Politics Feed

Sunsets like this one at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California, make many Golden State coastal properties prime rental investments. But Golden State limits on property taxes on inherited homes cost cities and other jurisdictions billions of dollars. (Photo by Alex Beattie via Flickr CC) Californians love Proposition 13, the grandfather of tax-limiting ballot initiatives. Since its passage in 1978, it has kept a tight cap on property tax increases. But an expansion of the original Prop 13, enacted eight years later, and its unforeseen consequences have cost Golden State school districts, cities and counties of billions of dollars in revenue,... Read more →


After years of being lambasted for efforts to regulate tax preparers, the Internal Revenue Service is on a roll in its efforts to oversee certain tax professionals. A recently introduced bipartisan Senate bill would give the IRS the authority that many argue it doesn't have to set standards for tax professionals who aren't subject to other professional guidelines. This is not the first time such legislation has been introduced. But those previous bills never went anywhere. However, the tide now seems to be shifting a bit in the tax agency's favor. Influential tax professional groups are among this latest legislative... Read more →


Donald J. Trump addresses troops at the Fort Drum, New York, army base prior to signing the 2019 fiscal year defense authorization bill. (White House photo; click image to watch Trump's address, as well as opening remarks by Vice President Mike Pence, on Twitter) Donald J. Trump today signed a defense spending bill that's received almost as much attention for the lawmaker it honors as for the billions in military funding it authorizes over the next fiscal year. Capitol Hill lawmakers dubbed H.R. 5515 the "John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019" in tribute to the... Read more →


Amazon makes money hand-over-fist year after year and that has propelled founder Jeff Bezos to the top of myriad "richest person" lists. But a portion of its success also can be attributed to the billions his company has received in state and local tax subsidies over the years. And that tally will balloon when eventual HQ2 tax subsidies are included. Even at Google in San Francisco, Amazon packages dominate the delivery cart. (Photo by moppet65535 via Flickr CC) Amazon has been promised or received almost $1.6 billion in subsidies from state and local governments over the last 18 years. And... Read more →


Click screenshot to watch Boston CBS affiliate WBZ's report on this weekend's just-enacted Massachusetts Sales Tax Holiday. Massachusetts has had a difficult relationship with the sales tax holiday concept. Over the years the Bay State's lawmakers have struggled with the need to retain as much tax revenue as possible versus giving residents (and possible voters) a brief break from taxes on some of their purchases. The even has been regularly approved one year, only to be dropped the next, with lawmakers often deciding to hold a tax holiday at the very last minute. That's the case this year. For the... Read more →


A week ago, the idea of indexing capital gains was just that, an idea. To move forward, the best bet was for the proposal to make it into Tax Reform 2.0. It didn't. So now it's looking more likely that the U.S. Treasury might act unilaterally. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had previously (all the way back in late June) said that he would prefer Congress take the lead on indexing capital gains. He did add, however, that "If we're not able to complete Tax Reform 2.0, then we'll go back to the drawing board and decide whether we want to... Read more →


It's called the dismal science, but Donald J. Trump's vision of the U.S. economy was anything but gloomy after the Commerce Department on July 27 reported gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the second quarter of the year was 4.1 percent. That's a welcome amount of growth based on the economy's broadest measure of goods and services. That's why it's this week's By the Numbers figure. But, say most of the practitioners of the dismal science, aka economists, let's not get carried away. They caution that while the latest measure of economic growth is good news for both U.S. businesses... Read more →


Republicans unveiled their outline for additional tax changes on July 24 and it's just that. A bare bones framework. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) acknowledged the skimpy structure. That was by design, he said, with the outline to serve as a starting point for his GOP colleagues to offer feedback. Yes, he said Republican feedback. As with the original Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was enacted last December, Democrats were excluded from the legislative writing process. Once things are fleshed out, Brady said he expects a Tax Reform 2.0 bill to go before the... Read more →


Rep. Bob Goodlatte opens the hearing on what Congress should do about interstate sales taxes and remote sellers in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that upended prior standards. (House Judiciary hearing video screenshot) If you thought the interstate collection of sales taxes from remote sellers was going to get easier following the recent high court ruling on the matter, think again. Now Congress is getting involved. Again. And if you thought any decision on how federal lawmakers should address the thorny issue of taxes and interstate commerce would be easy, think, yes, again. Long and winding remote sales... Read more →


Long-term investors already get a tax break. They pay lower capitals gains tax rates when they sell assets held for more than a year. That tax benefit survived the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Now some Republican lawmakers want to protect even more unearned money from taxes. Tax and political considerations: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) has introduced a bill that would index capital gains to inflation. The Ways and Means Committee member says his Capital Gains Inflation Relief Act (H.R. 6444) "is a common-sense reform that will remove an unjust tax, contribute to economic growth, and help both large... Read more →


