The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Tax Expirers: On to the Senate. On a roughly party-line vote, the House restored 55 expired tax provisions and extended them for… three weeks. Now the Senate gets to decide whether to go along or to amend the bill, most likely by extending the measures through 2015. And the world turns…
Shouldn’t Congress comparison-shop before the holidays this year? TPC’s Elaine Maag wishes it would. The temporary benefit increases of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, in effect since 2009, expire in 2017 and are not included in the House package of expired (and mostly-for-business) tax breaks. Together, the EITC and CTC reduced the poverty rate from 19 percent to 16 percent in 2012. Making the temporary increases permanent would cost $3.5 billion annually.
But the ABLE Act may be able to advance. In its tax extender bill, the House included the popular Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The bill would allow states to establish tax-favored saving programs for individuals who become disabled before age 26. They could tap savings for living and education expenses. Friends and families could contribute up to $14,000-a-year without being subject to the gift tax. Contributions would be pre-tax but withdrawals would be tax-free. ABLE account balances would not affect eligibility for Medicaid and other means-tested federal programs. The bill, estimated to cost about $2 billion over ten years, also includes $638 million in tax-related offsets and about $1.4 billion in spending cuts, mostly in Medicare and Social Security. See, Congress does pay for some legislation.
Stopping corporate inversions could raise even more revenue than we thought. The Joint Committee on Taxation revised upward—by 72 percent—its estimate of revenues under Senator Carl Levin’s plan to stop corporate inversions. Over ten years, Levin’s bill could raise $33.6 billion. The previous estimate “did not properly reflect the appetite of some U.S. corporations for inversions,” said JCT Chief of Staff Thomas Barthold. Levin’s bill has no chance of passage before the lame duck Congress leaves, and faces even longer odds in the next Congress.
But President Obama tells CEOs there’s a chance for business tax reform next year. He told members of the Business Roundtable yesterday that “There is definitely a deal to be done.” He thinks business tax reform could be easier to accomplish than a full-blown rewrite. This week, incoming Ways & Means Chair Paul Ryan was also talking up business reform. Do they mean it?
Across the Atlantic, how low can a corporate tax rate go? We may soon find out in the United Kingdom. Bloomberg reports that the UK government will introduce legislation to allow the semi-autonomous government of Northern Ireland to control its own corporate tax—as long as local politicians can manage its financial implications. The UK’s main corporate tax rate is 21 percent and will drop to 20 percent in April. The corporate tax rate in the independent Irish Republic is 12.5 percent.
But one corporate tax may get a little higher in the UK. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne just introduced a “Google Tax” to force multinationals to pay more taxes locally. The 25 percent tax targets tech companies like Google and Apple. Both have successfully shifted profits into lower tax countries. Osborne estimates the “Google tax” could raise $475 million a year. For what it’s worth (which might ultimately not be a lot for the UK): Google generated $18 billion in revenue in the UK between 2006 and 2011, and paid $16 million in profit taxes.
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