Deficit Feed

Congress hopes to move beyond talk and have tax reform details in writing by mid-November. The Senate Budget Committee released its 2018 budget blueprint on Sept. 29, setting the stage for up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next 10 years. That's an astounding, alarming, amazing, pick-your-adjective amount. But the figure that caught my eye, and which earns this week's By the Numbers honor, is 13. As in Nov. 13. That's the date set in the Senate budget resolution by which it wants some legislative flesh attached to the framework of a tax reform that Republicans released on... Read more →


House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, surrounded by his Republican colleagues, displays a postcard tax return his Party says will be possible under the tax reform framework released today. (Screenshot of C-SPAN video; click image to watch tape.) And so tax reform 2017 begins. Unfortunately, it begins vaguely. The Republican Party today released its "Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code." That long title, which is in dramatic all capital letters on cover of the nine-page document, belies the amount of information it provides. In fact, there are fewer tax details in this latest GOP... Read more →


Donald J. Trump is Tweeting about tax reform. He's also holding bipartisan dinners at the White House to talk taxes. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was pleased steak was on the menu. The White House website has a video explaining how the tax code is broken. House Speaker Paul Ryan says Congressional Republican's tax reform plan outline will be released in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, pundits have been honing their prognostication skills, attempting to tease out tax possibilities and their potential effects. But despite all this action, the bottom line is that it's still just a big tax... Read more →


More Americans believe the Trump Administration will hike their taxes rather than cut them, according to a new poll. The CBS News survey found 38 percent believe the president will raise their taxes, 25 percent believe he will lower them and 33 percent think their tax bills won't change. The tax increase belief was strongest among poll participants who made less than $100,000. The telephone poll, conducted between April 21-24 by SSRS of Media, Pennsylvania, was released by CBS News on Wednesday, April 26, the same day that the White House revealed its latest tax reform plan. That tax plan,... Read more →


Tax Day 2017 is over. That means Uncle Sam has the bulk of his take from our 2016 earnings, thanks to tax bills paid on April 18 with return filings and extensions. Now what's he going to do with our money? Steve Ballmer at World Mobile Congress in 2010 talking about the Windows phone when he was still heading Microsoft. (Photo by Aanjhan Ranganathan via Flickr CC) Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and current owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, has the answer to that eternal taxpayer question. Well, not Ballmer himself, but rather his newly launched government financial... Read more →


This post updated 10 p.m. CT, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Donald Trump has promised to deliver in a few weeks a tax plan that would "lower the overall tax burden on American businesses big league." The effusive description notwithstanding, some corporate tax reform would be welcome. It's long been accepted that the U.S. tax code needs work when it comes to business. The new Republican president and GOP-controlled House and Senate are promising business and individual tax reform. Analyses of the proposals so far, however, show that rich folks, personified in the character Jay Gatsby portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in... Read more →


President-Elect Donald Trump is feeling charitable again. This time, it's Uncle Sam who's the target of his largesse. President-Elect Donald Trump and his three older children (Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr.) get ready to meet the press this morning (Jan. 11) to discuss Trump Organization business deals after The Donald is sworn in on Jan. 20. (Photo by Evan Vicci via TPM Twitter post) During the almost hour-long press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan (Trump's first Q&A with the media since July 16, 2016, when he was on the campaign trail), a tax attorney for the incoming 45th president... Read more →


Everybody loves pay day, even Uncle Sam. That's essentially what the annual tax filing season is. And the one that ended on April 18 was pretty good. Graphics courtesy U.S. Treasury Department. The U.S. Treasury Department's monthly statement for April, released May 11, shows receipts of $438.4 billion, thanks in large part to large individual tax deposits. That income, notes Treasury, produced a monthly surplus of $106.5 billion. The current budget surplus, however, is down 32 percent from the same period last year. In April 2015, the surplus was $157 billion. Shifting federal payments: Some of that could be attributable... Read more →


It's a Christmas miracle! Weeks are left in 2015 and Congress has reached a deal on the 50+ tax breaks known as extenders. Holiday greetings in the hall leading from the room in the Capitol basement where House Republicans met late Dec. 15 to learn of agreement on omnibus spending and tax extenders bills. Photo by Craig Caplan, C-SPAN Capitol Hill producer, via Twitter. For those of us in the tax world, waiting for action in recent years on this group of technically temporary tax breaks has become a holiday tradition. A bad holiday tradition, to be sure, but one... Read more →


Today's news is that there's no news from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the tax subsidies offered to folks who used the federal insurance exchange will continue or be eliminated. UPDATE, June 25, 2015: The Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act tax subsidies for insurance purchasers at both federal and state exchanges. But just across the street on Capitol Hill, another part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it's popularly known, is a bit closer to repeal. The House voted on June 18 to get rid of the medical device tax. This 2.3 percent levy has been... Read more →


