Donald Trump’s Tax Policy: Destroy H&R Block
In case you hadn't heard, Sunkist-epidermic galoot Donald Trump has taken some lumps in recent days in his pretend run for president. However, in order to milk this thing for all it's worth, DJT has kept up appearances and in an effort to avoid talking about how Megan Kelly handed him his ass, discussed the […]
Berry Bad Tax Policy
There's a thorny issue in the legislation approved by the House of Representatives last month that would revive bonus depreciation. Marc Heller of BNA discovered that while fruits and nuts that come from trees and vines will qualify under this version of the bill, bushes are losing out due to an omission in the language. […]
PwC Partner Who Built a Career Out of Making Ireland a Tax Haven Could Fix Everything Over Lunch, FYI
Over at Bloomberg, Jesse Drucker has a lengthy profile of PwC Partner Feargal O'Rourke, the head of the firm's tax practice in Ireland. As you know, Ireland figures quite prominently into tax planning strategies for companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple and untold others who solemnly swear that they're in full compliance with the tax law. […]
Fiscal Cliff Deal Prevented Millions from Missing Out on AMT Fun
A new study from the Tax Policy Center discovered that more taxpayers will be subject to the alternative minimum tax in the coming years — 6.1 million by 2023 — but man, things could've been really interesting/irritating. Without the fiscal cliff deal, 22.6 million taxpayers would've gotten to know Form 6251 in 2013, growing to […]
Tax Think Tank Reminds Us That There Are a Lot of Bad Parents Out There
Tax Policy Blog: Cigarettes and Preschoolers Don’t Go Together http://t.co/NBHKp7Z0KZ — Tax Foundation (@taxfoundation) July 24, 2013 Got it! But electronic ones are cool, right?
The IRS Scandal Has Made the Long Odds of Passing Tax Reform Even Longer
Until last Friday, tax reform seemed to be working a steady pace towards…something. I mean, Max & Dave have both a Twitter account and a website dedicated to the cause so you know they were getting serious about the thing. This kind of effort is enough to get the ghost of Ronald Reagan wandering around DC […]
Why Yes, Tax Reform Can Get More Complicated
Juggling all the aspects of income tax reform is quite a task. Here's a mind dump of a few of the elements involved: Credits Deductions Tax-exempt income The treatment of pass-throughs How much marginal rates should be cut If more revenue should be raised How carried interest is treated The capital gains rate Transfer pricing […]
Maryland Does Love Itself Some Mortgage Interest Deduction; North Dakota a Little Less So
[A] report issued by the Pew Charitable Trusts – an independent nonprofit organization and the sole beneficiary of several trusts established by heirs of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew – determined that the percentage of tax filers deducting mortgage interest ranged from nearly 37 percent in Maryland to only 15 percent in West […]
Senators Look to Expand Eligibility for a Successfully Dysfunctional Tax Credit
Today, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation that will not only extend the Earned Income Tax Credit, but will also expand its eligibility. Both men are keen on the idea: “Enhancing the earned income tax credit should be a bipartisan goal, as President Reagan called EITC the most effective tool in fighting […]
Social Media’s Ideas for Tax Reform Can’t Be Worse Than Anything That’s Been Kicked Around So Far
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) report in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that since Congress has spent ample time listening to interest groups, it's about time they got really serious about tax reform: In the coming weeks, we will give you the opportunity to provide your input as well. No need to […]
Maybe Dave Camp’s Pass-through Proposal Doesn’t Address Carried Interest So It Won’t Invite Unfortunate War Analogies
Victor Fleischer writes at DealBook that Michigan Congressman Dave Camp's proposal to simplify partnership and S-Corp tax law may be too simple. It's not that Professor Fleischer doesn't like simple, it sounds like he does. And he also likes that Camp gave everyone a couple of options. But Camp's more "radical" option is missing some details […]
Members of Congress Seem Surprised That Tax Reform Meetings with Interest Groups Would Arouse Cynicism
Last month, the House Ways and Means Committee announced that it was creating eleven working groups to kickstart this tax reform idea that's been thrown around. At the time the effort was described as a "fact-finding mission" which is funny because facts are not something Congress is known to have a firm grasp of. REGARDLESS! This […]
Tax Nerds Feeling Vindicated After Their Long-held Viewpoints Are Paid Lip Service
Tax Policy Center co-director Eric Toder is feeling good today. Why? Some people known for not doing much of anything productive are saying things that sound remarkably like some people who plan to do something productive! The House Ways and Means Committee, in a letter signed by all its Republican members to Budget Committee Chairman […]
How We Averted the Fiscal Cliff: As a CPA, People Might Expect You To Know This Crap
I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat; you’re an accountant, and the avert-the-fiscal-cliff legislation that the federal government crapped out at the last minute hooks you up. Sure, you’re going to pay more in taxes, but Congress was actually able to bang out some long-term solutions to the expiring tax cuts which is going to make your life easier1.
