Thursday, October 23, 2014
15

Hoofdbrekens over de Amerikaanse vennootschapsbelasting

BERKELEY – Van alle ontwikkelde landen kennen de Verenigde Staten vandaag de dag het hoogste tarief voor de vennootschapsbelasting. Zelfs als met talrijke aftrekposten, heffingskortingen en fiscale vrijstellingen rekening wordt gehouden, blijft het effectieve marginale tarief – het tarief dat in de VS voor nieuwe bedrijfsinvesteringen geldt – een van de hoogste in de wereld.

In een wereld waarin kapitaal mobiel is, is de hoogte van de vennootschapsbelasting een factor van betekenis. De besluitvorming over hoe en waar geïnvesteerd wordt, wordt in toenemende mate door nationale belastingverschillen bepaald. Het relatief hoge tarief in de VS moedigt Amerikaanse bedrijven aan om hun investeringen, productie en werkgelegenheid naar het buitenland te verplaatsen, terwijl buitenlandse bedrijven ontmoedigd worden om zich in de VS te vestigen. Dit vertaalt zich in een tragere groei, minder banen, kleinere productiviteitswinsten en lagere reële lonen.

De algemene opvatting luidt dat de vennootschapsbelastingdruk vooral door de kapitaalbezitters wordt gedragen in de vorm van lagere rendementen. Naarmate kapitaal echter mobieler wordt, komt die druk steeds meer op de schouders van relatief immobiele werknemers te liggen in de vorm van lagere lonen en minder werkgelegenheid. Overal ter wereld hebben landen daarom hun vennootschapsbelasting verlaagd. Dit heeft tot een “wedloop naar de bodem” geleid, als weerklank van een steeds heviger wordende wereldwijde concurrentiestrijd om kapitaal en technische knowhow ter ondersteuning van lokale banen en lonen.

Innovatieve financiële transacties en juridische belastingontwijkingsmechanismen zorgen er bovendien voor dat een hoog vennootschapsbelastingtarief een ondoelmatig en duur instrument is om inkomsten mee te genereren. De juridische vestigingsplaats van een bedrijf en het land waar de winst valt, kunnen gemanipuleerd worden en dat gebeurt dan ook. Met name in sectoren waar immateriële activa en kennis de concurrentiepositie bepalen – sectoren die voor de concurrentiekracht van de Amerikaanse economie van groot belang zijn – zijn de prikkels en de mogelijkheden voor manipulatie groot.

Er bestaat op dit gebied geen nauwe en brede internationale samenwerking. De Verenigde Staten moeten dus gewoon meedoen met de wedloop en de vennootschapsbelasting verlagen. Een lager tarief biedt meer fiscale prikkels om in de VS te investeren en banen te creëren en minder prikkels om belasting te ontwijken. Ook zouden hierdoor talloze verstorende invloeden verdwijnen die de Amerikaanse belastingregels minder doelmatig maken: denk aan het aanzienlijke belastingvoordeel dat schuldfinanciering boven financiering met eigen vermogen biedt, of dat bijvoorbeeld eenmanszaken ten opzichte van vennootschappen genieten.

Daar staat tegenover dat ieder procentpunt verlaging van de vennootschapsbelasting tot een daling van de federale inkomsten met zo’n USD 12 miljard per jaar leidt. Deze inkomstenderving kan echter gecompenseerd worden: enerzijds door de aftrekposten te beperken - aftrekmogelijkheden, heffingskortingen en andere speciale belastingregelingen waarmee bepaalde economische activiteiten gesubsidieerd en andere ontmoedigd worden – en anderzijds door de grondslag voor de vennootschapsbelasting te verbreden. Dergelijke voorstellen om een verlaging van de vennootschapsbelasting uit vermindering van de aftrekposten te financieren, vinden we niet alleen terug in het plan van president Obama voor de hervorming van de vennootschapsbelasting, maar ook in het Simpson-Bowles plan ter vermindering van het begrotingstekort.

Aftrekposten hollen de belastinggrondslag uit, verhogen de kosten van aangifte en verstoren beslissingen over investeringsprojecten: hoe ze gefinancierd dienen te worden, welke organisatievorm het beste is en waar geproduceerd dient te worden. Michael Greenstone en Adam Looney laten in een zojuist verschenen rapport zien dat de verschillen in effectieve belastingvoeten die uit dergelijke investeringsbeslissingen voortvloeien voor uiteenlopende bedrijfsactiviteiten aanzienlijk zijn.

