There was some talk about taxes, but… The presidential candidates sparred over the relative benefits of supply-side economics, while Donald Trump promised to release his tax returns if Hillary Clinton shared her emails. He also said that his federal income tax dollars "would have" been squandered, and that paying no federal income taxes in several years makes him “smart.” Maybe next time the moderator will include some of Richard Auxier’s questions.
Donald Trump may have directed $2.3 million in compensation to his family foundation. The Washington Post reports that Trump instructed customers to shift payments owed to his businesses to his charitable foundation. They included a $400,000 appearance fee from Comedy Central and $1.9 million from a New York broker who purchased tickets to Trump-sponsored events. The Trump campaign told the Post that he "did not knowingly violate any tax laws." It is illegal for charity leaders to funnel otherwise taxable income into their non-profits and then use the money for personal benefit. Previously, the Post reported that Trump frequently used Trump Foundation money for his own benefit.
The IRS has hired four private firms to collect tax debts. The agency says that starting next spring the firms will begin collecting certain overdue federal tax debts. The IRS notes, “As a condition of receiving a contract, these agencies must respect taxpayer rights including, among other things, abiding by the consumer protection provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.” Last year, Congress required the agency to turn over uncollected debts to private firms in an effort to raise revenue to pay for highway construction. Past efforts to privatize debt IRS collection cost more than they produced.
Across the pond: Contracted firm deals with suicidal taxpayers. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs hired the US firm Concentrix to help cut fraud and overpayment of tax benefits. But a whistleblower says hundreds of British taxpayers have been calling the firm in despair, claiming their tax benefits have been cut suddenly and without written notice. Some, the whistleblower said, threatened suicide. Perhaps this serves as a cautionary tale for private collection agencies hired by the IRS here at home.
Conjunction, what’s your function? In New Mexico, the legislature could reduce the cost of a high-wage tax credit by tens of millions of dollars if it replaces an “or” with “and.” Today, the law gives an eligible company unlimited credits of up to $12,000 per employee if either half of what the firm produces in New Mexico is sold out of state or it’s eligible for the state’s job training incentive program. If companies had to meet both requirements, oil and gas firms would no longer be eligible. GOP Governor Susana Martinez indicates she’d back the change.
Thailand hops on the tax crackdown bandwagon. Reuters reports that the Thai government plans to toughen tax collection efforts on tech companies like Google. The initiative would cover “mobile transfers and internet payments,” too, said Prasong Poontaneat, director general of the Thai revenue department.
And London should have tougher tax enforcement, too. So says Labour Party Shadow Finance Minister, John McDonnell. “[W]ith the leak of the Panama Papers, we discovered… the integral links between companies and the City of London and tax evasion, and that's unacceptable," he said. “[We want to] make sure there's proper enforcement and actually make sure we have a proper legislative base.”
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