The Corporate Income Tax Is Like Mother’s Milk for Tax Professionals
Corporate tax lawyers like the tax – a lot. Corporate tax managers can’t live without it. The Big Four accounting firms have an army of partners who have become rich working on corporate tax issues. State revenue departments are full of people who earn their living working on corporate taxes. Most of them would like […]
Grover Norquist Gives the All-clear on ‘Plan B’
Here's the official word from ATR: ATR has consistently maintained that individual Members of Congress make a pledge to their constituents to oppose and vote against tax increases. The House this week will vote on a tax bill. This legislation—popularly known as “Plan B”–permanently prevents a tax increase on families making less than $1 million […]
Warren Buffett & Friends Talking Estate Tax Policy Now
A group of wealthy people that includes Warren Buffett, George Soros and former President Jimmy Carter is pressing Congress to roll back estate tax parameters, saying the current set-up leaves “too much revenue on the table.” The group of roughly three dozen people released a statement on Tuesday calling for both the current estate tax exemption […]
John Boehner Is the Most Reasonable, Responsible Person in Washington, Says John Boehner
The other day, Speaker of the Hizzous John Boehner got a lot of people got lot of people hot and bothered when he said that Republicans were "willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions.” For some odd reason, these people – including Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) – thought that meant […]
Chuck Schumer Is Willing to Give John Boehner a Few Days to Warm Up to Higher Taxes
“You can’t expect the Speaker to turn on a dime in 24 hours and embrace everything, higher taxes, higher taxes on the wealthy, but I think privately that he’s seen the handwriting on the wall and it makes me very hopeful that we can do something big in the next month and a half. It’s […]
Hold the Phone, John Boehner Didn’t Say Anything About Taxes Going Up
Admittedly, The Speaker sounds like he's ready to deal but you'd be a damn fool to think that he's going to roll over: With President Obama reelected and Republicans returned to a slightly smaller majority in the House, Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday’s election amounted to a plea from voters for the parties to lay down […]
Let’s Try to Make Some Sense of President Obama’s “Tax Breaks for Companies Shipping Jobs Overseas” Statement
One other major point of contention (that relates to taxes) in last night's debate was President Obama mention of "tax breaks [given] to companies that are shipping jobs overseas." It's not entirely clear what he was talking about, so let's do our best to sort this out. From the transcript of the debate, here's what […]
What Are People Saying About Mitt Romney’s Tax Deduction Cap Idea?
Late yesterday, Mitt Romney threw out the idea of limiting tax deductions to $17,000 as part of his strategy to keep his tax plan revenue neutral. Up until this point, the Romney campaign had provided bupkis for details and that annoyed quite a few people who like details. Despite everyone's begging, they continued to stall […]
All of Mitt Romney’s Fancy Schmancy Tax Planning Strategies Should Serve as a Reminder That We Really, Really Need Tax Reform
Yesterday, we told you about Jesse Drucker's stellar report on Mitt Romney's "I Dig It" trust and how it allows his family to pass along wealth to the younger generations with relatively little taxes being paid. It was the latest of many reports and scoops on Willard's finances and really, we shouldn't be surprised. He […]
Mitt Romney: Yeah, about those tax cuts…
Everyone needs to adjust their expectations: “By the way, don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes, because I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions,” Romney said, according to various news media reports. Um, yay? “All the rates come down,” Romney said. “But unless people think there's going to be a huge reduction in […]
Ways and Means Committee Isn’t Even Trying Anymore
As you know, the so-called* fiscal cliff is looming* over us all. The prospect of tax increases and spending cuts has everyone freaked. Our elected officials are in full campaign mode, yet still manage to o attend committee meetings to discuss and debate policy of the utmost importance in order to reach a compromise for […]
The Wall Street Journal, For One, Has No Problem Making Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan Mathematically Possible
Late yesterday (or for you nostalgic types, in today's print edition), the Wall Street Journal published an editorial that goes after the Brookings Institution and Tax Policy Center for their analysis of Mitt Romney's tax plan. The long-short of the analysis is that, given what has been said by Mittens re: tax reform, there is […]
Have We Reached the Nadir of Tax Policy Discourse?
Politics is a dirty sport and while name-calling is certainly standard operating procedure, it seems extra petty when we're discussing about tax policy: Mitt Romney on Tuesday defended his tax plan after President Obama said it amounted to “Romney-hood” by taking from the poor and giving to the rich, labeling the charge “Obamaloney.” Since politics […]
Democrats Concerned That Republicans Want to Take Their Tax Reform Ball and Go Home
In case you weren't already aware, our nation's tax code is a mess. And not your run-of-the-mill mess that can be tidied up before company comes over; this is more of a dirty-dishes-on-the-floor-ring-around-the-entire-bathroom-kitchen-smells-like-the-dumpster-what-the-hell-is-that?-is-that-dog-piss? mess. Both political parties believe that reform is needed, but that's where the agreement ends. The Republicans would like to cut tax […]
Arkansas Governor Questions Anyone’s Patriotism Who Can’t Get Behind Tax Breaks for Wind Energy
Today in let's-make-asinine-statements-in-regards-to-tax-policy-news, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe recently told a large crowd that, “[a]nyone standing in the way of [the wind] industry, frankly, they’re unAmerican.” Right. Because anyone that opposes federal tax dollars being redistributed into the hands of specific corporations and industries are clearly communists. [The Cabin via David Brunori]
Did John Boehner Stutter?
