poverty level (that translates to $16,100 for a household of one).

Addressing Social Security’s shortfall and paying for the new benefits, with the Democrats’ plans, would come from tax hikes, ranging from gradually raising the 6.2% payroll tax rate to hiking or eliminating the $142,800 limit on annual earnings subject to Social Security taxes to some combination of these.

But Social Security benefit cuts are off the negotiating table for the Democrats.

“Biden has made a commitment not to cut and to make modest improvements in benefits,” says Kingson. “He won’t back off that.”

The President has pushed for raising the Social Security payroll tax cap so people earning incomes over $400,000 would owe taxes on that money, too. He has also backed raising the minimum Social Security benefit to 125% of the poverty level.

The Good News for Social Security Beneficiaries

One more piece of Social Security news to keep in mind: Social Security recipients are likely to get a sizable cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to their benefits in 2022. The exact amount will be announced in October and estimates vary widely, from 3% to as high as 6%. A 6% increase would be the highest in 40 years.

But there’s a catch: Medicare Part B premiums for physician and outpatient services — a significant portion of Medicare’s funding —will also go up due to inflation. And those premium payments usually come right out of monthly Social Security checks.

The Trustees report says the estimated standard monthly Medicare Part B premium in 2022 will be $158.50, up about 7% from $148.50 in 2021 and a 9.6% total increase since 2020. (Monthly premiums are based on income, though, and can exceed $500 for high earners.)

The Trustees report says Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund (HITF) has enough funds to pay scheduled benefits until 2026, unchanged from last year. Medicare’s finances stayed stable during the pandemic, with people over 65 largely avoiding elective care. The pandemic “is not expected to have a large effect on the financial status of the [Medicare] trust funds after 2024,” the Trustees report noted.

Like Social Security, the trust fund behind Medicare Part A (which pays for hospitals, nursing facilities, home health and hospice care) is primarily funded by payroll taxes. There will be enough tax income coming in to cover an estimated 91% of total scheduled benefits once the trust fund is insolvent.

Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, is mostly funded by federal income taxes, premiums and state payments.

But the political story about Medicare is less about its projected 2026 shortfall and more about momentum toward expanding the program. The Biden administration has proposed adding hearing, visual and dental care to Medicare benefits, something also being pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) At this time, it’s unclear how those new benefits would be paid for, though they wouldn’t affect the trust fund.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Our daily content delivers vital ideas, context and perspectives on issues that matter most as we age.

Source: What The New Outlook For Social Security Means For You

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The U.S. Debt-Ceiling Farce Is a Headache Investors Could Do Without

The latest twists in the seemingly endless saga of the U.S. debt ceiling underscore once again how strange the whole thing is.

The very existence of the debt ceiling is utterly superfluous. Every couple of years members of Congress have to vote to allow borrowing to fund measures that they’ve already approved through individual spending bills. Its main function is political: Whichever party isn’t in power at the time uses it to try to either extract something from, or embarrass, the other side.

On top of that, the limit isn’t really the limit. By invoking the vague catchall of “extraordinary measures,” Uncle Sam can keep on borrowing even after it’s hit the cap—or when the limit has been reinstated following a suspension, as was the case at the end of last month. Given that the alternative is either what’s known as a technical default or a seizing up of everyday government spending, that’s a good thing, even if you’re a fiscal hawk, which is an endangered species these days.

Just because something is mainly theatrical, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t have an impact. This month marks the 10th anniversary of S&P’s decision to strip America of its AAA credit rating, a move that followed one of many bruising Congressional fights over the debt limit. The move by the ratings agency back then sent a shiver through markets and caused a lot of consternation from Wall Street to Washington. But the U.S. has continued to borrow cheaply—indeed, even more cheaply than before.

Right now, the ceiling is at about $28.4 trillion, and the U.S. Treasury’s fancy footwork on accounting should keep U.S. borrowing authority officially intact for a little while. That should allow lawmakers to stitch together enough votes for either an increase or another suspension in the coming months. But what if they don’t?

One subplot of the drama helps put some perspective on this question. With the overall cap for debt back in force as of the start of August, the Treasury has been forced to slash its cash pile—essentially the balance of the government’s main checking account—to around the same level it occupied before the last ceiling suspension. The legislation that governs the ceiling includes a measure to hold things in check; without it, there’d be little to restrain the government from simply issuing tons of debt, while the now-lapsed suspension was still in place, in order to be able to spend the money later.

For quite a long time, some market observers have acted on the assumption that this time around, the cash pile would end up somewhere in the vicinity of $130 billion. In May, though, the Treasury itself said its borrowing plans were premised on the pile amounting to around $450 billion.

Ultimately, the Treasury got down to within around $10 billion of that, which the market appears to accept as close enough. Would it have made much of a difference if they were off by $50 billion or $100 billion—or $500 billion? Would there be any real penalty beyond a bit of political scoring in the never-ending ceiling tussle?

This isn’t a moot point. In its quest to get the cash balance down, the Treasury has affected markets. It has been dialing back its borrowing in T-bills—its shortest-maturity securities—and that, in turn, has been distorting money markets and complicating the Federal Reserve’s management of interest rates.

The issue is that when there’s a shortage of T-bills, they become more expensive, and the yield they offer falls. And because the kinds of people who buy T-bills also invest in a range of other money market instruments, the rates on those come under pressure, too.

That’s not necessarily a concern until it starts pushing the rates on which the Federal Reserve focuses out of its target band. At that point, the Fed needs to pull some other levers. Such a response carries costs while continuing the cycle of distortion.

A further example: On occasion, the imminent approach of a so-called technical default by the world’s largest debtor nation has prompted odd moves in various T-bills as those securities that are most at risk of non-payment become market pariahs. While this is most acutely a problem for investors in those individual issues, it throws out of kilter a market that helps benchmark a huge swath of the world’s borrowing—both government and private.

Nobody can honestly pretend that the ceiling is a mechanism to rein in debt. It causes distortions, and it wastes a lot of time and energy that the denizens of Washington could devote to ensuring the money being borrowed is spent effectively and productively. That’s not to say that debt and deficits don’t matter. But the way the U.S. thinks and legislates on the topic needs to change. —With Alex Harris

By: Benjamin Purvis

Source: The U.S. Debt-Ceiling Farce Is a Headache Investors Could Do Without – Bloomberg

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The IRS Bottleneck Most Taxpayers Have Never Heard Of

The one-day deadline for taxpayers to approve authorization requests only applies to authorizations for multiple representatives. All representatives must be approved on the same day or later approvals will overwrite prior approvals. Currently there is no deadline for taxpayers to approve authorization requests.

Bottlenecks are nothing new to the Internal Revenue Service. IRS issues with mail processing, return processing, and issuing refunds have been well publicized. Nevertheless, one of the most common IRS bottlenecks is one that many taxpayers, including many members of Congress, are unaware of.

