Sunny predictions? They’re not just for GOP tax plans anymore. Former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Clinton and Obama are expressing concerns over Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ economic policies. Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, claims Sanders’ plan would significantly boost growth rates, income and employment. But Alan Krueger, Austan Goolsbee, Christina Romer, and Laura D’Andrea Tyson say that “no credible economic research supports economic impacts of these magnitudes.”
Road repairs: Pay as you drive? A new report from the Congressional Budget Office says that less than half of current federal highway funding is directly tied to the amount of travel on roads. Federal and state governments tend to spend more per mile of travel on rural roads, even though Interstates and urban roads are busier, and urban roads are typically in worse condition. A better way to fund highways? Tolling, mileage fees, or congestion pricing. But would they be easier to levy or raise than the federal gas tax?
Up in Alaska: Tax hikes on alcohol and tobacco? The state’s Senate Labor and Finance Committee considered a 10-cent-per-drink increase in the alcohol tax and a 5-cent-per-cigarette tax hike on tobacco. Independent Governor Bill Walker proposed the increases, which together could raise $69 million a year—or one percent of Alaska’s current deficit.
Will Virginia tax Airbnb? Maybe. The GOP-controlled Virginia legislature has been extremely tax-averse, regularly rejecting revenue bills. Yet both the House and Senate have passed measures requiring home rental sites to collect the same taxes as hotels. But the Senate measure says only that the online rental sites “may” pay the taxes.
Do Millennials fear filing taxes more than older Americans? A new survey by NerdWallet and Harris Poll finds that 80 percent of taxpayers between ages 18 and 34 are concerned about making a mistake, not getting a full refund, or paying too much. But only 60 percent of adults age 55 and older share their fear of filing.
Fear not: Next week sees the first in a series of public forums on tax service. The National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, will hold a public forum on February 23 at IRS headquarters in Washington DC. The session will address the IRS concept of operations and its “future state” vision for IRS services. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will welcome participants with opening remarks. Three panel discussions will follow.
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