Let's try this again: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday dismissed suggestions that Republicans were warming to raising revenue as a part of a plan to cut the deficit, adding that tax hikes on millionaires would cost jobs. The top Republican in Congress blasted a proposal from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to […]
And Here You Thought It Was Just Peasants Not Paying Any Income Taxes
Our income tax system is joke. This is known. One of the most controversial results of the current system is, with all its complexities, millions of people still manage to pay no income tax. And it's not just the poors getting away with it! The percentage of U.S. taxpayers reporting adjusted gross income […]
Congressional Leader Clearly Knows Nothing About Congress’ Capabilities
The Hill reports that jolly orange giant John Boehner is speaking at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation today and he's telling the crowd that when Congress finally gets around to tax reform, they'll be coupled with an extension of the Bush tax cuts. “Any sudden tax hike would hurt our economy, so this fall — […]
You’ve Got the Tax Code All Wrong
Christopher Bergin explains: Our tax code isn’t about collecting revenue. It’s about taking care of political friends and being used as a campaign election issue to divide and conquer the electorate. Okay, I think I understand. And sooooo, what about tax reform? The point of Washington is to get reelected. And “can-kicking” – which […]
Who Else Is Repeating Their Tax Rhetoric Today?
“You might have heard of this,” Obama said in his remarks, before a crowd of faculty and students at Florida Atlantic University. “But Warren Buffett is paying a lower tax rate than his secretary.” [The Hill, Earlier]
George W. Bush Still Doesn’t Like the Bush Tax Cuts Being Called the Bush Tax Cuts
Stop me if you've heard this before. "I wish they weren't called the Bush tax cuts. If they were called someone else's tax cuts, they'd be less likely to be raised," the former President told some people who still listen to him speak about anything. Just save us the trouble and play it on a […]
David Cay Johnston Has a Plan to End Tax Fraud
If you thought that tax hack David Cay Johnston was going to idly stand by while the country's tax system spins into a ferocious web of inexplicable rules and soaring criminal deceit, you'd be wrong! Oh, so wrong. The bearded man has a plan and in his Reuters column, he explains that it's really pretty […]
Just Blow Up the Tax Code Already
Tax wonk Christopher Bergin has some concerns that if President Obama and Congress don't do something some about our tax system between now and the end of the year, a bomb will go off: If Congress and the President do nothing about our tax system between now and the end of the year, here are just […]
Kids! Join the Voluntary Tax Accountant Extinction Movement!
The world doesn’t owe us a living. Of course you know that. If you thought the world did owe you a living, you wouldn’t have gotten that Accounting degree. You’d have gone for that much easier Critical Gender Studies or 19th-Century American History ticket. But even when you get that first tax accountant job, […]
Grover Norquist Has a Suggestion for Mitt Romney
Newt Gingrich nemesis Mitt Romney told Larry Kudlow last week that "phase two" of his tax plan was in the works but Godfather of Anti-Tax Policy Grover Norquist thinks he should save his energy. “The smart move is to say, ‘I’m with Paul Ryan,’” Norquist says. “Then it’s not ‘his plan,’ and [Romney] can simply […]
The Year in Taxes: Sleepwalking Through 2011
In January, the tax world was still reeling from the extension of the Bush-era tax rate cuts signed into law in December. It also allowed rich people who died in 2010 to go to their rest without paying estate taxes, making George Steinbrenner a happy ghost. It also allowed living taxpayers to make tax-free […]
Gingrich, Romney Currently Leading the Race to Be Grover Norquist’s Whipping Boy
Did I say “Grover Norquist”? Sorry, sorry. By that, I meant, “the American People.”
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Hear that, Mittens? You need to do a re-write, or the the citizens of this great land will have you by the short and curlies. Get on it.
[via The Hill]
Don’t Look Now But There Is Glimmer of Sensible Tax Policy in Congress
A long-overdue measure to limit state taxation of non-residents has cleared its first committee, reports the Tax Policy Blog. The House Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 1864, the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act, which provides:
An employee’s wages or other remuneration shall be subject to state income tax only in either:
-the employee’s state of residence, or
-a state where the employee is present and performing employment duties for more than 30 days during the calendar year. A day counts if the employee performs more employment duties in that state than in any other state during that day. Travel time does not count.
