The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Sanders won’t raise the top rate to 90 percent. In their Saturday night debate, Democrats spent much of their time talking about foreign policy, terrorism, and Wall Street. But there were a few tax-related sound bites. Perhaps the most interesting: Bernie Sanders said he would not raise the top rate back to 90 percent, its level in the Eisenhower Administration. "I'm not that much of a socialist, compared to Eisenhower," Sanders joked, perhaps channeling his inner Larry David. Sanders, however, still won’t say how high he would raise the top rate. Stay tuned.
On the Hill this week… The House and the Senate will go to conference over the highway bill. Current funding expires on Saturday. The bill still includes provisions that would require the IRS to use private agencies to collect tax debts and allow the Department of State to take US passports away from those with unpaid tax debts. On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee holds a hearing on the biennial budget process. TPC’s Rudy Penner—a former budget director—will be among the witnesses.
A federal gas tax cut could give states big headaches. TPC’s Richard Auxier considers GOP presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio’s plan to cut the federal gasoline tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents. Rubio would require states to make up for the $50 billion loss in federal revenue. Auxier concludes that this “creates new fiscal problems for states already governing with tight budgets. And even if states solve those problems, the solutions might not work well for people who rely on interstate travel, or the country.”
There could be big tax bills for thousands holding MLPs in IRAs. The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) on a lesser-known tax trap. When a person uses IRA funds to invest in master limited partnerships, he owes Unrelated Business Income Tax on certain MLP annual income over $1,000. The levy’s top rate is 39.6 percent for taxable income of about $12,000. An IRA custodian, like a brokerage firm, has to report the income, and the IRA owner has to pay the tax out of his IRA account. One investor got a bill for $24,321, including about $6,000 in late filing fees and interest.
Is the grass greener in Ireland? The nation’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate has attracted multinational corporations, and now Ireland has a new low tax rate on revenue from patents or other intellectual property. The 6.25 percent rate can only apply, however, to such “knowledge development” that comes from research done on Irish soil. Give credit—or blame—for that limitation to the European Union.
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