On the Hill… Work continues this week on the spending bill. Meanwhile, lawmakers are still talking about what to do with the “tax extenders.” On Friday, Congress seemed closer to a deal on dozens of expired tax breaks when Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid appeared to sign off on GOP efforts to make permanent a research credit and Section 179 expensing for small business. But yesterday rank-and-file Senate Democrats pushed back. They want to make current versions of refundable credits permanent but may not be willing to accept permanent business credits in the bargain.
Wal-Mart sues Puerto Rico over a tax increase. The discount chain’s Puerto Rican affiliate filed suit against the US commonwealth last Friday. Wal-Mart says the Commonwealth’s tax hike on US corporate subsidiaries that ship from the mainland is unfair. The suit claims the company’s tax burden would climb to “an astonishing and unsustainable 91.5 percent of its net income.”
Still no budget deal in Pennsylvania. The state’s House Republicans rejected a budget framework that included $2 billion in new taxes. They started work yesterday on a smaller plan that would trim new school funding from $350 million to $150 million but leave state sales or income taxes unchanged.
Tax cuts in Florida won’t be easy. Republican Governor Rick Scott promises $1 billion in tax cuts, with $770 million coming from ditching the corporate income tax on manufacturers and retailers. But fellow Republican and state Senate Budget Chairman Tom Lee says “We could run a substantial deficit in recurring revenue.” The Governor’s proposed $79.3 billion budget also would boost school spending by $507.3 million. More than 80 percent of the funding would come from an increase in property taxes. Both Republicans and Democrats are unhappy with that piece of Scott’s plan as well.
In Iowa, Donald Trump calls for death to the estate tax. Says the GOP presidential candidate of the estate tax: “It is a very bad thing, and it is killing people in Iowa. I know that for a fact.” Individuals with estates of less than about $5.5 million and couples with estates with less than $11 million are exempt from the levy. While it is unclear how many people the tax has killed in Iowa, the Tax Policy Center estimates that 53 Iowa estates paid the levy in 2013. Nationwide, about 0.2 percent of all estates pay and TPC figures that in 2009 (when the exemption was lower than it is today) about 1.3 percent of those were small businesses or family farms.
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