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Death is Way More Certain than Taxes in US

The research group said these companies should have paid a collective $16.4 billion in federal income taxes, but instead, with various legal deductions from their income, received a net tax rebate of $4.3 billion

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FILE- This Feb. 13, 2019, photo shows multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns, in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. VOA

In the U.S., there’s an old saying that there are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. But as it turns out, death is way more certain than taxes in the United States.

Corporations and some wealthy individuals, including President Donald Trump, are able to legally avoid any federal taxation in some years by deducting business expenses such as capital investments, charitable donations, interest on their home loans, health care costs and numerous other write-offs from their corporate or personal income.

In a report late Tuesday, The New York Times said from 1985 to 1994, Trump lost more than $1 billion in his real estate business operations and paid no federal income taxes in eight of those 10 years. Trump called the report inaccurate but did not dispute any specific facts. He said it was “sport” for developers to game the U.S. tax code so they did not have to pay taxes.

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The median annual U.S. household income is $56,516, meaning half earn more, half less. Pixabay

Unlike U.S. presidents for the past four decades, Trump has balked at releasing his tax returns, although opposition Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives are seeking, so far unsuccessfully, to get him to divulge his returns for the last six years. A court fight over the dispute is possible.

The independent Tax Policy Center estimates that in 2018, 44% of Americans paid no federal income tax under the country’s progressive sliding scale of taxation, where those making the most money, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, pay a higher percentage tax than those with way less annual income.

Various provisions of the U.S. tax code, such as the standard deduction to reduce taxable income or such allowable itemized deductions as for making donations to charities or for expenses to operate a business from home, can sharply reduce income subject to federal taxation.

But even those individuals not subject to any federal taxation, however, likely have paid payroll taxes, payments to cover mandatory withholding from their paychecks to fund the government’s pension plan for older and retired workers, and health insurance for Americans over 65. About three-quarters of American households pay federal income taxes, the payroll taxes or both.

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The research group said these companies should have paid a collective $16.4 billion in federal income taxes, but instead, with various legal deductions from their income, received a net tax rebate of $4.3 billion. VOA

The median annual U.S. household income is $56,516, meaning half earn more, half less. According to one recent survey of nearly 130,000 American consumers, the average American spends $10,489 each year in federal, state, and local income taxes, about 14% of the average survey respondent’s gross income.

In the corporate world, however, with the tax overhaul pushed to passage by Trump and Republican lawmakers in 2017 that cut the basic federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, 60 of the biggest U.S. corporations avoided paying any taxes last year, according to the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

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The research group said these companies should have paid a collective $16.4 billion in federal income taxes, but instead, with various legal deductions from their income, received a net tax rebate of $4.3 billion.

It reported that among the 60 profitable U.S. corporations paying no federal income taxes last year were some of the country’s best known businesses, including General Motors, Amazon, Chevron, Netflix, Delta Air Lines, IBM, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, and Eli Lilly. (VOA)

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Amid Intensifying US China Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters Eye Gains

Orient Craft’s new unit in Jharkhand, one of India’s least developed states, will employ about eight thousand workers

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Orient Craft, one of India's largest apparel exporters, says it could benefit from increased business as the US-China trade war intensifies. This building in Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi houses its office and one of its garment units. VOA

As work on establishing a massive garment-manufacturing unit by one of India’s leading apparel exporters enters the final stages, the company is optimistic about keeping the machines humming. Slated to begin production in August, Orient Craft’s new unit in Jharkhand, one of India’s least developed states, will employ about eight thousand workers.

Inquiries from buyers in the United States, its biggest market, have increased in recent months as a trade dispute with China intensifies, according to A.K. Jain, who heads the Commercial department at Orient Craft. That is why he is upbeat about generating new business. “This is an unbelievable blessing in disguise,” he says. “It will give us an edge.”

Exporters in India are reaping the benefits of the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies as business with both countries jumps, according to Ajai Sahai, who heads the Federation of Indian Export Organizations.

“While overall exports have gone up by nine percent, exports to the U.S. have gone up by 13 percent and to China by 32 percent,” he says. And as the confrontation escalated last week after the two countries failed to reach a deal, his optimism increased. “Since the tariff hike is now substantial from 10 to 25 percent we feel we will have more advantage in market access.”

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A slowdown in the Indian economy is being attributed to a drop in consumption by an affluent middle class. VOA

India is among a handful of countries set to benefit from the U.S.-China trade dispute, a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development stated in February. “The saying ‘it’s good to fish in troubled waters’ could apply to some bystander nations,” the report said, pointing out that most of the Chinese exports subject to U.S. tariffs will be captured by firms in third countries.

While China has opened its doors wider to a range of agricultural products from India such as rice and sugar, exports to the United States have increased in areas such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, auto components and apparel.

“In various products we were losing out to China with a very narrow margin. With the hike, we are able to offset that,” says Sahai. “That is why the tariff war has presented us an opportunity to enter markets in the U.S. in some areas we were hardly penetrating.”

But even as Indian exports benefit, trade experts warn that clouds are also gathering over New Delhi’s trade relationship with Washington. In recent months, U.S. President Donald Trump has slammed Indian duties on some U.S. goods, saying that India is not providing “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.

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Economists also warn that an eventual slowdown in global trade due to the U.S.-China trade spat will hit all countries including India, which is already staring at an economic slowdown

Growth in the world’s fastest growing major economy flagged to 6.6 percent in the last quarter of 2018 – it’s lowest in more than a year. It is not expected to fare much better this year.

The slump is blamed on slackening domestic consumption, which powers the Indian economy. Unlike East Asian countries, which have raced ahead on the back of exports, growth momentum in India is largely based on an affluent middle class snapping up goods such as cars, refrigerators, air conditioners and other consumer goods.

But there are concerns as automobile sales, the barometer of consumption, plunged to the lowest in nearly eight years in recent months.

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Like other carmakers, the Hyundai showroom in Gurgaon has witnessed a decline in sales of cars in recent months. VOA

At the Hyundai car showroom in the upscale business hub of Gurgaon, near Delhi, a range of swanky models beckon customers, but there are few to be seen. This is in marked contrast to the last three years when buoyant automobile sales helped India overtake Germany to become the world’s fourth largest automobile market. That prompted car makers such as Hyundai, Honda and Toyota to expand their presence in the country.

“In recent years, March and April used to be good months. But now 20 to 30 percent drop is there in these months also,” says Gagan Arora, business head at the Hyundai showroom. “There is a slowdown in the whole industry. New buyers are not being added so frequently.”

Economists say while rising exports to the United States and China present a silver lining, the first challenge facing India’s new government due to take office after vote counting in elections is completed this week, will be how to restore overall momentum to the economy and see why consumers are not so willing to open their wallets. (VOA)