Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mandatory economic individualization

I just got an email from an administrator at work describing how certain parts of my compensation need to be handled for income tax purposes. I am in an academic position and this administrator handles most issues seamlessly, so I wish I could ask her to take care of this and let me do my research. But no, that's not allowed by law. Even if I hire a tax professional to handle this, I will have to take care of it separately from my normal economic arrangements.

It makes me wonder how income tax is handled for cooperatives and communes. I assume that they need to find some nominal accounting of individual income for tax reporting purposes. So it seems that even if several persons were to integrate all aspects of their economic lives, they would still be required to act and account as individuals once a year. That's annoying, and one more handicap on the development of alternative economic arrangements.


Lorraine said...

I think an even bigger barrier to the implementation of economic cooperation is the assumption (again, a by-product of tax policy) of a sharp dichotomy between capital assets and consumer goods. It pretty much rules out the possibility of, say, a "prosumer" (in the McLuhan/Nevitt/Toffler sense, of course.) The rule that "you can't take a capital loss on the house you live in" appears to be a powerful incentive to go into the slumlording business, at which point the house magically becomes a business asset subject to capital losses, and the non-land part to depreciation. Likewise, one has to be recognized as a commercial entity to get the "sales tax license" which also serves as a marker of the solid line between goods purchased for business use, and sometimes the same goods from the same merchants, purchased for consumption.

Ricketson said...

Good point.