Dat neemt niet weg dat een verbreding van de belastinggrondslag ter financiering van een lager tarief contraproductief kan werken als de hervorming van de vennootschapsbelasting tot doel heeft om de investeringen en de banencreatie aan te zwengelen. Het dichten van “mazen in de wet” waarvan specifieke sectoren profiteerden (denk aan belastingvrijstellingen voor de olie- en gassector of voor bedrijfsvliegtuigen) zou namelijk niet genoeg opleveren om een betekenisvolle tariefsverlaging te kunnen financieren. En het inperken van aftrekposten zoals versnelde afschrijvingsmogelijkheden, aftrek voor binnenlandse fabricage en heffingskortingen voor R&D – samen goed voor zo’n 80% van alle zakelijke aftrekposten – zou aanzienlijke verschuivingen van activiteiten tot gevolg hebben.

Sterker nog, het schrappen van deze posten om een verlaging van de vennootschapsbelasting te “financieren” zou uiteindelijk tot gevolg kunnen hebben dat de economische bedrijvigheid in de VS alleen maar zwaarder belast wordt. Het schrappen van versnelde afschrijvingen op apparatuur zou ertoe leiden dat de effectieve belastingdruk op nieuwe investeringen toeneemt, terwijl het intrekken van de aftrek voor binnenlandse productie tot een hogere effectieve belastingvoet voor Amerikaanse fabrikanten zou leiden. Evenzo zou het afschaffen van de heffingskorting op R&D een daling van de investeringen in innovatie tot gevolg hebben.

De Verenigde Staten moeten daarom het mes niet zetten in fiscale investeringsprikkels die hun nut bewezen hebben. In plaats daarvan moet minstens een deel van de gederfde inkomsten als gevolg van een lagere vennootschapsbelasting goedgemaakt worden door aandeelhouders van bedrijven zwaarder te belasten. Dat is het pad dat de meeste landen volgden die hun vennootschapsbelastingtarief verlaagd hebben. De Verenigde Staten hebben echter het tegenovergestelde gedaan.

In de VS ligt de belasting op dividend en koerswinst op het historisch lage niveau van 15%, terwijl het aandeel van de bedrijfswinsten in het nationaal inkomen juist op het hoogste punt ooit staat. Zij die een lage belasting voor kapitaalbezitters verdedigen, betogen dat op deze wijze de “dubbele” belastingheffing over de winst – eerst bij het bedrijf en daarna bij de aandeelhouder –geminimaliseerd wordt. Een lagere vennootschapsbelasting maakt deze rechtvaardiging echter minder sterk. Bovendien betalen non-profit organisaties en beheerders van pensioenregelingen en oudedagsvoorzieningen, die samen zo’n 50% van alle bedrijfsdividenden ontvangen, geen belastingen over deze inkomsten, terwijl zij wel van een lager vennootschapsbelastingtarief zouden profiteren.

Alhoewel individuele belastingheffing op bedrijfswinsten tot een lager netto rendement leidt, is de verstorende invloed daarvan op de keuze van de investeringslocatie minder groot dan bij de vennootschapsbelasting. Bovendien drukt de dividendbelasting waarschijnlijk eerder op kapitaalbezitters dan op werknemers. Het is voorts veel gemakkelijker om belastingen te innen bij individuele burgers en in de VS wonende aandeelhouders dan bij multinationale bedrijven. Apple kan gebruikmaken van geavanceerde technieken om de plaats waar de bedrijfswinst valt te manipuleren. Maar Amerikaanse staatsburgers die aandelen Apple in bezit hebben, dienen dividenden en koerswinsten op deze aandelen gewoon bij hun wereldwijde inkomsten op te geven.

Een recente studie heeft aangetoond dat het mogelijk is om een verlaging van de vennootschapsbelasting van 35% naar 26% te financieren, en wel door koerswinst en dividend als gewoon inkomen te gaan belasten tegen een maximaal belastingtarief van 28% over de koerswinst op effecten die langer dan een jaar aangehouden zijn (het tarief van vóór 1997). Hierdoor zouden bedrijven minder aangemoedigd worden om investeringen naar het buitenland te verplaatsen of winsten naar rechtsgebieden met lage belastingen door te schuiven. Tegelijkertijd zou de progressiviteit van de belastingheffing toenemen omdat de belastingdruk wat meer verschoven wordt van werknemers naar kapitaalbezitters.

