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Post Taxes
With America having the most complicated tax system in the world, that many supposed experts don't even fully understand, what needs to change?

First of all, do you believe it is morally right for the gov't to tax peoples' income in the first place? Is it right that 30% just automatically gets taken out of my paycheck every month? Are the tax rates too high, too low, or you agree with them? Is the progressive system the right system, or would a flat tax be better? Or stop taxing income and have a consumption/luxury tax?

American corporations have over $100 billion in overseas markets, because of favorable tax codes. What incentive do corporations have to keep jobs and money here, when they can do better elsewhere?

Finally, my rant: Do any of you agree with the estate tax, because I think it is bullshit.

Why should my grandmother's estate be taxed at 40% when she dies and it's passed to my parents? She has been paying taxes on her holdings and land all of her life, and it is going to be taxed again at 40% when she passes away? She has a large amount of land that will be passed to my parents; and they won't be able to pay the large tax burden on that land. The solution? They will have to break up a portion of that land to sell, just to pay the tax on the land. That is fucking ridiculous, and just inherently wrong in my book. (They are working with tax attorneys/estate planners for loopholes and such...but still the problem I put forth is ridiculous and faced by many every year).


Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:24 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
Well, I consider taxes a necessary evil--but if you're going to have a government, you're going to have to pay for it someway. Since I'm not an anarchist, that makes taxes of some sort necessary IMO.

Obviously are taxes are too low for a government of the size we have now. Personally, I'd prefer a smaller government and lower taxes.

We already have sales taxes in most states (though not at the Federal level), which is a de facto consumption tax, and many luxury goods have excise taxes on them. I don't see an income tax as any worse than that.

In principle, I like the idea of a flat tax, with a relatively large personnel exemption.

In theory, I'm opposed to estate taxes. However, the Federal estate tax doesn't kick in until the value of the estate reaches a fairly high amount, so in practice I don't really see it as that much of an issue.


Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:41 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
I think the tax system is much more complex then it needs to be, Penn and Teller have interesting thoughts on taxes here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuSG8OUzyyk


Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:03 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
People are quite fond of saying that businesses "need to pay their fair share" of taxes. They frequently will state that XYZ company paid zero taxes last year. As someone who has had to write that quarterly check I'd like it be noted that companies do not pay taxes; consumers do. Whatever the costs are to the company they are rolled right into operating costs.
Raise my taxes?? Guess what I'm going to do... Whoever buys my goods or services will now be paying the percentage more I need to include in my income to cover costs. I'm not sitting in my office at the end of the fiscal year diggin' in my pockets for cash. It's already there.
General Electric seems to be an example that folks are fond of bashing for the tax breaks they get to keep many of their production facilities in the US. GE puts more into the SS system in one pay period though auto deductions and withholdings than anyone I've ever met will do in a lifetime. I'm glad they're encouraged to stay here. The economic environment is better other places.

I'd like to see more shared revenue from State to County or municipal governments as apportioned by population rather than perceived need. There are armpit cities that act as tax revenue sponges because they get state taxes apportioned to them in an attempt to "prop them up" or get them going again by trying to meet their perceived need. It's basically a form of municipal welfare. Meanwhile cities that are responsible with their spending see the money they've collected for local services rendered go the the state and never returned. A great example of this is recording fees in the Register of Deeds. If you've ever bought a house, you know that you have a mortgage and deed recorded in your county office. There is a state-manadated fee collected per page which amounts to a hellaciously large sum when taken over the annum and especially with the number of refinancings done now that interest rates are low. The bulk of that money goes to the state coffers and a small amount is returned to the local offices for technology improvements -electronic recording or records research- or staff, office-related costs. Where's the rest of it go? Follow the pet project train. Federal shared revenue..? It works largely the same way.
This system isn't "broken", but it needs useful boots on the ground locally. Local offices shouldn't have to lobby for their own money back.
...but that's probably a helluva lot more specific or detailed than this thread intended. I just have insider knowledge on how some of this crap works and I know it would frustrate the hell out of many of you who never thought about this stuff before...

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Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:30 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
With America having the most complicated tax system in the world, that many supposed experts don't even fully understand, what needs to change?

First of all, do you believe it is morally right for the gov't to tax peoples' income in the first place? Is it right that 30% just automatically gets taken out of my paycheck every month? Are the tax rates too high, too low, or you agree with them? Is the progressive system the right system, or would a flat tax be better? Or stop taxing income and have a consumption/luxury tax?

