The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Congress returns next week. We’ll resume our regular schedule on Wednesday, November 5, after tomorrow's elections.
State ballot initiatives offer clues on how much voters are willing to pay for government services. There are 16 tax-related initiatives on state ballots tomorrow. TPC’s Kim Rueben highlights the key states to watch: Massachusetts voters could repeal an automated inflation-adjusted gas tax. Nevada considers a 2 percent gross receipts-type tax on businesses. Tennessee and Georgia offer voters a chance to limit future tax increases, while Illinois presents a toothless “millionaire’s tax.” And marijuana legalization could introduce new tax revenue in Florida, the District of Columbia, Oregon, and Alaska. Governors’ races will test the public’s tolerance for deep tax cuts and their impacts on state revenues and economies: They’re not just in Kansas anymore.
Meanwhile, some federal lawmakers want to lock in tax cuts after the election. Bloomberg reports that if the House GOP wants to make permanent a collection of expired business tax breaks known as “tax extenders,” Senate Democrats might agree. But only in return for expansions of the child tax credit, earned income tax credit and higher education tax credit. As for that pesky deficit: A deal like this could cost over $200 billion over 10 years. It makes you wonder what House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan thinks.
Talk is cheap when it comes to business tax reform. Political gridlock or bipartisan cooperation? Before November 4, everybody talks about cooperation. How about the day (or year) after? TPC’s Howard Gleckman considers the prospect for business tax reform with a GOP-controlled Congress. “The chances are not zero. But the odds are very long.”
In Ireland: A flood of protest against a water tax. The 2010 bailout of Ireland, overseen by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, included a suggested water utility charge. The levy would help Ireland get a grip on its budget deficits. But tens of thousands of Irish citizens protested the tax yesterday. Reversing the water charge would require a 4 percent increase on the top tax rate, according to Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
And in Hungary, protests push an Internet tax to the back burner. Its government dropped its plan for an Internet usage tax after widespread protests. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said, “We are not Communists. We do not govern against the people.” Instead, early next year the government plans to review a variety of Internet issues, including taxation and regulation. Is there a message for US lawmakers who want to ban states from trying to impose Internet access taxes?
Are multinational corporations in Australia minimizing their taxes too much for the government’s comfort? Multinational corporations paid almost AU$40 billion in Australian income tax last year, but still used aggressive tax planning to shift about AU$400 billion offshore through corporate restructurings and cross-border related-party arrangements. Australia’s Tax Office is reportedly eyeing such deals to ensure “that companies do not artificially shift profits offshore and that Australia's international tax laws are being complied with."
International cooperation against tax evasion: 51 nations are now accountable. They’ve signed a commitment to automatically exchange tax information starting in 2017, curbing bank secrecy. The agreement capped off a meeting in Germany of the Global Forum. The initiative began in 2012, after the United Kingdom and Germany led a charge against tax evasion and fraud. Not included in the group of 51: Switzerland and the United States. Switzerland is expected to join “within months.” The United States supports the effort, but sticks with its enforcement of FATCA rather than signing the Global Forum’s pact.
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