In case you forgot, the GOP presidential candidates’ proposed tax cuts are unprecedented. Some might even call them “irresponsible.” Last night’s debate didn’t illuminate matters, though Donald Trump said he would pay for his entire plan and balance the budget by eliminating (1) the US Department of Education, (2) the Environmental Protection Agency, and (3) waste, fraud, and abuse. Nobody else faced significant questions on their fiscal plans.
As for the candidates’ tax returns… Mitt Romney, the GOP 2012 presidential nominee, urges the current GOP field to release their tax returns. Front-runner Donald Trump says he’ll make a determination about releasing his in a “couple months,” after an IRS audit. Of course, only Trump and the IRS know the status of those audits so we'll have to trust him. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz say they'll share their returns later this week, conveniently after last night's debate.
Can the IRS get its credibility—and its funding—back? It depends. At yesterday’s TPC forum on tax policy, House Ways & Means Chair Kevin Brady said Congress might be willing to give the IRS more funding, but only if the agency becomes, in his words, “more independent.” As for tax reform, Brady said he’d do as much as he can on international reform this year. At the same event, the Senate Finance Committee’s top Democrat Ron Wyden called for international reform as well, but his version seems quite different from Brady’s. Among their many disagreements, Brady wants the new system to raise roughly the same amount of money as the current model, while Wyden wants it to raise more, with the difference used to fund domestic infrastructure spending. Sound familiar?
More trouble for House GOP budgeteers. Remember that possible budget agreement that House leaders thought they had reached with their rank-and-file—the one where hardliners would work within budget targets agreed to last year? Well, they may not have a deal after all. Politico reports that the conservative Republican Study Committee will oppose a budget unless it includes deeper spending reductions. Back to the drawing board.
In Louisiana, lawmakers debate tax increases. The state’s House of Representatives considered 30 tax increases on shoppers, smokers, phone service, drinkers, and businesses. The legislature needs to close a $900 million budget shortfall by June 30.
Save this date: March 3. Next Thursday the Urban Institute hosts a lunch-time forum to examine how growing complexity in family structure makes tax filing more complicated, especially when families apply for programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. Intuit’s David Williams will moderate a panel featuring Francesca Jean Baptiste of the Maryland CASH Campaign, TPC’s Elaine Maag, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, and the Urban Institute’s Elizabeth Peters.
And on the Hill next week… The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing Tuesday to consider multi-employer pension plans, and holds a hearing Thursday to examine the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement.
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