Betting on tax reform in the 114th Congress? Consider some insight from TPC’s Bill Gale. GOP control won’t make gridlock disappear, even if President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell somehow do get along. The business community is not united on business tax reform. The GOP and the President don’t agree on the treatment of foreign source income, or on what to do with the top individual tax rate. And the House GOP leadership flatly rejected retiring Ways & Means Chair Dave Camp’s plan to cut individual income tax expenditures. What’s a GOP Congress to do? Gale concludes that it’s more likely we’ll see a “fight about whether to use dynamic scoring methods that account for macroeconomic feedback in response to tax changes.” Talk about choosing your battles.
As for Congress and a positive legislative agenda, it’s probably best to hold all of your bets. TPC’s Howard Gleckman offers six reasons: Tax reform might be everybody’s hope, but hope doesn’t equal compromise. McConnell will have to balance Tea Party pressure for an aggressive conservative agenda with the public’s demand to get things done. He might have a harder time finding Democratic votes for bipartisan bills, since many moderate Democrats were defeated yesterday. It might not be prudent to push the President to the brink on the budget, given the public’s zero-tolerance policy for political theater. And Congress may be tied up with IRS investigations and efforts to block the agency from curbing corporate inversions or controlling political organizations’ use of nonprofit organizations.
“Really, this will only hurt for a minute.” Many states used temporary taxes to maintain revenues when the Great Recession created budget deficits. Now, lawmakers may be concerned that “temporary” too often becomes “permanent.” But the evidence is mixed—some states do let some taxes expire. A new TPC report by Norton Francis and Brian David Moore reviews 14 states and the District of Columbia and 25 temporary tax increases between 2008 and 2011.
Legal marijuana dispensaries are still considered drug traffickers by the Feds. And that means they don’t enjoy the same business tax deductions as other firms. Because the feds still consider marijuana illegal, the costs of selling it, such as advertising, rent, and utilities, are not deductible. Of course, any income from those sales is taxable. That means the federal government could collect more from the legal sales of marijuana than a business could generate in profit from legally selling it. Only Congress can fix this, so don’t hold your breath.
Only in Berkeley, California? The nation’s first soda tax passed, thanks perhaps to an influx of $647,000 in campaign money from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Berkeley’s new law levies a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Soft drink makers spent more than $2 million in an effort to defeat the tax. A similar tax measure failed in San Francisco.
“When Irish eyes are smiling…” Ireland is proposing to nix the “double Irish” tax maneuver, which allows a company to send royalty payments for intellectual property from an Irish-registered subsidiary to a related firm based in a country without a corporate income tax. But, Ireland is also proposing (paywall) to exempt companies from paying corporate tax on profits earned from patents, licenses and other intellectual property, including customer lists. Its Department of Finance wants to attract businesses wishing to develop intellectual property. At 12.5 percent, Ireland’s corporate income tax rate is already one of the lowest in the European Union.
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