Brady’s Lame Duck Tax Bill 3.0. Outgoing Ways & Means and Means chair Kevin Brady revised his catch-all tax bill one more time, adding a few more tax extenders. His plan: Bring it to the Rules Committee on Wednesday and schedule a vote for Thursday or Friday—just as Congress may be scrambling to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch says he is supportive. There is no chance Congress will pass the measure though a few provisions could find their way into a last-minute catch all spending bill.
France is going it alone on a digital tax. After failing to convince the European Union to impose a digital tax that would hit big US tech firms like Facebook and Google, France will impose the tax starting on January 1. The embattled Macron government, which says the levy will raise 500 million Euro in 2019, needs the money to fund tax cuts and new spending aimed at calming recent nationwide protests.
Oil and gas giant backs carbon tax. ConocoPhillips Co. has pledged $2 million over the next two years to Americans for Carbon Dividends. The advocacy group supports a carbon tax developed by the Climate Leadership Council, led by former Republican secretaries of state James Baker III and George Shultz. Under the Council’s plan, all revenue from a carbon tax would be distributed back to taxpayers as “dividends.”
Senator Lamar Alexander will retire in 2020. The GOP senator and former governor of Tennessee will not seek reelection. Reports The New York Times, “His decision to leave is the latest evidence that Washington has become a less attractive place for legislators interested in steering a middle course on seemingly intractable issues….”
Why are states still using the personal exemption? TPC’s Richard Auxier explains that when Congress eliminated — or reduced to $0 — the personal exemption in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 18 states were left with confusing questions about how to treat it in their own income taxes. Auxier concludes that it might make more sense for states that want to keep personal exemptions to make their tax codes consistent with federal law or just replace the exemption with a child tax credit.
Oregon lawmakers propose a plastic bag tax and plastic straw ban. To reduce plastic waste they have introduced a bill to levy a five-cent-tax per single use plastic bag. Retailers of raw, proceeded foods and alcohol would collect the tax from customers, and funds would go into a new Plastic Clean-Up and Recycling Fund managed by the Department of Environmental Quality. Evidence suggests such a tax tends to reduce the use of bags.
Tax cuts in 2017 were so cool they made a movie about it. Well, technically it’s a documentary series. Retiring Speaker of the House Paul Ryan released a trailer yesterday for “Decades in the Making,” due out on December 19. The series focuses on Ryan’s efforts to pass tax reform and ultimately the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Speaking of cool tax cuts… Bloomberg reports on a new wave of maneuvers that taxpayers can use before the year ends to minimize their tax bills next year. These include capitalizing on a tax break available to pass-through entities and a higher estate tax exemption. Says the national tax leader for KPMG: “The tax guys are cool again. We’re no longer the geeks in the corner.”
And of hard choices… TPC’s Gene Steuerle reflects further on the legacy of the late former President George H. W. Bush. “…Success follows from a willingness to work and listen to people, a lack of fear of having smart people around oneself, and a readiness—no, more than that, a sense of obligation—to tackle important problems when they need to be tackled.”
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