IRS notices about return adjustments, balances due, delays in refund processing, and a host of other issues continued to be sent automatically during the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to be issued after what most tax practitioners agree was the worst income tax filing season ever (even worse than filing season 2020).

Taxpayers who choose to pay a professional to assist with an IRS notice must provide proper authorization, typically using either Form 2848, Power of Attorney, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. The representative then files the signed 2848 or 8821 with the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) unit either by mailing it, faxing it, or (more recently) via online submission. Once CAF approval has been granted, the tax practitioner can then represent the taxpayer, but getting CAF approval has become an increasingly fraught process.

The Internal Revenue Manual (or IRM) specifies that “receipts” [of authorization requests] are processed within five business days. Nevertheless, over the last few years processing times of three to six weeks or even longer have become increasingly common. This January tax practitioners were given the ability to submit authorizations online. Online submission was greeted with enthusiasm because it also allowed for the use of electronic (as opposed to “wet”) signatures.

Online submission definitely made the process of getting a client’s signature and submitting the authorization form to the CAF unit much simpler, but because online submissions are processed in order along with mailed or faxed in submissions, uploading authorization forms has not been an expedient option for taxpayers needing immediate assistance.

Typically practitioners representing taxpayers with short deadlines call the Practitioner Priority Line (PPL) and fax the form to the answering representative. Because all faxed forms require a “wet” signature the electronic signature and online submission process has proved less than helpful except for non-urgent matters.

The IRS CAF units in Memphis and Ogden were completely shut down in March 2020 in response to the pandemic (as was a third unit that serves taxpayers located outside of the U.S.). Consequently, authorization processing (which was already slow) was brought to a standstill—and then it went into reverse. Although all three CAF units re-opened in July 2020, and although the IRS has added additional staff to help clear the backlog, the CAF units are still taking several weeks to process mailed or faxed submissions.

While there have been anecdotal reports of uploaded forms being processed in two weeks (as opposed to the six or more it sometimes takes for a mailed or faxed-in authorization), the IRS continues to state that the CAF units process all mailed, faxed, and uploaded forms on a first-in, first out basis.

John Sheeley, Enrolled Agent and owner of Tax Practice Pro, Inc. (which provides continuing education to tax practitioners), has recommended that the IRS stop issuing automatic notices and re-direct any available staff to the CAF units to assist with processing backlogged authorization requests (and then move those staff on to processing notice responses that have also been languishing, sometimes since mid-2020).

Additional improvements to the traditional CAF authorization process that have been recommended by many practitioners include notifying the practitioner via their e-Services account when an authorization form has been accepted for processing (similar to the acknowledgement received for electronically filed tax returns and that includes the date of acknowledgment and the taxpayer’s identification number) and again when the authorization has been processed.

These two additional notifications would allow tax practitioners to quickly determine if their authorization request got to the CAF unit and if it was approved. Currently practitioners must log into their e-services accounts and manually check to see if an authorization form has been processed (again, with no way of knowing if it was even received).

Tax practitioners would also like notification if the authorization request form is rejected and why so that any errors can be corrected. Currently forms submitted by mail, fax, or upload go into a black hole that requires practitioners to continue to check to see if the form has been accepted.

It is never clear whether a long delay is an actual delay in processing, if the form was lost, or if it was rejected. This is inefficient both for practitioners and the IRS. Practitioners who can’t wait for the authorizations to be accepted are often forced to call an already overburdened PPL only to be told the form was rejected and will have to be corrected and resubmitted.

On July 18, 2021 the IRS opened a practitioner portal that is supposed to make filing and obtaining authorizations easier. The new submission and approval system promises to greatly improve efficiency for practitioners whose clients have or can get an IRS online account. Tax practitioners can log into a special Tax Pro account to submit authorization requests for their clients who can then approve the request.

In general, the requests record in real-time to the CAF database. The practitioner is alerted to many issues (e.g., a CAF number mismatch) before the authorization is submitted. Once the request has been approved by the client, authorization approval should be displayed in the practitioner’s Tax Pro account within two business days. Marc Dombrowski, Enrolled Agent Owner of Tax Help Associates, a Buffalo, New York, firm that specializes in resolving tax issues had his first two submissions record in real time and the third in approximately 30 hours. That’s a huge improvement over the several weeks which had become the norm since at least 2020.

Of course, there is some fine print. Authorizations requested using the new portal are limited in scope (most notably they can only be used for individual accounts, not businesses and they can only authorize access back to tax year 2000). Additionally, while the practitioner is notified that an online request has not been approved, the unapproved request is not identified in any way (for example using the taxpayer’s name or TIN). While this may be a necessary security precaution it does pose problems for tax resolution specialists who often submit multiple authorization requests each day.

Processing the older authorization backlog may be even more important with the new portal now online. The IRS has always stressed to practitioners not to submit multiple copies of the same authorizations as it will delay CAF processing. Tax practitioners tend to be a methodical bunch and most will typically check to determine if a client authorization has been granted before attempting to upload an authorization using the new portal.

It would be extremely helpful (and would help to avoid duplicate submissions) if the information provided to practitioners reflects up-to-date CAF information. Dombrowski states that when it comes to the CAF process, “It’s simplicity is its perfection.” New submissions will reliably always overwrite older submissions. That means that the limited scope authorization requests submitted online using the new Tax Pro accounts will replace any full-scope authorizations (2848 or 8821) the IRS currently has on file, so practitioners should be mindful when using the portal for requests on existing clients.

Of course new submissions overwriting older submissions also means that full-scope authorizations submitted by mail, fax, or upload will overwrite limited scope authorizations if the full-scope authorizations are processed after an authorization submitted using the portal. Morris Armstrong, an Enrolled Agent who owns an independent tax practice in Cheshire, Connecticut, says “it is likely safer to request the 8821 [which allows a practitioner to obtain information but not to negotiate] and preserve the 2848, barring urgency to negotiate.”

Finally, client approval of an online authorization request must also be provided the same day as the request is made by the practitioner and, depending on the client, that is not always possible. Truthfully, many practitioners can resolve their clients’ issues if the client has an IRS online account and is willing to request the necessary transcripts and provide them to their practitioner.

Nevertheless, while a transcript review may resolve some problems, often further intervention by the tax practitioner is required. Still, anything that speeds up CAF approval and provides simpler options for obtaining taxpayer transcripts has the potential to greatly reduce IRS phone traffic. And anything that reduces IRS phone traffic will be enthusiastically welcomed by taxpayers, tax practitioners, and the IRS.