Veel Amerikaanse kiezers vinden het een goed idee om het tarief van de vennootschapsbelasting juist te verhogen. Bedrijven dragen naar hun mening niet evenredig aan de belastinginkomsten bij en deze kiezers maken zich bovendien zorgen over de steeds groter wordende inkomensongelijkheden. In een wereld waarin kapitaal mobiel is, zou het echter een slechte zet zijn om inkomsten te genereren via verhoging of gewoonweg handhaving van de vennootschapsbelasting: niet alleen omdat de progressiviteit van het belastingsysteem daardoor niet toeneemt, maar ook omdat de Amerikaanse werknemer daarmee allesbehalve geholpen is.

Vertaling: Willemien Rijsdijk

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  1. Commentedjracforr jracforr

    In a world of mobile capital, corporate-tax rates matter, but it represent one of many factors that influence business investment. Cheap labor and lower infrastructure cost in less developed economies such as China and other S E Asian nation provided the incentive for American business to relocate to those areas, not the tax structure.
    While corporate taxes, workers pension and health insurance cost all need to be revised they were not factors in our economic disaster, because the world's economy with it's varied rules and regulations, was doing exceptionally well just before the banking crisis , a crisis caused by greed and dishonesty.
    It would be helpful to see someone of your statue focus for a while on the "greed and dishonesty" factor as the real cause of our economic problem. No disrespect intended you articles are informative and appreciated.

  2. CommentedMATTHEW M

    According to the World Factbook by the CIA, the United States collects through taxation 15% of GDP, making it 188 out of 210 countries: one of the lowest rates globally. Other sources have consistently noted that taxes both at the individual and corporate are at the lowest levels in 80 years.

    Additionally, the US investment back into the country is at a low level 12.4% of GDP, making it 174 out of 210 countries.

    This article is insightful but complex: is not the simple question, what kind of country do we want to have? With aging infrastructure and demographics, common sense dictates that more resources are needed.

    Common sense also should be apparent that there is an inverse relationship of taxing policy to earnings. As the tax rate moves to zero and one keeps more of their income, there is a disincentive to work harder or to make prudent investments.

    The often quoted Laffer curve has had much independent study or analysis with an optimal revenue point of around 60-70% tax rates. The Curve though has historically been used to justify lower tax rates, broadening the base, thereby increasing overall receipts.

    However, these analysis were during the most rapid expansion post Depression and WWII and have little relevance to the US now mature life cycle in growth: ie 2-3% nominal growth in GDP. And also does not take into account the new globally competitive business environment.

    Weak and bought politicians have perverted the tax code into a convoluted entangled mess that protects big monied interests from big oil to big finance to big agricultural. The real dreaded third rail in American politics since the 1980's at all levels, federal, state and local has been taxation.

    Reagan used Greenspan's advice to raise SS/Medicare contributions to hide deficits as one example.

    Again, ultimately, collecting too little receipts and not making investments in infrastructure, technology, education and research is what will really kill business competitiveness.

  3. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    The article and comments here are impressive. I apologise for lowering the level.

    Inequality has broadened and deepened over the past three decades. Much of this has coincided with a lower tax rate on capital and corporation profits. After almost a century of narrowing the gap between rich and poor this is not a welcome change.

    History tells us that the longest surviving systems are those that adapt quickly and intelligently. The system is losing the consent of the governed. It may be time for international concerted action to control the transnational entities that now threaten the existence of liberal democracy. Common rates of corporation tax may form a component of the mildest form of this.

  4. Commentedphilip meguire

    We very badly need base broadening and radical simplification. But cutting the corporate tax rate is not the best way to move us toward that goal.

    The relevant base for the corporate income tax is cash flow from operations. In 2009-10, the corporate income tax as a % of corporate cash flow was at its lowest level since 1939. The total amount of corporate income tax collected could rise 50-80% without significant harm. All this is consistent with David Doney's facts #2 a#3.

