Saturday, April 13, 2013

My Texas Billboard Story. A lawyer advertising "Gun Trusts". What is a Gun Trust? Find out here. FASCINATING!!!

In December of 2011 I move from Texas (after living there for 27 years) to Illinois.

This weekend I am visiting Texas A&M in College Station.

On the drive from Houston along FM 105 I saw this sign (don't remember the town).  I have never heard of, or seen advertised, legal services to establish  a "Gun Trust". 

Of course, I was curious and had to find out what it was all about.

A trust is a legal entity where someone can place physical and/or financial assets and it (1) ensures continuity of ownership of the assets by the trust (not the "real owner" of the assets) and (2) keeps the assets from being subjected to the estate tax OR seizure from the government for tax purposes---the trust never dies!

But a trust confers some addtional benefits that will delight gun owners and irritate gun control proponents.

The National Firearms Act ("NFA") requires purchasers of certain categories of weapons (i.e. machine guns) to register them with the Bureal of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ("BATF").
"All NFA items  must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, , and Explosives (ATF). Private owners wishing to purchase an NFA item must obtain approval from the ATF, obtain a signature from the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) who is the county sheriff or city or town chief of police (not necessarily permission), pass an extensive background check to include submitting a photograph and fingerprints, fully register the firearm, receive ATF written permission before moving the firearm across state lines, and pay a tax"---Wikipedia
Don't want to do that? Too intrusive?  Then establish a  "Gun Trust" and place ownership of them in it. Note the significant reporting requirement changes:
"NFA items may also be transferred to corporations (or other legal entities such as a trust). When the paperwork to request transfer of an NFA item is initiated by an officer of a corporation, a signature from local law enforcement is not required, and fingerprint cards and photographs do not need to be submitted with the transfer request. Therefore, an individual who lives in a location where the chief law enforcement officer will not sign a transfer form can still own an NFA item if he or she owns a corporation("trust")"---Wikipedia.
So, a Gun Trust helps one shelter their weapons (specific ones) from taxation and seizure AND registration/scrutiny.

Now you will know the story of this billboard as well.  If you see it you can dazzle your friends with your new found knowledge.

You are welcome... :) 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Nice map showing each States level of taxation on a pack of cigarettes. I am quite surprised how LOW the taxes are in many States.

One way to discourage the consumption of a good that imposes negative outcomes on individuals, but perhaps more importantly on society at large, is to impose a tax on the good proportionate to the damage it creates. 

Cigarettes seem to be a good that is ripe for taxation of this sort.  As you can see from the map below the level of taxes imposed on a pack of cigarettes varies a lot across state lines.

Keep in mind the numbers you see are taxes levied by the each State.

There is also a $1.01 FEDERAL tax levied on a pack as well.  So, add that to the number in the map to get the total level of taxation.

Observations:  (1) Taxes in the tobacco producing States have VERY low State taxes on cigarettes.  Probably should be no surprise there.  Having said that, what is up with Missouri ("MO")?? Seventeen cents? (2)  States with low level of taxes on cigarettes are States known to have, in general, the poorest individual (and collective) health outcomes overall.  I am not suggesting low taxes on cigarettes are the cause...but it certainly does not help, it seems.

Source: KPC

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why do so many people start to collect Social Security benefits in January and so few in December? Nice graphs showing monthly data that prompt such fascinating questions!!

I was looking at Social Security benefit data and noticed a couple of things.  Below you will see the monthly (starting in 1995) Social Security benefit awards to both retired workers and their spouses. The long term trend line is in RED.

First observation:  Notice the tall shoots that tower above the trend line at predictable intervals?  EVERY ONE of those shoots marks January of the particular year.  Notice the shoots that go BELOW the trend line?  With a couple of exceptions, those are all Decembers.

I did a Google search and could not find a suitable answer as to why January is far and above the preferable month for people to claim benefits en mass.  Can anyone help me out?

Source: Created by Cara Hayward
Second observation:  the shoots above the trend line got larger in magnitude as time passed, and the shoots below, with the exception of the mid-2000's, got smaller in magnitude especially in the last couple of years.

Keep in mind, while the graph measures benefit awards in a given month, the totals will be cumulative of ALL those points.

Using the same graph above, I inserted lines to eye-ball averages that represent time spans and benefit award levels. Eerie, isn't it?  Nice stair step and duration almost predictable.

Hmm...Predictable.  Do you hear that politicians and policy-makers?  Why were we not ready for this?  Rhetorical question, I suppose...
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