I own Tax Therapy, LLC, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am an Enrolled Agent and non-attorney practitioner admitted to the bar of the U.S. Tax Court. I work as a tax general practitioner preparing returns for individuals and (really) small businesses as well as representing individuals before the IRS and, occasionally, the U.S. Tax Court. My passion is translating “taxspeak” into English for taxpayers and tax practitioners. I write to dispel myths with facts and to explain “the fine print” behind seemingly simple tax concepts. I cover individual tax issues and IRS developments with a focus on items of interest to taxpayers and retail tax practitioners. Follow me on Twitter @taxtherapist505

Source: The IRS Bottleneck Most Taxpayers Have Never Heard Of

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The Shareholders Are Not The Owners Of A Corporation

The contention that the shareholders own companies is based, at best, on lack of understanding of the law, of business, and of history. At worst, it is driven by greed, power, and the desire to protect a business governance that has devastated much of America for some 40 years.

Why, you might ask, is the issue of who owns the corporation so vitally important? Because at the heart of the debate between two versions of capitalism lies controversy. One side feels a deep need to protect the interests of the shareholder first and foremost. The other side feels the pain that comes from de-prioritizing the other stakeholders in a corporation – including its employees, customers, and the community in which it lives.

In truth, the shareholder almost certainly will do as well with either version of capitalism. Change is always hard and threatening to those wanting to protect the status quo even if it won’t cost them a thing. But I contend there is a problem with the status quo, with the current version of capitalism, which serves the shareholders well, but has proven to be catastrophic for the vast majority of the American people and detrimental to American competitiveness on the global stage, particularly in our economic rivalry with China.

Further, it is now proving to be a major threat to our democracy. Thus, a change away from shareholder primacy capitalism must be made decisively and with utmost urgency. The defense of the status quo—shareholder primacy governance—rests increasingly on the rationale that the shareholders are the true owners of the corporation and therefore have the right to demand whatever is in their best interest.

But before we blindly adhere to that idea, it is vital we examine these versions of capitalism, the experience the nation has had with each; and why the issue of corporate ownership becomes an important – if not central — consideration.

Capitalism And Its Multiple Versions Of Governance

The ferocious debate in the U.S. today is really between two forms of capitalism. Not of capitalism itself which continues to be the most powerful economic engine ever created by humankind. Capitalism by itself with access to needed resources, including capital, labor, and a sustainable supply chain and embracing the principles of prudent risk taking, wise apportionment of incentives and rewards, and a commitment to practical long-term investment—acts like a brilliant inanimate engine.

It has no ethical or moral components. And that’s why the governance, the rules of engagement, become so very critical. Vitally, governance identifies the beneficiary of this amazing capitalist engine. In China, the capitalism engine is working brilliantly given what China intended. And there, the major beneficiary of much of the value creation goes to the Communist government. In some Nordic European nations, capitalism rewards both shareholders and, through taxes, government projects which provide citizens with some combination of free education and/or free healthcare. Much of Europe, through taxes, has a very elaborate societal safety net. But the engine is still primarily free enterprise capitalism.

Shareholder Primacy Capitalism

In the United States, the governance for the last 40 years has been clearly committed to give the shareholder priority over any other company stakeholders. This is the concept of shareholder primacy every CEO and board director knows: The purpose of business is to maximize short-term shareholder value. Recently, it has been contended that this is fair and just because the shareholders own the company.

The other stakeholders, for the last four decades, became secondary: the customers, the workers, the corporation itself, the vendors, community, the planet. Even in this system, the capitalist engine worked magnificently. As intended, it drove short-term shareholder value to unimaginable wealth and prosperity. The other stakeholders became deprived and exploited. And the guardians of this governance became the financial community which enforced the system with aggressive brutality.

The CEOs and others in the C-suite of top corporations became corrupted by equally unimaginable compensation, as long as they delivered on this shareholder demand. And if they couldn’t or didn’t do it, they were summarily dismissed. If and when the CEOs and boards of directors tried to deviate from this strict behavior, the company was punished by the financial community which has the power to drive down the company’s price in the stock market.

Before the pandemic, Bank of America downgraded Chipotle’s stock because an analyst decided the company was paying its workers too much. As a result, the company’s price declined by 3%. When American Airlines announced pay raises for its pilots and flight attendants, Wall Street punished the company by dropping its stock price 5%. The message sent to the market was clear — workers were to be squeezed and the benefits belong to shareholders. So, for 40 years workers’ wages have been relatively flat sitting at, or often below, inflation.

Lastly, in the past decade, shareholder primacy expanded the intensity of activists who acted like terrorists, blackmailing and terrorizing CEOs and corporate boards alike. Historically, activists have served the business community well. Often, they worked with management to help increase value creation. Occasionally, they did take over the company with intention to hold the stock and capitalize on the inherent, but previously underperforming, value creation.

But this new group of activists employ a different strategy. They take over the company, take out the cash, cut R&D, fire as many people as possible and in the shortest possible time, flipping the company after taking it public or selling the corpse to a strategic buyer. All in the name of maximizing short-term value. Of late, they don’t even have to take over the company. They buy in to the target company and threaten to run their standard play if the company will not “voluntarily” provide that extra short-term value at the expense of all the other stakeholders.

Another brutal tactic to drive shareholder value is the tax efficient practice of stock buybacks. Trillions of dollars have been created to benefit current shareholders in the stock market by reducing the number of available shares. This artificially increased the value of the remaining shares, without creating organic value to the enterprise. This is financial engineering at its best. (Prior to 1982, stock buybacks were illegal and were considered stock manipulation.)

Before the pandemic, 54% of business’ operating profits went to shareholders through stock buybacks and an additional 37% were distributed in dividends. Some 90% of American businesses’ operating profits ended up with shareholders. As a result, 25% of Americans by income, almost all shareholders, came to own close to 98% of the value of the stock market.

In the first four months of 2021, the stock buybacks practice continued and recorded the highest levels in 20 years. And what a negative impact this extraordinary use of operating profits turns out to be. Workers are grossly underpaid. And corporations that used to lead the way by investments in R&D and basic research were starved by this choice. America used to be the leader in technology, transportation, semiconductors, computers, medical science and more.

For example, America invented synthetic biology but now we trail Chinese scientists. And where are we on 5G technology? In a recent interview, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger cried out, “Our competition is out to eat our lunch. And if we don’t fight for it, every single frickin’ day, we are at risk of losing it.” Government investment support continues to be anemic as well. Simply put, business must step up. Because right now we’re setting stock buyback records. We are world champions at this, indeed.

But the most cruelly treated victims of shareholder primacy were the workers. Their unfair, unjust, and unreasonable wages created a catastrophic microeconomic disaster. It affected families; it created an unequal quality of education which placed American kids at the bottom half of the developed world. It also catapulted America as the most unequal nation with the most immobile society among peer nations. Just one more fact.

