The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Is dynamic scoring ready for prime time? At a TPC-Hutchins Center program yesterday, backers and critics debated whether congressional scorekeepers should include macroeconomic effects of tax changes when doing a budget score. They disagreed, of course, but did agree that if the tool is used, it ought to be limited to a few big bills and published along with traditional revenue estimates.
CBO says the deficit is still falling, but the national debt is not. The good news: The deficit is continuing to fall since peaking in the depths of the Great Recession. But there is bad news too: Deficits will begin rising again in just a few years. And the debt continues to grow toward troubling levels.
Whose college savings plans would be affected by Obama’s tax plan? Betty Lochner, chair of the College Savings Plan Network, says the average Sec. 529 savings account—withdrawals from which are currently tax exempt—contains less than $21,000. “These are not plans that are designed for the wealthy; they’re designed for the middle class.” But in 2012, those balances were disproportionately held by wealthy families earning over $200,000 a year. TPC’s Kim Rueben and the Urban Institute’s Sandy Baum don’t think college tax subsidies should reduce costs for students who’d likely go to college anyway, concluding, “If we are going to continue to rely on the tax system to subsidize college education, the president’s reforms would improve the targeting and effectiveness of educational aid.”
What about flexible spending accounts for child care? The President would end those tax-free accounts, too, and put the money toward the expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. As TPC’s Elaine Maag noted, “Many families with child care expenses would come out ahead on balance because of the generally higher credit rates under the proposal, but high-income families, particularly those with one child 5 or older, would likely owe higher taxes.”
As for child care tax subsidies… In his interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner said he and his GOP colleagues would consider tripling the child and dependent care tax credit, as the President proposes. It serves the interest of simplifying the tax code and bringing rates down for everybody. But Obama’s plan to pay for it by raising taxes on high-income taxpayers is “dead, real dead” in Congress, concluded Boehner.
You think you’ve got problems? Consider property tax assessments in Scarsdale. Property values have been re-assessed for the first time in 45 years, and values went up—way up—as did property taxes. One homeowner’s tax bill went from $125,000 per year to $180,000. He’s not alone in his pain: 735 property owners are appealing their assessments. For decades, towns raised rates steadily each year to fund village or school budget needs. That didn’t work: Some homeowners ended up paying far more in taxes than neighbors with comparable homes.
Ohio is suing over an Obamacare tax. The state of Ohio Department of Administrative Services, several state universities, and a local government are suing the Obama Administration over the fee that nearly all health insurers must pay, including employers who provide group coverage for their employees. So far, Ohio has paid $5.4 million, the University of Akron paid $325,584, Bowling Green paid $275,247, Youngstown State paid $108,527, Shawnee State paid $56,007, and Warren County paid $94,710. The tax, or fee, on insurers is designed to fund a reinsurance pool. The lawsuit argues that the federal government may not impose a tax on state and local governments.
Today on the Hill… Both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee will hold hearings on trade policy. The Congressional Budget Office will present its budget and economic outlook to the House Budget Committee.
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