September 9, 2008
I was, to say the least, surprised to read a couple of comments posted last week that claimed FactCheck.org was asserting Barack Obama’s tax-and-spending plans would pay for themselves. I was even more surprised to read that FactCheck was supposedly basing its conclusions on TPC data. So, I looked it up.
September 5, 2008
Listening to John McCain's acceptance speech last night, I found myself asking the question that others have been asking me for the past year: Who is John McCain really? Is he the McCain of 2000-2003, who blasted both wasteful government spending and the unaffordable Bush tax cuts? Or the McCain of 2008, who not only wants to extend President Bush's tax cuts but expand them without coming close to paying for this largess? Is he the supporter of limiting offshore oil drilling and requiring tradable credits for carbon-based fuels--which would sharply raise the price of oil and gasoline? Or is he the new darling of the "drill baby drill" crowd?
September 2, 2008
When it comes to taxes, Sarah Palin turns out to be an intriguing mix of Barack Obama and John McCain. Like Obama, she favors a tax rebate for consumers funded by a windfall profits tax on energy companies. But, like McCain, she also backs a gas tax holiday.
August 29, 2008
Barack Obama gave four speeches last night. The first was the same optimistic cry for change that has carried him so far in this Presidential season. The second was a tough, frontal attack on the economic and foreign policies of both George Bush and John McCain. The third was a (Bill) Clintonesque bit of social policy triangulation—we can all work together to find solutions to such hot button issues as abortion, guns, gay marriage, and immigration. The fourth was a recitation of his economic agenda—a long list of promises that is familiar to readers of TaxVox by now.
August 27, 2008
Barack Obama has raised the ante on economic stimulus. Just two weeks ago, when I left for vacation, the Illinois Senator was talking about a $50 billion plan. I barely unpack (and yes, I had a nice time, thanks for asking) and learn he is now considering a $115 billion boost. That, at least, is what an Obama aide told the Wall Street Journal yesterday.
August 26, 2008
After the Government Accountability Office reported last month that two-thirds of corporations in the U.S. pay no corporate income tax, critics vented their disdain. "It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country," railed Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) in a press release.
August 21, 2008
Five years ago, gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger made this lament about Californians' tax burden: "From the time they get up in the morning and flush the toilet, they're taxed. When they go and get a coffee, they're taxed. They get into their car, they're taxed. They go to the gas station, they're taxed. They go for lunch, they're taxed. This goes on all day long. Tax, tax, tax, tax, tax. Even when they go to bed, you can go to bed in fear that you are going to be taxed while you're sleeping, that there is a sleeping tax."
August 20, 2008
The Government Accountability Office last week released a report with the scintillating title: "Comparison of the Reported Tax Liabilities of Foreign- and U.S.-Controlled Corporations, 1998-2005." Summarizing, GAO stated that in 2005 Foreign Controlled Domestic Corporations (FCDCs) reported a lower ratio of tax liabilities to gross receipts and total assets than did U.S.-Controlled Domestic Corporations (USCCs). At play could be abusive transfer pricing transactions. But, GAO also pointed out, FCDCs and USCCs differ by age, size, and industry composition and the agency "did not attempt to determine the extent to which these factors and others, such as transfer pricing abuse, explain differences in tax liabilities."
August 19, 2008
When the Tax Policy Center reported last month that Senators Obama's and McCain's tax proposals would both reduce federal revenues by trillions of dollars over the coming decade, both campaigns complained that TPC was using the wrong baseline to measure revenue changes. Instead of measuring revenue against current law, they asserted, analysts should assess the plans against "current policy." In fact, the choice of baselines is in some sense irrelevant as a gauge of our fiscal problems.
August 15, 2008
Len Burman of the Tax Policy Center and other tax experts frequently bemoan the horrendous complexity of the AMT and its potential to trap unwary taxpayers. But until now, we have not had data on how many taxpayer errors the AMT causes.