The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
An Obamacare replacement? Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch, House Energy and Commerce chair Fred Upton, and GOP Senator Richard Burr have released their health reform plan, called the Patient CARE Act. The proposal, similar to a bill Hatch and Burr introduced last year, would repeal the Affordable Care Act and provide income-adjusted tax credits for people to buy private insurance and cap the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage. People would be guaranteed insurance coverage but only if they remain continuously enrolled in some health plan. The bill would also impose a per-person cap on Medicaid spending. It’s unclear how much support the measure has among Republicans. It will get little or no backing from Democrats.
How will Jeb Bush turn his vision of government into tax policy? That’s TPC’s Howard Gleckman’s question. “The talk exposed some interesting internal conflicts in the former Florida governor’s message.” Will he be able to iron them out as campaign season gets underway? Stay tuned.
Will Maryland Governor Hogan make good on his promises of tax relief? Maryland Republican Larry Hogan proposes to end automatic increases in the state’s gasoline tax. He’d also create a new exemption for small businesses; provide tax relief for military, police and fire retirees; and repeal a storm water mitigation fee he calls the “rain tax.” He’d also provide a tax incentive to help parochial schools. Hogan needs the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature to support him. So far, no sale.
Will Governor Walker win over colleagues with his plans to borrow, not tax, for roads? Wisconsin’s Republican Scott Walker released a budget that slightly reduces property taxes over the next two years, borrows $220 million for a new sports arena, and $1.3 billion for infrastructure and road construction. But GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos would rather raise vehicle registration fees based on miles driven to pay for roads. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the statewide chamber of commerce and GOP supporter, prefers a modest gas tax increase. The state’s Department of Transportation says it needs $750 million in higher taxes and fees, including on gasoline and vehicle registrations, to pay for roads.
How much do Michigan voters want to know about a proposed tax change? Former Republican state representative Tom McMillin wants an upcoming ballot initiative on a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the state’s sales tax to include an explanation of each of the 10 laws that would go into effect if the amendment is approved. The proposal would increase the state sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, drop the tax on fuel sales but increase fuel taxes. It would boost funding for roads and transit, K-12 schools, and local governments, and fully restore the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. Michigan’s legislature can dictate ballot language for a legislative referendum, but not for a constitutional referendum.
A school district closes a tax loophole. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania taxpayers owe a transfer tax of 4 percent on all real property sales: 2 percent goes to the city, 1 percent to the school district, and 1 percent to the state. But there's a loophole. A group that acquired the US Steel Tower for $250 million in 2011 technically bought the building’s owner, not the property. And because the buyers first acquired 89 percent of the company, and bought the rest three years later, they saved $10 million in transfer taxes. The school district now requires developers who receive tax abatements to sign a promise that if the property is sold, they will not structure the transaction to avoid the deed transfer taxes.
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