Capitol Hill is in the throes of contentious budget negotiations. The process is complicated not only by the differing political priorities of Democrats and Republicans, but also the somewhat competing stances of GOP members, some of whom have higher political aspirations. Both sides of the Hill agreed on their fiscal plans in late March. Now they must reconcile the two. With the GOP in control of both chambers, the House and Senate fiscal year 2016 budgets actually are pretty similar. Both want to fast-track a measure that would repeal Obamacare, as well as add more money for defense projects. Balanced... Read more →


Workers have been paying the full 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax for almost two years now. You remember this so-called tax holiday in place in 2011 and 2012. During those years, the deduction from your pay that goes toward the federal retirement program was reduced by 2 percentage points to 4.2 percent. The matching employers' portion stayed at 6.2 percent. The payroll tax cut for workers was made so that folks would have a few more dollars to spend, giving the sluggish economy a buying boost. But after two years, Congress decided enough was enough and let the payroll... Read more →


Remember the last election cycle when most of the campaign and Capitol Hill talk focused on the federal budget deficit? Now, however, with the Nov. 4 balloting day just about a month away, it's pretty much crickets when it comes to the deficit. Part of the reason is that as the fiscal 2014 year is winding down, the U.S. deficit is dropping. Last month the U.S. Treasury reported that the country's debt level fell again, on a fiscal year-over-year basis, to $589.5 billion. August's deficit was $128 billion. That's a 58 percent reduction from the fiscal 2009 deficit peak of... Read more →


The tax version of Groundhog Day is playing out again on Capitol Hill, this time in the Senate theater. But don't settle down on the couch with your popcorn just yet. The feature legislative presentation is still a ways off. Although Senators agreed yesterday (May 13) to consider the package of 52 (out of 55 or so) tax business and individual tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, final passage is not a sure thing. And even if it clears the Senate this week, the House isn't likely to consider the bulk of the tax breaks until late... Read more →


And here we are again, if not on a fiscal cliff, at least standing on a debt ceiling ledge. When Congress agreed to reopen the federal government after October 2013's 16-day shut-down, it also suspended the debt ceiling until today, Feb. 7. Click image for the full interactive national debt clock. As we've all come to learn in the last few years, the debt ceiling is the limit on Uncle Sam's ability to borrow money to pay for bills he -- and by he, I mean Congress -- has already incurred, including, but not limited to Social Security and Medicare... Read more →


It's a done financial deal. This evening (Jan. 16), the Senate approved the $1.1 trillion spending bill that was OK'ed the day before by the House. Obama should sign the measure soon has signed the measure into law. Everyone in federal offices now knows just how big -- or small in the Internal Revenue Service's case -- a budget they'll have to work with for fiscal year 2014. Now for the next fiscal battle, increasing the debt ceiling. Debt And that deadline will be a bit closer than we previously thought. February, not March: Treasury Secretary Jacob (Jack) Lew says... Read more →


Maybe the National Taxpayer Advocate's recommendations came too late in the budgeting process. Or maybe members of Congress just like whacking the most hated federal agency with a fiscal bludgeon. Whatever the reason, the Internal Revenue Service is going to have to make do with less money in fiscal year 2014 under the omnibus budget bill worked out this week on Capitol Hill. UPDATE: The House passed the spending bill Wednesday, Jan. 15, afternoon by a bipartisan 359-to-67 margin. It now awaits Senate action. And that means all of us taxpayers will probably suffer at least a little bit this... Read more →


I'm a big believer in you get what you pay for. Apparently, so is National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. Olson this week released her annual report to Congress. In the yearly analysis, the Internal Revenue Service's internal watchdog details at least 20 of the biggest problems that taxpayers face. For 2013, Olson enumerated 25 taxpayer troubles. And she put the inability to get good service from the IRS near the top of her latest list. One of the most frustrating taxpayer-IRS interactions is telephone service. Folks seeking answers via phone are getting worse service now. And why is there such... Read more →


For the last few days of September and the first 16 days of October, much of the attention was on one Representative and one Senator. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led a fight to defund Obamacare and egged on House Republicans to do the same, leading in large part to the government shutdown. That made things difficult for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as he tried to bring the opposing factions of his party together. However, now that a deal has been reached to reopen federal facilities, the focus has shifted to 29 members of Congress. They are the bipartisan group... Read more →


Grave government shutdown leaving us all adrift a la Gravity

Will Capitol Hill and the White House come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling and reopening all federal offices? A meeting had been scheduled for this afternoon -- actually as I type -- between the White House and Senate Democratic and Republican leaders who are working on a deal. The word now, however, is that the confab has been pushed back, possibly into tomorrow. If Congress, including Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican Party's recalcitrant Tea Party wing, can't be coaxed into a deal, we all will be left flying blind. That feeling of fear and hopelessness... Read more →