For traveling taxpayers, that’s good news. Lord knows how many loyal Going Concern readers flit from state to state in their unceasing efforts to ensure that the Nation’s financial statements are fairly stated in all material respects. But it’s also bad news — it reminds us that right now you can be taxable in a state after spending as little as a day there.
Why are the states so greedy? Think of LeBron James. When he visits the Staples Center to beat up the Clippers, the home team may lose, but the Franchise Tax Board wins every time. But the tax law in its majesty applies as much to the newbie auditor sent to count vegetables as to LeBron.
Fortunately for our auditor, the firm will probably tell her how much of her income is taxable in each state. Unfortunately, it won’t do all of the extra tax returns she will have to file in all of the exciting states a modern jet-setting auditor may visit.
H.R. 1864 is a long way from perfect. Its biggest flaw is that it doesn’t protect visiting entertainers or athletes. Sure, LeBron can afford the tax help to file in a couple dozen states, but the same rules apply to minor league ballplayers, comedians trying to become senators, and your friendly struggling road band. Still, anything that helps abused staff accountants isn’t all bad.
The proposal is a long ways from becoming law. The high tax states hate any limitations on their ability to pick visitor pockets. Still, it’s nice to have at least a glimmer of hope for sanity.
This Tax Reform Stuff Can Wait
[I]f we are going to make real progress, we can’t fixate on every overhyped, half-baked tax slogan that comes along. Sooner or later we must get back to basics. Here’s the main question: Should taxes be cut, raised, or reformed without changing overall revenue? The answer is that taxes should be cut in the short term, raised after we are clearly out of our cyclical downturn, and then reformed only after we have settled on the magnitude of tax increases needed for deficit reduction. [Martin Sullivan]
Rick Perry to U.S. Taxpayer: COME ON DOWN
One of the biggest problems with Texas Governor Rick Perry’s optional flat tax may be the choice it gives taxpayers. Perry says you can either pay his new tax or pay under today’s system, whichever results in a lower bill. That sounds great, but it is a policy disaster. This is the tax code we’re talking about, not some TV game show. [TaxVox]
Herman Cain Wants You to Try the New 9-9-9 Recipe
Godfather of gold ties and GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain has taken a lot of heat for his 9-9-9 tax plan. While it has a nice ring to it, not too many people are crazy about 9-cubed including his fellow GOP hopefuls, their tax taskmaster Grover Norquist, and every tax wonk within the DC delivery area.
Sensing something needed to be changed, Cain got his
economics advisor accountant and whomever else is crunching the numbers to go back to the drawing board. And what did they come up with, you ask? Are they throwing in free bread sticks? Fresher ingredients? A gluten-free crust stuffed with cheese? Nope! That would just cause more confusion, so they just dropped a nine:
For people living under the poverty line, “your plan isn’t 9-9-9, it’s 9-0-9,” Mr. Cain said in a policy speech in Detroit. “Say amen, y’all. If you are at or below the poverty line…then you don’t pay that middle 9” – i.e. the individual flat tax.
Mr. Cain’s bold 9-9-9 plan – which includes a 9% individual flat tax, a 9% business flat tax, and a 9% national sales tax – has helped vault him into the top tier of GOP presidential candidates.
But free bread sticks would still be nice.
Herman Cain Tweaks 9-9-9 Tax to Remove Flat Tax for Poorest Americans [WSJ]
Who’s Afraid of Tax Reform?
The last time I saw the family dentist while I was in college, he asked me what I was studying. When I told him I was studying tax accounting, he got a strange, smug look on his face and asked, “what are you going to do when there is a flat tax?”
It’s been almost 30 years since I saw that dentist, and so far I’ve dodged the flat tax bullet. There has been one big tax reform since I started public accounting, and next to getting fired by good old Price Waterhouse, The Tax Reform of 1986 has been the best thing that happened to my career.
The 1986 Tax Reform Act’s 25th anniversary is tomorrow. With talk of radical tax reform in the air, from Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan to Rick Perry’s embrace of an old-fashioned flat tax, young tax nerds may lose sleep worrying that this time tax careers really will be legislated out of existence.
Go back to bed. For young tax nerds, radical change can be a huge career boost.
The 1986 tax reforms were enacted during my third year out of school. The local office of my national firm was going to put on a big client seminar, and I was put in charge of organizing the presentation. In the pre-Internet days, we got one paperback copy of the legislation, which I tore apart at the bindings so the presenters could have their part of the law. I proofread the slides, sent them to the photographer, and then manually arranged the presentation in the slide carousel (there was no PowerPoint, kids).
The seminar came off well (I did passive losses), which helped keep me (and the evil manager who didn’t like me) from getting me fired again. But in the following weeks the real benefit began to dawn on me — thanks to tax reform, I suddenly knew more about most of the tax law than everybody in the office who outranked me — including the evil manager. It got me promoted quickly, and it gave me much-needed credibility a few years later when a bunch of us went over the wall to start a new firm.
