F.B. International’s Weekend Digest is a breakdown of noteworthy items we discovered throughout the week.
Each week the team at F.B. chooses some ‘good reads’ we think you may enjoy.
Tax time is here again. Several recent articles have covered reactions to shrinking tax refunds from the federal government, due to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. The act eliminated some personal exemptions, almost doubled the standard deduction, adjusted withholdings, and lowered tax rates. Despite being warned by the IRS—and in some cases, personal accounting firms—many people are surprised by either less the expected refunds or owing the federal government.
The debate centers on the question: Is this a good thing or a bad thing? The answer depends on perception.
Changes to the tax code were implemented to improve the accuracy of the amount withheld from your check to more closely match your actual tax liability, amount owed, and to reduce that liability. Taxpayers who didn’t pay close attention to their withholdings, misunderstood—or ignored—the IRS, or failed to check with their own tax preparer may be surprised by the ultimate size of their refund, if they have one at all.
If you rely on your refund to pay off accumulated debt or to make major purchases, you will most likely view a reduced refund as a negative. But remember this can be a learning experience as well because you can adjust your withholding for this year’s taxes now so if for some reason you prefer to get a larger refund you can achieve this. The important thing is to talk to your tax preparer and decide the best course of action for your desired goal.
However, if you are not relying on your return for any particular reason you may view the change as a good thing. You will have more money in your paycheck to spend on your choice throughout the year. At the end of the day, getting a refund is akin to giving the government an interest-free loan. You are giving the government more money than you need to, and after you pay your taxes, they give you back what you have overpaid without any benefit for giving them the money up front, or interest.
Ultimately whether the new tax act is good or bad should be judged on if your tax bill is more or less than what you paid in 2017. If you are paying more in taxes than at the end of the day you will likely view the changes as negative. If your tax bill is less, you will in all likelihood view the changes as positive.
The successful docking of SpaceX’s crew Dragon on the International Space Station (ISS) was a big event in the press this past week. SpaceX, along with other aerospace companies, has already made multiple robotic deliveries to the ISS. This docking, however, has spurred more excitement because it was done with a vessel designed to carry humans. In short, it may very well open the door to space travel for members of the public—or those who can afford it.
Space travel has long been a source of wonderment for the human mind. A classic example would be George Melies’ black and white film Voyage à la Lune. Soon, space travel will move beyond the stuff of fiction, but who will really be able to participate? You might remember the 1962 UN declaration that emphasizes “Outer space and celestial bodies are free for exploration and use by all States on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law.” This ideally means it should be open for all.
In the past, the government has stepped in to prevent the monopolization of innovations. Ford, Commonwealth Edison, and even Apple have all been responsible for bringing some form of elite commodity to the masses. Without regulation, however, it’s uncertain these products would have reached as many as they have. Today, we consider what they provide—transportation, electricity, and telecommunications—essential services. Space travel doesn’t yet neatly fit into the ‘essential’ category. Still, it’s likely that we’ll have to rely on government—international and domestic—to ensure that space travel is not only accessible to those with deep pockets.
Events you may be interested in next week:
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