The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Have taxes, will travel. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association wants Congress to raise the federal gas tax by 15 cents a gallon to generate $401 billion in new transportation funding. Money for the Highway Trust Fund dries up in May. The group suggests the tax be offset with a federal tax rebate for middle and lower income households for six years. Airports, meanwhile, would double passenger fees in order to pay for facility improvements.
In Vermont: You could always drink maple syrup. A Vermont bill would impose an excise tax of 2 cents on every ounce of sugary beverage distributed in the state. It could raise about $30 million a year for health care. Proponents want to encourage Vermonters to make healthier food choices. But opponents suggest “You can't tax people into eating Brussels sprouts.”
Dynamic scoring: Overblown concerns? Bill Hoagland, in his contribution to the TaxVox forum on dynamic scoring, explores the pros and cons of including macroeconomic effects in budget scoring. Currently with the Bipartisan Policy Center, Hoagland was director of Budget and Appropriations for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and staff director of the Senate Budget Committee.
One accounting firm just gained a new policy adviser. Former House Ways & Means Chair Dave Camp joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as senior policy adviser. He’ll focus on economic policy, tax and international trade, and health care. Camp will advise on federal legislative and regulatory issues and their impacts on businesses. He’ll also consult on global business issues including those related to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Let the budget battles begin. House and Senate leaders are expected to release their proposed 2016 budgets next week. Not only will Republicans and Democrats differ, but so will House and Senate Republicans. Likely flash points will include military spending.
Also on the Hill next week. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on building a competitive US international tax system. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on the surface transportation reauthorization bill. Also Tuesday, the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Resources will hold a hearing on using evidence to expand economic opportunities for low-income individuals and families. The panel’s Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures will hold a hearing on the burdens of the estate tax on Wednesday.
Filer beware: Tax season is scam season. Fake IRS agents have harassed over 366,000 people and have conned 3,000 taxpayers out of $15.5 million since 2013. The criminals threaten jail and demand payments from unsuspecting people. One victim lost more than $500,000. In Pittsburgh, a data breach exposed the personal information of 62,000 employees of the UPMC health system last year. Now, thieves are filing fraudulent tax returns with some of that stolen data. Meanwhile, between 2006 and 2011, nearly 67,000 tax returns featured Social Security numbers belonging to people over 113 years old. There are only 39 known people on earth over 112. The ease of filing taxes online through various tax prep software has dramatically increased the breadth and depth of scams, too.
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