Prior to the pandemic, some 60% of American homes had to borrow money most months to put food on the table, or to pay to keep from losing the roof over their heads. So, this is the fallout from the shareholder primacy system. A perverse version of capitalism that the shareholder community today is fighting to protect. And it’s finding some allies in Congress as well, who are the recipients of huge contributions to their reelection campaigns.

Another serious impact of four decades of shareholder primacy is our democratic way of life. The affected Americans are losing hope in our government’s ability to be fair and just. Populist forces have exploited this group and authoritarian forms of government sprang forth in various parts of the world in the last 40 years (Turkey, Hungary, Poland). The same movement has been active and threatening our democratic institutions here in the United States.

This unjust version of capitalism is the driving force that created our vast socio-economic inequality here at home. It must be noted that the most egregiously affected and deprived groups in our society have been the black and brown communities as the Covid-19 pandemic so tragically demonstrated.

But if the shareholders do not own a public corporation, how can one continue to defend such a flawed and damaging form of capitalism? And this is why the question of who owns the corporation becomes an important part of why a better, more just, more balanced form of capitalism is absolutely America’s best choice moving forward.

So, Who Really Owns The Corporation?

Simply and clearly, the corporation owns its own assets. In the simplest terms, a private company became a public company when the original owners gave up ownership. In turn, they received a stock certificate outlining certain rights to profits and other privileges. What they got, again, was a stock certificate not a certificate of ownership. The word “ownership” does not appear in that document.

Additionally, while the shareholders are entitled to a portion of profits, as shareholders, they are no longer exposed to liabilities of the companies in which they hold shares. They are granted, in essence, total immunity! Furthermore, the shareholders can come into a stock whenever they want, and leave when they want (with very, very few exceptions). In today’s world, the stock owner may be a machine and shares may be held in a timeframe of milliseconds.

To me, these facts are ample and logical evidence that preclude a shareholder from being a true owner. Do you know any business “owner” large or small who assumes no risk or liability?  I highly doubt it. Legally, there is no evidence that stakeholders are owners. No law – absolutely none— can be found which states that shareholders own the corporation.

In her 2012 book The Shareholder Value Myth, Lynn Stout, who taught at Cornell University Law School, successfully argued that shareholders don’t own the company – this was the foundational insight of that book. The lie being purveyed was that the law required companies to serve shareholders with as much profit as quickly as possible. She was quick to dispel the notion, citing three core reasons:

  • Directors of public companies aren’t required by law to maximize shareholder value. Companies are formed to conduct legal activities, that’s all, and profit is not a mandatory requirement, though profitability is always an advantage.
  • Directors of a company have full control of it. Shareholders have no legal right to govern the activity of a company for their own benefit. Directors can decide to reduce, not increase share price, if they believe it’s in the best interest of the company itself.
  • Shareholder primacy, where short-term profits are the primary goal, often leads to tragic consequences for the common good.

How prescient Stout’s comments turned out to be.

For those desiring a more in-depth explanation, one can find it in the words of Marty Lipton, arguably one of the most respected iconic stewards of American corporate law. When participating in a roundtable discussion hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, Lipton concludes that the shareholder fundamentally does not own the corporation. In his own words, “I don’t view the shareholders as outright owners of the corporation in a way one would own a house or a car.

They’re investors in the corporation and own the equity, and they are thus important constituents, but they are not the owners of the corporation as a whole. And for that reason the company should not be run solely in the interest of the shareholders.” He adds, “corporations can only exist within the overall umbrella of government and society.” His dispassionate rigor and logic are most convincing.

The full roundtable transcript for those interested is here. Then there’s an “agency” ownership argument. Joseph Bower and Lynn Paine laid that argument to rest in a seminal piece in the Harvard Business Review in 2017. Conclusively, the shareholders are owners of stock in the corporation. They are not the owners of a corporation’s assets. There can be no further, reasonable argument.

The Best Path Forward For Business: Stakeholder Capitalism

Multi-Stakeholder Capitalism was the capitalist governance that started the modern capitalism era in America in 1945. It lasted for some 40 years. During this period, America became the most dominant economic and military nation in the world. In addition, America’s middle class grew to remarkable size and wealth. This group became the world’s largest economic market.

Remarkably, in this 40-year period, the middle class’s value grew more than twice the rate of America’s top one percent (by income). It was a period when most all segments in America saw significant economic progress (a tragic exception was most of the African American community). Business clearly understood the power and meaning of this multi-stakeholder capitalism.

The Johnson & Johnson Credo brilliantly encapsulated this business responsibility in a truly authentic document of historic importance. Thus, multi-stakeholder capitalism is not an experiment. It is a remarkable 40-year demonstration period in our business history. Moving from history to present day relevance, JUST Capital has become the leading not-for-profit organization promoting the adoption of stakeholder capitalism.

(As a disclosure, I serve as a director of JUST Capital.) It ranks the largest 1,000 corporations in America on a “justness” criterion — as defined by the American people via polling —a surrogate for the principles of stakeholder capitalism. The findings are dramatic. Many of the most “just” companies also deliver the greatest return to the shareholders. As I noted earlier, stakeholder capitalism works superbly well in producing long-term shareholder value. Think about it. Workers now receive a proper living wage.

They produce incremental value for the corporation, motivated by sharing in the incremental value they create. The key is that incremental value is now produced. Next, corporations invest more in R&D and Basic Research to compete with China and other nations. The planet will become more livable by their ESG commitments. All these activities in a synergistic and symbiotic way produce that greater long-term value for shareholders. This is what Milton Friedman truly advocated.

It turns out that shareholder primacy and its devastating consequences promptly belong in the dustbin of history. Freed of the false myth of corporate ownership and it’s dangerous governance, stakeholder capitalism opens the door to the entrepreneurial power of a truly free version of capitalism that can lift all boats and create inclusive prosperity for all Americans.

In the end, stakeholder capitalism is one of the essential pillars of a sustainable democracy and the journey to create an equal opportunity for all future generations. That vision is worth the battles we must fight today. So, onwards.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Peter Georgescu is the Chairman Emeritus of Young & Rubicam Inc., a network of preeminent commercial communications companies dedicated to helping clients build their businesses through the power of brands. I served as the company’s Chairman and CEO from 1994 until January 2000. For my contributions to the marketing industry I have been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. I immigrated to the United States from Romania in 1954. I graduated from Exeter Academy, received my B.A. with cum laude honors from Princeton and earned an MBA from the Stanford Business School. In 2006, I published my first book The Source of Success, asserting that personal values and creativity are the leading drivers of business success in the 21st Century. My second book, The Constant Choice, was published in January 2013. My latest book is Capitalists Arise! which deals with the consequences of income inequality and how business must begin to help solve the problem

Source: The Shareholders Are Not The Owners Of A Corporation

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Here’s What Could Happen When $300 Unemployment Expires, According To Goldman Sachs


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Amid reports of labor shortages and fears of economic overheating thanks to what some view as excessive government stimulus spending, a total of 26 states are now planning to end the $300 federal unemployment supplement in order to spur hiring—here’s what analysts from Goldman Sachs expect to happen once payments stop.

