The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
The drive to a Highway Funding bill heads toward a cliff: The sequel. Congressional Democrats are digging in their heels and insisting that Republicans find a long-term solution to highway funding. That would force the GOP to come up with either tens of billions for a long-term bill or approximately $2 billion-a-month to keep asphalt pouring this summer. Will the minority Dems succeed? Didn’t we see this movie last summer?
Government subsidies are not just cash transfers, and they are not just for poor people. TPC’s Howard Gleckman points out that a new Census report on government assistance focuses only on means-tested benefits such as SNAP (Food Stamps) and TANF but ignores tax expenditures. Thus, it perpetuates two dangerous myths: “Government benefits come only in the form of direct spending, and most go to poor people. Neither is true.”
Can New York lose its “pink” tax? When it comes to the sales tax in New York, “necessities” like condoms are exempt. But feminine hygiene products are taxed. New York Assemblyman David Weprin, a Democrat from Queens, wants to get rid of this apparently gender-specific difference. That’s in line with Canada’s recent move to ditch the country's goods and services tax on feminine hygiene products. So far, nobody in the New York Senate is proposing a companion bill, however.
It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s a tax-cheat finding drone! The Indonesian government wants to find out the true size of plantations and the extent of mineral extraction in hard-to-reach places across 17,000 islands. It’s been easy for tax cheats to underreport their acreage and activities—but now, government operated drones can find the truth. A tax office official says mine and plantation owners in his jurisdiction pay only about 30 percent of the taxes they owe. Indonesia has a population of 250 million, but only 900,000 Indonesians submitted a tax return last year.
Burning Man gets scorched by Nevada. The annual September festival, described as an “experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance,” faces a new 9 percent entertainment tax. Sponsors worry the levy could cut next year’s attendance and cost the group $2.8 million. Most tickets cost $390, and the nonprofit that runs the festival says it hasn’t decided whether to pass the added cost on to its consumers. The organization spends about $11 million a year in the state and attendees contribute another $40 million a year to the state economy.
Consolation for some: There could be a coming crush on Colorado pot sales, thanks to TABOR. The state has to waive its 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana for one day: Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Why? Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights requires it. TABOR is powerful: It required the state to refund its first year of marijuana tax revenue after Colorado collected more than allowed by an inflation- and population-based formula. This year, a ballot measure will ask Coloradans to forego that refund, since it was triggered by a too-low estimate of the state's total economic activity.
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