    Like so much discussion of tax policy, this article does not keep its eye on the ball, namely simplicity of administration and collection. I do not agree that "..it is far easier to collect taxes from individual citizens and resident shareholders than from multinational corporations." If it is true, it amounts to picking on the less mobile and less sophisticated among us.

    The fundamental problem with income taxation is that it taxes recipients instead of payers. It is much much easier to locate income payers than ultimate recipients. Taxes should be levied at the source, and factor payments should be received having already paid tax. Such a tax is harsh on those with modest incomes; hence the need for demogrants. Maximising simplicity and minimising distortions requires that the demogrant be paid to all legal residents of a country. I have caculated that a tax on business value added, net of capital expenditure, at the flat rate of 35% (the current corporate income tax rate), with FICA/Medicare taxes credited in full against flat tax liabilities, and a demogrant of $350/person/month, would go a long towards balancing the budget and eliminating poverty.

    I would like to see the EU, Canada, Japan, and Australasia all adopt such a tax system. Nations could choose differing demogrant amounts. Nations and local authorities could still differ in the way they tax property and retail sales.

    If a firm creates a foreign sub to take advantages of cheaper wages, that will increase the parent's bottom line. That bottom line will remain fully taxable.

    The shift of taxation from capital to labour amounts to the exploitation of labour: exploiting the fact that language, culture, personal association, and family ties make labour less mobile than capital. All forms of value added should face the same marginal rate. This would put debt and equity, and corporates and noncorporates, on the same footing. It would eliminate the double taxation of dividends, a fact which makes the 15% tax rate on qualified dividends and capital gains grossly misleading. That rate is in truth 1-(1-0.35)(1-0.15) = 44.75%. I propose to lower that rate to 35%, but to apply that rate not only to value added but also capital gains realised by businesses.

    "pension funds, retirement plans, and non-profit organizations, which receive about 50% of all corporate dividends, do not pay tax [thereon]" Tax advantaged retirement plans exist mainly to correct drawbacks in the status quo. Abolish that status quo, treat all investors alike alike, and retirement plans cease to matter for tax law. If nothing changes, in 2050 something like 80% of dividends will be received by untaxed investors. We should accept this likelihood, increase the taxation of dividends at the corporate level, and abolish their taxation at the personal level.

    The wages and interest paid by nonprofits are fully taxable. The dividends nonprofits and retirement plans receive have paid corporate income tax. At present, the main advantage of nonprofits and retirement plans is that they don't have to pay taxes on interest, real estate income, and realised capital gains. I propose to tax interest and real estate income at the source, and to exempt from tax all realised capital gains on assets owned by households and nonprofits. Nonprofits would also not include donations received in their value added subject to tax.

    Taxing capital gains at realisation penalises desirable portfolio adjustments, and hugely advantages untaxed forms of investment. No one has come up with a practical way of correcting capital gains for inflation, or of exempting realised capital gains that are reinvested in short order. Finally there is the step-up in the tax basis at death.

    The effective average tax on the 400 largest returns filed in the USA is 26%. I propose to raise that to 35%. Mr Buffett would be pleased, I think.

    What I write above stems from 30 years' reflection on the Flat Tax of Hall and Rabushka.

  5. CommentedDavid Doney

    Good stuff from Ms. Tyson, as usual.

    1) Why don't we make the capital gains tax rate progressive like the income tax? Why only one rate? Make it higher for investors with more capital gains income. It is not a material number for retirees, who rely on pensions, social security, interest and dividends primarily.

    2) According to the CBO historical tables, corporate income taxes averaged 2.0% GDP over the past 40 years, but collections were 1.0% GDP in 2009, 1.3% in 2010 and 1.2% in 2011. They were 2.7% GDP in 2006 and 2007. So the burden isn't that high relative to GDP.

    3) CBO found in 2005 that the U.S. ranked 27th lowest of 30 OECD countries in its collection of corporate taxes relative to GDP, at 1.8% vs. the average 2.5%. I don't have a more recent analysis.

    http://www.cbo.gov/publication/17501


    What I would rather see is a tax on corporations that offshore for the wage differential or an outright banning of off-shoring jobs where the intent of the position is to export goods or services back to the U.S.

    This off-shoring has contributed to a $650 billion goods trade deficit and anemic job creation (just 2 million net new jobs 2000-2009 versus 15-21 million in each of the 3 preceding decades).

