Politics Feed

Former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner leaves a Capitol Hill hearing on how the agency handles tax-exempt status requests. Her refusal to testify before two House Oversight Committee hearings in May 2013 and March 2014 ultimately led to her resignation from the IRS. Remember back in April 2015 when the Department of Justice decided it wouldn't follow-up on a Congressional contempt citation against Lois Lerner or "take any other action to prosecute" the former Internal Revenue Service executive? Current Republican Representatives do. And now, with the Justice Department full of fresh faces serving under a GOP White... Read more →


Online is the preferred purchasing method for millions. That's why states are looking at law changes, and court rulings, that let them get their sales tax share from shoppers. (Photo by Keith Williamson via Flickr Creative Commons) I'm not a big shopper in real life. But drop a catalog in my lap and I can find a dozen things I'd love to buy. In fact, I'm checking my porch multiple times a day for a lamp I recently ordered. Many of those tempting catalogs still include an insert form you can use to order the very old-fashioned snail mail way.... Read more →


One of the major drivers of the latest federal tax reform effort is the corporate tax rate. The Trump Administration is still pushing for a 15 percent corporate tax rate, the White House's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told CNBC last week. However, just the day before Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin conceded a 15 percent rate would be difficult to attain. Meanwhile, one Washington, D.C.-based tax policy group has looked at how much corporate taxes contribute per capita to state coffers. That analysis by The Tax Foundation earns this week's Shout Out Saturday honors. Not a major tax matter: "The corporate... Read more →


Bitcoin continues to confound financial and tax officials worldwide. BTC China, the country's first and largest digital currency exchange, announced Thursday, Sept. 14, that would stop trading by the end of the month. One reason apparently is the Chinese government ban instituted days earlier of fund-raising for new digital currencies. Although China embraced Bitcoin trading, the virtual currency's growth has increasingly worried the nation's regulators. One of the concerns was tax evasion. "Because it is traded anonymously and peer to peer, Bitcoin makes it easy for money laundering and tax evasion," Sheng Songcheng, an adviser to the People's Bank of... 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 →


Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, left, accepts a truckload of help from his New York colleague Rep. Tom Suozzi to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Now Brady wants to offer more help via special tax relief for retirement account withdrawals. (Photo from Rep. Brady via Facebook) Here's a clear indication that tax reform isn't going to be as easy as many hope. Talk of tax reform has focused variously on tax rate cuts, deduction reductions and overall simplification of the Internal Revenue Code. Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican in charge of the House tax-writing committee, is himself considering adding a new... Read more →


Amazon's headquarters (center high rise) dominates downtown Seattle. Now the online retail giant is looking to build a second HQ in another North American city. (Photo courtesy Amazon) In June, Amazon acquired what many Austin residents felt was a part of the city's core, the organic grocer Whole Foods. Now Texas' capital city is looking to get something back from Amazon — the online retailer's second headquarters. But becoming home to that new facility also raises a big question: At what tax cost? Second HQ as big as the first: Amazon announced Sept. 7 that it's looking for a city... Read more →


Houston paramedic Jesus Contreras, shown with some of his coworkers, was brought to the United States by his mother when he was just six. He is one of the almost 800,000 young people facing potential deportation if the Trump Administration revokes an Obama-instituted immigration leniency action. Click image to see the full NBC News report, via Twitter, on Contreras and the law. The White House is expected to make a decision on President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as soon as Tuesday, Sept. 5. UPDATE, Sept. 5: It's official. DACA is ending. In a press conference this... Read more →


Congress is looking to revise at least part of the bloated U.S. tax code in the coming months. In addition to reducing taxes, lawmakers say they want to make things simpler for taxpayers. In support of this argument, politicians and policy groups often point to the Internal Revenue Code’s complexity and compare it unfavorably to other nations. Our closest ally, however, shares a lot of the same tax troubles, at least according to one British economics writer. Growing British tax code: "Every [English] government promises to simplify taxes. None succeeds. We need more scrutiny of schemes that are too easy... Read more →


Most of the time, employees who are fired must look elsewhere for work. However, that’s not the case for some Internal Revenue Service personnel. An audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that around 10 percent of more than 2,000 former employees the IRS rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 were folks the agency had let go earlier because of conduct and performance issues. Troubling terminations: Those 213 rehired workers, according to TIGTA, had previously been ousted for workplace issues that included falsifying documents, avoiding taxes and taxpayer privacy offenses. Specifically, the July 24 report... Read more →


Virginia GOP Rep. Thomas Garrett, sponsor of a legislative petition to force a House vote on a clean repeal of Obamacare without any replacement measure. (Screen shot from appearance on Fox News) Congress isn't meeting this month, but that hasn't stopped a group of conservative Republicans in recent days from devising a plan they hope will, as they've promised for seven years, repeal Obamacare. House Freedom Caucus members are looking to force a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act, known as the ACA or more (un)popularly Obamacare, and the health care law's related taxes. The erasure of the law,... Read more →


