“I don’t care too much for money…” but can money buy me corporate tax changes? Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor who is GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, just funded a super PAC. He previously dropped $150 million in an effort to get Congress to pass a repatriation holiday and other corporate tax changes. He thinks the money will “help end the crippling dysfunction of Congress.” Can’t buy me love, indeed.
Utah has a budget surplus, but sales tax revenues sag. The state enjoys a $103 million surplus that may grow next year given hefty income tax collections and job growth. But sales and use taxes aren’t doing so well—and they fund higher education and roads. Collections for the 2015 budget year were $16 million below target, and the state may have to trim growth projections by as much as $70 million for the coming year. Utah might have to raise its gasoline tax or shift sales tax dollars from its higher education fund to pay for roads. The problem: Online sales continue to grow, and may reach $188.5 million next year.
Also growing: Public support for a law requiring online retailers to collect states' sales taxes. The International Council of Shopping Centers commissioned polls on the issue in 2013 and 2015, and support climbed from 64 percent to 70 percent. If online retailers don’t have a physical presence in a state, they don’t have to collect that state’s sales tax. It’s up to the consumers to pay what they owe but they rarely do. The Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate and the Remote Transactions Parity Act in the House are going nowhere for now.
Colorado voters will have to decide what to do with marijuana tax revenue—again. For the third time in as many years, Colorado voters will have to decide if the government can keep millions of dollars in pot sales tax revenue, or refund the money to pot shops and consumers. Colorado has a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that requires the state to estimate the revenue from the pot tax. If actual revenues exceed the estimate, they trigger a refund.
And South Africa’s government wants a carbon tax, but may have to delay it—again. In 2014, then-Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan postponed the implementation of a carbon tax to 2016. The government wanted to protect industry from a proposed tax of 120 rand per ton of carbon equivalent. Current Finance Minister Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene may postpone it again. The government will soon publish a draft carbon tax bill and ask for public comment. “On any tax proposals we take the trouble of engaging with industry before we can implement,” he said.
The Netherlands and Luxembourg need to collect taxes from Starbucks and Fiat-Chrysler, says the EU. The European Union ruled that the nations gave the multinational corporations illegal state aid. The countries allowed the companies to shift profits and pay lower tax rates than other firms. Fiat needs to pay $34 million to Luxembourg, while Starbucks owes the Netherlands a similar amount. The two nations disagree with the ruling and may appeal.
On the Hill. Today the House plans to vote on its transportation bill. The GOP may elect its new Speaker next Tuesday, two days before Speaker John Boehner’s scheduled resignation.
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