House Democrats gear up to obtain President Trump’s tax returns. In the wake of Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House has “legitimate" reasons to get the returns and “will take all necessary steps, including litigation, if necessary, to obtain them.” No word yet on when the Ways & Means Committee will formally request them.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson to retire. In a Friday blog post on the Taxpayer Advocate Service website, Olson wrote “It is with a mix of excitement and bittersweet emotions that I am announcing today I will be retiring from the position of National Taxpayer Advocate on July 31, 2019.” She has served in the post for 18 years. The Treasury Secretary will appoint her successor in consultation with the IRS commissioner.
On the Hill this week. The House Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing on tax filing season at which Olson will testify. The House Rules Committee will review the For the People Act of 2019 (H.R. 1) that would require sitting presidents and presidential candidates to release their 10 most recent years of tax returns. It also would require exempt organizations making large campaign-related disbursements to disclose their major donors and would repeal a ban on the use of IRS funds ““to bring transparency to political activity of certain nonprofit organizations.”.
Everything you wanted to know about trade, immigration, and international taxation but were afraid to ask. TPC’s Len Burman reviews the new book by Kim Clausing, an economics professor at Reed College. In Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital, “Clausing has written a comprehensive and accessible analysis of three of the major economic issues of our time.” That’s invaluable since “[E]conomists have done a terrible job explaining the benefits of borders that are more open to goods, services, and human capital… [and] have blundered when it comes to discussing the distributional implications of trade.” Her book, Burman concludes, “should be required reading for every presidential candidate in 2020, every journalist on the election beat, and everyone who pulls a voting lever.”
Fitch analyzes the link between property tax caps, revenue volatility, and local housing markets. Fitch Ratings reports that property tax caps may insulate revenues from house price volatility, according to Governing. Because assessed property values lag market values in jurisdictions with tight caps, local taxing authorities are less likely to see big declines in tax revenues when the housing market slumps. By contrast, where property taxes are uncapped, assessed values trend closer to actual home prices, creating more revenue volatility when prices plummet.
Automakers’ federal tax refunds The Detroit Free Press considers General Motors and Ford. GM hasn’t paid federal taxes in a decade, and Ford has paid US federal income tax in only three of the last ten years. The firms’ Securities and Exchange Commission filings show recorded profits totaling over $100 billion over the period but about $450 million in tax refunds. Much of this likely is due to operating losses the firms ran up during the Great Recession. The corporations still paid hundreds of millions in local, state and other taxes.
France will propose a digital tax that could raise €500 million a year. Reuters reports that France will propose a three percent tax on the French revenue of about 30 large internet companies. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says the tax would target mostly American companies, but Chinese, German, Spanish, British and one French firm also would owe the new levy. Businesses could deduct other French taxes from their pretax income. Le Maire plans to present the proposal to the French cabinet on Wednesday.
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