May 5, 2008
With unusual speed, the IRS sent out the first tranche of $100 billion in recovery rebates last Monday. It took Congress and the President less than a month to enact the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and then just 62 days for the IRS to begin getting the money into people's hands. The question now is what will they do with the windfall, which for couples will be as much as $1,200 plus $300 per child. The answer may disappoint those who are hoping a new burst of consumer spending will give the lagging economy a needed boost.
May 2, 2008
While TaxVox and others have disclosed the folly of a federal tax holiday, some have suggested that temporary state gas tax relief might work better. Some New York State legislators are already pushing for such a plan. But before cash-strapped states jump on the bandwagon, they might consider how a previous experiment in Illinois and Indiana worked out. In 2000, Indiana announced that it would be suspending its 5 percent gasoline sales tax for 120 days beginning July 1. In response, Illinois also suspended its levy for six months that July.. Quaint as it seems today, the changes were spurred by a spring spike in Midwest gas prices to (gasp) $2.00 – a level drivers would now gladly embrace.
May 2, 2008
If a gas tax holiday drives the price down by the full amount of the tax (18.4 cents), the average driver would save about $28 ($27.67) between June 1 and September 1. But we think the price would fall by only a small fraction of the 18.4 cents tax – so instead of $28, the average driver might save $5 to $10.
May 1, 2008
It is the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s dramatic landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln where, in front of that massive “Mission Accomplished” banner, he declared “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” They have not, of course. And it has me thinking about how those of us who do not have loved ones in combat operations are sacrificing nothing for this conflict.
April 29, 2008
Much of the reaction to the April 16 Democratic Presidential debate was directed at the moderators for focusing on character and perception rather than policy. But issues got mangled as well—not only by the candidates, but by moderator Charles Gibson. While questioning Barack Obama about his proposal to raise the capital gains tax, Gibson claimed that when the rate has been cut, government took in more money, but when the tax was increased revenue fell. Although this argument warms the hearts of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the implication that capital gains tax rate cuts raise revenues is not supported by the evidence.
April 29, 2008
Props to Barack Obama for resisting the siren call for a summer gas tax holiday. In contrast, Hillary Clinton has clambered aboard John McCain’s free-lunch bandwagon, vowing to support the gas tax cut he first proposed a couple of weeks ago. Even worse, she’s now tied it to an energy company windfall profits tax so, as she says, oil companies would “pay their fair share to help us solve the problems at the pump.”
April 24, 2008
There are few things more frustrating in life than being a budget hawk. You spend your days predicting dire consequences that never quite come to pass, trying to convince voters that their government can’t keep expanding popular programs without paying for them, and hectoring politicians into making votes that would be political suicide. Like Cassandra of Greek myth, you have the ability to foretell the future, but suffer the curse of being unable to change it.
April 22, 2008
While most observers are focused on John McCain’s proposed summer gas tax holiday, they have missed a much bigger idea from GOP’s likely presidential nominee: A massive tax reform—but one that, at least as it stands now, would be a huge windfall for business.
April 19, 2008
On April 17, the Tax Policy Center posted “Scoring McCain’s Tax Proposals”. Although I remain a fan of efforts by organizations like the Tax Policy Center to analyze taxation issues, the analysis is misleading on the whole and wrong in some particulars.
April 17, 2008
In their debate last night, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama wandered deep into George H.W. Bush land by pledging never to raise taxes on “middle-income” taxpayers making less than $250,000.