Key Facts

Goldman’s analysts point out that since 25 of the states ending the benefit early only account for 29% of pandemic job losses, it’s likely that the pressures on the labor market—worker shortages and a depressed labor force participation rate—will continue until the benefits expire in every state at the beginning of September.

The analysts note that it’s too soon to say how the early end of benefits will affect official employment statistics—that insight will likely be contained in the July jobs report the Labor Department will publish in August.

That said, claims for regular state unemployment insurance benefits have fallen faster in states that have announced they will end the supplement early—the analysts say this is a “hint” that hiring will pick up once the benefits are phased out, but note that other data like the volume of job postings don’t yet support that conclusion.

The analysts say their “best guess” is that the expiring benefits will “provide a significant tailwind to hiring in the coming months,” spurring growth of more than 150,000 jobs in July and more than 400,000 jobs in September, though they note that the prediction is still uncertain.

Based on previous academic studies, the analysts estimate that a typical worker receiving regular state benefits will see those benefits drop by 50% once the $300 supplement expires in their state, and the duration of their unemployment would fall roughly 25%.

Crucial Quote

“The temporary boost in unemployment benefits . . . helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are still maybe in the process of getting vaccinated, but it’s going to expire in 90 days,” President Biden said during prepared remarks after the release of the May jobs report last week. “That makes sense.”

Big Number

$12 billion. That’s how much local economies in the 24 red states that had announced an early termination of the $300 federal supplement as of June 2 are expected to lose as a result of ending the benefit early, according to a report from Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.

Surprising Fact

On Thursday, Louisiana became the first state with a Democratic governor to announce the early expiration of the $300 supplement. The other 25 states have Republican governors.

Key Background

An emergency federal unemployment insurance supplement was first authorized in the amount of $600 per week as part of the CARES Act last year. A new supplement of $300 was authorized by executive order under President Trump after the first supplement lapsed. The $300 supplement was extended once by Congress as part of a stimulus bill last December, and again by Congress as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Further Reading

Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards Becoming First Democratic Governor To Cut $300-A-Week Federal Unemployment Benefits (Forbes)

Biden: It ‘Makes Sense’ That $300 Unemployment Will End In September (Forbes)

California And Florida Are Sending Out More Stimulus Checks. Could Your State Be Next? (Forbes)

IRS Releases Child Tax Credit Payment Dates—Here’s When Families Can Expect Relief (Forbes)

Source: Here’s What Could Happen When $300 Unemployment Expires, According To Goldman Sachs

I’m a breaking news reporter for Forbes focusing on economic policy and capital markets. I completed my master’s degree in business and economic reporting at New York University. Before becoming a journalist, I worked as a paralegal specializing in corporate compliance.

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Critics:

Several coronavirus relief bills have been considered by the federal government of the United States:

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan, is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.First proposed on January 14, 2021, the package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, from December.

Beginning on February 2, 2021, Democrats in the United States Senate started to open debates on a budget resolution that would allow them to pass the stimulus package without support from Republicans through the process of reconciliation. The House of Representatives voted 218–212 to approve its version of the budget resolution.

A vote-a-rama session started two days later after the resolution was approved, and the Senate introduced amendments in the relief package. The day after, Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote as vice president in order to give the Senate’s approval to start the reconciliation process, with the House following suit by voting 219–209 to agree to the Senate version of the resolution.

Prior to the American Rescue Plan, the CARES Act from March and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, from December were both signed into law by then-president Donald Trump. Trump previously expressed support for a direct payments of $2,000 along with Joe Biden and the Democrats. Even though Trump called for Congress to pass a bill increasing the direct payments from $600 to $2,000, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the bill.

Additionally, the House voted on the HEROES Act on May 15, 2020, which would operate as a $3 trillion relief package, but it wasn’t considered by the Senate as Republicans said that it would be “dead on arrival”.Prior to the Georgia Senate runoffs, Biden said that the direct payments of $2,000 would be passed only if Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won; the promise of comprehensive Covid-19 relief legislation was reported as a factor in their eventual victories.On January 14, prior to being inaugurated as president, Biden announced the $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

See also

Rich Americans Who Were Warned on Taxes Hunt for Ways Around Them

For wealthy Americans worried about higher taxes, the future is looking bleaker. It’s all but inevitable that the Biden administration, as well as lawmakers at the state level, will target millionaires and billionaires for more levies. The new reality could feel harsh for investors who got used to paying a top rate of 23.8% on their capital gains, an amount they can lower further with many of the deductions, incentives and accounting tricks offered by the U.S. tax code.

Advisers, of course, will certainly try to help their clients adapt to whatever the new rules may be. “We’re not going to evade taxes, but we’re going to avoid them and defer them as much as we can,” Bill Schwartz, managing director at Wealthspire Advisors, said in an interview. “We’re only beginning to explore. Give us a year or two and we’ll find ways around things.”

Wealthy Americans were amply warned that President Biden and Democrats in Congress want to raise their taxes. But what has surprised at least some of them is the size and speed of proposals.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Biden plans to nearly double taxes on capital gains, pushing the top rate to 43.4% for those earning $1 million or more. If passed by the Democrats’ narrow majorities in Congress, it would fulfill a campaign pledge “to reward work, not just wealth” by bringing the tax on investors up around the level paid on ordinary wage income.

Some members of the top 0.1% expressed anger, denial and grief. The stock market, which has steadily risen since Biden won the election, reacted with dismay, with U.S. equities falling the most in five weeks on Thursday.

“Obviously, this is eye popping,” John Norris, chief economist at Oakworth Capital Bank, said in a note sent to clients. He calmed clients with the suggestion that “it likely won’t come to pass, at least at these levels,” adding: “Remember, elected officials on both sides of the aisle have wealthy donors who probably won’t like this very much.”

Epic Shift

Biden is signaling an epic shift in tax policy: For more than a generation, presidents and Congresses have rolled out the red carpet for investors. When not cutting taxes on capital gains and dividends, lawmakers introduced incentives designed to encourage investment in targeted areas.

They were following both campaign contributors and economic orthodoxy, which insisted that low taxes encourages the sort of investment that boosts economic growth. But then a new generation of economists pointed out that the real-world evidence for those theories was flimsy.

Tax cuts don’t seem to have juiced economic growth in the U.S. over the last few decades, even as they coincided with soaring income and wealthy inequality. Incentives programs — such as Opportunity Zones, a bipartisan idea to steer money to low-income areas implemented by President Donald Trump — have been criticized for rewarding investment that would have taken place anyway.