American corporations have over $100 billion in overseas markets, because of favorable tax codes. What incentive do corporations have to keep jobs and money here, when they can do better elsewhere?

Finally, my rant: Do any of you agree with the estate tax, because I think it is bullshit.

Why should my grandmother's estate be taxed at 40% when she dies and it's passed to my parents? She has been paying taxes on her holdings and land all of her life, and it is going to be taxed again at 40% when she passes away? She has a large amount of land that will be passed to my parents; and they won't be able to pay the large tax burden on that land. The solution? They will have to break up a portion of that land to sell, just to pay the tax on the land. That is fucking ridiculous, and just inherently wrong in my book. (They are working with tax attorneys/estate planners for loopholes and such...but still the problem I put forth is ridiculous and faced by many every year).

As dps pointed out, taxes are necessary for any group of people who live together under a government. You can try telling the IRS that the federal government of the U.S. has no right to tax you, but that's not likely to get you anything other than an audit right down to your last penny.

The only issue I have with taxation in this country is that it is not equitable- there is no fucking way that the middle class should be paying more in taxes per capita than the wealthy 1%. THAT is bullshit. Revamp the system to take out all of the legal loopholes and make more effort to root out the money kept overseas to get things going in the right direction.

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Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:15 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
On the estate tax:

One of the greatest fallacies peddled by the right wing over the past three decades is that the estate tax is a tax on a dead person. It is not. It is a tax on a living person who comes into an inheritance or some form of assets they did not personally earn, and it is completely justified. The ability to maintain familial wealth without taxation is one of the ways landowners ruled over serfs in Europe during the Middle Ages. I have little doubt that if they could, America's wealthiest would return to such a system.

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Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:02 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
On the estate tax:

One of the greatest fallacies peddled by the right wing over the past three decades is that the estate tax is a tax on a dead person. It is not. It is a tax on a living person who comes into an inheritance or some form of assets they did not personally earn, and it is completely justified. The ability to maintain familial wealth without taxation is one of the ways landowners ruled over serfs in Europe during the Middle Ages. I have little doubt that if they could, America's wealthiest would return to such a system.


They did not personally own is what sticks out to me (from what you said)? So my family, my grandmother hasn't paid taxes on her land since it has been in her name? You actually believe we should have to break up our family's land, just to pay taxes on the land that is about to be ours? Seriously?

You think it is justified for us to pay through the nose because my family happens to have a lot of land? (hell, had...)


Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:48 am
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Post Re: Taxes
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
On the estate tax:

One of the greatest fallacies peddled by the right wing over the past three decades is that the estate tax is a tax on a dead person. It is not. It is a tax on a living person who comes into an inheritance or some form of assets they did not personally earn, and it is completely justified. The ability to maintain familial wealth without taxation is one of the ways landowners ruled over serfs in Europe during the Middle Ages. I have little doubt that if they could, America's wealthiest would return to such a system.


They did not personally own is what sticks out to me (from what you said)? So my family, my grandmother hasn't paid taxes on her land since it has been in her name? You actually believe we should have to break up our family's land, just to pay taxes on the land that is about to be ours? Seriously?

You think it is justified for us to pay through the nose because my family happens to have a lot of land? (hell, had...)


You misunderstand me. Your grandmother owned the land and paid taxes on it. Whoever inherited the land did not. The estate tax is not a tax on your grandmother, but on the person who inherits the estate (and by extension, did not earn the wealth of the estate through their own work). Yes, I think it is completely justified.

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Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:33 am
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Post Re: Taxes
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
On the estate tax:

One of the greatest fallacies peddled by the right wing over the past three decades is that the estate tax is a tax on a dead person. It is not. It is a tax on a living person who comes into an inheritance or some form of assets they did not personally earn, and it is completely justified. The ability to maintain familial wealth without taxation is one of the ways landowners ruled over serfs in Europe during the Middle Ages. I have little doubt that if they could, America's wealthiest would return to such a system.


They did not personally own is what sticks out to me (from what you said)? So my family, my grandmother hasn't paid taxes on her land since it has been in her name? You actually believe we should have to break up our family's land, just to pay taxes on the land that is about to be ours? Seriously?

