Clean Tax Savings Here

Businesses generally try to get the highest price possible for their products. It’s called “capitalism,” and it generally works to establish “equilibrium prices” between knowledgeable buyers and willing sellers. But every so often, this mechanism breaks down and prices soar, resulting in howls of “price gouging!” from ticked-off customers. This is especially true with pharmaceuticals. In 2015, hedge fund manager Martin Shkrelli made himself the most-hated man in America when he bought Turing Pharmaceuticals and raised the price of the antiparasite Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Another example: in 2007, Mylan pharmaceuticals bought rights to distribute the EpiPen,
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This is Spinal Tax

In 1984, the documentary filmmaker Marty Di Bergi scored a hit with This is Spinal Tap, a look inside Britain’s loudest band and their 1982 Smell the Glove concert tour. Lead singer David St. Hubbins, lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel, and bassist Derek Smalls, were joined by a series of drummers who died under mysterious circumstances, including spontaneous combustion and a bizarre gardening accident that authorities said was “best left unsolved.” Of course, the whole thing was a spoof. “Marty Di Bergi” was really director Rob Reiner, and the band members were played by actors Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry
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Does Your Money Need a Passport?

Economic inequality is a hot topic in today’s world. Researchers here and abroad consistently show the top 1% of earners gobbling a disproportionate share of gains throughout the world. This trend has more and more thinkers debating what to do about it. Do we redistribute the pie, so that everyone has a more equal share? Or do we grow it so that everyone can have a bigger slice? (There, we’ve just summed up three centuries worth of political economy in two short sentences!) Now there’s new research that shows the old research actually understates that divide. (Don’t you just love
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Trigger Warning: Snakes

What scares Americans most? It’s not the IRS, or public speaking, or even sharks. No, the answer, as you probably guessed, is snakes. Gallup once polled 1,016 American adults, and found that fully 51% of us are afraid of the scaly, coldblooded carnivores. Snakes have been bad guys going as far back as the Book of Genesis, when the serpent tempted Eve with an apple. And they’ve terrorized the rest us ever since. Who can forget Samuel L. Jackson, snapping out the only line anyone remembers from Snakes on a Plane, declaring “I have HAD it with these @#$%^ SNAKES
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Soup Nazi – No Soup for You!

November 2nd, 1995, was a delicious day in television history. That’s when Jerry Seinfeld and the rest of his gang introduced us to the “Soup Nazi”, a stern-looking chef who demands his customers follow his obsessive rules for lining up and ordering. The Soup Nazi didn’t win any awards for customer service, but his soup was so good that customers lined up around the block for it anyway. The episode scored an Emmy for Larry Thomas, the actor who played the character. And it led to fame and fortune for Al Yeganah, the real-life “Soup Nazi” who operated a restaurant
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Hitting a Tax Gapper

Summer is almost here, and sports fans across America have a lot to look forward to. Basketball’s 13-month-long season is (finally) starting to heat up. Hockey playoffs are coming to a close. Baseball is in full swing, and NFLers are about to report to training camps. Stop at any bar or water cooler in the land, and you’ll hear talk of wins, losses, and plays that you just have to see. Fans and analysts have all sorts of statistics they can use to measure (and argue about) their teams’ performance. “Turf investors” have relied on The Daily Racing Form for
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“And the Award Goes To . . . .”

Right now, all across America, thousands of talented youngsters are dreaming of careers in performing arts. Whether they aspire to be the next Meryl Streep, or Taylor Swift, or Lin-Manuel Miranda, they understand the odds of success are long. But they still dream that one day they’ll find themselves in the audience at the Oscars, the Grammys, or the Tonys, waiting with their hearts in their throats as a tuxedo-clad presenter opens an envelope and reads their name. At the same time, thousands more Americans grow up dreaming of careers in law enforcement. These future Elliot Nesses aren’t looking for
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Taxing the Roses

Racing horses is just a very expensive hobby for most owners.  Every year on the first Saturday in May, an enormous crowd of socialites, “turf investors,” and people just looking for a party descends on Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. It’s an unforgettable pageant of mint juleps, fashionable hats, and the most exciting two minutes in sports. This year, the favorite Always Dreaming leaped first out of the gate, left challenger Battle of Midway after a mile, and sploshed the rest of the way down the muddy backstretch to his victory. The winner paid $11.40 on a $2 bet
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The Taxing History Behind Cinco Day

Americans are great at taking perfectly serviceable holidays and turning them into excuses for parties. On St. Patrick’s Day, millions of Irish-for-a-day drinkers belly up to their favorite fake Irish bar to down pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson. Next on the calendar is Cinco Day! Cinco de Mayo, when all those same St. Paddy’s fans become Mexicans for a day to down bottles of Corona and pitchers of margaritas. (We can’t wait to see what the hospitality industry dreams up when they discover Talk Like a Pirate Day lurking on the September calendar.) You may already have Cinco
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Tax Loopholes

We’ve just made it through our annual exercise in self-flagellation known as “tax filing season.” And who’s fault is that? Don’t blame the IRS, blame the Congress that wrote the four million-odd words that make up the tax code. So it’s always refreshing to see someone inside that particular lion’s den take a critical look at what Congress has wrought. Tax Loopholes Jeff Flake is a freshman Senator from Arizona who’s not interested in taking responsibility for the current system, which was written mainly by men who came of age when Packards and Studebakers filled the streets. This month, he
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