The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Up next week: The President’s Budget. President Obama will release his budget for fiscal year 2016 on Monday. The plan would increase spending above the sequester limits of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Steep cuts were triggered in 2013 when Congress failed to reach a budget deal, but were then temporarily suspended thanks to a deal struck between former Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray and former House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan. The President’s fiscal year 2016 budget would boost the sequester limits on domestic discretionary and military spending by 7 percent. This includes $37 billion in extra non-defense money and $38 billion more for the Pentagon.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will defend the President’s budget on the Hill, starting Tuesday. The President’s budget is dead on arrival, but Lew will defend it at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Tuesday morning.
Groundhog Day: Extenders are on deck in the House for February. It will consider measures to restore and permanently extend section 179 expensing and revised tax benefits for charitable giving. Charitable giving subsidies include tax-free IRA distributions to charities, donations of real property for conservation, and deductions for food inventory donations. The House passed all these last year but they died in the Senate. Will a GOP Senate embrace them? Will Obama veto them? Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow?
Repatriation holiday, redux. Senators Rand Paul and Barbara Boxer are co-sponsoring a transportation funding bill that relies on the repatriation of corporate earnings to help pay for US infrastructure. It would tax repatriated earnings at 6.5 percent, well under the corporate rate of 35 percent. That revenue would be transferred to Federal Highway Trust Fund. Paul and Boxer have not specified how long the Fund would remain solvent as a result, but they think this plan is more viable than raising the gasoline tax. Federal transportation funding is set to expire in May.
The Affordable Care Act tax penalty has to be paid by millions who didn’t get insurance. Treasury says between 3 and 6 million Americans will need to pay the penalty. It’s either $95,or one percent of income over a certain threshold, about $20,000 for a married couple. TPC’s ACA penalty calculator shows how big or small a penalty might be.
Low-income taxpayers: Helped by the IRS and volunteers. The IRS’ Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Program Office released its annual program report. During 2013, LITCs represented 20,972 taxpayers in disputes with the IRS and provided consultation and advice to an additional 25,179 taxpayers. LITCs helped taxpayers secure more than $5.2 million in tax refunds and eliminate over $51.2 million in tax liabilities, penalties and interest. LITCs also conducted 3,640 educational activities attended by 129,584 persons. Almost 2,000 people volunteered.
Check out the latest State Economic Monitor. Just out from TPC’s State and Local Finance Initiative, this quarter’s report finds the unemployment rate fell in 46 states and DC between December 2013 and December 2014, but national real average weekly earnings increased in only 16 states. Total tax revenue over the past four quarters was 1.6 percent higher than the previous year.
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