An organization’s efforts to have South Carolina’s Dept. of Revenue recognize same-sex marriages recently found new support – and then some – from a state legislator.
State Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) introduced H. 4461 on January 14, which calls for the following amendment to 12-6-5000 of the state Code of Laws:
"For purposes of this chapter, the terms ‘husband,’ ‘wife,’ and ‘spouse’ include legal same-sex marriages from another state and must not be construed to gender specific."
The bill responds to a recent proposal from the state’s Dept. of Revenue that would have legally-married same-sex couples file state income taxes separately with “single” or “head of household” status, and despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires the IRS to accept married-status filings from eligible gay couples.
Because the state constitution specifies that South Carolina will not recognize same-sex marriages, SCDOR shouldn’t have to on state income tax filings, either, it argues in proposal of Revenue Ruling #13.
In a January 16 press release, Rutherford states:
"Requiring legally married same-sex couples to file excess paperwork and additional tax forms is not only discriminatory, but it is a waste of time and tax dollars. By putting this additional burden on legally married couples, the state of South Carolina is intentionally creating bureaucratic red tape for political purposes. It simply isn't right and it is our responsibility to change this discriminatory policy."
Staying one-up on SCDOR’s argument, Rutherford also filed H. 4460 on the same day, proposing that the voting public decide on amendment to the state constitution in the next election cycle. If H. 4460 clears state legislature, November 2014 ballots in South Carolina will read:
"Must the Constitution of this State be amended so as to delete Section 15, Article XVII, which provides that the only lawful domestic union recognized in this State is a marriage between one man and one woman?"
A non-profit advocacy group in the state has called for these same changes, and leads a drive to have residents contact SCDOR to object to its tax-deduction proposal. The organization is quick to praise Rutherford’s efforts, too.
“South Carolina Equality applauds Rep. Rutherford for introducing this important bill to repeal South Carolina’s ban on marriage equality,” says Ryan Wilson, executive director of South Carolina Equality.
His argument is that the proposal will not only result in higher taxes for eligible couples, and not just additional time to calculate and file state taxes, either; it will create more work for SCDOR, too, Wilson says. “(SCDOR’s proposal) will make the return more difficult to audit and require manual processing of the return.
“We look forward to working with Rutherford and other legislators to secure the freedom to marry for all South Carolinians while we also work on ending discrimination in the workplace and making our schools safe from bullying,” Wilson says.
“These bills give us the opportunity to engage legislators on issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people living in our state including the very pressing issue of workplace equality which could be solved by passing H.4025, known as The Workplace Fairness Act, this session. The time has come for South Carolina to treat all its residents equally and fairly under the law.”
SCDOR’s public meeting on its proposal regarding state tax filings begins at 9 a.m. on January 22 in conference room MPC02 of its office building (300-A Outlet Pointe Blvd. in Columbia).
The department is accepting comments on the proposal by email to email@example.com through January 17. SC Equality’s website also has a link through which a message could be prepared and directly submitted to SCDOR.
Since 2003, 17 states allow gay marriage, and a majority of the U.S. public believes it should be allowed in all states, recent polls find.
A court decision that benefits same-sex married couples regarding federal taxes might not have the same effect on the state level in South Carolina. And on January 9, an advocacy group called for the public to do something about it.
The June 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court allows same-sex married couples to file with a married deduction on federal income tax, removing previous denial of that right from Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.
A recent proposal from South Carolina’s Dept. of Revenue would specifically deny that same benefit from its own income tax, however, requiring gay and lesbian married couples to continue filing state tax returns as “single” or “head of household.”
The result won’t be just high state taxes for gay spouses, though, says South Carolina Equality, a non-profit advocacy group for LGBT rights. It will also require longer filing times and higher costs to prepare returns, the organization says.
In a January 9 press release, SC Equality encourages the public to contact SCDOR, which is accepting comments on the proposal until January 17.
SC Equality’s website also has a page listing arguments, as well as an email that visitors can send to SCDOR directly from its site.
Ryan Wilson, executive director of SC Equality, offers a personal example of the inconvenience.
“This ruling will directly impact me and my husband because we use a tax preparer-- costing us more time to separate our finances and more money to have our taxes prepared than our straight friends or neighbors. SCDOR should have a tax policy that is clear and uniform for all legally married couples.”
Filed on Jan. 2, 2014, SCDOR’s proposal for Revenue Ruling #13 states:
“Since South Carolina does not recognize same-sex marriage, same-sex couples that file as married for federal income tax purposes must file separate from South Carolina income tax purposes(.)”
