Learning the president’s financial history, with or without tax returns. The House Ways & Means Committee asked the IRS yesterday for President Trump's personal and business tax returns from 2013 to 2018 and to confirm whether the returns are or have been under audit. Panel Chair Richard Neal asked for the documents by April 10; Trump signals he will fight the request. Meanwhile, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings says the accounting firm Mazars USA will disclose 10 years of Trump's financial records if the committee subpoenas it.
Also on the Hill: A SALT Working Group. House Ways & Means Committee Democrats have formed a working group on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. The group, led by Rep. Mike Thompson of California, met for the first time yesterday to discuss concerns of lawmakers from high-tax, traditionally blue states.
In Austria, a digital tax. The government proposed a 5 percent tax on advertising sold by digital firms with global sales of over €750 million, and Austrian revenue of at least €25 million. The levy, which still must be approved by parliament, would collect €200 million annually. Last year, the European Union tried, but failed, to reach consensus on a 3 percent tax.
Still more tax fallout from the college admission scandal. Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden want the IRS to “fully enforce the tax laws against those involved.” To get their children into prestigious schools, parents, including high-profile celebrities, reportedly made tax-deductible donations to a sham charity. But the senators say the parents also may have violated other tax laws by allegedly making payments from private foundations and businesses for personal benefit, and by donating appreciated stock to the tax-exempt foundation that was bribing school officials.
Are carbon taxes working? The New York Times examines the countries that have raised the cost of burning coal, oil, and gas by imposing a carbon tax or price. Many programs are modest, given the political challenges of setting a high enough tax or price to significantly reduce fossil fuel use. The article concludes, “Partly for that reason, carbon pricing has, so far, played only a supporting role in efforts to mitigate global warming.”
Ohio’s gasoline tax is set to rise. A state legislative conference committee has approved a compromise increase in the state fuel tax of 10.5 cents per gallon for gasoline and 19 cents for diesel Starting on July 1, Ohioans would pay a per-gallon state tax of 38.5 cents per on gas and 47 cents on diesel.
Filer Voter can increase voter registration, and voting. TPC’s Vanessa Williams’ new research finds that letting people register to vote when they file their taxes can significantly boost voter participation. She ran her experiment at free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites in Texas and Ohio and found they increased registration and voting. The results “indicate that the Filer Voter model has substantial potential to increase civic engagement at low cost to voters, tax preparers, and government institutions.”
A good volunteer is hard to find. Could tax policy make it easier? The Tax Hound considers the relationship between tax deductions for charitable giving and volunteerism: “Perhaps policymakers could encourage more people to donate time if they strengthened incentives for them to give money to charities. But Congress recently went in the opposite direction.”
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- © Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, and individual authors, 2016.