Speaker of the House John Boehner resigns. His resignation—in the wake of a conservative effort to overthrow him—increases the chances that Congress will fund the government at current levels through December 11 and avoid a shutdown this week. The Senate plans to approve a 10-week continuing resolution today. The biq question is what happens next: Will Boehner try to cut bipartisan deals on spending and the debt limit before he leaves at the end of October? Or will the House sink further into its ideological morass? Second verse, same as the first.
GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio proposes a tax incentive for paid family leave. The Florida Senator would give a 25 percent tax credit to businesses that offer workers between four and 12 weeks of paid leave. His example: If a business gives its employee $1,600 for four weeks of leave, the firm would receive a $400 tax credit. The incentive maxes out at $4,000 per worker.
In Michigan, just a few more days of “tax-free” online shopping. The state’s Main Street Fairness law goes into effect on October 1. Online retailers with a physical presence in the state, such as Amazon, will have to collect a 6 percent sales tax on all purchases made by Michigan shoppers. This should generate $50-$60 million in annual revenue. It will also make it impossible for many of the state’s online shoppers to avoid paying taxes they owe.
Popular, but not paid for: State tax triggers. TPC’s Norton Francis considers state policymakers who link tax cuts to “triggers” as a way to avoid covering their costs. Backers say they make sense: Cuts only happen if there’s revenue to offset them. But too often policymakers tie the tax cuts to revenue projections. If future budgets can’t accommodate the tax cuts, the burden falls on future legislators to fix the problem. Their unpleasant choices: Find money by cutting spending or raising other taxes, or roll back the tax cut.
How low can a tax rate go? The tax rates in Zug, a canton of Switzerland, haven’t increased significantly in 40 years. Companies and celebrities have made the most of its well-known low tax rates, but the party may be about to end. The local government has a new plan to slash its deficit over the next four years that may include a tax increase. This year, a single taxpayer in Zug pays a top tax rate of 22.9 percent. That’s less than half what they pay in Scandinavia.
US taxpayers, you think you have it bad? Some US politicians decry the complexity of the US tax code and call for simplicity (though maybe not as many as we think), but it could be worse. A Brazilian tax attorney named Vinicios Leoncio spent 23 years writing a 41,200-page book, called Beloved Homeland, that documents Brazil’s profoundly complex tax rules. He argues that the law limits Brazil’s ability to manage economic crises and exacerbates income inequality. What would a South American Rand Paul do?
TPC’s call for papers. Propose a research paper on tax administration for TPC’s next research conference with the IRS, scheduled for June 23, 2016. Topics could include measuring and influencing taxpayer compliance, estimating taxpayer compliance costs, tax complexity, improving tax administration, or understanding the nature and behavior of the taxpayer population. Proposals are due December 1, and papers are due May 19, 2016.
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