Politics Feed

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and his Republican colleagues in June celebrated the six-month anniversary of their major tax reform bill. Back then, they thought the new tax laws would give them a political edge in the coming November elections. They thought wrong. (Photo courtesy U.S. Speaker of the House) When the Republican controlled House and Senate passed a major tax reform bill last December, it was supposed to be a twofer. First, enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) fulfilled long-standing GOP fiscal and political goals of reducing taxes... Read more →


Politics often is a dirty business. Mudslinging is ubiquitous nowadays. In one governor's race, an even messier substance is involved. A common complaint about politics is all the associated mudslinging. Such is the case in Illinois' gubernatorial race. But it's even messier, less desirable stuff that's come into political play. J.B. Pritzker, the Democrat running for Prairie State governor, removed his estate's toilets to lower the property's real estate tax. Renovation vs. removal: It's not a new revelation. The Chicago Sun-Times reported in May 2017 that Pritzker bought the historic mansion next door to his existing Chicago Gold Coast home,... Read more →


The Trump children gathered for this undated family photo. They are, from left, Robert Trump, Elizabeth Trump Grau, Fred Trump Jr., Donald Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry. A piece of information filed years ago during Barry's judicial confirmation hearing led to a New York Times' exposé on the family's wealth and tax tactics. (Donald J. Trump presidential campaign photo) Talk about an awkward Thanksgiving. It seems that Donald J. Trump's oldest sister is how The New York Times got the inside info on the Trump family fortune and taxes. You know of the story even if you haven't yet read... Read more →


My octogenarian mother does an amazing job of taking care of herself and her little dog, aka my furry younger brother. My mother and her pup come to our place, like the Thanksgiving visit pictured here, but usually it's me taking time from work to head her way. (Photo by Kay Bell) But since she no longer drives and hates to impose on friends and neighbors, I make regular trips to her place to help her run errands, take her to doctor appointments and just visit. It's not too much of a hassle because she lives relatively close and it's... Read more →


Tax litigator Charles Rettig (far left) is sworn in on Oct. 1 as new IRS commissioner by his boss, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (far right). (Photo courtesy Mnuchin's Twitter account) It's official. Charles P. "Chuck" Rettig is the Internal Revenue Service's 49th commissioner. He moved into his new office on Monday, Oct. 1, almost 11 months after his predecessor, John Koskinen, left the job. After 36+ years with the California-based law firm of Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez, P.C., Rettig now will be in charge of around about 80,000 employees and a budget of approximately $11 billion. Rettig's official... Read more →


Do you have thoughts about the Internal Revenue Service's plan to stymie state efforts to work around the new $10,000 federal deduction limit on state and local taxes? You are not alone. On Aug. 23, the IRS issued a proposed rule designed to rein in state efforts to give their residents a way to get a tax write-off for all of their state and local taxes, commonly referred to in the tax world as SALT. In that same announcement, the IRS also said it will hold a Nov. 5 public hearing on its proposal regulation and, leading up to that... Read more →


One thing almost everyone agrees on, both politically and financially, is that we all need to do a better job of saving for retirement. But some young savers are undercutting their own efforts by regularly tapping their workplace retirement accounts early. As part of Labor Day celebrations, Donald J. Trump signed an executive order that, in part, instructed the Treasury and Labor departments to look into ways to make it easier and cheaper for smaller employers to band together to offer 401(k)-type plans for their workers. Expanding these tax-deferred workplace retirement plans is a good idea. With the demise of... Read more →


One of the reasons that Congress has in recent years been tight-fisted when it comes to the Internal Revenue Service's budget is because the agency apparently operates pretty darn well with what it already has. That's the case, at least, when it comes to IRS collection activity, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report released on Monday, Sept. 17. The tax watchdog office's generally positive review comes on the heels of the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) also generally complimentary examination of the federal tax agency. While both reports are welcome by the IRS, they also raise... Read more →


N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, second from right, and staff announce efforts to investigate what state officials says is the politicization of the new federal tax law limiting the deduction of state and local taxes. (Photo by Kevin Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via Flickr) A lawsuit fighting the new federal cap on deductible state and local taxes (SALT) is working its way through the courts, but some lawmakers aren't waiting for a judicial (or judicious) result. With Tax Reform 2.0 moving forward in the U.S. House, a couple of new insurrections have flared up. On Capitol Hill, a small... Read more →


New Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing this summer. Charles P. "Chuck" Rettig is moving into the Internal Revenue Service commissioner's office, which has been officially vacant since last November. Rettig, a corporate tax attorney with a strong background in tax controversies from his work as a 35-year private practitioner, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 12. He will begin his official duties as the IRS' 49th commissioner on Oct. 1 and will serve the remainder of the five-year term that began Nov. 12, 2017, when former Commissioner John Koskinen completed... Read more →


