Did Trump, Schumer, and Pelosi agree on an infrastructure spending goal? Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that they reached an agreement with the president to try to craft a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. The White House was less enthusiastic. And then there is the matter of funding the plan. Said Schumer, “We told him that… unless he is willing to come up with the pay-fors for this large package, it will never get done, and he agreed.” Hill Republicans, meanwhile, said they’d never support tax hikes to fund the plan. Stay tuned: The group meets again in three weeks.
But there’s also that trade deal. Another contentious issue came up at the White House meeting: trade. Schumer said the president repeatedly brought up the USMCA, or the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement that is supposed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Congress must ratify the deal and Schumer and Pelosi demanded stronger labor and environmental protections. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley already has insisted that Trump lift US tariffs on Canada. Will the USMCA deal go south?
House Dem: Pay back those who paid for tax filing services when they didn’t have to. Rep. Katie Porter of California wants tax prep companies to return fees to taxpayers who paid for online tax prep though they were eligible for free services. Top Senate Finance Committee Democrat Ron Wyden also plans to raise the issue with the IRS, saying “Intuit’s tactics to reduce access to the Free File program and confuse taxpayers are outrageous.” Both were responding to ProPublica’s report that Intuit’s Turbo Tax and H&R Block nudged taxpayers to use paid filing services.
Will a state ever pass a soda tax? Governing reviews the difficulty policymakers face when trying to pass a statewide tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. The last state to pass a soda tax was Arkansas, in 1992. Lawmakers in five states have proposed soda taxes, but so far, none have advanced.
Inside baseball… and charitable giving. TPC’s Gene Steuerle considers Bryce Harper’s move from the Washington Nationals to the Philadelphia Phillies. He rejected a ten-year $300 million deal with the Nationals in favor of the Phillies’ 13-year $330 million offer. Steuerle thinks Harper could have sent an important signal about community service by giving much of the difference to charity. “[B]eyond sports, donations to charity can be a great way to mediate differences in all sorts of disputes.”
Down Under: Australians will need to be accurate on their crypto currency tax filings. The Australian government announced that it will collect bulk records from cryptocurrency businesses to improve tax compliance. Before the Australian Tax Office takes any compliance action, it will contact taxpayers to verify the information.
And in Austria: Tax cuts can distract a voter from scandal, right? Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has made a $7.3 billion tax cut package his signature initiative. The tax cuts would benefit low-income taxpayers, pensions, and corporations. Kurz is trying to put behind him weeks of outrage about his nationalist coalition partner, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party. Among other things, he expressed extremist anti-immigrant views after the New Zealand mosque attacks.
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- © Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, and individual authors, 2016.