Next week on the Hill… Maybe a shutdown, maybe not, and also a couple of Senate Finance Committee hearings. On Tuesday, the panel will hold a hearing on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. On Thursday, it will consider improper payments made through federal programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
On the campaign trail... Hillary Clinton proposed a new tax credit of up to $5,000 for families with high medical expenses. It is the latest in a series of proposed tax breaks that target narrow economic and social issues. On the GOP side, Donald Trump promises he'll roll out his tax plan next week. He says it will include middle-class tax cuts and higher taxes on hedge fund managers.
Senator Bernie Sanders, among other Democrats, wants to repeal the Cadillac Tax. The Democratic presidential candidate, with seven Democratic colleagues in the Senate, introduced a bill yesterday that would repeal the 40 percent tax on high cost health insurance plans. They say the tax is unfair to middle-income Americans. The tax would help fund the Affordable Care Act to the tune of $87 billion once it goes into effect in 2018. Sanders prefers a surtax on the nation’s wealthiest.
Candidates talk about the fairness of carried interest—but what about pass-throughs? Brookings Institution’s David Wessel highlights some interesting facts (Wall Street Journal paywall) uncovered in a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper about pass-throughs. The partnerships and other businesses are taxed under the individual, not corporate tax code. Their income is more concentrated among nation’s wealthiest than corporate profits. Wessel concludes, “Anyone who wants to use the tax code to restrain the widening gap in income inequality–as many Democrats advocate–has to look at the way pass-through entities are taxed.”
Did Volkswagen’s emissions cheating turn some US taxpayers into accidental tax cheats? The German automaker altered its emissions software to make 482,000 diesel cars in the US to look “cleaner” than they really are. Not only that, but The Los Angeles Times found that in 2009, buyers of about 39,500 vehicles could have claimed up to $51 million in improper tax credits for purchasing “alternative fuel vehicles.” Car buyers wouldn’t have to repay the credits, though VW could be hit with penalties.
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