But first: A budget deal reached? House and Senate negotiators said last night they have reached an agreement "in principle" on a plan to keep seven federal agencies--including the Treasury and IRS-- open through the end of the fiscal year. The Washington Post reports the agreement provides about $1.375 billion for border barriers, roughly the same amount Democrats had offered before the 35-day shutdown in December.
Treasury: News coverage of slow tax refunds is “misleading.” The Treasury Department tweets that tax refund amounts in the first week of filing season were consistent with 2017 levels. Amounts were “down slightly” from last year because of a small sample size, the department says. The IRS reported that refunds were 8.4 percent lower than the same period last year.
Ohio’s income tax collections don’t meet expectations. The collections have fallen short of estimates for the past two months, according to The Columbus Dispatch. December collections were 6 percent below forecast while January collections were 7 percent below estimates. Total collections fell short by $124 million. The state budget director says part of the reason is timing: People are modifying how they pay estimated taxes following the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Will Georgia levy a “Netflix tax?” Legislators in the state are warming up to a 4 percent tax on digital services such as streaming video subscriptions. They’d like to use the revenue to fund internet access in rural areas that lack high-speed connections. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp isn’t wild about the idea.
From Joe Thorndike: A Brief History of Presidents Disclosing Tax Returns. Tax historian Thorndike, in a TaxNotes column adapted from his testimony to the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, explains that “the tradition of voluntary tax disclosure is fragile. By its nature, a voluntary tradition lacks standards and procedures. As a result, it tends to vary and change — and perhaps to weaken — over time.”
Four children, no income tax? Hungary needs women… to have babies, apparently. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who wants to bar all immigration, announced that the country needs Hungarian children. His government will offer a lifetime personal income tax exemption for women who give birth to and raise at least four children. Families with three or more children would be eligible for an $8,825 subsidy toward the purchase a seven-seat automobile. Women under age 40 who marry for the first time would get a low-interest loan of $35,300; a third of the debt would be forgiven when a second child is born and the entire loan waived after the third child.
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