Congress is in recess. The Daily Deduction will return to its regular schedule on Monday, November 30. Happy Thanksgiving.
Without a gas tax increase, how will Congress pay for the highway bill? They have until December 4 to figure it out, and so far, the methods are… creative. Michael Sargent of the Heritage Foundation notes that it’s easier for Congress “to pull together a menu of small, palatable offsets from across the government instead of having to make tough decisions or enact fundamental reform.” On the menu: Nearly $60 billion from the Federal Reserve's surplus fund, $9.1 billion from selling portions of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, $5.7 billion from higher customs fees, $2.4 billion from hiring private firms to collect tax debts, $7 billion in other government transfers.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposes yet another tax credit. Families caring for elderly relatives would receive a tax credit for up to $6,000 in caregiving costs. In addition, their time caring for frail parents would count toward their Social Security retirement benefits. Clinton would also spend $100 million over 10 years on respite programs for family caregivers.
Treasury’s latest on inversion rules: Still studying. TPC’s Steve Rosenthal looked at the agency’s guidance on inversions released late last week. Treasury will continue to “study” earnings stripping where multinationals shift income to low-tax countries while shifting deductions for interest and other expenses to the high tax-rate US. Rosenthal says the practice undermines the integrity of the corporate income tax and concludes, “Perhaps Treasury will tire of studying—and use its regulatory authority to treat instruments labelled debt as stock as ‘necessary or appropriate.’ In my view, their regulatory authority is clear.”
There’s new guidance on the ABLE program. The IRS made three changes to Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) tax-favored savings accounts for some individuals with disabilities. ABLE accounts are designed to help families of people who become disabled before age 26 save for disability-related expenses. The proposed rules should make it easier for states to offer and administer the savings programs.
Wyoming won’t raise its cigarette tax any time soon. The state’s Joint Revenue Interim Committee decided it would not sponsor a bill that would raise the 60-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes. Health advocates wanted lawmakers to raise the levy to $1.25 per pack. Wyoming’s 60-cent tax is among the lowest in the country, and the state’s tobacco settlement account—which helps pay for substance-abuse and prevention programs—is expected to face a $12 million budget shortfall.
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