Multiple VAT Levels and my Zen Cart discounts

Every once in a while, a European customer complains that tax recalculation in my Zen Cart mods is not working correctly for their store with multiple levels of embedded taxes.  (This is also an issue in osCommerce.)

Here’s what to look for: non-unique strings in the descriptions of taxes (this is shown in Admin->Locations/Taxes->Tax Rates)


Because of the way Zen Cart (and osCommerce) represent taxes in the order object, the tax descriptions must be unique to allow for reverse lookups.  So try changing the strings “Varav moms” to “Varav moms (1),” “Varav moms (2),” etc. to make them unique.

Gas Tax, please

Dr. Greg Mankiw calls it “The Pigou Club” (after economist Arthur Pigou, who advocated using taxes as a way to correct for negative externalities).

That Software Guy calls it the “fund the war and the follow up costs, including veterans benefits, instead of screwing our warriors and giving our kids the bill” club.

This Memorial Day can I get an amen from an office-seeker who’d like to talk about the duties of citizenship?  Didn’t think so.

Only little people pay taxes, part II

Former HP boss Carly Fiorina, now shilling for John McCain, says there’s nothing wrong with the USA that can’t be fixed by a little outsourcing.    She says it’s great that big companies are able to dodge taxes by laying off their American workers and setting up shop in China.  Individuals can’t move to China and lay off the taxman, of course – the little people are required by law to pay taxes on their worldwide income.

Please, God – is a Greg Mankiw comment on this too much to ask?   I swear I won’t ask for anything else until I ask for something else.

Can we please have an adult conversation about the payroll tax?

Larry Kudlow, recently named the stupidest man alive by Brad DeLong, never tires of saying that it’s unreasonable that wealthy people like him should have to pay the same percentage of their income in payroll taxes that working stiffs do. Kudlow marshals a number of inane arguments, among them that blue collar couples frequently make $200K/yr (huh??) — but the most irritating part of this discussion, at least to me, is this bizarre criticism of Obama’s social circle, for heaven’s sakes:

(Incidentally, I don’t think Mr. Obama knows any cops or fireman. How about that? That is the problem. In other words, his economics are bad and his social circle is very limited.)

I think it’s vulgar to cast asparagus at someone’s social circle. If “his economics are bad,” then let’s discuss that,  and not who’s in his address book.

And while I’m on the topic, could we please have a rule that members of the global elite are not allowed to complain that other members of the global elite are elitist? It’s just too much for me to take.

Keep it SIMPLE, smart guy!

Two months to go until tax day! Here’s my annual nag about tax planning for US based entrepreneurs.

If you’re a US entrepreneur, you should talk to your accountant/financial planner about a SIMPLE IRA. You are eligible even if you have a 401(k) plan at another job, and you can shelter up to $10,500 in regular income and bonuses (but not dividends) from taxes.

Here’s the IRS Page on the SIMPLE IRA.

It’s too late to set up a SIMPLE for 2007, but it’s the perfect time to do it for 2008.

* If your income is derived from software development, ask your tax advisor if you are eligible for the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (form 8903). You could be eligible for a deduction of as much as 3% of your qualifying income.

* If you haven’t opened a Roth IRA, what the heck are you waiting for? If you have a 401(k), but your situation does not allow you to fully fund both your Roth and your 401(k), most experts suggest funding the 401(k) up to your employer match, and then funding your Roth. The Roth doesn’t give you the immediate deduction, but you do get tax-free compounding which is tremendously valuable for younger workers. And you can still set up a Roth for 2007 until tax day 2008. A great source of Roth information is