When it comes to federal spending, the devil remains in those details. House and Senate negotiators have agreed on the top-line numbers for each of the 12 government funding bills for fiscal year 2020. They hope to iron out the details before the newest stopgap funding bill expires on December 20. Sticking points include, as ever, funding the President’s southern border wall and policy fights over abortion and immigration enforcement.
At the IRS: A hiring surge. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig says the agency hired 9,700 people during fiscal 2019 and plans to add an additional 5,300. Past staffing reductions have made it difficult for the IRS to address challenges including cyberattacks and implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The agency started the year with about 75,000 workers, down about 20,000 from a decade ago, largely due to budget cuts.
Two House Democrats move to repeal TCJA’s Opportunity Zones. Under the Opportunity Zone program, investors receive capital gains tax breaks for making investments in designated areas. Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Washington’s Pramila Jayapal’s bill, The “Repeal Opportunity Zones Act of 2019,” would repeal the Qualified Opportunity Zones. Their effort follows ProPublica reporting that the program benefits billionaire investors who successfully lobby for zone designations in wealthy communities.
“Don't Try To Mark-To-Market Capital Gains. Tax Unrealized Gains At Death Instead.” TPC’s Howard Gleckman argues that the better way to tax capital gains is not to annually tax unrealized investment profits, as proposed by presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren and the Senate Finance Committee’s top Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden. A better option: Tax unrealized gains at death. “Raise tax rates on assets that are sold, tax decedents on their unrealized gains, and make other improvements in the way the US taxes the transfer of accumulated wealth at death.” Learn more about what convinced him here.
In Jersey, married women soon will be able to file their own taxes. Under current rules in the Bailiwick of Jersey, a British Crown dependency, only husbands are allowed to file tax returns. Under a plan that will take effect in 2021, spouses and civil partners will share equal responsibilities and rights in tax filing. Treasury Minister Susie Pinel wants to “create an independent tax system that delivers equal treatment for all and no longer treats women as chattels.” The plan also means that taxes may rise for some couples, though it would fall for others.
Congress is not in session. The Daily Deduction will return to its regular schedule on Monday, December 2, 2019. Happy Thanksgiving.
For the latest tax news, subscribe to the Tax Policy Center’s Daily Deduction. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekdays at 8:00 am (Mondays only when Congress is in recess). We welcome tips on new research or other news. Email Renu Zaretsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posts and comments are solely the opinion of the author and not that of the Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute, or Brookings Institution.
- © Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, and individual authors, 2020.