If there is radical tax reform, it will trash a lot of accumulated tax trivia knowledge that experienced tax nerds trade on. But it will also create huge opportunities for young, smart nerds who are willing to learn the new rules. It will be a great leveller in the profession, and a huge advantage to the young and strong.
But it will probably make it almost impossible for me to sell my collection of 1986 Tax Act books for a good price on e-Bay.
Grover Norquist: 9-9-9 Plan Is ‘Tapeworms in Your Tummy’
Frank Wolf Has Grover Norquist’s Attention
Earlier we learned that Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf is completely creeped out by Tax Terminator Grover Norquist’s BSD status in the Republican Party.
It’s been bothering Mr. Wolf so much that his “conscience” compelled him to give a speech on the House floor today to remind everyone what kind of Grover company keeps (i.e. the “unsavory” kind).
And since Grover has Viking DNA coursing through his veins, you’d be a monkey’s uncle if you thought that he was going to let this shit slide:
Norquist branded Wolf’s speech a “hissy fit” and a “compilation of whack job criticisms.” He added that he thought the Virginia Republican, one of the relatively few GOP members of Congress to have not signed the tax pledge, was lashing out at him because he did not want to call out his Republican colleagues. “He is the only Republican arguing that tax increases are a good idea,” Norquist told The Hill. “What he has is a problem with the American people and the modern Reagan Republican Party.”
But hey, GN is old political cat; he knows how the game is played:
“[I]f he wants to chew on my ankles, I can take it.”
How’s that for a visual?
Norquist: GOP lawmaker’s criticism ‘beneath him’ [OTM/The Hill]
Grover Norquist Gives Congressman Frank Wolf the Heebie Jeebies
“My conscience has compelled me to come to the floor today to voice concerns I have with the influence Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has on the political process in Washington,” Wolf read from a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives today. Wolf listed a series of associations that he said undermines Norquist’s credibility as a policy advocate. Among them, he cited a relationship Norquist had with former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. “Mister Abramoff essentially laundered money through ATR and Mister Norquist knew it,” Wolf said. [Bloomberg]
Let This Be a Lesson to All Billionaires That Give the Thumbs-up to a ‘Rule’ with Their Name Attached to It
The GOP is making a concerted effort to pressure billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett to release his tax returns to the public. Republicans say Buffett — the public face of Obama’s proposed “Buffett rule” to increase taxes on the wealthy — needs to reveal his finances if his views on tax rates are going to serve as the basis for Obama administration policy. “Will Warren Buffett release his tax returns so we can see why he should be the standard for tax policy?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) questioned in a tweet Thursday. “If he’s going to be the gold standard, so to speak, in terms of what our tax policy should be, yeah, let’s look at it [his tax returns],” Cornyn told ABC News. [OTM/The Hill]
Is President Obama Insane When It Comes to Tax Policy?
Yesterday we learned how President Obama would pay for his jobs bill. If you make more $200k ($250k for marrieds), have carried interest income, have a corporate jet or are an oil & gas company, you probably won’t be too happy with the ideas put forth.
If any of these proposals sounds familiar, that’s because they’ve been put through the ringer already and they weren’t received warmly. It’s unlikely that this time around will be any different.
Considering all that, Christopher Bergin at Tax.com is perplexed:
What I can’t figure out is why the Obama administration keeps trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Joe Kristan only goes so far to call these recycled ideas “lame” but if you hold Rita Mae Brown in high regard, then the President definitely has a screw loose.
President Obama’s Tax Plan: ‘No Games, No Politics, No Delays’ — No Chance [Christopher Bergin]
Wilbur Ross Would Like to Torpedo the Income Tax and Replace It with a VAT
Why? Because we need the tax policy equivalent of Law & Order: SVU.
“We need something that is very far-reaching, very dramatic,” said Ross, the head of W.L. Ross & Co. “An idea I’ve been in favor of is to scrap all of the corporate income taxes, all of the individual income taxes, and substitute a value-added tax on all goods imported into the country and manufactured and consumed here, and then rebate it on exports.”
Oh and that jobs bill? It’s bupkis:
“The amount being put in relative to that plan, compared to the jobs they say it will produce, is way out of whack,” Ross said.
