The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
House GOP on the President’s tax proposals: “Meh.” House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan told Treasury Secretary Jack Lew yesterday that “You have gradually, grudgingly taken a few steps in my opinion in the right direction… It’s progress… Not a lot. But we’ll take it.” Ryan and his colleagues wanted the President to do more for pass-through entities, those businesses that pay taxes through the individual code. Lew promised that the White House would do so in the future. “Keeping you uneasy,” Ryan replied, concluding “That’s nice.” Better than “Blah, blah, blah?”
Senate GOP on the President’s budget: “Answer the question!” OMB director Shaun Donovan, explained the White House request to add $74 billion to sequester levels for domestic programs and the Pentagon. But he didn’t satisfy Alabama’s Jeff Sessions. “So you intended to say you are proposing to spend more than we agreed to? Why won’t you say that?” There was some bipartisan agreement on the proposal to raise the Pentagon’s budget. South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham noted that “sequestration needs to be fixed.”
IRS Commissioner to the Senate Finance Committee: Don’t want to be seen as influencing 2016. In his testimony before the panel yesterday, John Koskinen said new IRS rules to limit nonprofit groups' involvement in politics may not be enacted before the 2016 election. The IRS proposed rules in 2013 but they died in the face of broad criticism that they’d limit free speech. “My only focus on 2016 is to make sure that whatever we do, it doesn't look like we're trying to influence the 2016 election,” explained Koskinen.
Vermont’s tax compliance relies on a little public shaming. The state approved a public accountability program last year, and after issuing multiple warnings, made good on its promise to publish the names of 100 businesses and 100 individuals who are delinquent on their taxes. Vermont collected $794,183 from people who were going to be included, and the list has been subsequently updated. Taxpayers on the current list owe $25 million. Overall, Vermont is trying to collect about $175 million in back taxes. It isn’t alone. Over 28 states have similar “naughty lists.”
Alabama’s GOP Governor may propose a tax hike. Robert Bentley would like to target tax deductions—in his mind not the same as raising taxes—and “unequally paid taxes.” In his inaugural address, Bentley estimated the state’s budget shortfall at about $700 million. He’s ruled out raising property taxes.
Property taxes are booming in New Jersey. The average residential property tax bill in New Jersey is the highest in the nation, and has just seen its biggest jump in three years. It grew by 2.2 percent, to an average of $8,161 according to New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs. The average tab grew 1.3 percent in 2013, 1.6 percent in 2012 and 2.4 percent in 2011. Coastal towns affected by Hurricane Sandy saw some of the biggest increases, though Mayor Gerald Turning of Ocean County’s Tinton Falls blamed his town’s 5.7 percent increase on rising health care costs and pension contributions.
And the European Union has Belgium in its sights. It has opened an investigation into Belgium’s granting of state aid to multinational corporations. The EU suspects that Belgium’s tax system appeared to grant substantial tax reductions, or “excess profit rulings” to some multinationals, but such rulings were unavailable to domestic companies.
Today on the Hill. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell discusses the President’s Budget with the Senate Finance Committee. The Affordable Care Act may come up.
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