The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
The White House plans to release its budget on February 2. It would be the first time since 2010 that the Administration would meet the deadline for the roll-out. The Hill reports that the OMB hopes such timeliness will restore some discipline to an old and broken-down process. Broken down perhaps, but not without a pattern. Republicans have routinely rejected the President’s previous budgets: Too many taxes. Too much spending.
And one Congressman dreams an impossible dream. TPC’s Howard Gleckman explains. Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte introduced three bills on the first day of the 114th Congress: one to abolish the tax code and replace it with… something, and another two to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget. But as Howard concludes, talk is cheap. In the absence of the current tax code, Goodlatte has not explained how he’d collect revenue for any budget, balanced or not. “This sort of legislation is pernicious because it makes it easy for lawmakers to take meaningless votes to ‘balance the budget’ or ‘abolish the tax code’ or ‘repeal Obamacare’ without ever actually doing anything.”
Will “Cadillac” health insurance plans go the way of the Edsel? Some big employers that want to avoid the 40 percent surcharge on health-insurance premiums in excess of $27,500 for a family or $10,200 for an individual are phasing out expensive health insurance plans. The tax, established under the Affordable Care Act and effective in 2018, was designed to reduce health spending. It seems to be working: Premium increases for employer-sponsored health insurance have slowed in 31 states since the ACA’s enactment in 2010, according to the latest from The Commonwealth Fund, but deductibles have more than doubled in 44 states since 2003.
Is a federal gas tax increase really on the table? Jim Inhofe, new Senate Environment Committee Chair, says it is. So does new Senate Transportation Committee Chair John Thune. But the National Republican Congressional Committee is busily sending out press releases ripping Democrats who back the idea, including #2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks the time is right, too, if a plan is tied to the sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund. President Obama would consider one if it had broad support. Given states’ moves to increase their own gasoline taxes amid falling oil prices, maybe the time for a federal gas tax increase has come. But as TPC’s Howard Gleckman notes, politics tend to trump what makes sense.
The Freedom and Unity State says that clicking is not free: Amazon is not amused. Vermonters can no longer earn money online by referring their customers to the online retail giant. In 2011, Vermont passed a law that applies sales tax to purchases that result from such referrals, known as click-through sales. The law won’t take effect until one-third of states with sales tax adopt similar measures. But Amazon booted Vermont’s Amazon Associate program participants out of the program anyway, “as a direct result of Vermont’s state tax collection legislation.” Will online advertisers who thrive on click-throughs, like Google, leave Vermont too? Would a federal solution help? Amazon thinks so, but House Republicans don’t.
Foreign income is taxable in China. Now China wants to collect. Since 1993, China has followed the US example by taxing income of corporations or individuals no matter where it is earned. Now China is moving to collect the taxes due from individuals overseas. In its commercial hub of Guangzhou province, the government will meet later this month with 150 executives from the largest corporations to discuss the tax obligations of China’s overseas employees. Other local governments are asking large businesses in their jurisdictions to provide detailed information on expats’ incomes. The top income tax rate in China? It’s 45 percent, effective on monthly incomes over $12,900.
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