Are we handing over the guns or our rights?

Commotions about gun control have vastly arisen in recent months due to the mass shooting that took place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, 2018. Andrew Pollack, the parent of an 18-year-old victim in the incident, Meadow Pollack has voiced out his thoughts in the matter to the White House, the Senate House and the media across the States to put aside the gun control issues and focus on making policy changes to increase security of the schools following the mass shooting. “Gun laws are not achievable… She should have been safe in the school. That’s the problem,” Pollack expressed. He is in favor of the gun reform package proposed by the Florida Senate. He thinks the security of the schools should be equivalent to places like the courthouse and the airport, with metal detectors at the entrances and such. Pollack persistently argues that too much attention is placed on the subject of gun control, along with the media’s interference and mentions of conflict-ridden topics, rather than remaining united.

While a majority of Americans are fighting for gun control in hopes that it will reduce gun-related incidents, many neglect the basic constitutional rights that America stands on; The Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. The attempt to change gun control laws directly removes an aspect of people’s freedom and voids the supremacy of a constitutional right, in addition to the time, money and effort that could have better spent elsewhere. Aside from that, America has a longstanding concern over the education system, which could be improved by additional funding. By improving youth education and care, children will develop a healthy mind and understands the value of life. This, in turn, prevents future similar events from happening in the long term. Instead of centering all of the attention on gun control that leads to turmoil within the nation, people should direct their focus onto more achievable goals.

For a long time now, the people have expressed their antipathy for the government because of the expanding power of the government over the freedom of the citizens. An increase in gun control will undoubtedly intensify the animosity between the two sides. There will always be people who are against certain decisions made by the government, nonetheless, a protest backed up with adequate justifications and support by the majority will not culminate well. Furthermore, those who are determined to commit a crime will find a way to do so despite of the obstruction in executing the plans. Criminals will figure out a way around it, which leads to the subsistence of the black market for weapons. Consequently, criminals will still be in possession of guns while honest and upstanding citizens will not have the freedom to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and protection.

On the other hand, gun control may effectively reduce gun-related killings, presuming that it can be achieved. Countries such as Japan, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom are direct pieces of evidence of the peace maintained by the implementation of strict firearms law. Nevertheless, all things aside, the people and the government should divert their attention towards the common goal to make a change in the long run by educating the people instead of the continuous debate over gun control. “The American people. We just want our schools safe. We don’t want to talk about guns right now,” says Pollack. In addition, media can be a means to raise awareness in this matter and find a way to prevent it. Instead of banning the sales of rifles and such, the government could attempt to impose heavy tax, which subsequently decreases the number of people in possession of guns and the chances of mass shootings.

Lobbying Spending Spikes Against Paul Ryan’s Border Tax

Obamacare has proven unexpectedly difficult for Republicans to dismantle. As a result, the GOP is anticipated to focus the bulk of its future efforts on tax reform instead.

The new GOP tax plan put forth by House Speaker Paul Ryan includes a border-adjustment tax. Under this type of tax system, all domestic consumption would be taxed, while exports would be untaxed. Over the course of a decade, this provision is anticipated to bring in about a $1 trillion, which could be used to offset the tax cuts promised by the GOP.

Under the proposed plan, the corporate tax rate of 35% would be replaced by the border-adjustment tax. Corporate exports would not be taxed under this plan. So the proposed tax change is anticipated to benefit large corporations who have strong footholds in foreign markets and export large quantities of goods.

The recent legislative shift in focus from healthcare to taxes has already had repercussions in lobbying spending.

Healthcare companies are beginning to spend less on lobbying as a result of the legislative stall on the healthcare front. Companies such as Novartis AG and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. decreased their spending in 2017 from the first quarter to the second quarter, as did the American Hospital Association and insurers such as Aetna Inc. Meanwhile, outlier Cigna Corp. increased its lobbying spending by $690,000.

Even as healthcare companies relax spending on lobbying, retail coalitions are spending more on tax lobbying.

The National Retail Foundation is a trade group of retailers who rely on imports and are vehemently opposed to the proposed border tax. They claim it amounts to an import tax, which would harm their import-heavy business. The NRF also claims the tax would raise prices on consumer goods.

In the three months before June 30, the National Retail Foundation spent almost $5 million to fight the proposed levy. That’s an increase of about $3.32 million over spending in the same time period in 2016. The National Retail Foundation has spent $7.3 million on lobbying in 2017.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association is yet another trade association to increase its tax lobbying spending. In the second quarter the group increased its spending by $120,000 dollars. The RILA has already spent $1.5 million total on lobbying in 2017.

Nike Inc. and Best Buy Co. Inc. similarly increased their lobbying spending in the second quarter. Earlier in 2017, companies such as Target Corp., Best Buy Co. Inc. and Gap Inc. dramatically increased their lobbying spending as well.

Export-focused companies and other supporters of the proposed tax are also upping spending. Companies such as General Electric Co. and Dow Chemical Co. claim that the proposed tax would improve U.S. business by strengthening the dollar. General Electric Co. has accordingly increased its lobbying spending in 2017 by $410,000.

