The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Inversions: The waiting is the hardest part. At yesterday’s TPC event Treasury Secretary Jack Lew promised an anti-inversion decision “soon,” but committed to no other details. While everybody agrees corporate inversions are done largely to avoid taxes, does Treasury have the authority to prevent them? If so, should it? New York University’s Sally Katzen, Harvard’s Stephen Shay and TPC’s Steve Rosenthal all answered the authority question with a resounding “yes,” while GE’s John Samuels said no—that doing so in fact set a “dangerous precedent.”
Meanwhile, the OECD would like Spain to close some tax loopholes. Spain’s labor market and banking overhauls are helping its economy, but the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recommends that it lower the number of corporate and individual income tax breaks and the number of products that enjoy a reduced value-added tax rate. Doing so should help to stabilize public finances and could help Spain sustain its economic recovery.
And in one South American city, a “Netflix” tax. If a foreign company—like Netflix, Amazon, or Apple—offers streaming media subscriptions in Buenes Aires, Argentina, it will pay a 3 percent gross income tax on subscription fees starting November 1. The tax will be withheld by credit card companies processing the fees. The head of the city’s revenue service says it’s “not a new tax: we're only demanding its application on foreign companies that today commercialize their services with Buenos Aires consumers and aren’t paying any gross income taxes.” Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner described the tax as “unfair.”
“We’re in the money…” Who’s watching the money? Up to $1.25 billion a year in TIF money, that is. In a TIF district, or tax increment financing district, future gains in real estate taxes subsidize borrowing for current improvements. But in Michigan, these tax authorities have not been reporting the status of their accounts, such as sources and amounts of tax increment revenues. A University of Michigan report found as few as 20 percent of TIF authorities regularly report on their accounts—perhaps because there is no penalty for failing to report.
Tune in this afternoon to learn about income tax changes and their effect on the economy. TPC’s Bill Gale and the Andrew Samwick of Dartmouth’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center will share findings from their new paper at 12:30 at TPC. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Chye-Ching Huang and the Tax Foundation’s William McBride will comment on the paper.
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