To correctly complete state tax returns, then, partners of a gay or lesbian marriage would each have to recalculate personal net income from federal tax forms using a “single” or “head of household” personal deduction. Thus, their net income levels would appear larger on state returns, subjecting them to higher state taxes, which would also have to be filed separately.
Notes Wilson, “This is where the extra time and costs for tax preparer will come in. SCDOR is telling gay couples they don’t care how much work or cost it takes; they cannot accept their married federal return, even to use it to calculate tax rates. They will continue to accept straight couples’ returns no matter what, though. There are now two separate systems for dealing with legally-married South Carolinians.”
The proposal does not intend to discriminate, SCDOR says. Instead, according to spokesperson Samantha Creek, it’s simply to recognize SCDOR’s obligation to state law.
Article XVII, Section 15 of the South Carolina Constitution says the state will only recognize “marriage between one man and one woman(.)”
Because some who are eligible for the new federal ruling might assume that it’s also applicable to state taxes, leading to filings that will need correction, Cheek implies that SCDOR hopes the proposed ruling would avoid difficulties for itself and taxpayers while its office simply operates according to the state constitution.
Cheek also points out that the Revenue Ruling is only a draft and can still be changed.
“We encourage persons to read the proposal and provide their feedback and comments.”
The advocacy group contests that SCDOR is obligated to seek or incorporate this ruling, however, offering recent example from another state in comparison.
Missouri also has restrictive definition of marriage in its laws and state constitution, but in November 2013 Gov. Jay Nixon issued executive order allowing same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns.
Wilson of SC Equality notes, “If Missouri could find a way to make it work, so could South Carolina.”
Not allowing joint filings would also impose “undue hardship” on SCDOR itself, he says.
“This will make the return more difficult to audit and require manual processing of the return.”
Wilson also questions the true intentions of the proposal.
“(SCDOR’s) ruling is one that is purposely intended to reject federal definition of ‘married spouse,’ and South Carolina’s same-sex couples (will) pay the price.”
SCDOR is accepting comments on the proposal by email to firstname.lastname@example.org through January 17.
Public meeting on the issue begins at 9 a.m. on January 22 in conference room MPC02 of SCDOR’s office building (300-A Outlet Pointe Blvd. in Columbia).
South Carolina has approximately 1,600 households with same-sex partners who were legally married in other states.
If Sean Hannity calls it "propaganda" and a "disgusting hit piece," then you know this video below has got to be pretty good.
Created by the California Federation of Teachers and narrated by Ed Asner.
On Sept. 4, national public debt broke $16 trillion for the first time.
The next day, South Carolina’s Rep. Tim Scott (1st Dist.) was quick to point out the new numbers on his congressional website.
“That works out to almost $51,000 for every American,” he wrote upon the site, dropping blame upon the Democratic Party and claiming “it is well past time that we again regain fiscal control.”
His opponent, Democratic candidate Bobbie Rose, finds Scott’s assessment to be rather misleading, however. In addition, she says, Scott’s only supported measures that would increase the financial burden on all but the wealthy.
“First of all, about 40 percent of that isn’t current debt, but anticipated future payments of assets we already hold,” Rose says. “That’s our Federal Reserve funds preserved for national emergency, our Social Security Trust Fund and other trust funds.
“About $4 billion of it isn’t any debt of the federal government, either, but our own public debt,” she adds, offering personal mortgages, student loans and business debts as examples.
Very much of the actual government debt results from Pres. George W. Bush’s administration, too, Rose points out.
“The fact is, of that $16 trillion debt, $6.1 trillion – by far the largest single increase – came about during Bush’s eight years in office. This massive increase was due to tax cuts for the wealthy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the economic downturn in 2001 and the recession that started in 2007.
“In his very long political career, I don’t recall Scott ever before complaining about government debt when it came to Bush’s spending.”
$9.5 trillion of current national public debt originates from the last three Republican presidents.
“It’s interesting that when tax cuts on our wealthiest citizens were occurring during two wars,” Rose adds, “the Republican Party showed an astounding lack of interest in our national debt.”
While debt has continued growing since Bush’s exit, “the current debt is due to stimulus spending – money spent here in the U.S. The continuation of recession through 2009 resulted in lost revenue, too,” she says.
Scott’s votes and endorsements indicate that he won’t properly address this debt, either, Rose says.