You think it is justified for us to pay through the nose because my family happens to have a lot of land? (hell, had...)


You misunderstand me. Your grandmother owned the land and paid taxes on it. Whoever inherited the land did not. The estate tax is not a tax on your grandmother, but on the person who inherits the estate (and by extension, did not earn the wealth of the estate through their own work). Yes, I think it is completely justified.


I don't find it justified. You are saying that the government has more of a right to a cut of that "unearned wealth" (which they've already taken multiple cuts out of already while the person was living) than their descendents. Well, gee...why don't we all just work for "the state" and disavow personal property altogether.


Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:13 am
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Post Re: Taxes
Inflation remains to this day the ultimate form of taxation in the western world. And the most regressive, as it taxes everyone at the same basic rate - rich or poor.

When the UK and US and countless other governments give bonds to their central banks in exchange for massive, biblical amounts of cash, they are reducing the value of every £ or $ in circulation. Now that is some serious, far-reaching taxation.

But not only that, we're all in the scam together. Ever taken out a mortgage? What if that money loaned to you was significantly produced out of thin air, with no or little productive wealth behind it? By the time you use that money to purchase your house, the wave of inflation that made-up cash brings with it is yet to ripple across the markets. You borrow $200,000, you devalue the economy by the said amount until that money is reflected in actual wealth creation. The purchase of every house during the sub-prime crisis devalued the rest of the economy proportionately by inflating the price of everything else in it. It's like theft really. Redirecting, by force, wealth from one area to another. That... is an asset bubble.

And don't just blame the banks. Believe it or not, the freemarkets wouldn't readily leverage that kind of debt without government propping it up, waiting for its cut in...you guessed it...taxes.

That is how the western economic model f*cked itself in the ass.

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Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:21 am
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Post Re: Taxes
Ragnarok73 wrote:
The only issue I have with taxation in this country is that it is not equitable- there is no fucking way that the middle class should be paying more in taxes per capita than the wealthy 1%. THAT is bullshit.


Confused by this statement. Are you talking income percentage or real dollars here? Because stats I've seen show that the top 1% of earners pay 37% of the taxes and the top 10% pay near 70% of the taxes. I don't know how you are going to make this "more equitable" other than going the opposite direction than you are proposing.

I always laughed when Buffet complained that he was paying a lower tax rate than his secretary's 35%. To be taxed at that rate, she'd have to be making over $200,000 a year. Well, boo-hoo for her.

On a different tangent, I'm intrigued by the Fair Tax idea (national consumption tax on end products) and doing away with federal and corporate taxes (with credits given to lower income people) but I only know of it what I've seen on John Stossel's program; I haven't read the book and web searches tend to yield mostly pro- and anti- propaganda with little in the way unbiased analysis. The biggest fear of any consumption tax to replace the income tax system is, without a repeal of the 16th Amendment, there's nothing to stop Congress from re-enacting an income tax to supplement the consumption tax after enactment.


Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:27 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
Quote:
The only issue I have with taxation in this country is that it is not equitable- there is no fucking way that the middle class should be paying more in taxes per capita than the wealthy 1%. THAT is bullshit. Revamp the system to take out all of the legal loopholes and make more effort to root out the money kept overseas to get things going in the right direction.


I too think of the old comment about Buffet paying less taxes than his secretary. Hell, Obama said that every time someone asked him a question on the economy in taxes. The reason that his secretary was paying a higher % was because of her Income Tax. Buffet's $billions (like the top 1% of America) are taxed via Capital Gain's Tax, not Income tax. The top 1 % owns Billions and Billions in equity that allow the free market enterprise to run. His secretary's stocks, bonds, and real estate holding (sales) are only taxed the Capital Gain rate, also, which is now 20 %. Capital Gains deserves the lowest tax because lower capital gains taxes allow the economy to be stimulated. People start small businesses, which are the back bone (or used to be) of America's Economy.

Now back to the estate tax (and for that matter, the gift tax). Yes, it is a tax to the person receiving the estate (or gift), but it is still bullshit. But If I work hard and bust my ass all of my life, I SHOULD GET TO DICTATE WHO GETS MY ESTATE and what should be done with it. If I want to give it to my kids, they should get ALL THAT I WORKED FOR, without having to worry about selling it off, breaking it up just to pay taxes on it.

