The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
No shutdown, so far. Democrats hated it because of riders weakening Dodd-Frank financial protections and allowing fat-cats to triple their donations to political parties. Republicans hated it because it didn’t stop President Obama from liberalizing immigration laws. But, in the end, the House agreed to fund most of the government through next September, though it set up a new battle over immigration for early in the next Congress. The Senate, which gave itself a couple of extra days to work on the measure, still must approve the $1.1 trillion funding bill. And there, it will run into a firestorm of opposition led by the oddest of political couples—liberal Elizabeth Warren and conservative Ted Cruz. They loathe the bill for very different reasons. But they do loathe the bill.
But the House wouldn’t make permanent three expired charitable tax breaks. The House rejected an $11 billion bill that would have made permanent tax incentives for charitable donations of food, money from retirement accounts, and land-development rights. Backers couldn’t get the two-thirds vote necessary under expedited procedures. The GOP supported the measure, while Democrats split, killing the bill. Among the nays: Senior Ways & Means Committee Democrat Sandy Levin, who sponsored one of the measures. TPC’s Howard Gleckman commends Levin's sense of fiscal responsibility: “It is not every day you see a politician stand up and object when the House is about to pass one of his own bills.” Making the charitable tax breaks permanent was not paid for, Levin argued, and deserved no special treatment.
About those civil forfeiture laws…They were designed to curb money laundering and terrorism but funds have been seized from some small businesses, irrespective of likely criminal activity. In response, House Ways & Means Chair Dave Camp and Levin have introduced the Taxpayer Protections Against Abusive Seizures Act. The bill would protect taxpayers from the inappropriate application of civil forfeiture laws by allowing a person to request a probable cause hearing within two weeks of his funds being seized. If the government can’t prove probable cause, the funds would be returned.
No more Google News in Spain. The news service will cease operations in Spain starting December 16. Spain just passed a bill banning news aggregating services from accessing, ranking, or linking to news stories on the sites of Spanish publications due to copyright violations. Starting next year, the government will tax these services for using and aggregating content from Spanish magazines or newspapers. Google finds the practice unsustainable, since it earns no money from site advertising to pay for the tax. Spain assures its citizens that it will continue to guarantee freedom of access to information on the internet.
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