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The Capital Gains Tax Scourge


The combination of an ailing economy and a struggling housing market during an election year has created the perfect storm to once again bring issues concerning the federal capital gains tax rate to the forefront of the publicís attention. As our nationís government continues to further empty its coffers in an attempt to protect and stimulate the economy, many political figures and members of the media are forcefully asserting that an increase in the capital gains tax rate is needed to offset the governmentís proposed massive expenditures. Unfortunately, this theory is fatally flawed according to both economic principle and common sense. In fact, an increase in the capital gains tax rate during these difficult times will likely enhance the need for further government intervention and expenditures to remedy the damage that a rate increase would generate.

For clarification, the current federal capital gains tax rate of 15% does not pertain to ordinary income, but instead is applied against gains achieved through investments in real estate and securities such as stocks & bonds. Additionally, the state governments typically tack on additional capital gains taxes for their respective residents. Also understand that national residential real estate values have dropped by more than 35% over the past few years with an unprecedented amount of inventory still on the market for sale. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, our nationís key stock index, decreased by more than 40% in the year 2008 alone.

By applying the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand it is easy to see that the supply of real estate and securities for sale drastically exceeds the consumerís current demand to purchase. The inevitable result from such an unbalanced relationship between supply and the corresponding demand is a decrease in the perceived value of real estate, stocks and bonds. This is precisely why the federal government, economists and prominent members of the business world are constantly attempting to increase demand by acting to encourage the public to once again muster the confidence to invest in real estate and securities.

It is therefore unfathomable to suggest that the United Statesí economy will be better served by increasing the capital gains tax rate for those that courageously make these investments. This is especially true at a time when confidence in investment is more direly needed than it has been for generations. The way to our economic salvation is undisputedly through reducing supply, so it is important that we donít punish those individuals that could represent the much needed demand.

The very existence of a capital gains tax surely has Alexander Hamilton continuously turning in his grave. Our countryís founding fathers were generally of the mindset to tax primarily those activities that the public and the government wanted to discourage. Taxing the purchase or sale of foreign made goods, tobacco, luxury items and alcohol made sense to these brilliant architects of a new nation. However, the imposition of taxes on activities that directly promote the interests of the nation as a whole was certainly not what they had in mind.

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  Published Date - January 2 2009
  Total Views - 1069
  Total Votes - 37
  Average Rating - 2
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  Mr. Brian S. Icenhower
Brian S. Icenhower, Esq., BS, JD, CRS, CRB, ABR, is a real estate broker, an attorney, a California Associations of Realtors Director, a real estate expert witnesss, an instructor in real estate law, a District Attorney real estate fraud consultant, and may be reached for comment at bicenhower@icenhowerrealestate.com or a www.icenhowerrealestate.com.
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