“Scott has supported measures that take away from the middle class, that cost the middle class, and that only favor wealthy citizens,” citing Scott’s support for the Ryan Budget, which cut away from veterans’ benefits, and his endorsement of Mitt Romney as examples.
A recent study by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that Romney’s proposed tax plan would raise income taxes on all Americans earning less than $200,000.
“That’s 95 percent of the population,” Rose points out.
“Why can’t our government do what families all across the country do when they are in debt? We find a way to bring in more money. Why can’t our government use the only solution that will work, raising revenue on our top earners?” she asks.
“Scott says stimulus spending doesn’t work, but that’s counter to what every nonpartisan economist has told us,” adds Rose.
“What doesn’t work, and will never work, is taking ‘raising revenue’ off the table.”
Also read:US Debt 101
Tim Scott: Americans aren't supposed to be equal
Budget policies, then and now
Rose to Rep. Scott: Hit the road, Tim
Scott's vets event an insult to veterans, Rose says
Scott's first-year spending high, paid to endorsers
At the recent Republican National Convention, congresswoman (and former presidential candidate) Michele Bachmann defended her former opponent against claims he was out-of-touch with the average American.
A USA Today reporter asked her, "(T)here are those who say, 'How can someone with that kind of vast wealth really connect with the American public, really understand what the plight of the American public is?'"
Bachmann's response? "Well, President Obama is extremely wealthy. He and his wife have been wealthy for a number of years, and so I think that's really the issue."
Go on - see it for yourself in the video below:
So, Bachmann says, Mitt Romney is the preferred candidate because Obama has too much money?
Of course, we could just compare their tax returns side-by-side, now couldn't we? (You can use the "view in full screen" options, located in the bottom-right corner of each of the Scribd columns below.)
This just in for Michele Bachmann: $20,808,805 is greater than $844,585. TWENTY FIVE TIMES greater, in fact.
And it's FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE times more than the average American income of $41,673.83, too.
Now, call me strange, but I can't help but notice that Romney got none of the $20.8 million from actual work. That's right - his multi-millions didn't come from any job. They came from interest on his other money. From stock dividends. And from rental properties, too.
So who is it exactly, Bachmann, that's out of touch with the average American household? Mitt Romney, that's who.
As for Bachmann herself? She's out of touch with reality.
Let's not forget that Romney has yet to release all of his 2010 returns, either. Some takes on that are because he may have filed an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program document - a one-time opportunity for those who committed illegal tax evasion to come clean and pay up. If that's the case - admitting a felony - Romney wouldn't be able to appear on the ballots of some states.
Reich's regard for Romney-Ryan's Wreckonomics
McCain team's 200-page report on Romney
Occupy Charleston occupies local Bachmann event
Starve the unemployed, Bachmann says
Bachmann brings bad weather - and bad bus drivers - to South Carolina
As we fumble around with paperwork and calculators on this second-to-last day to file personal income taxes, many of us Americans will grumble and gripe about folks who cheat on taxes and get away with it.
But those tax cheaters aren't the real problem, according to a recent online posting by Frugal Dad. The real slap in the face to us regular, real (i.e. "non-wealthy") Americans are the ones who are legally getting away with paying little if any taxes, and despite millions - even billions - in earnings.
"Only 1% of taxes on wages and salaries goes uncollected; however, it’s estimated that every year the U.S. Government loses $100 billion to legal tax havens employed by corporations and multi-millionaires," reads the recent entry by Frugal Dad Jason.
Take Google, for example, which shuffles its U.S. earnings offshore for much lower tax rates in other countries. Or presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who we've known for some time to send his earnings to the Cayman Islands (and, we recently learned, to Swiss bank accounts, too).
See Jason's interesting graph below:
(Special thanks to Diana, Outreach Coordinator at FrugalDad.com, for sending me the link and suggesting I post it here.)
"Dollar Bill Protest Underway"
"6 executive bonuses equal 2.86 million jobs"
"DeMint defends Romney's 'not concerned about the very poor' comment"
"Don't care about the very poor?"
Mick Zais, superintendent of South Carolina’s Dept. of Education, recently refused $149 million in federal funding for our state’s schools. The federal government has no right to contribute to South Carolina’s public education, he said.
Instead, that money – which is directly derived from the taxes we ourselves pay – is now going to schools in the other 49 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. South Carolina is the only one left out of the picture.