Owing the Internal Revenue Service is bad. Having the IRS come after you for that money is worse. Dealing with private debt collectors who've been given your overdue tax account is worst. That's the perspective of many when it comes to the federal tax collection process. But not all. And now an online war of words has erupted between the National Taxpayer Advocate and a new group created to advocate for private collection of tax debt. Pro private tax debt collection: The Partnership for Tax Compliance (PTC) debuted on June 26. The goals of the 501(c)6 nonprofit (that's the tax... Read more →


Today's Senate Finance Committee approval of Charles Rettig took a bit longer than originally expected. The reason was a decision this week by Rettig's future boss to ease most nonprofit donor disclosure requirements. Charles P. Rettig, nominated to be the next Internal Revenue Service commissioner, faces the Senate Finance Committee during his June 28 confirmation hearing. The Senate tax-writing committee was supposed to vote Thursday, July 19, morning on sending Rettig's nomination to the full chamber for confirmation. It was a much anticipated procedural step, since the the top IRS slot has been vacant for eight months. But the vote... Read more →


As expected, states whose residents will take a major federal tax hit under the new $10,000 limit on deductions of state and local tax (SALT) payments have headed to court. Connecticut, Maryland, New York and New Jersey on Tuesday (July 17) afternoon filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York seeking to invalidate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's (TCJA) changes to a long-standing federal tax deduction. In this latest semi-reform of the tax code, Congress essentially gutted the value of this itemized tax deduction for, in most cases, the millions in state income and local real property payments... Read more →


UPDATED to include the Massachusetts' sales tax holiday that was enacted Aug. 10, just in advance of that Bay State's Aug. 11-12 tax-free event. The annual sales-tax-free events generally billed as back-to-school tax holidays kick off the 2018 summer shopping season this week. There are 17 this year, three in July and 14 in August. Yes, kiddos, your summer holiday is winding down. Parents and school officials are getting ready for the resumption of classes in, for some jurisdictions, just six short weeks. That also means that it's time for back-to-school sales tax holidays. These annual events offer shoppers a... Read more →


Judge Brett Kavanaugh spoke at the White House after being nominated to be the next Supreme Court justice. (Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen via White House Instagram) Federal judge Brett Kavanaugh was tapped last night (July 9) by Donald J. Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Kavanaugh, 53, has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, a position for which he was nominated by the last Republican Oval Office occupant, President George W. Bush. Like Trump's prior Supreme Court justice nominee, Neil... Read more →


With apologies to Charles Dickens, it is the best and worst of times for soda taxes. News out of Washington State today is that Seattle's sweetened beverage tax raised about $1 million more than predicted in its first three months. Seattle's tax — similar to others across the United States that tax a variety of sugary beverages but are popularly called soda taxes — took effect on Jan. 1, 2018. In its first three months as law, it reportedly raised almost $4.5 million. If that pace holds throughout the rest of the year, it will blow past the city's budget... Read more →


The trade war with China is on. At midnight on Friday, July 6, the $34 billion tit-for-tat between the world's two largest economies took effect. The Trump Administration placed added charges mostly on Chinese aerospace products, information technology, auto parts and medical instruments. Beijing retaliated with its own tariffs primarily aimed at on American farm products, cars and crude oil. But if China doesn't blink, the White House says it could ultimately impose charges on up to $500 billion of Chinese goods. Business opposition continues: For months, potentially affected U.S. companies and the organizations that represent their economic sectors have... Read more →


Two days ago, Americans celebrated our declaration of independence from Great Britain. That July 4th revolutionary spark was ignited, of course, by our protests against taxation by King George III without adequate representation. Over the years, however, the words of our 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, have proven prophetic. "The nation which had fought a revolution against taxation without representation discovered that some of its citizens weren't much happier about taxes with representation," noted my outspoken and observant fellow Texan. Still, most of us have come to realize the importance of taxes, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.... Read more →


Instead of my usual cup of coffee, I'm celebrating America's 242nd birthday this July 4th with a spot of tea. Yes, the British beverage and phrasing is intentional, since as we all know, the taxation of tea without representation was the final act of tyranny that sparked the American colonies' revolt. Tea other British taxes: Our colonial forebears had long dealt with British taxes. The passage in 1767 of the Townshend Revenue Act imposed taxes on glass, lead, oil, paint, paper and tea. But while all those other duties were repealed in 1770, the British decided to keep the tax... Read more →


Charles Rettig, Donald Trump's choice to head the IRS, is expected to be confirmed, despite not originally revealing that he has an ownership stake in properties in a Trump-branded Hawaiian hotel. (Photo of Trump International Hotel Waikiki via Hotels.com) The Internal Revenue Service may soon have a new commissioner, almost eight months after the last tax agency chief retired. But before Charles P. Rettig gets his new title, some lawmakers want more information from him about his ties to Donald J. Trump. Specifically, they want to know whether Rettig would maintain his independence from the man who nominated him. That... Read more →