On the Hill next week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig will defend their 2020 budgets before the House Appropriations Committee. Democrats will ask Mnuchin if he will comply with Ways & Means Chair Richard Neal’s request for six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns. He’ll probably duck the question.
In an IRA, the “R” is for “Retirement.” TPC’s Howard Gleckman considers two bills introduced in the House and Senate this week. The House version allows up to $5000 in penalty-free withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts to pay the costs of a birth or adoption. The Senate measure does not. Gleckman explains why he’s with the Senate.
Don’t mess with wind farms, or the Finance Committee chair. President Trump has asserted without evidence that windmills cause cancer. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, normally a loyal Trump supporter, has been a major backer of federal subsidies for wind energy. Grassley called Trump’s remarks, “idiotic.”
On Wednesday, some Fiscal Therapy. TPC hosts an April 10 program on how the nation can better invest in the future in a period of high federal debt. TPC’s Bill Gale will present an overview of his new book, Fiscal Therapy: Curing America's Debt Addiction and Investing in the Future, as part of TPC’s 4th annual Lubick Symposium. The morning session begins with a keynote address by former CBO director Doug Elmendorf. Panelists will discuss how to use government policy to boost economic mobility and reduce inequality. Register here to attend the session or watch the webcast live here.
In Illinois, is a rain tax still a rain tax if it’s a local government option? State Rep. Anthony DeLuca says he just wants to allow non-home rule communities to assess a storm sewer fee. He insists that people who call it a rain tax “don’t actually read the bill.” But another state representative says if it’s not a rain tax, “then what is it? It is water falling on your property, you’re being taxed on it.” DeLuca plans to amend his bill to protect tax-exempt property-owners such as churches and specify that local governments could raise such fees only to fund storm sewer systems. It’s not clear the changes will improve the bill’s prospects.
Berkeley’s soda consumption fell before its soda tax went into effect. A new study by economists at the University of California at Berkeley shows that soda sales dropped an average of 10 to 20 percent in the three months after voters passed the nation’s first tax on sweetened beverages in November 2014, but before the law took effect. “In this case, an election really worked to change consumption before a price change,” said Sofia Villas-Boas, senior author of the paper.
And on Monday: “Life is complicated. Filing your taxes shouldn’t be…” The tax code remains difficult to administer, burdensome for many households, and easy for to evade. An underfunded IRS is unable to conduct effective audits, assist taxpayers, or protect vulnerable taxpayers from fraud and identity theft.The Bipartisan Policy Center, the Tax Foundation, and Prosperity Now will host a conference on Monday April 8 to explore how to make tax administration more efficient and equitable. The event marks the release of a new paper from BPC’s Jason Fichtner, Van Scoyoc Associates’ Jeff Trinca, and TPC’s Bill Gale.
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- © Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, and individual authors, 2016.