The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
A Senator says “no way” to a bill that won’t see December’s light of day. As far as the lame-duck Congress is concerned, the Marketplace Fairness Act is dead: House Speaker John Boehner assured as much last week. Senator Ted Cruz has added his two cents (tax-free) insisting it is the “height of lunacy” to let states tax voters who backed GOP control of the Senate and House. Yet governors of both parties support the bill: They lose an estimated $23 billion a year when their residents buy online from out-of-state sellers and don’t pay sales taxes.
Saying “no” is easy when there was never any question. President Obama will use executive authority to grant legal status to undocumented immigrants. To some in the GOP, this action is so combative that they will never be able to work with Democrats on tax reform in 2015. But were the two parties ever going to work together on tax reform next year? TPC’s Howard Gleckman has the answer: All’s fair in finger-pointing.
Yay or Nay, there’s just so much to do, and too little time… The New York Times offers a thorough rundown of what’s at stake with nearly 60 expiring tax breaks, and quotes Senator Tom Coburn’s prediction that Congress “will likely pass this Christmas tree filled with goodies for special interests that will add billions of dollars to the national debt.” Meanwhile, the House is still casting about for a budget strategy. One possibility: Pass an omnibus spending bill in December to keep the government running, then rescind funding for programs that implement Obama’s immigration order.
Should commuter parking and transit tax benefits be overhauled? A new study says yes. The Washington Post reports that The Frontier Group and the Transit Center argue that tax breaks for both drivers and rail users are costly, work at cross purposes, and “fail to reward travel choices such as carpooling, car sharing, and bike sharing that reduce vehicle commutes and/or improve the efficiency of the transportation system.” TPC’s Howard Gleckman wondered about the commuter subsidy last year, and came to a similar conclusion.
Will there be a tax cut for some in Mississippi? Maybe. Republican Governor Phil Bryant would like to cut income taxes for those earning less than $53,000 a year—in years when state revenue grows by at least 3 percent and the state savings account is full. When times are good, about 300,000 households in Mississippi could get an average annual tax cut of $250. But unlike the federal EITC, Bryant’s tax relief would be nonrefundable. About 90,000 Mississippians earn too little to owe federal income taxes but receive their federal EITC as a refund. His proposal has a $79 million price tag in his 2016 budget.
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