Opinion

David Cay Johnston

Macau big for casinos, taxman

David Cay Johnston
Aug 16, 2011 16:34 UTC

By David Cay Johnston
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Lisboa, the oldest casino in this thriving gambling city, features a polished black marble floor flecked with what looks like glittering gold. While all gamblers eventually find only fool’s gold, like the glittering pyrite in the marble floor, government is mining real gold from the casinos here.

Macau, a special administrative region of China, is raking in 8 billion patacas (US$1 billion) a month this year in casino taxes.

That is up by almost half from last year and likely to grow much more in the next few years as Chinese with wads of renminbi search for excitement, glamour, commercial sex and a brief escape from the rigors of life back home, not to mention the hope of striking it rich at the tables.

The casinos generate so much tax revenue that the Macau special administrative region cannot spend it all, anomalous proof that government is not an unlimited user of money.

Think Singapore is a “low-tax” haven? Think again

Aug 8, 2011 15:54 UTC

In this recent video, David Cay Johnston examines the notion, often heard from U.S. politicians, that Singapore is a model of low taxation:

Forget taxes, it’s wages that plague Americans

David Cay Johnston
Aug 6, 2011 15:01 UTC

By David Cay Johnston
All opinions expressed are his own.

Here is how much economic progress America has made in the 21st Century: the average taxpayer’s 2009 income was at the same level as 1997.

Average 2009 income was $54,283, just $18 more than in 1997 when you adjust for inflation, not that anyone would notice a difference of $1.50 a month in their pocket.

And compared to 2007, the last peak year of the economy, average income fell a painful $8,588 or 13.7 percent in real terms. Having $716 less each month is something most people would notice.

Fact-free fiscal farce

David Cay Johnston
Aug 2, 2011 14:02 UTC

By David Cay Johnston

The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Washington debate over whether to voluntarily default on the U.S. government’s obligations revealed a serious political ailment in Congress: mass economic amnesia.

Just 11 years ago, Republicans insisted budget surpluses were bad for the economy, while Democrats told us surpluses would make the economy flourish. Al Gore said pay off the federal debt; George W. Bush said cut taxes so people would have more money.

During the Bush years Democrats decried the red-ink budgets, while Republicans assured us that no real harm would come from a $5 trillion borrow-and-spend spree.

Paying taxes your employer keeps

David Cay Johnston
Jul 19, 2011 17:53 UTC

By David Cay Johnston
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Painful as it feels to have a lot of hard-earned income taken from your paycheck for taxes, a new Illinois law does something Americans may find surprising. It lets some employers pocket taxes for 10 years.

You read that right — in Illinois the state income taxes withheld from your paycheck may be kept by your employer under a law that took effect in May. Continental Corporation, the big German tire maker; Motorola Mobility, the cell phone maker; and Navistar, the maker of diesel trucks for industry and the military, are in on the deal. State officials say a fourth company is negotiating a similar arrangement.

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