“Nobody has a crystal ball,” James Bertles, managing director at Tiedemann Advisors in Palm Beach, Florida, said in an interview. However, after the federal government spent trillions of dollars on Covid-19 relief, “most people think taxes are going to go up — it’s inevitable. We just don’t know which taxes are going to go up.”

If Biden is successful, Wall Street and investors who make most of their money from capital gains may need to get used to the idea that their taxes will look more like those of wealthy professionals such as doctors, lawyers, entertainers and even investment bankers who currently face marginal income tax rates north of 50% in high-tax states.

“Nothing is going to surprise us as this point,” said Tara Thompson Popernik, director of research for Bernstein Private Wealth Management’s wealth planning and analysis group. “We’ve been telling our clients for some time that this is likely coming.”

Tax Strategies

Strategies to avoid a higher capital gains rate will depend on the details of the proposal, and on what other provisions get changed. An obvious technique, Schwartz and other advisers said, would be to keep incomes under $1 million — or whatever threshold is in the final legislation.

Investors might also avoid the higher rate by holding onto assets for as long as possible. That strategy, however, could be complicated by other provisions that Biden and Democrats have floated, like beefing up the estate tax and ending a rule, called step-up-in-basis, that allows asset-holders to wipe away capital gains taxes at death.

Life insurance products could also be a way for investors to cut investment taxes, as long as Democrats don’t target those strategies as well.

Alternatively, investors and business owners could rush to sell assets now, or before the end of the year — assuming tax changes aren’t made retroactive to the beginning of the year — to lock in lower rates. Advisers said they’ve been discussing sales of art and family businesses, along with highly appreciated stock, by year-end.

“If you’re going to do it anyway, maybe do it now,” Bernstein’s Thompson Popernik said. “The worry is that in the fourth quarter everyone else is going to be trying to make those changes at the same time.”

Thursday’s drop in the market prompted worries that, as Biden’s plans solidify and Congress starts to take action, stocks could continue to sell off. But it might not work that way.

“I would tell people to temper their fear of a significant drop-off in the markets,” said Bob Schneider, director of financial planning at Johnson Financial Group. Historically, markets have often risen even while taxes are going up, he said.

Indeed, stocks climbed on Friday after strong economic data. Also, what else are investors going to do with their money? Especially at a time when the economy seems to be bouncing back from the pandemic, many investors want exposure to stocks.

“Yields are very low, so there aren’t a whole lot of other options,” Schneider said. “People will realize their gains and probably turn right back around and put their money back in the market.”

By:

Source: Rich Americans Hunt for Ways Around Tax Hikes They Were Warned About – Bloomberg

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Here’s Why Stocks Are At Record Highs Following The Capitol Chaos In DC

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high on Wednesday and reached an intraday record on Thursday, despite pro-Trump insurrectionists violently storming the Capitol and disrupting the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
  • The bullish mood on Wall Street has less to do with the riots and more to do with Democrats winning Georgia’s Senate runoff elections and taking control of Congress.
  • Stocks hinge on the prospects of corporate profit growth. The soft Democratic majority in the Senate lifts Biden’s chances of passing the fiscal stimulus that experts have urged Congress to enact for months.
  • A $1 trillion relief package could “easily” boost GDP expansion in 2021 by 1 point to 6%, Michelle Meyer, the head of US economics at Bank of America, said. That would all but certainly lift investors’ hopes for near-term profit growth.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

While pro-Trump insurrectionists remained illegally perched on the steps of the US Capitol on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high.

The market uptick has little to do with violence on Capitol Hill. Instead of fearing the chaos and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, investors kept their sights set on Georgia’s runoff outcomes.

Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s victories in the Senate races push Democrats’ seat count in the body to 50, allowing for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to break any ties. The soft majority paves the way for President-elect Joe Biden to pass more progressive policy, including fiscal relief meant to drive the US out of the coronavirus recession.

Stocks move – and always have moved – on the prospects of expanding corporate profits. Experts on Wall Street, at universities, and in the Federal Reserve have spent months telling Congress that sweeping fiscal stimulus is necessary to drive a faster and more equitable economic recovery. Climbing stock prices reflect investors’ beliefs that following Democrats’ wins in Georgia, such a relief package is more likely to reach Biden’s desk. 

Another round of stimulus would be a game changer for economic growth and accelerate the rebound to pre-pandemic levels of activity, Michelle Meyer, the head of US economics at Bank of America, said in a Thursday note. The package would likely prioritize another round of direct payments, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, funds for state and local governments, and relief for healthcare workers.

A $1 trillion relief package could “easily” boost gross domestic product growth in 2021 by 1 percentage point to roughly 6%, according to the bank. The positive economic effect could be even larger, as the estimates hinge on conservative spending multipliers, Meyer added.

Economists at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs similarly linked optimistic GDP projections to Democrats’ wins in Georgia. Credit Suisse raised its S&P 500 forecast on Thursday, saying the increased likelihood of new stimulus in early 2021 could drive the index 12% higher through the year.

Concerns that the Washington riots would create a lasting risk were largely alleviated Thursday morning. Congress certified Biden’s victory after hours of debate and failed efforts to object to Electoral College vote counts. Trump pledged to conduct “an orderly transition” soon after, reversing from previous claims that he won the election and would remain in office.

The ensuring of a peaceful transition further augmented bullish sentiments. All three major stock indexes notched record intraday highs on Thursday as investors viewed the certification as a return to business as usual.

“With the political tensions easing, more stimulus expected to help boost the economy, and coronavirus vaccines helping bring a measure of calm to investors and traders, it seems that the market can now focus on earnings season,” JJ Kinahan, the chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, said.

By: Ben Winck

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Dan Takahashi – English Channel

