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"Herald-Tribune" featured Lubin Professor Bruce Bachenheimer in "Are you a Visionary Leader?"

04/19/2019

"Herald-Tribune" featured Lubin Professor Bruce Bachenheimer in "Are you a Visionary Leader?"

...Bruce Bachenheimer of Pace University says, “A definition of a leader is someone with followers. The top quality of a leader is the ability to attract top-quality followers.” Visionary leaders to emulate include Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Mark Cuban and Walt Disney.

Apple’s “Think Different” commercial in 1997 told us: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” I can’t think of a more impactful, visionary leader than Steve Jobs, can you?

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"WalletHub" featured Pace University's Lubin School of Business Associate Professor of Taxation Walter Antognini in "2019 WalletHub Tax Survey"

03/13/2019

"WalletHub" featured Pace University's Lubin School of Business Associate Professor of Taxation Walter Antognini in "2019 WalletHub Tax Survey"

Whether you see it as a civic duty, a necessary evil or cause for a few choice expletives, it’s no surprise that most of us dislike tax time. From the expense and hassle of the process to questions of fairness and fears of basic math, there are many reasons for our April angst.

But just how much do we dislike taxes and tax collectors? Will President Trump's reforms make things better or worse? And what would we do to get out of paying?

In search of answers to those questions and more, WalletHub conducted a nationally representative survey of over 600 taxpayers.

Here's what we learned:

Key Stats

Fewer than 4 in 10 people are happy with President Trump’s tax reforms. 70% think they benefit the rich more than the middle class.

89% of people think the government currently does not spend their tax dollars wisely.

31% of people say making a math mistake is their biggest Tax Day fear, edging out not having enough money (28%) at the top of the list.

36% of people would move to a different country for a tax-free future. 24% would get an “IRS” tattoo and 15% would take a vow of celibacy.

Ask the Experts

Once the results of our survey were in, we asked a panel of experts in the fields of public taxes and tax reform to interpret our findings. Click on the panelists’ profiles below to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:

WalletHub’s survey found that 9 in 10 voting-age Americans do not believe the government is currently spending their tax dollars wisely. Why do you think that is?

What is the significance of 75% of survey respondents saying they would rather see their tax dollars go to healthcare than a border wall?

Nearly 50% of people say that healthcare will be the biggest issue for them in the 2020 election – does that bode well for either political party?

What do you think it says about Americans that nearly 50% of people would rather do jury duty than their taxes?

Walter Antognini

Associate Professor of Taxation, Lubin School of Business, Pace University

WalletHub’s survey found that 9 in 10 voting-age Americans do not believe the government is currently spending their tax dollars wisely. Why do you think that is?

Government spending is a process that has resulted after decades of give and take. I think that just about everyone can find many expenditures with which they disapprove or have issues (and others which meet with their approval). That is the nature of our political process. It is also my sense that there are many expenditures, which are fine conceptually but which are seemingly excessive in amount.

What is the significance of 75% of survey respondents saying they would rather see their tax dollars go to healthcare than a border wall?

I think this serves as an example of 1. above. I would also note that for the most part, income taxes are raised to serve the general fisc. There is little in the income tax scheme that is dedicated to particular purposes. When a segment of society say that they would rather see their tax dollars go toward healthcare than a border wall, what they are fundamentally saying is that they don't support a border wall but do support enhanced healthcare. Again, this is more a political issue than a tax issue and, again, the process for determining government spending has become quite involved and entrenched.

As an aside, you might in the future consider a survey with a slightly different perspective - in asking where one would rather see their tax dollars spent, also ask if they actually pay income taxes. It is commonly believed in the profession that a majority of Americans no longer pay income taxes - that through a combination of the substantially increased standard deduction and child credits (as well as other deductions/credits), lower-income Americans (as well as many of those more properly categorized as lower-middle income) are no longer subject to any income tax. I also suspect that those most concerned with healthcare tend to fall into this category.

Nearly 50% of people say that healthcare will be the biggest issue for them in the 2020 election – does that bode well for either political party?

A more obviously political question. I would have to think this bodes better for the Democrats.

What do you think it says about Americans that nearly 50% of people would rather do jury duty than their taxes?

Even I, a tax expert, deeply dislikes preparing tax returns, either for myself or others. While I find the tax law to be an intriguing puzzle, preparing tax returns is drudgery. I wouldn't personally prefer jury duty to tax returns, but I would note that they share an important aspect. They both represent relatively rare instances where the government imposes itself into the ordinary citizens' lives and tells them they must spend time to do something for the government and could be subject to criminal penalty for failure to do so. Even if one files their tax returns, the filing could result in audits in addition to other undesirable consequences, although realistically, an audit or other unfortunate consequences rarely occur (but the specter of such an occurrence still hangs in the air).

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