Senate Finance Committee advances Charles Rettig’s nomination to be IRS Commissioner. The panel approved the nomination by a party-line vote of 14-13. Democrats voted against Rettig because of new Treasury and IRS guidance that limits disclosure of donor information by some tax-exempt groups. Said the panel’s top Democrat Ron Wyden, “The Trump administration has taken a qualified nominee and dumped him right into the middle of a dark money political firestorm of their own creation.”
Don’t hold your breath for Tax Reform 2.0 in the Senate. The legislative agenda will not likely accommodate the House plan to make individual income tax cuts permanent before the November midterms, say Senate leaders. Like House Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch wants tax cut permanence, but also wants a “viable path forward” and the right timing to achieve it. Tax cut popularity with the American public would help, too.
GOP Congressman wants a federal carbon tax to replace the gasoline tax. Though he voted in 2016 for a resolution declaring a carbon tax detrimental to the economy, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) plans to propose a carbon tax on Monday. His bill would tax carbon emissions at $24 per metric ton, a price that would climb every year by 2 percent plus inflation. Estimated annual additional revenues are $57 billion to $106 billion a year, according to Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy. Curbelo would direct those revenues toward infrastructure investments, and repeal the federal gasoline tax. The bill is not likely to advance, but Curbelo’s district is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change… and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
A carbon tax could help low-income households if paired with targeted tax rebates. The SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy released a new paper by TPC’s Joseph Rosenberg, Eric Toder, and Chenxi Lu. A carbon tax alone would require lower-income households to bear a moderately higher financial burden as a share of income than other households. But if the net revenue from the carbon tax were fully returned to households via rebates, the net combined effects could be more progressive.
More congressional and corporate pressure to ditch some tariffs. In their letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a bipartisan group of 149 members of Congress warn that tariffs, quotas or other restrictions on the industry will greatly diminish the benefits of the auto industry. Separately, seven auto industry groups wrote in a joint letter that “Raising tariffs on autos and auto parts would be a massive tax on consumers who buy or service their vehicles.”
New York begins a tax probe of the Trump Foundation. Tax officials in the state want to determine whether the foundation has broken state laws, and may refer findings for criminal prosecution. There are no released details of what officials are specifically investigating, but there may be overlap with New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s investigation of the Trump Foundation. Her lawsuit claims that the foundation used its funds illegally to settle business disputes and promote then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
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