Senate releases spending bills, hopes for a December deal. The Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 of its annual spending bills for fiscal year 2021, with no markups in subcommittees. Lawmakers hope negotiations over the bills are resolved before the current stopgap money bill expires on December 11. Committee Chair Richard Shelby said “By and large, these bills are the product of bipartisan cooperation among members of the committee.” But the House versions of many of these bills are quite different.
California voters defeat Proposition 15. The Associated Press projects that the ballot measure to increase property tax revenue from commercial properties failed 52 percent to 48 percent. The measure would have generated between $6.5 billion and $11.5 billion annually for schools and local governments.
How about a work-from-home tax? Economists at Deutsche Bank suggest a 5 percent tax on the salaries of those who choose to work from home to help those who must go to their places of employment. Employers would pay the tax, and the revenue would fund grants to workers who cannot do their jobs from home and make less than $30,000 a year. The bank economists estimate the tax could raise $48 billion in the US. They say the tax is fair, since those working from home are saving money and contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy while still receiving its benefits.
Or return-free filing? Marketplace reports on a new paper by economist Youssef Benzarti, “Estimating The Costs of Filing Tax Returns and the Potential Savings From Policies Aimed at Reducing These Costs.” Benzarti calculates that tax filing imposes an annual cost of more than 1 percent of our economy, an expense that has been climbing over the years. His solution: The IRS would use income and tax information it gets from employers, banks, brokers, and pension administrators to prepare a filled-in 1040. Once taxpayers approve, they simply sign the form, include any taxes owed, or await a refund. So far, 36 other countries offer such “return-free filing.” But every time it has been discussed in the US, the tax prep lobby has killed the idea.
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