Presidential candidates and tax returns: There’s a bill for that. Senate Finance Committee top Democrat Ron Wyden introduced the Presidential Tax Transparency Act yesterday. It would require a nominee to release their most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of being nominated at a party’s convention. If the nominee chooses not to comply, the Treasury Secretary would give them to the FEC for public release. For what it’s worth, the bill does not contain the word “audit.”
A first step toward a Puerto Rico workout. The House Natural Resources Committee approved a measure to allow the financially-troubled commonwealth to restructure its debt through a federally appointed oversight board. It is just a first step, and House conservatives have signaled they’ll oppose the measure as a federal bailout, even though no federal funds are directly involved. Backers would like Congress to create some mechanism for Puerto Rico and its bondholders to resolve the debt issue before the island defaults on $2 billion in payments July 1.
The United Kingdom’s IRS has problems, too. Service quality at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, or HMRC, took a serious hit over an 18-month period between 2014 and 2015, according to the UK’s National Audit Office. Time on hold tripled, largely because the HMRC cut 11,000 staff between 2010 and 2014 in anticipation of a new online tax filing system. But the online system had enough of a bumpy start that people still called for help—and waited for as long as 47 minutes. HMRC hired 2,400 to staff its tax helpline last year. Now, the average time on hold is down to 6 minutes.
Oregon brings in more revenue than expected with its marijuana sales tax. The state estimated it would collect $2 million to $3 million in 2016, but Oregon generated $10.5 million in just the past three months. The marijuana sales tax rate is between 17 percent and 25 percent, depending on where customers make their purchase. New Jersey pot advocates are intrigued and back a similar plan to bring in much needed revenue, but Governor Chris Christie remains opposed to legalization.
The State of New York will soon end the sales tax on feminine hygiene products. After a lawsuit claimed the tax violated the equal protection clauses of the US and New York constitutions, and after much wrangling over language, the state Assembly and Senate have agreed on a bill to exempt feminine hygiene products from the state sales tax. Once signed by Governor Cuomo, the exemption will take effect on the first day of the next sales tax quarter.
North Carolina’s Senate came together over a middle class tax cut. Lawmakers voted unanimously to raise the state’s standard deduction. The bill would raise the state’s $15,500 standard deduction for joint filers to $16,500 this year, and $17,500 in 2017. It would boost the deduction for single filers from $7,750 to $8,750 over two years. The North Carolina House, eyeing the need for a balanced budget, would raise the standard deduction more slowly, raising the deduction for married couples to $17,500 by 2020.
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