Will Treasury just say no? Politico reports on how the Treasury Department plans to thwart any House Democrat demand for President Trump’s personal tax returns. “What happens if the Treasury secretary just doesn’t answer or sends back a note saying we refuse to do what you are saying?” asked George Yin, a former Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff. “We are essentially in uncharted territory if he refuses.”
We’ll learn more tomorrow. The Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee will hear Thursday from Yin, TPC’s Steve Rosenthal, Tax Analysts’ Joe Thorndike, and others on how current law applies to congressional requests for tax returns and on a House Democratic bill that would require tax filing disclosure by presidents, vice-presidents, and candidates for those offices.
Senate Finance Committee says yes to the nominee for IRS chief counsel. The panel voted 26-2 to send the nomination of Michael Desmond to be IRS chief counsel on to the Senate floor. New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez blocked Desmond’s nomination last year, protesting Treasury’s position on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap. He says he’ll do it again this year.
In Wisconsin, competing income tax cut plans. Republican lawmakers want to use the state’s budget surplus to fund a $340 million tax cut—which averages out to about $170 per tax filer. But Democratic Governor Tony Evers and state Democratic lawmakers prefer a 10 percent refundable tax credit. Evers would limit a manufacturing tax credit to $300,000, saving about $230 million each of the next two years.
Democratic Governor Wolf proposes a balanced budget in Pennsylvania. He’s hoping to convince lawmakers to change the state’s corporate tax structure. He’d apply the corporate profits tax to more businesses but lower the corporate net income tax rate from 9.99 percent to 8.99 percent in 2020.
A rain tax in New Jersey? The legislature passed a bill that creates local or regional storm water utilities to collect and filter runoff that otherwise pollutes New Jersey’s water. Local governments could fund the utilities with a tax on properties with paved surfaces such as parking lots or residential driveways. Governor Phil Murphy is likely to sign it. Maryland passed a similar tax in 2012 that was widely mocked and eventually repealed.
Apple agrees to pay back taxes to France. The tech giant will pay about $571 million to the French government. The two parties reached this agreement in December, but the deal became public this week.
Are government tax and transfer policies reducing or maintaining wealth inequality? TPC’s Gene Steuerle argues that diverting government spending to income supports and away from opportunity-building programs locks in wealth inequality. He concludes that “Republicans seem committed to reducing (not increasing) taxes on the wealthy, while Democrats reflexively support redistribution to those less well off, even when their proposals reduce incentives to save and work.”
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- © Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, and individual authors, 2016.