One last thought on corporate taxes: what incentive, if ever, do major corporations over here have when they enjoy about a 10% corporate tax rate in countries such as Ireland, Switzerland, etc? There are office buildings over there, with hundreds of offices, of different companies. Google has one office in the building, and 1 person on the phone in that office. However, that is where their corporate "headquarters" are, and they file corporate taxes in that country. This saves them tens of billions a year. We have to change our tax structure, or such companies will never bring that money back over here.


Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:58 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
Tax at a national level is undermined by globalisation. The entire global tax systems are a race to tax the wealthiest the least.

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Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:52 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
I did a paper on the pros and cons of a national sales tax a few years ago. I'm a little rusty, but if I remember right, it would essentially require that the government subsidize all citizens up to a certain income bracket just to keep them out of poverty. This, in itself, does not sound like an elegant solution to me. Never mind that the American working class includes a significant number of people who, shall we say, might not be in such a good legal position to collect on those government vouchers. Let's not kid ourselves--our economy depends heavily on these people, and it would be a bad idea to put them even further into poverty than they already are. To put it another way: no bueno.

Furthermore, wealthier people already have an easier time skating around Uncle Sam's efforts to collect on them as it is. They would have an even easier time conducting their most luxurious expenditures overseas, once again leaving their less wealthy homebound neighbors holding the bag.

As for the estate tax, Sexual Chocolate voiced by far the most compelling argument. To understate matters once again, it is bad for families to be able to lock away a fixed chunk of wealth (i.e. share of the world's resources) through several generations in what amounts to a dynastic arrangement. That said, this isn't something I'm able to feel terribly strongly about one way or the other. The simple fact is that it does suck that the government can call to collect on a family's inheritance, particularly given that the family is most likely in a time of bereavement. Inheriting something probably means you've just lost somebody close to you. I wouldn't be happy about it either.

In conclusion, I am in favor of whatever tax reform can find some kind of equilibrium between easing the burden on the working class and reducing the noise level of the complaints from everybody in general.

And pizza. Whatever tax reform brings me the most authentic New York pizza.

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Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:24 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
Ken wrote:
Never mind that the American working class includes a significant number of people who, shall we say, might not be in such a good legal position to collect on those government vouchers. Let's not kid ourselves--our economy depends heavily on these people, and it would be a bad idea to put them even further into poverty than they already are. To put it another way: no bueno.


Sounds like you are OK with the status quo of these same people NOT paying any federal tax today. If they are "off book" for vouchers then is it OK that they are "off book" for income tax? Sure they are paid a lower wage, but that's the price for being here, right? I would hope that any tax policy revisions take into consideration the requirements of its citizens first and its uninvited guests ("off book" employers notwithstanding) second.

Of course this line of thinking leads us far afield from the thread's stated topic.


Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:56 pm
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Post Re: Taxes
There are compelling arguments against every kind of tax. Income tax for instance - seen as regressive because all the poor have is their labour. Taxes on savings surf too close to raids on the market.

I remember an economics debate at Uni where one girl wrote an entire publication's worth of material stating that Land Tax could and should replace everything. A good paper, except it was at least 150 years out of date. Jevons (a superb 19th century economist if anyone studies it) advocated the same, but this was a time when land value really did largely dictate income. A world where agriculture and heavy industry made all the wealth has now been replaced by cyberspace. How exactly do you tax that? Facebook is run out of a small property, whereas vast and essential farms and factories can barely turn any kind of profit at all.

Someone mentioned how corporation tax is always passed onto the consumer. Too true. A corporation after all is only made up of people, customers and shareholders. Someone, somewhere will have to foot the bill.

So in answer to Ken, the noise ain't ever going to stop until every man woman and child owns their own means to production, and captialism is rendered obsolete. This is why I consider myself a paradox, a rightwing Marxist. I recognise the marxist endgame that the means for production should be shared equally, but I believe that only science and progress as opposed to political economy can deliver this. And capitalism, despite its many flaws, is still the most dynamic and progressive economic system, and if successful in the long run, will make itself obsolete.

(Apols for the rant)

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Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:15 am
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Post Re: Taxes
Johnny Larue wrote:
Sounds like you are OK with the status quo of these same people NOT paying any federal tax today. If they are "off book" for vouchers then is it OK that they are "off book" for income tax? Sure they are paid a lower wage, but that's the price for being here, right? I would hope that any tax policy revisions take into consideration the requirements of its citizens first and its uninvited guests ("off book" employers notwithstanding) second.

