Dr. Pop BlogNo comments
If you live in Chicago Tax Increment Financing (TIF) likely impacts you in some way or another. TIFs cover about a third of Chicago’s land area. Yet to many of us TIF is elusive. We either don’t know it exists, or steer clear of this complicated-sounding financing mechanism. However, the nefarious use of TIF requires us all to take a serious look at what’s going on and figure out how to change it.
First off, readers who are unfamiliar with TIF should get acquainted with what it is and does.
TIF is a state authorized economic development tool meant to combat blight, or disinvestment. Blight itself is based on the state’s definition (written into the law authorizing TIF), including things like age of structures or building code violations. Sometimes this can be more clearly measured or observed (as with building code violations), other times, not so much—things like dust on the window sills and dirty dishes in the sink have been used as blighting factors in buildings. The basic idea here though is that TIF will act as a strategic financial intervention in blighted areas that otherwise wouldn’t attract investment.
A Time Bank is a currency based on time. It is a group of community members who trade services with each other. If I give you a hair cut, you give me a time credit. I then can spend that time credit on anyone else in the network to fix my bike or cook me a meal. It is a pay it forward system of trade. One hour equals one time credit. Everyone is valued the same. It doesn’t matter what skills you have, a teacher’s time is worth as much as a lawyer’s time.
We trade all kinds of services such as pet care, rides, gourmet meals, accounting, gardening, acupuncture, legal advice, web design, photography, translation, video editing, music lessons, childcare, respite care, tutoring and a lot more.
But the most powerful outcome of the time bank has been the relationships that have formed as a result. It has given our community a sense of security and peace that not many of us in Los Angeles often feel. It is not simply a way to get services but it’s a way to transform our neighborhoods into places where people can trust and depend on each other.
I co-founded the Echo Park Time Bank in 2008 with my friend Lisa Gerstein. We started with 20 friends and today we have 950 members. We grow by 12-15 members per month. Our membership includes thirteen neighborhoods. Pasadena, Altadena, NELA, Glendale, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Downtown L.A., West Adams, Echo Park, Silverlake, Los Feliz, Westlake and Koreatown.
Time Banking is based on 5 core values:
Initially my piece on death and taxes was going to be about the famous and infamous dinged by the tax collector. “Scarface” Al Capone went to prison, busted on unpaid taxes, and died there, first going bughouse crazy from untreated syphilis. Redd Foxx lost a couple of homes a couple of times in Vegas from unpaid taxes and surely that was part of the stress that lead to his massive fatal heart attack. Nic Cage, whose career can’t be killed no matter how indifferent he is to the movies he does (though I did dig Drive Angry and Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance), had to sell off his sweet comic book collection to help pay his back taxes – including DC Comics Action No. 1, the first appearance of Superman in 1938, for $2.1 million.
And Wesley Snipes, who played Blade, a half-human, half-vampire – thus the walking dead — character from Marvel Comics in three movies, got hooked up with two anti-tax, anti-government organizations; the afrocentric United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors and the rightwing American Rights Litigators (ARL) in an effort to avoid paying his due. Among other pursuits, the United Nuwaubians claimed once that 144,000 of the chosen ones would be taken up to the home galaxy of Ilyuwn as apocalypse ensued. What a surprise then that neither group offered sound counsel. Snipes is out this month from doing the majority of his three year stint in the joint.
Rather, true to my lefty roots, I’m going to make the case for taxes, at least insofar as libraries are concerned. This week of April 15 is also National Library Week and probably aside from Social Security, Medicare and education, I can’t think of a better use of our tax money than supporting our libraries. Sure, I’m biased, my mom was a librarian and early on I learned to love reading. Initially a chore I had to complete after my grade school homework, I soon got carried away reading those kid versions of Robin Hood and Pinocchio. I suppose the germ had always lain dormant in me, as the natural inclination of being made to read extra should have caused me to rebel. But my mom knew what she was doing, she knew those descriptive passages on paper would be the catalyst.
I think we all hate taxes in some shape or form. Some of you might be like Uncle Joe, Mr. Libertarian, and you don’t want anyone touching your hard earned money. Maybe you believe taxes are important for a strong public sector but regressive taxes and tax loopholes have created a system where the rich don’t pay their fair share. Or perhaps you don’t want to fund a police state or war machine.
I’m pretty good with numbers and my recordkeeping is impeccable; however, I’ve never done my own taxes. My brother, my sister and my Uncle Stanley, are all CPAs. For over 20 years, my uncle completed my tax returns, albeit, it’s easy when I don’t have assets, but it was also his way to show affection toward me.
Does everyone have an Uncle Stanley? He’s my Dad’s twin brother – okay, perhaps not everyone’s parent is a twin – but he was unmarried and took care of my grandma for 40 years after my grandfather passed away (grandma lived to 101 years old). He’s the good guy everyone seems to like. Every Christmas, he always had a ton of gifts – including snacks which would last half the year. He always went to BBQ’s and dinners. He also played competitive Bridge and I believe we shared the same math gene.
The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens.
This is from a recent Guardian article, the first installment of a series of stories on just who is keeping their wealth where — and it’s all about avoiding tax. I’m still getting used to ‘tn’ — it’s fairly impossible for me to think in trillions.
An Oxfam report released in January this year takes a hard look at what drastically increasing inequality means for our world, their press release headline is ‘Annual income of richest 100 people enough to end global poverty four times over’.
The folks who can’t escape taxes are the poor. While Britain has been facing an all-out assault against the welfare state since the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition took power (though New Labour did a fairly good job in its own time), it has taken the form of spending cuts and the privatisation of government services to this point. On April 1st, the assault ratcheted up with an array of new taxes taking effect.
You can read the full article here, but below is the list of the changes happening in April with punchlines: