The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Congress is in recess and the Daily Deduction will post Mondays until it reconvenes. We’ll be back to our regular schedule on April 13.
Taxpayers: How are IRS budget cuts affecting you? You can find out on Wednesday from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a TPC event at the Brookings Institution. Koskinen will discuss how the IRS is responding to deep budget cuts. After his talk, TPC’s Howard Gleckman will moderate a panel featuring National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, Intuit’s Chief Tax Officer David Williams, IRS Director of Research, Analysis, and Statistics Rosemary Marcuss, and TPC’s Eric Toder. Together they’ll explore the consequences and potential responses to budget cuts. If you can’t be there in person, you can tune in to the webcast.
There’s some “Refund Madness” in Colorado. Last month, it looked like the state would have to refund nearly $60 million from its 28 percent marijuana tax because of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Now, lawmakers are working across the aisle to keep the money and avoid tapping Colorado’s general fund to cover school construction and other needs. Under TABOR, if total tax revenue is higher than estimated, the state has to return the difference to taxpayers.
Some Washington State lawmakers bet it all on the online sales tax. The state’s Democrats think that US Supreme Court will ultimately allow states to collect sales tax from out-of-of-state retailers selling items to their residents online. They’re so confident, they’ve budgeted millions of dollars in extra revenue from an online sales tax, collected even by some sellers who have no physical presence in the state. The High Court has already opened to door to state laws requiring online sellers to collect if they do have presence, but now Washington State legislators want to push the justices to expand that ruling. State tax officials are being more cautious in their estimates of the state’s initiative, just in case the Supreme Court strikes down the plan’s key provision.
Are you obsessing about income tax rates? TPC’s Howard Gleckman draws attention to an important detail that’s easily lost in talks of tax reform: The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that two-thirds of households will pay more payroll tax than income tax this year. And that could have major consequences for both tax and entitlement reform. Eighty million tax filers earn no more than $40,000 and together will pay no federal income tax this year, but will pay $121 billion in Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. Three-quarters of middle-income households will pay more in payroll tax than income tax.
Or are you consumed by talk of consumption taxes? It’s hard not to be, given the Lee-Rubio tax reform plan and the attention it’s earned. Is a consumption levy a tax reform panacea? TPC’s Howard Gleckman says no for a number of reasons. Among them, it’s regressive in its simplicity. Congress would likely add exceptions and special interest “goodies.” And it would generate a long list of winners and losers. A consumption tax is a good idea, but making one work—just like income tax reform—is hard work.
Still thirsty for more tax talk? How might a sin tax on sugar-added beverages work? Could it curb consumption of those drinks, reduce obesity, and trim health care costs? TaxVox’s Tax Hound investigates.
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Posts and comments are solely the opinion of the author and not that of the Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute, or Brookings Institution.