The Ways & Means Committee wraps up its $100 billion tax bill. The Economic Mobility Act of 2019 restores and extends dozens of special interest tax breaks, and expands refundable tax credits for low-income families. It does not fix the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. And it includes no provisions to pay for its many tax cuts. It is not clear when Chairman Richard Neal will bring the bill to the House floor, though he says it will include pay-fors when it gets there. Republicans oppose the measure.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson: IRS Taxpayer Service “woefully inadequate.” In her final report to Congress before retiring, Olson said that while the IRS had a generally successful tax filing season, it had a lower level of telephone service compared to last year. Taxpayers trying to set up payment plans for back taxes had the toughest time getting through. The government shutdown also prevented the IRS from training enough new IRS customer service staff.
President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau are trying to get along. The Canadian prime minister met with the president yesterday for more talks about a North American trade deal. Mexico has agreed to the revamped pact, now that Trump has lifted tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum. Trudeau wants to know whether the deal will pass muster in the US House. Meanwhile the Republican Governors Association has urged congressional leaders to approve the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
But trade tensions continue between President Trump and India. After Trump withdrew a key trade privilege for India, it raised tariffs on some US goods. Now, Trump may restrict H-1B work visas for Indian nationals, the largest recipients of such visas. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be visiting India this month.
Sen. Schumer: Why so long to design a $20 bill? Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants the Treasury Department’s inspector general to investigate why Treasury is delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill. The new bill was announced during the Obama Administration and designs were supposed to be released in 2020. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants the bill delayed until at least 2030, and perhaps later.
Sen. Warren reintroduces Refund Equality Act. Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren has reintroduced a bill to allow same-sex couples to amend past tax returns and receive refunds for prior years. Warren first introduced a version 2017. Until repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, same sex couples who were legally married in states such as Massachusetts could not file federal taxes jointly. While some would face a marriage penalty, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that taxpayers who were in same-sex marriages prior to repeal of DOMA would be eligible for up to $57 million in refunds.
Is California’s gas tax increase enough for road repairs? Starting July 1, the state will charge the highest taxes and fees on gasoline in the nation, raising an estimated $52 billion over ten years for road repairs. But state officials say that even with the gas tax increases enacted since 2017, the state still faces a ten-year shortfall of $78 billion.
Alice Rivlin: The George Washington of the Congressional Budget Office. TPC’s Gene Steuerle offers a tribute to the founding director of the CBO. “I once told her I’d quit my job and join her campaign if she would run for president. Even in a likely loss, it would be a winning proposition, I asserted, to finally have someone honest and forthright in a presidential debate.”
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