And after recent final notice from the U.S. Dept. of Education, Zais finalized that rejection with bitterness, claiming that last contact to be example of “wasted taxpayers’ resources(.)”
But where does that leave us South Carolina taxpayers, who are the source of that $149 million? This rejection of our own tax money to our own schools (which are currently operating at their lowest budget in 20 years and at risk of massive layoffs) is nothing but a prime example of “wasted taxpayers’ resources” in and of itself.
And who says we have to take it lightly? While it certainly leaves us and our children (not to mention the future of our state) hanging dry, it doesn’t have to leave us silent.
That’s why you’ll find documents on this page that you can download and submit to Zais as a billing statement to recover your loss.
That’s right – a bill. It was your money he threw away, after all. And you have every right to request it be returned to you.
Here's the body of its content:
“According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census in its most recent data from 2010 surveys, the total population of South Carolina is 4,625,364. (For confirmation, please see: http://2010.census.gov/news/pdf/cb11cn112_sc_totalpop_2010map.pdf)
As a result, the $149 million in federal funding offered to our state’s public schools amounts to $32.21 per South Carolina resident.
Following your rejection of this funding, which is derived directly from the income taxes we South Carolinians pay to the federal government, I am left with no other choice but to seek personal compensation of those now-lost funds, which we recently learned are going to benefit all other states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia instead of our own.
This submission, then, is a bill. I now find you and your office to owe me the $32.21 of my tax dollars you decided to waste and give away.”
The billing statement (available in both the 07 and 03 versions of MS Word) can be downloaded right here. The submission address is included on the document, too, and even a clippable statement for him to include with his payment. All you have to do is add your name and address, along with the date of submittal.
Feel free to make any changes you like, of course. But please send Zais the statement. Those were your tax dollars for education in your state, and which could have benefited South Carolina in so many residual ways (employment, earnings, job retention, new business development, etc.).
It’s an economic environment of exclusivity, a recent episode of Fault Lines depicts.
Only one percent of the population takes in more than 20 percent of all earnings in the United States, for example. Since the 1970’s, the income levels of the top 10 percent in wealth increased four-fold; the remaining 90 percent of the country has had no income growth, when accounting for inflation and other cost-of-living increases.
And the U.S. government – not any branch and neither side – is fully helping to stop this anti-Democratic, non-capitalist movement from ransacking our Democratic capitalist country. The movers and the makers are led by the money shakers. And that’s probably never been more apparent than it is today.
“As both Democrats and Republicans gear up for the 2012 presidential elections, the race to raise money for campaign advertising is a driving force for both parties,” the reporter of this recent August 2 episode, titled “The Top 1%,” says.
The top wealth in the country and their corporations, who provide the most in campaign donations by far, get an unfair and disproportionate influence on government as a result.
Take U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, for example, who’s featured in the episode. Chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan claims the only way to help our economy is by taking away healthcare benefits from the poor and elderly, cutting benefits from retirees … and lowering the tax rate on the top income bracket to only 25 percent.
Ryan’s top campaign donors are investment firms and insurance companies, as well as Koch Industries.
These politicians don’t want to answer up to the public about their proposals or policies, either. Watch the young female reporter attempt to interview Ryan, having to dodge parking meters along the sidewalk as she tries to keep with the evasive Wisconsin Republican. (“Your questions are rude,” Ryan barked as he got into his SUV, closing the interview.)
And those who do answer questions about the policies they promote are quite blunt. Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation, is asked if his conservative think tank only advocates on the behalf of wealth. “Yeah – you just can’t help it,” he replies.
This is a 25-minute episode, which might be too long for some to watch. But if you only have a few minutes to spare, just slide the bar over to the 20:00 mark. You could even mute the volume. The next three-and-a-half minutes of the clip provides a rather vivid video grasp of the current economic situation in the U.S.
You’ll see the excitement and enthusiasm swarming the campus of Harvard University as it hosts an outdoor graduation ceremony, a rite of passage for the children of wealth to go on and score their own.
And then you’ll see the team of common Americans scouring the area after the ceremony, cleaning up all the trash those wealthy folks left lying on the campus grounds.
Right after that segment, put the volume back on to hear what’s probably the most succinct of summations on the subject.
According to Leo Hindery, a progressive political activist, “This degree of inequity will ultimately lead to social upheaval – it’s that acute.
“But the politicians aren’t listening (to the public),” Hindery says. “They’re listening to the lobbies. They’re listening to the wealthy people.
“We’ve got to disconnect.”