Downtown Seattle seen from Queen Anne Hill, with the Space Needle standing out and Mount Rainier in the background. (Photo by Rattlhed via Wikimedia Commons) Washington is one of seven states that does not have a personal income tax, but it’s largest city plans to collect one from its wealthiest residents. If the courts let it. On July 14, Seattle City Council bill 119002 became ordinance 125339, which beginning in 2018 will officially impose an income tax on high-income residents. The 2.25 percent tax will apply to individuals within the city's borders with an annual income exceeding $250,000 a year,... Read more →


Tax reform, or at least tax cuts, will top Congress' agenda when it gets back from August recess. But will Representatives and Senators actually rewrite the tax code the way most Americans want? Today's Shout Out Saturday piece says maybe not. Donald J. Trump reportedly is now backing a corporate tax rate of 20 percent to 25 percent, up from the 15 percent rate included in his April tax overhaul outline. That slightly higher business tax rate jibes with what corporate executives and business lobbyists say is attainable. That, however, is not what American taxpayers want, according to a recent... Read more →


I’ve mentioned in few posts already this month that it’s hot. Here in Central Texas, we’re in a stretch of triple-digit temperatures that are breaking records every day. That’s why our pantry is full of Cokes — that’s Texan for any kind of soft drink — and bottled water, since I like the carbonated kind. The refrigerator also is stocked with juices and, of course, beer. Our increased liquid diet every summer means that we pay added sales taxes based on what beverages are in our grocery cart. Soft drinks are subject to Texas state and local sales taxes, but... Read more →


The Trump Administration announced Wednesday, Aug. 2, support for an immigration plan that would dramatically reduce the number of people allowed to live and work in the United States. The president might want to rethink that. Newcomers could be needed to fill the slots left by people who are voluntarily leaving the country. Yes, I know it’s apples and oranges. But the apparently coincidental timing of the effort to limit immigrants as even more citizens and long-term residents permanently leave is striking. Surge in U.S. exits: The announcement of the latest group of expatriates, which will be officially published today,... Read more →


Does the surging stock market mean it's time to take capital gains? Tax reform could complicate the decision. The U.S. stock market passed another notable boundary today, moving above the 22,000 mark. It didn’t stay there long, bouncing around a bit before, yes, finally closing at 22,031. Today's activity got investors wondering whether such flirting will turn into more than a one-day stand. A more solid investment gains relationship, perhaps. Or will it dip under 22,000 and eventually, as investment bears warn, tumble much lower? Those questions have investors pondering their options. Do they take earnings now at historic highs... Read more →


Every taxpayer is well aware of the length of the federal tax tentacles. What Congress does to the Internal Revenue Code affects state taxes, too. And it’s not just the residents who live in the states who are affected. It’s the states themselves. Even before any tax code changes have been made, many are already feeling the Trump Effect on their treasuries. “April income tax returns brought bad news for state budgets,” according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government. “Payments with tax returns usually arrive in April and early May, and often they are surprising. By mid-to-late May, states know... Read more →


Wisconsin workers soon could be working at new Foxconn plant if state lawmakers approve huge tax benefits for the Taiwanese electronics company. Are you worried that your next iPhone will cost more than you planned now that Foxconn is opening a plant in Wisconsin? The Taiwanese electronics supplier will be paying U.S. employees much more — an average of almost $54,000 a year plus benefits annually — than workers who put together Apple products in China. Don't be. Foxconn's American operation won't be making smartphone components. Instead, it will produce liquid-crystal display panels for televisions and computer screens. But Wisconsin... Read more →


"We looked at healthcare and said let's make sure that we do tax reform better and differently." — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) talking about what's next legislatively after the GOP failed earlier today to deliver on its seven-year pledge to end Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan has been pushing his "A Better Way" economic and tax plan for years. Will he finally succeed in 2017 as a Republican-led Congress and White House turn their attention to tax reform? Doing a better job in rewriting the tax code than they did during the recent Affordable Care Act repeal and/or replace... Read more →


School supplies are among the items that are sales-tax-free during some of this summer's state tax holidays. (Photo by Kay Bell) Shoppers in 15* states are gearing up for their summer state tax holidays. Mississippi and Tennessee are next in line, with those sales-tax-free events set for this coming weekend. But are they really saving? As I noted in my blurb for this week's tax tip on these summer 2017 event, they are bad public policy. How bad? Political gimmicks like sales tax holidays distract policymakers and taxpayers from genuine, permanent tax relief. If a state must offer a "holiday"... Read more →