Implement VAT, Cut All Income Taxes to Create Jobs: Ross [CNBC]
Study: Progressive Taxation More Likely to Put a Smile on Your Face
[R]esearchers analyzed the relationship between tax progressivity and personal well-being in 54 nations surveyed by the Gallup Organization in 2007—a total of 59,634 respondents. Well-being was expressed in people’s assessments of their overall life quality, from “worst” to “best possible life,” on a scale of 1 to 10; and in whether they enjoyed positive daily experiences (such as smiling, being treated with respect, and eating good food) or suffered negative ones, including sadness, worry, and shame. Finally, the analysis looked at the participants’ satisfaction with their nation’s public goods, from schools to clean air. […] On average, residents of the nations with the most progressive taxation evaluated their own lives as closer to “the best possible.” They also reported having more satisfying experiences and fewer discomfiting ones than respondents living in nations with less progressive taxes. [via TaxProf]
GOP Congressman: All Tax Cuts Are Good But Some Are Gooder Than Others
The Associated Press is reporting that some Republican Members of Congress are fighting their natural inclination to extend all tax cuts to infinity. The tax cut at risk of expiration is employees’ share of the social security tax of 6.2%. Last year the rate was cut to 4.2% for one year. President Obama would like to extend this cut, while some aren’t so keen on it.
But wait a minute! Doesn’t this go against every fiber of Republican orthodoxy? Won’t Ronald Reagan be spinning in is his grave? Did Grover Norquist’s marching orders get lost in the mail?
Republicans say no, as this position is “consistent with their goal of long-term tax policies that will spur employment and lend greater certainty to the economy.”
Okie dokie, then. But if that’s the case, it’s a little strange to discover that House Speaker John Boehner hasn’t made up his mind on whether to extend this tax cut (or put another way “raise taxes”). Perhaps, that’s because he’s already said that tax hikes are off the table. So what gives?
Fortunately, we have Texas Representative Jeb Hensarling to explain it to us:
“It’s always a net positive to let taxpayers keep more of what they earn,” says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, “but not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again.”
So wait…not all tax cuts are effective at “getting the economy moving”? Is that what he’s saying? Or is this simply an Animal Farm approach to tax policy? Grover needs to get involved ASAP so everyone can get on the same page. The troops seem confused.
GOP may OK tax increase that Obama hopes to block [AP via BI]
Do Muppets Share Grover Norquist’s Views on Tax Policy?
I won’t speak for all of Henson’s peeps [?] but judging by Grover’s reaction to Elmo, you’ve got to think that at least one Muppet is on board with the TP^2.
Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that the other Grover would be on board with GGN simply based on name, but we won’t make any assumptions.
Letting the Bush Tax Cuts Expire May Not Be a Violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge But Grover Norquist Would Still Advise You Against That Course of Action
As you well know, signing Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge is the equivalent to having your name written in the Fiscal-Conservative-Starve-the-Beast Book of Life. If you break t servative credentials will go up in a poof of red, white and blue smoke, you’ll be bludgeoned to death with a rolled up copy of the U.S. Constitution and hopefully Ronald Reagan will have mercy on your soul.
Lately though, partly due to this little debt ceiling debate, the Pledge has come under increased scrutiny and after the Senate approved a repeal of ethanol tax credits without a corresponding reduction in tax rates, some suggested that it is meaningless. Since this is obviously nonsense, Grover has gone on a PR offensive, in order to spell it for the RUBES out there so they can understand what constitutes a violation and what does not. Everything seemed to be back on the up and up until today, the Washington Post ran an editorial that may further muddy the waters:
Would allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire as scheduled in 2012 violate this vow? We posed this question to Grover Norquist, its author and enforcer, and his answer was both surprising and encouraging: No.
In other words, according to Mr. Norquist’s interpretation of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, lawmakers have the technical leeway to bring in as much as $4 trillion in new tax revenue — the cost of extending President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for another decade — without being accused of breaking their promise. “Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” Mr. Norquist told us. So it doesn’t violate the pledge? “We wouldn’t hold it that way,” he said.
Naturally, some DOPES out there got all worked up as The Hill reports, “Democrats had jumped on that quote, suggesting it was a sign that Norquist was willing to be more reasonable on taxes than many congressional Republicans.”
As you can see, the words “Norquist,” “reasonable,” and “taxes” are in extremely close proximity which indicates that these “Democrats” are what I’d like to call “COMPLETE IDIOTS.” Problem is, whomever grabs the loudest megaphone first in DC usually gets dibs on what the dish is so Americans for Tax Reform has AGAIN clarified how this Pledge thing works:
ATR opposes all tax increases on the American people. Any failure to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, in whole or in part, would clearly increase taxes on the American people. In addition, the failure to extend the AMT patch would increase taxes. The outlines of the plans are deliberately hazy, but it appears that both Obama’s Simpson-Bowles commission proposal and the Gang-of-Six proposal dramatically increase taxes on the American people.
It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes.
In other words, if you let the “Bush Tax Cuts” expire that’s fine but you just be sure replace them with “Obama Tax Cuts” to ensure there’s no trouble.
Out from under the anti-tax pledge [WaPo]
Grover Norquist tries to clarify Bush tax cut remarks [The Hill]
ATR Statement on Washington Post Editorial [ATR]
Don’t Try Using Your Fancy Tax Code Words on Orrin Hatch
President Obama and his liberal allies are calling for a ‘balanced approach’ and a revenue piece to deficit reduction. We hear this from the press all the time: ‘New revenues need to be a part of any deal to reduce the deficit.’ These are simply code words for a tax hike.
