How reliable are online tax preparation services in the wake of the TCJA? Consumer Reports has reviewed four big-name platforms and found at least one glitch in each of the services. Two could lead taxpayers to miss a tax break and receive smaller tax refunds. “These problems included outdated information, incomplete advice, and program designs—that in a couple of instances—could affect a taxpayer’s bottom line,” says the consumer guide’s senior editor Tobie Stanger. Stanger told NBC News that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “was reflected in all of the products, but in a few instances, they were not fully updated, or they were not designed quite as well as they could have been.”
Senate Budget Committee counters President Trump’s spending plan. Chairman Mike Enzi of Wyoming released a budget plan last week that calls for across-the-board spending cuts totaling $126 billion in defense and nondefense spending in 2020. Is this a signal that the Senate will reject the President’s request to increase defense spending to $750 billion? Or will the Senate pass a plan containing more cuts in domestic spending to pay for the President’s request?
Congress, need a quick $400 billion? Ed Kleinbard—former chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation and currently law professor at University of Southern California—has an idea. In an op-ed for The Hill, he suggests repealing the tax subsidy for “qualified business income.” As the JCT documents, he says “the subsidy isn’t targeted to small business, or yeomen farmers but rather simply excuses the affluent from taxes imposed on the rest of us.”
Pediatricians say yes to a tax on sugary drinks. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association released a policy paper arguing for a tax on sugary drinks in order to reduce consumption among children and young adults. The recommendation is a first for the AAP. The paper argues that “Local, state, and/or national policies intended to reduce consumption of added sugars should include the consideration of approaches that increase the price of sugary drinks, such as an excise tax. Such taxes should be accompanied by education of all stakeholders on the rationale and benefits of the tax before implementation. Tax revenues should be allocated, at least in part, to reducing health and socioeconomic disparities.”
Toiling away on tax relief in Texas. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick emailed his supporters saying lawmakers have to enact “substantial” tax relief by May 27, and if they don’t, it could mean calling multiple special sessions to do it if the state legislature follows up on its plan to adjourn by then. Two bills are up for consideration: one requires voters to approve local property tax revenue growth in excess of 2.5 percent, and another increases the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $35,000. Only the governor has the authority to call a special session, which costs about $1 million per month. Governor Greg Abbott has not commented on Patrick’s digital salvo.
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