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Dan_Takahashi_ INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/dantakahashi1/ FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/DanTakahashiJP/ LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-takah… I’m building a new company and recruiting team members who live in Tokyo! If you meet the criteria, please email daniel@dkocapital.net with your (1)experience and (2)education background! ■ Software engineer (1), development of iOS or Android Social Media & Business News App, over 2 years experience ■ Software engineer (2), development of iOS or Android Investing App, over 2 years of experience ■ Attorney, specialized in Japanese Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, more than 5 years of experience ■ Quants analyst, investing algorithm development, more than 3 years of experience ■ Portfolio Manager, asset management of large fund, over 5 years experience ■ Professor from Top Japan Univeristy, specializing in finance, more than 5 years of experience ■ Previous Important Videos! Create a Long Term Investment Portfolio? https://youtu.be/Vdwx4z0rJ-g Short Term Investing….Key is to Find the Trend? https://youtu.be/TMLWUjlb_wU Top ETFs for your portfolio? https://youtu.be/Yfv3PvPKeuM AVOID Leverage & Inverse ETFs? https://youtu.be/tDoQgr1OLf8 3 Secrets to CUTTING LOSSES? https://youtu.be/KA8vIaaEXYI ■ Chart Technical analysis Videos RSI – https://youtu.be/plpR2HOWyM4 BOLLINGER BAND – https://youtu.be/Hkn2F3pJyuc MACD – Find the Trend? https://youtu.be/nNt5s8PwjkQ Pivot Point Analysis – https://youtu.be/aQWotA5yT7A ■ Media Inquires please Contact: daniel@dkocapital.net ■ Dan Takahashi Profile ・560k total Followers (bit over 6 months) ・Cornell University, Honors Magna Cum Laude ・Entrepreneur, Investor, Media Commentator Born in Tokyo, half-Japanese, half-American. Have lived in 6 countries and visited over 60 countries! Started investing at 12 years old, began Wall Street when 19, created hedge fund when 26, and sold company stake at 30 years old. I love nato beans & karaoke ❤❗ ■ Japanese Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFXl…#stockmarket#dantakahashi#investing

Stimulus Check Qualification Rules Could Change With a Second Payment

Congress is scrambling to piece together another relief package before the end of the year that would, if some legislators have their say, include a second economic stimulus check for individuals and families who meet the requirements.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, and Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, are looking to modify a $908 billion plan with an amendment that would authorize a second check for up to $1,200. The unamended proposal doesn’t include another direct payment. If Sanders and Hawley’s amendment is successful, the new payment would likely follow the same outlines of the first stimulus check for speed and simplicity, but even minor changes could have a significant impact for millions.

Another new proposal, this time from the White House, would provide $600 apiece for each qualifying adult and child, Though it’s less likely we’ll see this proposal become law, if it did it would clearly affect how much money a household could get, by halving the share per qualifying adult and increasing it by $100 per eligible child dependent

Even if no stimulus check is approved in 2020, the discussions happening now could impact the stimulus check conversation in early 2021. There’s clearly enough support for a second round of aid before there are enough available doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate the US population.

Read on for more information about what may happen to stimulus eligibility now. We update this story often.

How the qualifications could change with a new bill

While many members of Congress agree on the need for more aid, they differ on the specifics, and the two sides continue to discuss who needs assistance and how much to spend. Based on proposals that’ve been on the table this fall, here’s what lawmakers could do (or have already done):

Update the definition of a dependent: The CARES Act capped eligible dependents at kids age 16 and younger. One proposal this summer expanded the definition to any dependent, child or adult, you could claim on federal taxes. That means families with older kids or older adults at home could potentially see $500 more in their check total per individual if that proposal is adopted.

Read more: Nobody can take your stimulus check away, right? Not quite

money-dollars-bills-sock-american-flag
If the definition of a dependent changes, your family could benefit. Angela Lang/CNET

Raise the amount of money per child dependent: One White House proposal from October would’ve kept the definition of a child dependent used in the CARES Act but increased the sum per individual to $1,000 on the final household check. (Based on that, here’s how to estimate your total stimulus money and here’s the IRS’ formula for families.)

The White House’s new Dec. 8 proposal would reportedly raise the sum for each qualifying child to $600, up from $500 in the CARES Act.

Stop seizing overdue child support: The Democrats this summer pushed to let a parent who owed child support receive a payment; the original CARES Act allowed the government to redirect payments to cover overdue support.

Send checks to people who are incarcerated: After months of back and forth, the IRS is sending checks to those who are incarcerated and eligible for a payment. A Republican plan this summer would’ve excluded the payments.

Include noncitizens: The CARES Act made a Social Security number a requirement for a payment. Other proposals would’ve expanded the eligibility to those with an ITIN instead of a Social Security number because they’re classified as a resident or nonresident alien. A Republican plan this summer would’ve excluded those with an ITIN.

Who could qualify for a second stimulus check

Qualifying groupLikely to be covered by the final bill
IndividualsAn AGI of less than $99,000 (Same as CARES)
Head of householdAn AGI of less than $146,500 (Same as CARES)
Couple filing jointlyAn AGI less than $198,000 (Same as CARES)
Dependents of any ageNo limit (HEALS proposal; up to 3 in Heroes)
US citizens living abroadYes, same as CARES
Citizens of US territoriesLikely, with payments handled by each territory’s tax authority (CARES)
SSDI and tax nonfilersLikely, but with an extra step to file (more below)
Uncertain statusCould be set by court ruling or bill
Incarcerated peopleExcluded under CARES through IRS interpretation, judge overturned
Undocumented immigrantsQualifying “alien residents” are currently included under CARES
Disqualified groupUnlikely to be covered by the final bill
Noncitizens who pay taxes (ITIN)Proposed in Heroes, unlikely to pass in Senate
Spouses, kids of ITIN filersExcluded under CARES, more below
People who owe child supportIncluded in Heroes proposal, but excluded under CARES

Would the income limits be similar with another check?

Under the CARES Act, here are the income limits based on your adjusted gross income for the previous year that would qualify you for a stimulus check, assuming you met all the other requirements. (More below for people who don’t normally file taxes.) With the amendment proposed by Sanders and Hawley on Dec. 10, the requirements guidelines would follow those set out in the CARES Act.

  • You’re a single tax filer and earn less than $99,000.
  • You file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500.
  • You file jointly with a spouse and earn less than $198,000 combined.

What role do my taxes play in how much I could get? What if I don’t file taxes? 

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly connected. For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is adjusted gross income, or AGI, which determines how much of the total amount you could receive, be it $600 or $1,200 for individuals and $1,200 or $2,400 for married couples (excluding children for now).

Our stimulus check calculator can show you how much money you could potentially expect from a second check, based on your most recent tax filing and a $1,200 per person cap. Read below for your eligibility if you don’t typically file taxes.

coins-measuring-spoons
How much stimulus money you could get depends on who you are. Angela Lang/CNET

What should retired and older adults know?

Many older adults, including retirees over age 65, received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act, and would likely be eligible for a second one. For older adults and retired people, factors like your tax filingsyour AGI, your pension, if you’re part of the SSDI program (more below) and whether the IRS considers you a dependent would likely affect your chances of receiving a second payment. 

If I share custody or owe child support, how does that affect eligibility?

Due to a specific rule, if you and the other parent of your child dependent alternate years claiming your child on your tax return, you may both be entitled to receive $500 more in your first stimulus check, and in the second if that rule doesn’t change.If you owe child support, your stimulus money may be garnished for arrears (the amount you owe). https://playlist.megaphone.fm/?e=CBS4695642448&light=true

I haven’t submitted my federal tax return for at least two years. Can I still get money?