It is clear that the professional left is insisting that President Obama include tax increases in any negotiated agreement to raise the debt ceiling. [ATR]
Is This the Beginning of the End for Ethanol Tax Credits?
Key Senate lawmakers have reached a deal to end two ethanol subsidies by the end of the month, sooner than expected and a sign of how tax policy can change as attention focuses on the deficit.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.) said in a statement that she had reached an agreement with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D, Minn.) and John Thune (R, S.D.) under which a 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline would expire on July 31. A 54-cent-a-gallon tax on imported ethanol would also expire at the end of the month. [WSJ]
Mitch McConnell Suggests That Anyone in Favor of Tax Hikes Is Committing Political Suicide
Hours before a meeting with President Obama at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that any debt-ceiling deals that included tax hikes would be “politically impossible” in the current Congress because most Republicans and many Democrats oppose them.
“Those who are calling for tax hikes as a part of these debt discussions either have amnesia about the fate of similar votes just six months ago — when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress as well as the White House — or they’re acting in bad faith, since we all know that including massive, job-killing tax hikes would be a poison pill,” said McConnell on Monday from the Senate floor. [The Hill]
Any Californians with Bright Ideas on Tax Policy Are Invited to Speak Up
God knows it can’t get any worse.
These hearings give you the opportunity to present your ideas, concerns, and recommendations regarding legislation, the quality of agency services, and other issues related to the Board’s administration of its tax programs. At the business taxes hearings you can comment on the administration of sales and use taxes, environmental fees, fuel taxes, and excise taxes. At the property tax hearings you can comment on the property tax programs and laws administered by the Board, and identify ways to resolve any problems identified in the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocates’ 2009-10 Annual Report.
Dumb: Michigan Representative Introduces Legislation That Would Force Prisoners to Pay Sales Tax
Today in awful tax policy proposals, Michigan Represenative Anthony Forlini (R) has introduced legislation that would force prisoners to pay sales tax on goods they buy inside the joint. Rep. Forlini says the proposal “is common sense,” and he can’t imagine why any average Joe would think differently, “The average person […] cannot believe that they are paying sales taxes for schools and local municipalities, yet the inmates are not contributing to this. We’re losing about a million dollars a year because of the law. It doesn’t make any sense to me, and I don’t think it makes any sense to the taxpayers out there either.”
SOMEHOW it doesn’t make sense to David Brunori:
So if you are doing 25 to life in Jackson (which I think is the state penitentiary) and you buy some toothpaste from the commissary you would pay the sales tax. I have questions for Rep. Forlini. What the heck motivated you to propose this legislation? Are there not more pressing issues facing the state of Michigan? Are you motivated by sound tax policy? Are you just mad because bad guys are buying stuff tax free when you have to pay sales tax?
Honestly, Michigan. Have your CPA governor bitch slap this guy.
State Rep. Anthony Forlini: Make inmates pay Michigan sales tax [MLive via David Frunori]
Newt Gingrich Has Some Imaginary Tax Policy Proposals for His Imaginary Presidency
To trigger job growth, Gingrich proposed to cut the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 12.5 percent, a deeper cut than some other Republican politicians have offered. He would extend income tax cuts that expire in 2013, which were the subject of a pitched battle late last year when President Barack Obama tried to let tax reductions for wealthier Americans expire. And he would completely eliminate the capital gains tax on stock profits. Gingrich, proposed that the country move toward an optional flat tax for Americans of 15 percent, and strengthen the dollar by returning to “Reagan-era monetary policies,” and reform the Federal Reserve to promote transparency. [Reuters]
Conoco Execs Don’t Appreciate These ‘Discriminatory’ Tax Plans
ConocoPhillips CFO Jeff Sheets is warning the U.S. Senate that repealing tax credits for oil companies will make it more difficult for his company and their U.S. counterparts to compete internationally and “higher taxes will mean that oil companies will have less money to reinvest, which could lead to a decline in the supply of hydrocarbons.”