    If economies are built one job at a time, exporting them is probably a bad idea.

  6. CommentedRobert Ley

    Apparently Ms. Tyson doesn't do her own taxes! Her argument makes sense if the word "dividends" is omitted, as it should be. Dividends, unless they are 'capital gain distributions' from a mutual fund, are taxed as ordinary income, not the 15% for capital gains. They are truly taxed twice. Lowering the corporate rate would partially ameliorate the 'double taxation' complaint. Ordinary dividends are income in the same way that interest on your money market account is income. One is invested in a company which has elected to return some of its income to its shareholders, the other placed with an institution which can invest it and provide a return to the depositor. Same difference. Tax them the same.

      CommentedRobert Ley

      SORRY Dr. Tyson. Mea culpa.
      "Qualified dividends" are indeed taxed at 15%. And they should also be taxed at higher rates, just like capital gains, as she suggests.

  7. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    Trust that we are calculating the impact of these reforms on the government debt to Government revenue, and this ratio which has been growing would further lead to an abnormal number in the short run.

    We are looking at an elephant like many blind men would do and the trunk as in this case (the corporate tax reform), works in cross purpose to the body (the short run revenue) and in the long term in any case we are all dead.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  8. CommentedEmre Konukoglu

    Assuming that the activities for tax avoidance are costly (likely with a sizeable fixed cost component) the corporations have already accrued a significant portion of these costs. Therefore, I don't see why lowering the tax rate will necessarily result into lower incentives for tax avoidance.

  9. CommentedElizabeth Pula


    Now here’s the end summation, from the “report” (The Hamilton Project) linked in the article:

    Tax Reform Facts:
    1. America collects lower revenues than
    other industrialized countries
    2. Tax expenditures represent a large share
    of total government spending.
    3. The tax code subsidizes some activities
    and penalizes others.
    4. The tax system has become less
    progressive over time.
    5. Virtually all American families, even
    low‑income families, pay taxes.
    6.There is a limit to what tax reform can
    accomplish.
    7.Individuals and the economy will feel
    every approach to tax reform.
    8.The benefits from tax expenditures are
    not equally shared.
    9.Cutting individual income tax rates would
    modestly increase the earnings of the
    typical American family while substantially
    increasing the federal budget deficit.
    10.Deficit-financed tax cuts do not spur
    economic growth in the long run.
    11.Corporate tax reform can improve U.S.
    competitiveness in several different ways—
    but not necessarily all at once.
    12. Addressing the deficit will require policy
    solutions equal to the size of the problem.

    Now here is a link and a quote: http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/11/art2full.pdf
    Here’s a quote (charts and tables eliminated) from page 6 of government projections for the US economy 2006-2016, dated 2007 from the link: “Over the long run, consumer spending is determined primarily by the growth of real permanent income, demo¬graphic influences, and changes in relative prices. Personal consumption as a share of nominal GDP is projected to be 70.1 percent in 2016. Real consumer de¬mand is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent from 2006 to 2016. The importance of the relationship between GDP and personal consump¬tion expenditures also can be viewed from the perspective of the contribution of real personal consumption to the change in real GDP; such change provides a measure of the composition of growth in GDP.”


    After reading the the article,The Hamilton report, and the .gov report, if GDP ain’t increasing by that 2.9% , real consumer demand, who is willing to give up, and what can give up to establish a better income and revenue balance, when, where, how and why? If real permanent income for the majority of American citizens has effectively flat-lined for about the last forty years, and is effectively decreasing, what are real options, or is this state just the predicted and expected normal state of the US economy, regardless of tax compliance and regulation?
    The US is an income based, geographically based, religious denomination based, and racially based, class structured society. In fact US citizens are not equals in many different ways, and especially not equal in the US legal, or tax systems. That’s just the way societies are, the US is no exception to any other nation. We just like to promote the illusion that we are the exceptional society, or nation. Job opportunities exist in any geographical location, depending on time, who you are, what you are and who your friends are, and/or are not. Corporations and certain individuals in certain corporations keep the profits/money flowing within their circle of friends. Any monies that trickle out from that circle are the left overs, that everyone else chases.