Groups are also increasing spending in opposition to other aspects of the proposed tax law. The Save Our Savings coalition formed in April to fight a proposed tax change which would reduce tax advantages for retirement savings accounts. The White House has stated that 401(k)s will not be affected by the proposed tax changes, since 401(k)s are not funded by taxed dollars. Still, the proposed tax change might have serious implications for people who rely solely on their savings to survive.

Trump Butts Heads With Canada Over Dairy Tax

Some might be worried about the fights being started overseas but what about the one right in our own back yard? On Tuesday, President Trump attacked Canada about their tax on ultra-filtered milk. It wasn’t long until Trump took to Twitter.

It was just last week that Trump made comments on the dairy issue. He called it a “disgrace” and even went as far as to blame the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trump stood up for dairy farmers saying, “What they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace.”

Yet this issue about milk tax is just one of many issues that Trump has with the free trade agreement. He made his feelings about the free trade agreement known when he rallied against it during his campaign.

So, what is his plan? The president said on Monday that Canada can expect new tariffs. Trump and his administration say that they plan on placing new tariffs on softwood lumber that goes from the United States into Canada.

Which his reaction isn’t really all that surprising. Yet how much is this tariff going to be? Well, the Department of Commerce says that a “countervailing duty” of 3 to 24 percent would be imposed on Canadian lumber exporters.

Wilbur Ross is the Commerce Secretary and says that there could be at least $1 billion duties on softwood lumber. He says that with that large of an amount it would be a “bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations.” Of course, Canada’s dairy tax is to blame for this harsh move.

What does Canada think about all this? Well, the country made a statement on the issue Monday, and it doesn’t seem like they are going to take things lying down. The spokesperson said that Canada will “vigorously defend the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry, including through litigation.”

Soda Tax Brings In More Than Expected

The sweetened beverage tax received this year for the city of Philadelphia was up to $5.7 million for just the first month. That’s more than double what the Revenue Department estimated but less than the amount needed. Earlier in the year the Revenue Department project the amount of tax to be $2.3 million in January.

This number was to accommodate the expectation that businesses would lag long enough for the new tax to register. There was also the expectation that more than a few retailers would load up on pre-tax products.

The main goal for the year is $91 million. In order for this goal to be met, tax intake will need to increase by $7.7 million by April. This is certain to assure such a large number and maintain that number as well as bring in another $7 million in unpaid taxes for the remainder of the year.

These numbers were released after a campaign “Ax the Bev Tax” expressed the complaints of sellers who reported at least a 30 to 50 percent loss in sales. the owner of ShopRite stores in the city says that since that in the next upcoming week he might get rid of at least 300 jobs because of dropping sales. He commented saying, “There’s no way of knowing the layoff number, but 280, 300 jobs will be gone one way or the other. If a person quits or goes on unemployment, or I lay them off, the jobs will be gone.”

Even those opponents of the soda tax say that the estimated number given by the administration is a bit too low. They also believe that at the rate of collection the number won’t be achieved.

Yet while many stores are worrying about how the tax might influence sales and jobs, restaurants say that the tax has had little effect on them. The vice president of government affairs for Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, Melissa Bova said, “When people go out, they’re going to get the soda no matter what — the problem is the cost of buying the product has gone up, so they’re trying to find a way to not pass on the entire cost to the customer.”

However, the largest problem most restaurants and even fast food chains seem to be suffering with is increasing their prices in order to make up the free refills that are offered. It’s $60 with a $57 tax for just one five-gallon bag of syrup that is used in many soda fountains.

Tax on Mexican Imports Could Mean Rise in Prices

President Donald Trump appears quite confident in his measure to apply a 20 percent tax on all imported goods from Mexico. The downside to that whole plan would be the drastic rise in prices of Mexican goods.

There’s a good chance that even before Trump imposes his 20 percent tax raise that the next time an American consumer reaches for an avocado, a handbag made in Mexico, or even a favorite Mexican beer, the price will be more. This will be done as a defensive measure on Mexico’s end if the 20 percent tariff ever takes place.

The rise in prices for things like avocados, which already sell for roughly $2.49 per pound, would spike higher than the 20 percent tax. This won’t bode well for smaller restaurants who won’t be able to compete against larger chains who can easily afford the increase in price. As for consumers, the prices at restaurants will likely soar 30 percent as they try to make more money to compensate for higher cost of goods.

Operations manager at AMK Kitchen, Daniel Ghaowi, says the increase in price on things like Mexican arbol chile, jalapeños, and tomatoes would have to be cut from his menu. There’s no way that local farmers would be able to compensate for the large quantities restaurants need.

Ghaowi commented Trump’s attempt at a tax on Mexico calling it a “tax on the American people.”

Since it was reported in 2012 that more than 62 percent of fresh vegetables were imported from Mexico and 32 percent of fresh fruit, it’s safe to assume that nearly every American will be directly affected by this tax.

Fiat Chrysler Brings 2,000 Jobs to Michigan

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) says it will move jobs from Mexico to Michigan. FCA announced that it will make 2,000 jobs in Michigan. It will also invest $1 billion in two Michigan factories. Along with new jobs, FCA says that there’s a possibility it will move its Ram Heavy Duty pickup truck production from its Mexican plant to Michigan.

