Protesters tell the President, “We care.” Thousands took to the streets in dozens of cities in a “Tax Day March” on Saturday. They called on President Trump to make his tax returns public. The President has said he won’t release his 1040s because they are under audit and, besides, taxpayers “don’t care.” The IRS says any taxpayer may share his return even if it is being audited. Every president has done so for four decades.
Senate Democrats say they care, too. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer added in a Friday statement: “Until President Trump releases his full tax returns, a cloud of suspicion will remain and make it much more difficult to get tax reform legislation through the Congress.” The Senate Finance Committee’s top Democrat Ron Wyden piled on over the weekend: “Releasing your tax returns is lowest ethical bar for a president. And we’re going to make sure he clears that hurdle.”
Could states publish the President’s state returns? Congressional Republicans have rebuffed Democrats’ attempts to make Trump’s returns public. But University of Chicago law professor Dan Hemel has another idea: He writes that states could publish Trump’s state returns. They wouldn’t show all the information on a federal return, but they’d disclose a lot. A few Democratic legislatures are looking to pass such bills, but do they really want to go down the road of disclosing the returns of a single taxpayer?
Tax reform might be harder without public engagement and knowledge. And if TPC’s recent forum is any guide, that enthusiasm is not going to suddenly materialize, says Howard Gleckman. “Americans never really engaged in the Tax Reform Act of 1986. And today, few have made tax reform a high priority, few believe it will lead to more jobs and economic growth, and most fundamentally misunderstand how the tax laws currently work. The latter view should be no surprise given the complexity and lack of transparency of the Revenue Code.”
Will tax reform include repeal of the Johnson Amendment? The Washington Post reports that the House GOP tax plan would repeal a ban on churches and other tax-exempt organizations from supporting political candidates. President Trump has promised to “destroy” the provision following his candidacy’s support from evangelical Christians.
A carbon tax remains a a no-go. TPC’s Howard Gleckman reviews the brief, shining moment of fame the carbon tax has enjoyed so far in the Trump Administration. The White House shot down the trial balloon within hours, but Gleckman notes: “It is a good idea. And it could fit well with Trump’s interest in deregulating power plant emissions, auto mileage, and the like.”
As for international taxation: A whole lotta “know-no.” Gleckman rewinds the tape on President Trump’s interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business. Said Trump of his idea for international taxation: “Let's call it an import tax. Let's call it a reciprocal tax… [W]hen you say reciprocal tax, nobody can get angry. Even the other countries, if like — if they're charging you a 50 percent tax, you say, OK, whatever you charge, we're charging.” Concludes Gleckman: “What exactly is Trump talking about? It is simply not possible to know.”
Alaska’s House votes for a state personal income tax. The measure, which would take effect in 2019, could raise $700 million annually. The income tax rate would climb from 2.5 percent on annual income up to $50,000 to 7 percent on income above $250,000. The top 1 percent of earners would pay about 27 percent of the total taxes due. Along with separate bills to raise oil taxes and restructure the state’s Permanent Fund, House Democrats are looking to raise $2.7 billion. The money could help reduce the state’s $3 billion budget deficit. Alaska’s GOP-led Senate is not pleased.
Congress is in recess. The Daily Deduction will return to its regular schedule on April 24.
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