UPDATE , Oct. 1, 2018: The House has signed off on its three Tax Reform 2.0 bills to extend the individual provisions of 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate, however, is not so keen on the measures. Additional Senate tax action this year looks doubtful as the Upper Chamber focuses on other year-end priorities. Protesters at rally against Republican tax cuts. (Photo courtesy Stop the GOP Tax Scam) The House Ways and Means Committee began marking up today the three bills that make up what is being called Tax Reform 2.0 (TR2). The package is expected to make... Read more →


UPDATE , Oct. 1, 2018: The House has signed off on its three Tax Reform 2.0 bills to extend the individual provisions of 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate, however, is not so keen on the measures. Additional Senate tax action this year looks doubtful as the Upper Chamber focuses on other year-end priorities. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expanded the use of 529 education savings plans to cover elementary and secondary school costs. One of the House's Tax Reform 2.0 bills would also make 529 money available to pay some home-schooling expenses. (Photo by Chris Yarzab... Read more →


The hubby works on what he calls the Law of Two. Basically, he says, it takes (at least) two tries to get anything done properly. I thought of his unofficial law as I read the Internal Revenue Service's clarification of one of its earlier clarifications. Tax geeks already know I'm talking about the IRS and Treasury declaration a couple of weeks ago regarding state tax credit programs tied to taxpayer deduction of state and local taxes, referred to as SALT. Less tax to deduct: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limits the itemized SALT deduction, which includes individual payments of... Read more →


A few election years ago, Republicans were aghast at the level of takers compared to makers. In case you've forgotten, they were complaining that an increasing number of folks, the so-called takers, were escaping their rightful tax payments and getting government help at the expense of the makers, higher earners who tend to put more tax money into the economy. That's still happening. Now, however, in a wonderful bit of political irony, it's the GOP that's responsible for more U.S. households avoiding tax bills next filing season. Big tax cuts for millions: The latest analysis by the Tax Policy Center... Read more →


House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) was among GOP leaders who celebrated the six-month anniversary of the party's tax reform bill back in June. Now he and other Republicans want to expand that bill by the end of September. We're still waiting for clarification of many of the new tax laws in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). In fact, some say we need clarification of clarifications; have you tried to decipher the new 199A business deduction even with the Internal Revenue Service guidance? But such lingering TCJA questions are not stopping Republican leaders from trying... Read more →


Labor Day 2018 doesn't bring much good news for unions. Membership in the workplace organizations has, at best, stalled. Politicians and the public tend to view them unfavorably. And they lost a tax break in last year's tax reform bill. But there's a faint light for unionized workers thanks to a bill to restore their dues deduction and make the expense easier for more members to claim. Mention "unions" and most of us think of hardhat wearing men, like these members of the Utility Workers Union of America clearing storm damage. But union memberships cover a wide range and variety... Read more →


An EU sign greets international travelers at a passport control checkpoint at Tegel Airport in Berlin, Germany (Voice of America News photo) Many folks are taking one final quick vacation this long Labor Day weekend to mark the end of summer and beginning of the school year. But some folks who are crossing international borders might find they're not welcome. It has nothing, however, to do with the country they want to visit. It's because of their passports have been revoked because they owe big tax bills. How tax bills hamper travel: Since the December 2015 enactment of the federal... Read more →


Sen. John McCain, a decorated U.S. Navy fighter pilot, addressed the Naval Academy Brigade of Midshipmen in Annapolis, Maryland, in October 2017. (Photo courtesy Sen. McCain's Facebook page) The late Sen. John McCain, in keeping with his maverick tendencies to buck even his own political party and to work across the aisle, offered a tax plan during his 2000 quest for the Republican presidential nomination that borrowed from Democrats and Republicans alike. That proposal 18 years ago by the Arizona Republican called for $237.5 billion in tax cuts over five years in such portions that they could be embraced by... Read more →


Tourists still love Disney's original castle at its flagship theme park in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Tuxyso via Wikipedia Commons) Most major corporations want cities and states to provide them massive tax breaks to move to or keep their operations in a specific place. Just look at Amazon, which is expected to soon announce the home of its new tax incentive laden second headquarters. The House of Mouse, however, is taking a different approach. This week the Anaheim City Council voted to end agreements with Disney that provide tax breaks for the original Disneyland theme park, Disney California Adventure and... Read more →


The tax collection efforts of four private debt collectors are paying off, bringing in $56.6 million in previously uncollected tax revenue in the first 14 months they've been on the job. However, it cost the tax bill collectors $55.3 million to do that job, netting Uncle Sam only $1.3 million. That's the word from an Internal Revenue Service report on the most-recent iteration of the private tax debt collection program. "Contrary to critics' claims and despite its slow-roll out, the IRS private debt collection program is already demonstrating that it can more than pay for itself with revenues returned to... Read more →