Friday, February 06, 2009

Not All Tax Cuts Are Bad

While "tax cuts" in the abstract are proven (yes, proven) to be less effective than "spending" for turning around an economy with cratering demand (more on that later), it is worth noting that not all tax cuts such as those included in the Senate and House versions of the stimulus bill are bad...

It's worth noting that many middle class earners who would get tripped by the AMT are not expecting to pay the AMT because they have not had to pay it in the past. So if the AMT were not eliminated, it would result in several million earners to have withheld too little in taxes and therefore come up short, or would have to withhold more in taxes from paychecks, thereby reducing disposable income.

So delaying the AMT is good policy. Tax cuts that produce immediate spending that otherwise would not have happened is still spending, and it's still good policy.

Tax cuts however that simply benefit the rich and would simply result in additional money cut from the government and staying protected in fat bank accounts would continue the economic crisis.

Another great good policy example: $15,000 refundable tax credit for (qualified) home buyers to get people buying new homes now and not waiting until it's too late.

Another great example: a multi-thousand dollar tax credit for anyone who gets a new air-conditioner (which will have a higher SEER rating, more efficient) or replaces single-pane windows, etc. This will cause middle and lower-class owners to consider replacing old A/C units for example that are at the end of their useful life and they will see a huge spike in efficiency in their bills and energy use -- not to mention getting a great break on a system that will need replacing regardless and creating jobs/saving jobs for the manufacturers and installers, etc. Not all tax cuts are bad. Not all public spending is good. Blah blah blah.

Homeowners and Landlords would do well to study the final bill (when it gets done) and take advantage of all provisions that give incentives for pulling forward spending that otherwise would be put off. This could include replacing old A/C units, replacing single-pane windows, replacing an old car (with a more efficient car at a low interest rate), and yes even buying a new house at a potentially lower-than-future market price and historically low fixed interest rate.

Not everyone has the ability to spend right now, and that's fine. But this nation desperately needs those who can spend to spend... without delay. Anything that causes spending right now, including pulling forward public spending for infrastructure, as well as private spending, etc., is going to help turn things around.

Right now (not in the long term): if we're spendin', we're survivin'.

Just sayin'...