The trouble is that the role these people play in our economy is much larger than is routinely acknowledged in the discourse over the legal status of our immigrant workers. While it can be argued that dangling these vouchers over their heads can be a method of incentivizing them to obtain legal status, the alternative is the threat of not being able to feed their families. That's bad. I'm not okay with the status quo, per se, but I'm definitely not okay with screwing over a chunk of our labor force that we reeeeaaaally wouldn't be okay with losing.

NotHughGrant wrote:
So in answer to Ken, the noise ain't ever going to stop until every man woman and child owns their own means to production, and captialism is rendered obsolete. This is why I consider myself a paradox, a rightwing Marxist. I recognise the marxist endgame that the means for production should be shared equally, but I believe that only science and progress as opposed to political economy can deliver this. And capitalism, despite its many flaws, is still the most dynamic and progressive economic system, and if successful in the long run, will make itself obsolete.

You're a weird guy.

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Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:43 am
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Post Re: Taxes
:D :D You sound like all my lecturers.

Seriously, I'm a Marxist in so much as I believe that Capitalism is merely a stage of economic evolution and will (provided we don't all murder each other) be replaced. But not via politics alone, and not through violent revolution and vangardism.

In Das Kapital, Marx heaped praise on capitalism's productive forces. This fact is often overlooked by the lunatics in red around the globe.

Quote:
The trouble is that the role these people play in our economy is much larger than is routinely acknowledged in the discourse over the legal status of our immigrant workers. While it can be argued that dangling these vouchers over their heads can be a method of incentivizing them to obtain legal status, the alternative is the threat of not being able to feed their families. That's bad. I'm not okay with the status quo, per se, but I'm definitely not okay with screwing over a chunk of our labor force that we reeeeaaaally wouldn't be okay with losing.


This is a classic libertarian argument. Like an internationalist Ron Paul.

Quote:
One last thought on corporate taxes: what incentive, if ever, do major corporations over here have when they enjoy about a 10% corporate tax rate in countries such as Ireland, Switzerland, etc? There are office buildings over there, with hundreds of offices, of different companies. Google has one office in the building, and 1 person on the phone in that office. However, that is where their corporate "headquarters" are, and they file corporate taxes in that country. This saves them tens of billions a year. We have to change our tax structure, or such companies will never bring that money back over here


Welcome to race to the bottom. Over the coming years expect to see friendly governments fighting to undercut each other and lure wealth creators back with lower taxes. There is a problem the west has here. That problem is that in the west people expect to eat and they expect governments to help them eat. In certain other nations (China) they are comfortable with having a significant peasant class that demands little in the way of public spending. The Chinese Communist Party, despite its epic dick-swinging, owns less of a share in the economy than our western governments do.

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Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:57 am
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Post Re: Taxes
NotHughGrant wrote:
Quote:
One last thought on corporate taxes: what incentive, if ever, do major corporations over here have when they enjoy about a 10% corporate tax rate in countries such as Ireland, Switzerland, etc? There are office buildings over there, with hundreds of offices, of different companies. Google has one office in the building, and 1 person on the phone in that office. However, that is where their corporate "headquarters" are, and they file corporate taxes in that country. This saves them tens of billions a year. We have to change our tax structure, or such companies will never bring that money back over here


Welcome to race to the bottom. Over the coming years expect to see friendly governments fighting to undercut each other and lure wealth creators back with lower taxes.


It should be noted that this is not just an internaional phenomonon. Here in the US, individual states continue to try and incentivize companies to move from one state to another via tax policy, grants and outright bribery. And at the local level, community will happily screw over community. Locally a few years ago, our city of Milwaukee officials crowed about having the global headquarters of Manpower Staffing moving in to the city. Never mind that the old HQ was in the suburb of Glendale about 8 miles away. Net impact to the metropolitan job market and economy (outside of building a fancy new HQ and shuttering the old one): zero.


Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:33 am
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Post Re: Taxes
Sorry, just cannot resist ...

I concede that I don't know much about the tax system in the United States, but as someone who works in the field of taxes professionally, I find the amount of misinformation and sheer ignorance expressed in many posts in this thread ... amusing. I mean, why even discuss a topic at length if you actually don't have a clue about it?


Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:16 am
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