People who weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019 may still be eligible to receive the first stimulus check under the CARES Act. If that guideline doesn’t change for a second stimulus check, this group would qualify again. Here are reasons you might not have been required to file:

  • You’re over 24, you’re not claimed as a dependent and your income is less than $12,200.
  • You’re married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400.
  • You have no income.
  • You receive federal benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. See below for more on SSDI.

With the first stimulus check, nonfilers needed to provide the IRS with some information before they could receive their payment. (If you still haven’t received a first check even though you were eligible, the IRS said you can claim it on your taxes in 2021.) This fall, the IRS attempted to contact 9 million Americans who may’ve fallen into this category but who haven’t requested their payment. Those in this group can claim their payment on next year’s taxes.

I’m part of the SSI or SSDI program. Am I eligible to get a stimulus check?

Those who are part of the SSI or SSDI program also qualify for a check under the CARES Act. Recipients wouldn’t receive their payments via their Direct Express card, which the government typically uses to distribute federal benefits, but through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check. SSDI recipients can file next year to request a payment for themselves and dependents.

For more, here’s what we know about the major proposals for another stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job and what to know about evictions.

Coronavirus updates

First published on June 25, 2020 at 4:15 a.m. PT.BudgetingTaxesPoliticsPersonal Finance How To

By: Clifford Colby, Julie Snyder, Katie Conner

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When It Comes To Markets, Nobody Knows What Is Happening

Market analysts regularly send commentary to journalists who regularly write about finance and economics. And while there is some divergence of opining, frequently you can find common patterns in many of the emails.

Recently, there has been a deluge of analyst comments bouncing off the walls of the email inbox. Many were saying on Wednesday morning that markets were souring because the election was up in the air. Except that wasn’t the case. Major indexes went up.

As I said, it’s about the election, but it really isn’t. This could have been anything. A tremor in trade relations between two major world powers. Unexpected drops in crude oil pricing. The election is nothing more in this case than an object lesson in the limitations of what the market experts can tell you. Recommended For You

To markets, perceived or even potential uncertainty is unsatisfactory. Those placing investment bets want as much information about the chance of success or failure as possible. As equities are focused on future results, the calculus becomes more complicated than that facing a first-year university engineering student trying to determine the volume of a doughnut.

But the delayed nature of this election is nothing historically, when you consider the 1876 contest that stretched into the Compromise of 1877, otherwise known as the Great Betrayal by millions of Blacks in the South. Or every single election, as the Electoral College members meet in mid-December to cast the actual ballots and even those are subject to count and possible challenge by Congress early in January.

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Despite all the political and financial media, pundit, and expert nail biting, markets have been quite happy over the last few days. According to data from S&P Capital IQ, the S&P 500 index was up 1.8% between Monday and Tuesday and then 2.2% from Tuesday to Wednesday. For the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the changes were 2.1% and 1.3%. Nasdaq NDAQ +3% saw 1.9% and 3.9%. The Russell 2000 small cap index jumped 2.9% by Tuesday and was flat on Wednesday.

This looks like a positive reaction. It shows nothing suggesting that markets are worried. Maybe the analysts saw early suggestions in index futures, which were fluctuating.  Who knows, they might have written their commentary the previous night.

Then there were the explanations of what’s been happening since it became obvious that markets were comfortable. Tech stocks were doing well because a divided Congress would make it unlikely that they’d face a breakup or interference, although that isn’t clear. Republican and Democratic elected officials have made their anger at the major tech platform companies clear and have moved back and forth over issues of privacy and censorship. To assume that a Google GOOG +0.8% or Facebook would be safe from any action (which could be newly undertaken or continued by a Department of Justice lawsuit) is unrealistic.

Next came assumptions that the response was all about pandemic stimulus, which at least had some basis in fact. Loose monetary practice and fiscal stimulus have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Mountains of money entered the economy and, with interest rates ensuring low yields on bonds, investors want a return, which has meant stocks. But no one has a clue as to when a stimulus might happen or its size.

Analysts know all this variability, but they can’t account for it on a minute-to-minute basis. There are debates among academics and experts over whether the stock market acts like a random walk—a series of coin flips. Some say that over the long run, there are patterns and the market can be predictable to a degree. Others disagree.

In either case—pure random movement with overall economic forces pushing prices up over time or something with patterns—stocks go somewhere over the long haul. They also do on the short haul although, collectively, with far less precision. Indexes go up and down and large percentages of the stocks represented in them do the opposite.

This is why it’s so hard to beat the markets. You’ll likely never know which ones in particular might do well over a given time frame, and you can’t necessarily predict the macroeconomic forces that will shape the track down which they all race.

But the experts and pundits and reporters and politicians all feel the pressure to explain every bump in that road. Human beings have a natural tendency to look for narratives that offer, in retrospect, the story of why things happened. The expected understanding of all things investing, whether realistic or not, is why they’re paid.

Call a broker and ask what happened today, and that person needs to sound informed. The market reporter speaking with a television anchor wants to sound knowledgeable. The pundit is expected to point a finger in the right direction. But so much of what happens is mass psychology and beyond rational description.

Some people are truly canny and have a better sense of the flow. They still all get caught out often. When they do, there’s a scramble to find a solid ground. Chalk it up to human nature.

So, take all of what you hear with a grain of salt. There are no obvious answers, and the explanations might be right or wrong. Instead, focus on the longer run. That’s where the money’s to be made and the bumps and jags fade into a smoother pattern. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman

I’m a freelance journalist and writer with credits in Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, NBC News, CBS Moneywatch, Technology Review, The Fiscal Times, Inc, and Vice. I also do ghost and corporate writing. You can see my portfolio at http://www.linkedin.com/in/eriksherman and find me on Twitter at @eriksherman.

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Yahoo Finance

Yahoo Finance’s Brian Cheung looks at stock market performance after elections. #election#stockmarket#stocks Subscribe to Yahoo Finance: https://yhoo.it/2fGu5Bb About Yahoo Finance: At Yahoo Finance, you get free stock quotes, up-to-date news, portfolio management resources, international market data, social interaction and mortgage rates that help you manage your financial life. About Yahoo Finance Premium: With a subscription to Yahoo Finance Premium, get the tools you need to invest with confidence. Discover new opportunities with expert research and investment ideas backed by technical and fundamental analysis. Optimize your trades with advanced portfolio insights, fundamental analysis, enhanced charting, and more. To learn more about Yahoo Finance Premium please visit: https://yhoo.it/33jXYBp Connect with Yahoo Finance: Get the latest news: https://yhoo.it/2fGu5Bb Find Yahoo Finance on Facebook: http://bit.ly/2A9u5Zq Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter: http://bit.ly/2LMgloP Follow Yahoo Finance on Instagram: http://bit.ly/2LOpNYz Follow Cashay.com Follow Yahoo Finance Premium on Twitter: https://bit.ly/3hhcnmV

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