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Accounting News Roundup: Arguing Against a VAT; KPMG to Advise on Amtrak Expansion; USA: Tax Haven? | 08.24.11

A Value-Added Tax Fuels Big Government [WSJ]
President Obama is now talking about a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes a “revenue component” achieved by “tax reform.” Among the tax reforms getting attention is a value-added tax, or VAT. Similar to a sales tax […], the value-added tax has become a significant part of the revenue systems of Europe and also has been adopted by over 100 other nations. The VAT is believed to be a magical device that can stuff government coffers with money without untoward economic political consequences. It is no such thing.

The GOP will raise taxes — on the middle class and working poor [WaPo]
America’s presumably anti-tax party wants to raise your taxes. Come January, the Republicans plan to raise the taxes of anyone who earns $50,000 a year by $1,000, and anyone who makes $100,000 by $2,000. Their tax hike doesn’t apply to income from investments. It doesn’t apply to any wage income in excess of $106,800 a year. It’s the payroll tax that they want to raise — to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent of your paycheck, a level established for one year in December’s budget deal at Democrats’ insistence. Unlike the capital gains tax, or the low tax rates for the rich included in the Bush tax cuts, or the carried interest tax for hedge fund operators (which is just 15 percent), the payroll tax chiefly hits the middle class and the working poor.

Biden Says He Didn’t Go to China ‘to Explain a Damn Thing’ About Economy [Bloomberg]
Some media had suggested the purpose of his trip to China was to “explain our economic situation,” Biden told U.S. troops at Yokota airbase in Japan today. “I didn’t come to explain a damn thing.”

Amtrak taps KPMG for fast-rail plan [BG]
Amtrak, the taxpayer-supported passenger railroad, has hired KPMG LLP to assist in developing a business and financial plan to have 220-miles-per-hour service between Washington and Boston by 2040. KPMG will lead a team of consultants that will help identify funding sources and maximize private investment, Amtrak said.

Iowa Priorities [Tax Update]
JK: “When Iowa really cares, it can move quickly.”

PwC US Appoints Dean Simone U.S. Risk Assurance Practice Leader [PwC]
Dean-o had been running both the Industrial Products and Risk Assurance prior to announcement.

America is GE’s tax haven [Reuters]
GE’s disclosures show that over the last decade it paid much lower tax rates in America than offshore, just the opposite of the Washington political mantra. Even more puzzling, the U.S. corporate giant chooses to take more of its profits in other lands despite the higher tax rates there. Given that GE […] has a roughly 1,000-person tax department dedicated to paying as little as possible in taxes, what the disclosures show is that something other than tax policy is driving GE’s business decisions.

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