President-elect Donald Trump threatened Ford, GM, and Toyota with imported vehicle tax. He also criticized the automaker’s decisions to move production of some of their vehicles to Mexico. This could be one reason FCA is hesitant to invest in any production in Mexico.

FCA Chief Executive, Sergio Marchionne, said that these plans were already “in the works and has been in the works for a long period of time.”

Many automakers have made the North American International Auto show a way to vendor their investments in the United States. Daimler, for example, announced that they would be investing $1.3 billion in a sports utility vehicle.

With Trump’s inauguration coming up, a majority of automakers are looking forward to the changes the new president will make.  Especially when it comes to environmental regulations and tax cuts. Trump did announce that he would raise imported tax of vehicles made in Mexico unless automakers brought more business to Americans.

This has a negative effect on the Mexican economy who also depends on the production of U.S. cars in Mexico. Fiat’s Marchionne said that “the Mexican automotive industry has now for a number of years been tooled-up to try and deal with the U.S. market. If the U.S. market were not to be there, the reasons for its existence are on the line.”

Since Trump’s announcement of “big border tax” many companies are quick to invest in the United States. Ford recently tanked its $1.6 billion deal to build a factory in Mexico. Instead, Ford plans to invest $700 million in Michigan plants. Ford said they would still move Focus production to Mexico. the automaker would combine the Focus assembly with another existing Mexico plant.

Fiat Chrysler says a Warren factory near Detroit would make the Jeep Wagoneer and Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV. FCA also says that its Toledo, Ohio factory would make the Jeep pickup.

A source close to the FCA’s verdict says that the company’s decision was not based on Trumps recent criticism and tax threats. The company also said that it didn’t meet with Trump before the finalization of the deal.

Hyundai and Kia’s New Model Expectations

The two largest automakers in South Korea, Hyundai and Kia, estimate a rise in auto sales by 4.7 percent. This year the two automakers are relying on the sales of new models to increase their profit.

Both automakers estimate to produce 8.25 million vehicles. Hyundai will generate 5.08 million and Kia 3.17 million.  This is a large increase from the 7.88 million vehicles they produced last year. The two companies hope that the introduction of new car models will put them ahead of the competition.

Both are relying on new auto plants in Mexico and China. Those two countries expect to raise the output of new sports vehicles. President-elect Donald Trump’s new policies seem to provide no precision for automakers. Trump plans to but America back on the market whether it’s making cars or steel.

What’s to come?

Hyundai experienced its first major strike in the last 12 years in 2016. This resulted in a decline in sales by 8 percent. Both companies also failed to reach the annual sales target for two years in a row. Yet the two say that new and revamped versions of vehicles are coming. Kia and Hyundai say they expect no less than ten new vehicles.

Kia plans to divulge a China-specific SUV, a Morning compact car, along with a sports sedan. Hyundai will unveil a midsize luxury sedan G70 by Genesis. Yet the rise of the small-engine tax in China posed a problem, as well as a drop in sales, for Hyundai.

China cut the small-engine levy in 2015 five percent, causing vehicle demand to escalate. Since 2016, however, the levy has risen to 7.5 percent with an expected increase to ten percent by 2018. This will slow sales grows for this year.

Hyundai sales were also hit when gas prices dropped. This prompted more Americans to buy trucks. However, China is Hyundai’s largest market and plans to introduce the  Verna Yuena. The automakers hopes the plant in Cangzhou, Hebei province produces 300,000 vehicles by 2018.

As for the future, Hyundai says that it plans to invest in autonomous vehicles. The company has plans to show off its self-driving tech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Hyundai has also made it known that it plans to have produced a self-driving car by 2030.

Google’s The New Tax Man

Google to the rescue!  Well that is if you’re the tax man.  The tax authorities of Lithuania have a new reason to be thankful for google.  The fine people of the Google street view team who man cars armed with cameras are helping this poor country catch tax evaders.  After the global financial crisis began in 2008, the country was forced to fire a quarter of its taxation department’s employees.  This lead to the department being severely understaffed, but thanks to google they are still able to collect on the money thats due.

Two recent cases netted $130,000 in taxes and penalties after investigators found houses photographed by Google that weren’t on official maps.  The department’s city office located 10 miles away, were able to detect that contrary to official records, the house with the hammock existed and that, in one photograph, three cars were parked in the driveway.  Lithuania is not the only country in the European Union to do so, with cash strapped countries such as Greece following suit.

Even wealthy countries such as Great Britain are taking advantage of the free spying. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, HM Revenue & Customs believes that there is still an estimated £35 million that should have been collected in taxes but hasn’t.  In addition, they have been using social media sites such as Facebook in order to monitor discrepancies in what people claim they have versus the reality.

With all the recent attention the IRS has received in the past year, it’s not so crazy to think that they have already adopted this practice in the U.S. But does this violate our rights to privacy? Unfortunately we probably won’t know until someone takes the IRS to court.