  10. CommentedElizabeth Pula

    Could you clarify the first two sentences with specific statistical data? Is the"effective marginal rate" different than what most people generalize and think about in generalized terms as the: actual annual tax burden per IRS reports of amount of actual monies paid by significant and large multi-national corporations that are supposedly based and operating on US ground? Do corporate entities actually invest tax monies into new US investments? Isn't that more of a tax shelter to decrease annual actual tax monies paid that then affect public policy investment and public infrastructure development to better the public environment of all citizens? If the US public domestic policy is to in fact decrease revenues for internal domestic infrastructure then the US is headed to in fact establish a public infrastructure that will have the majority of citizens living a lifestyle similar to ??? Should the majority of US citizens live like the majority in Mubai and Rio de Janeiro?
    Effective tax rates on citizens earning less than $50,000 annually are higher than what most corporations today actually pay. Pensions funds and US citizens have been effectively required to pay higher taxes and assume losses because of corporate investments that are actually tax shields to allow profits to be assumed by individual human beings internationally. This transfer of monies to significant individuals (including subsequent corporate entities as individuals) rather than public infrastructure is what is hurting the US. The "subsequent corporate entities" even if they are supposedly "new US investments" are often times companies that are effectively sub-corporations that are used to skim profits as hedge funds and "private investors" repurchase spin-off businesses/corporations and then further shield profits, and sell the "shells" in re-packaged corporate entities to "delay" further tax payments, which then further delays any real revenues, so effectively there is NO revenue for public policy infrastructures. What you get is nothing for longterm public investment which is exactly what we are seeing now! You can only chase pieces on the monopoly board so long until none are left.

  11. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    I apologize for opening up this theme a bit further, but the reason we do not find any solution to our economical, financial, political or social problems is that we always only look at the superficial details, certain localized problems, but we never actually examine the main, true causes.
    All our present problems come from the same root, from our basic, inherent human nature.
    Each and every human being is operated by the "maximum profit/minimum investment" principle.
    Both nationally or individually we are only interested in the "inflow", in other words "how much can I get for myself". If I get it for free it is the best, but most of the time I have to do some work, still the only motivation is how much I end up with at the end.
    Thus all our life is based on this, and since at the same time we are lumped together in societies, since we cannot survive on our own, a struggle starts. The society has to maintain itself somehow, it needs to get taxes, and other forms of payments from the individual so it can function in general, and the citizens pay, grudgingly, but they always second guess why and how much they have to pay, at the same time those responsible for collecting the payment are not always transparent or "righteous" and sometimes (quite a few times) the publicly collected money disappears, thus there is a continuous distrust, and people try to evade their tax or other payment duties, and the higher the person or corporation is on the ladders the most skillful they get in evading.
    So there is this constant "war", policing going on, and somebody is always unhappy in this system.
    The solution is simple but very difficult.
    We would need to rise above our inherent introverted, subjective nature, and first examine how we can benefit the whole, in order to keep it running, keep it performing absolutely optimally, and only after this should we make our own self calculations.
    But how could we change our own inherent nature? How could we motivate people to do so, that they willingly contribute to the whole ahead of their own benefit?!
    Only through education, only by making them understand that this is actually in their favor, since we live in such a global, integral society today, we are so intricately interconnected and interdependent, that I can only succeed, prosper, get healthy or build a future for myself, if the whole system is successful, prospers, and healthy.
    In the meantime the global crisis is already providing us with a negative motivation, our present system, the present way of life is gradually collapsing in front of our eyes, and there is no solution for pulling it back from the brink, since it is excessive, unnatural and unsustainable.
    Only through understanding based on objective, factual, and respected knowledge can we build a system which people choose willingly, by their free choice.

  12. CommentedTim Colgan

    Here is an idea for discussion. Instead of distinct taxation for capital gains - don’t tax it at all as long as it remains invested. When withdrawn for consumption, tax it at normal rates. This would sustain the incentive to keep investments in productive enterprises and generate tax income from those who consume.

    I’ve yet to hear this idea discussed. Why?

  13. CommentedA. T.

    Alternatively, charge taxes on goods sold within the jurisdiction, with the countries with the most valuable consumers (due to legal protections, infrastructure, etc.) being in a position to levy the highest tax rates. Same way that taxes on labour are charged according to where one sells one's labour, and on the revenues therefrom (rather than net of such 'operating expenses' as food, clothes, housing, transportation, etc.).

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