How different will the House and Senate budgets be? There will be no joint budget resolution, despite GOP-control of both chambers. House Budget Committee chair Tom Price and Senate Budget Committee chair Mike Enzi will have separate fiscal blueprints, and their respective committees will mark them up the week of March 16. It could be the beginning of a long and tense intra-party battle. The Hill reports that GOP lawmakers involved in the budget discussions wouldn’t say whether the plans would include reconciliation instructions that the GOP could try to use to reverse parts of the Affordable Care Act or pass tax reform.
Kansas Governor Brownback touts his tax policy… in Missouri. The Republican governor cut personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013: He dropped the top rate by 29 percent and exempted 281,000 business owners and 53,000 farmers from the income tax. Budget problems have plagued Kansas ever since, and the state faces a $600 million shortfall. But Brownback told Missouri GOP legislators that his policies have planted “seeds of growth.” Still, his latest budget proposal ditches some future rate cuts and slows others. Kansas’ legislative researchers say those changes could raise $73 million during the next fiscal year and nearly $1.5 billion over five years.
Should nonprofits pay property taxes? Nonprofits enjoy a property tax exemption in Maine, but maybe not for long. GOP Governor Paul LePage would like to tax about $4.6 billion in assets held by nonprofits there. Several other states, including Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont are also considering the idea. The property tax exemption has significant implications for states and cities with large nonprofit sectors.
In California, is an extra $2 a pack enough to curb smoking? Some state legislators and health officials hope so. Democratic State Senator Richard Pan, a physician, wants to triple the cigarette tax to $2 per pack. It would generate $1.4 billion a year to fund smoking prevention, research into smoking-related diseases, and more treatment for the state’s Medicaid patients. The current California tax is 87 cents-per-pack, lower than 32 states. The federal tax is $1.01per-pack.
On the Hill next week. The Senate Finance Committee will host two hearings. The first, on Tuesday, will examine “Tax Complexity, Compliance, and Administration: The Merits of Simplification in Tax Reform.” The second, on Thursday, will explore “Protecting Taxpayers from Schemes and Scams During the 2015 Tax Filing Season.” That comes on the heels of Intuit’s Turbo Tax recent vulnerabilities to tax fraud.
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