Conoco’s CEO Jim Mulva, who will be testifying before the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, agreed saying, that these plans are “discriminatory” and “If there is less investment, there is going to be less production and less production means higher prices for consumers.” So, Max Bauchus et al., go right ahead with your plan if you can sleep at night knowing that you’re nothing but a bunch of prejudiced jerks that want to hurt the American people. [WSJ, Reuters]
Paul Ryan Is No Ronald Reagan
Charles Krauthammer […] writes that the “most scurrilous” criticism of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan is that it would cut taxes for the rich. This would, he says, be akin to making the same claim against the Ronald Reagan-Bill Bradley 1986 tax reform. Krauthammer goes on to assert that Ryan’s plan is “classic tax reform” that … broadens the base by eliminating loopholes. The facts are otherwise. The Ryan plan, at least what we know of it, would inarguably cut taxes for the rich. It in no way resembles the 1980s tax reforms of either President Reagan or Senator Bill Bradley and Representative Dick Gephardt. And it most assuredly fails to eliminate loopholes. [TaxVox, WaPo]
BREAKING: Republicans Don’t Like President Obama’s Tax Proposals
[K]ey Republicans have not responded positively to signals that President Obama will push for some tax increases in his deficit-reduction plan to be laid out this week. David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser, indicated Sunday that the president would reiterate his call to raise taxes on households making $250,000 and above and also signal a desire to look at other provisions in the tax code that wealthier taxpayers use to their advantage. In his fiscal 2012 budget, released in February, the president called for allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples at the end of next year. That statement came roughly two months after a compromise with congressional Republicans had extended current tax rates for the richest taxpayers for two years. [The Hill]
Donald Trump Once Proposed a One-Time 14.25% Net Worth Tax
Back in 1999, when the The Donald was also faux-considering a Presidential run, he proposed a one-time 14.25% net worth tax on anyone with a net worth of $10 million that would solve all our national debt problems in a blink of an eye.
According to an article published by CNN in November of ’99, DT crunched the numbers himself and “his proposed 14.25 percent levy on such net worth would raise 5.7 trillion and wipe out the debt in one full swoop.” Of course this was all before the SCOTUS determined the outcome of an election, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, George W. Bush somehow winning re-election, Barack Obama being elected President, The Tea Party, Libya and several seasons of The Apprentice. And seeing how Mr. Trump’s politics change like his hair caught in a a gusty wind, it’d be surprising if he still felt strongly about this particular policy. [CNN via TaxProf]
How Do You Like VAT?
[A]s globalization increases demand for a more competitive tax system, the United States must consider shifting from a system that primarily relies on income taxation to one that relies primarily on consumption taxation. Most other major economies around the world depend more heavily on consumption taxation than does the United States. And all indications are reliance on consumption taxes is increasing. [Martin Sullivan]
Senator Tom Coburn Would Like ATR to Back Off a Bit
“Rather than demanding that Senate conservatives violate their consciences and support distortions in the tax code that increase spending and maintain Washington’s power over taxpayer’s lives, your organization should assist our efforts. Calling for the elimination of tax earmarks without qualifications would be a good start,” Coburn wrote. “Continuing to issue blanket defenses of all tax expenditures is a profoundly misguided embrace of progressive, activist government and a strategy for tax complexity, tax deferment, excessive spending and unsustainable deficits.” [The Hill]
Eric Cantor Prefers a Friendly Crowd When Speaking About the Mortgage Interest Deduction
Speaking to a crowd of real estate professionals in his hometown, Cantor said the tax would be considered as part of the larger tax reform discussion. But he suggested a change is probably not in the cards. “Honestly, there’s not a lot of support for getting rid of the mortgage deduction on Capitol Hill,” Cantor said to loud applause from the audience. Cantor was speaking to nearly 200 members of the Richmond Association of REALTORs. [The Hill]
BREAKING: Tax Reform Will Be a Long Process
Yesterday in a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) said that he would like a “weekly set of get-togethers” to address reforming our tax code. You see, Baucus was having similar weekly hearings for two years leading up to the healthcare reform bill that was passed last year. And since those were such a hoot, he figures attacking a equally polarizing issue like tax reform will demand a similar strategy. However, witnesses before the committee – all former assistant Treasury secretaries for tax policy – warned that this debate will likely haunt our dreams and news cycles for a long time:
Fred Goldberg, Jonathan Talisman, Mark Weinberger, Pamela Olson and Eric Solomon discussed, among other issues, the difficulties in crafting a revenue-neutral tax reform plan; problems with the alternative minimum tax and the tax exclusion for employer-provided healthcare; and issues with double taxation in the corporate code.
The former Treasury officials also declared that any successful overhaul of the tax code could take several years and would require leadership from the Oval Office.
Now for the older crowd, the long arduous process of tax reform harkens you back to days of when Charlie Sheen was winning by dodging…er, Charlie in Platoon. For many of the Millennials, well, you were all a lot cuter back then.
“We saw that in 1986,” Weinberger said. “President Reagan at the time made it his No. 1 domestic policy initiative and it still took over two years and failed three times before it was ultimately enacted into law.”
Baucus wants weekly tax reform hearings [On the Money/The Hill]
It’s Being Suggested That Higher Taxes on Alcohol Will Reduce Crime
It’s ironic that I read this this blog post today (rather than on Friday) since A) approximately a third of the country is in a some stage of a hangover B) I’m listening to “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse as I write this and C) there was a murder at a fraternity in Youngstown, Ohio over the weekend (I realize it’s a stretch to assume that anyone would have been drinking at a frat party) but this is pie-in-the-sky postulating that just begs to be mocked.