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Taxes are going up in the Windy City… again. The Chicago city council is about to approve a $62.4 million tax hike on everything from parking and auto leases to cable TV and tickets to live sports and entertainment. Yesterday, the City Council’s finance committee approved a host of targeted increases designed to fund the city’s 2015 budget and the full council is expected to give final approval today. Those hikes come on top of a telephone tax increase approved last summer which was aimed at funding city pensions. The problem: Those new revenues still won’t fund the city’s growing obligations to retirees and The Chicago Sun Times reports that Mayor Rahm Emanuel won’t say how he’ll close that gap. Wonder what they’ll tax next.
Philadelphia’s cigarette tax is a bit of a biz-kill for city retailers. On October 1, the city started taxing cigarettes at $2 per pack to help fund public schools. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue collected $8.09 million from the tax in its first month and the city’s school district expects to receive $49 million in fiscal year 2015. But local merchants’ cigarette sales are down, while sales are booming in neighboring counties. The state revenue department did anticipate this to an extent: It estimated a drop in city sales of about 13.8 million packs in the tax’s first year, due in part to smokers buying their cigarettes elsewhere. Officials won’t be able to determine the actual impact of so-called “border bleed:” Some smokers may smoke less or quit because of the higher prices.
Nationally, the sales tax burden for consumers and businesses remains the same. “Domestic tax rates have gone virtually unchanged for the better part of a year,” according to the latest quarterly indirect tax rate report from Thomson Reuters.
But Mississippi sales tax revenues could be higher… a lot higher. Businesses and corporations haven’t been paying their sales and use taxes, according to the state’s revenue department. Underreporting cost the state $190 million in lost revenue last year. That’s a record high, nearly double the prior year’s tally of $103.5 million. The state’s revenue department wants to hire more staff to find and collect nearly $1.2 billion in all outstanding tax debt, beyond unpaid sales and use taxes. Most of the tax debts are three years old.
Coming to the Hill in the nick of time: An omnibus reconciliation bill? The lame-duck Congress has its work cut out for it in making final deals this year. Still on the docket, in addition to funding the government, the fight against ISIL, and Ebola preparedness, are those pesky tax breaks that expired in 2013. They include tax credits for research and development and for the production of wind energy. There’s also a push to make permanent the prohibition against states and localities taxing internet access. An omnibus reconciliation bill that could include all this and more is expected to see a vote the week of December 8, according to the House Appropriations Committee. Federal government funding expires December 11.
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