Politics Feed

In their initial tax reform bills, the House and Senate decided not to include any health care provisions so as not to muddy the tax code rewrite waters. Now, however, Senate leaders have changed their minds. Repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate has been added to the upper chamber's tax plan. While that does provide needed money maneuverability, it also could turn tax reform into a legislative mud pie mess. The House is still on track to pass its tax reform bill this evening has passed its tax reform bill, but things are much less settled in the Senate. A... Read more →


UPDATE, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017: The House passed its tax reform bill today (but the Senate version is still a ways away from GOP consensus ). Among the yea voters on H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was Rep. Joe Barton after he was promised that his Texas Rangers stadium concerns would be taken care of. Rep. Joe Barton is a big fan of the Texas Rangers, which play in his North Texas Congressional District. In this Facebook photo, Barton (second from left) wears the Major League Baseball club's jersey when he participates in the annual Republicans vs.... Read more →


Republicans continue to work on their tax reform bills. The House plans/hopes to vote on its bill this week, while the Senate's version, released Nov. 9, is still being analyzed. One area getting a lot of attention is the two bill's differing treatments of pass-through entities. Income from these businesses — which include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLC) and S-corporations — is passed through to the business owners, who then report it on their personal tax returns. The issue confronting lawmakers is that these earnings currently are taxed at ordinary income tax rates. Under the new tax reform... Read more →


One of the surprise differences in the Senate tax plan as compared to the House bill is in the treatment of state and local taxes, referred to by tax geeks (guilty!) as SALT. Both the House and Senate tax bills would eliminate the deductions for state and local income and sales taxes. The Senate, however, makes no accommodation for real estate taxes. That hard tax line also was originally taken by the House. But GOP leaders there, facing backlash from their members in districts where voters pay big real estate tax bills, acquiesced. The House bill revision allows the property... Read more →


The tax dueling has officially begun. The Senate on Thursday, Nov. 9, released its answer to the House's H.R. 1, officially title the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. UPDATE, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017: The House passed H.R. 1. Prospects for the Senate's tax reform bill, however, are muddier. While resolving difference in the two doesn't demand quite as many steps as in the 10 Duel Commandments outlined in the still incredibly popular Broadway (and touring company) musical Hamilton, it's still going to be one of the biggest face-offs in recent Washington, D.C., legislative history. Here's a look at some of... Read more →


IRS Commissioner John Koskinen makes a point during a Congressional hearing. John Koskinen did it! He survived his term as Internal Revenue Service Commissioner. Today is the last day for the tax agency's 48th commissioner. Officially, his term expires on Sunday, Nov. 12. Since Friday, Nov. 10, is the federal Veterans Day holiday, today is the last day Koskinen will come into his office in downtown Washington, D.C. It was not an easy four years. Fighting to keep the job: Koskinen came to the job in December 2013 while it was in the midst of the politically charges and polarizing... Read more →


$13 billion. That's how much nonprofits say Republican-proposed changes to the tax code could cost them each year. Even though the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would keep the itemized deduction for charitable donations, it's one of just a handful that will remain on Schedule A. In exchange for the elimination of most itemized write-offs, the House tax reform proposal calls for almost doubling the standard deduction. That shift in federal tax deduction strategy could pose a major problem for the thousands of U.S. nonprofits that rely on contributions. Fewer itemizers = less donations: Now, about a third of... Read more →


Business entities and how they are — and might be — taxed is one of the things complicating the Republican-formulated tax reform bill. The primary motivation for the Republican's new tax reform plan is to lower business tax rates. Major corporations definitely will see relief under the bill (even though many are doing quite well under our current system). But there's concern that smaller businesses won't be so tax reform lucky. In fact, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as the bill, as H.R. 1 is known, could make things worse for some so-called pass-through entities. Potential problems for plenty... Read more →


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) get serious in discussing what Republicans say are the middle-class benefits in their latest proposal to rewrite the tax code. The most detailed plan yet was released Thursday, Nov. 2. (Screenshot of C-SPAN video; click image to watch clip.) Remember that Capitol Hill adage that all politics is local? It can be easily shifted to tax reform. Whether you're for or against a tax law change will depend in large part on how much it helps or hurt you. When it comes to the men and women who propose and/or make those changes, their votes... Read more →


UPDATE, Nov. 2: Good news. It looks like most of the Republican tax reform plan, according to the bill's legislative language, "shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017." That means we will close out 2017 under current tax law, so these tips still apply. I'm working on a post about the proposed tax changes and will get it up here on the ol' blog shortly. it's now published! My mind boggles at the number of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies that can be made from this collection! It's just a small part of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden's... Read more →


After four and a half years, the Internal Revenue Service Tea Party targeting scandal has been resolved. On Thursday, Oct. 26, the Justice Department announced that it has entered into proposed settlements with the two major challenges by conservative groups against the IRS. Substantial payments to plaintiffs: While the Justice Department did not discuss deal specifics, the Wall Street Journal reported that the payouts to plaintiffs in the Linchpins of Liberty and Norcal Tea Party Patriots cases could be between $1 million and $10 million. The conservative groups who joined the lawsuits had alleged in 2013 that their applications for... Read more →


Where the heck has 2017 gone? The countdown clock over in the ol' blog's right column is steadily ticking away the time left until Dec. 31, the deadline for most moves that could affect this year's taxes. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has its eyes on November, which is just little more than a week away. The start of that 11th month effectively is the cutoff date for the federal tax agency to get ready for the next year's filing season. If the IRS can't get some certainty as to how to update forms, instructions and operational processes, the start... Read more →


There could be some consistency in how states collect sales tax on consumers' online purchases if the Supreme Court agrees to hear a South Dakota case. Many states are ignoring the sales tax law of the land, decided in 1992 by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Quill v. North Dakota. Soon another Dakota high court case, this one from South Dakota, could change the state sales tax collection law for remote sellers. On Sept. 14, the Mount Rushmore State's quest to collect sales tax from online et al retailers was rejected by that state's highest court. That's just what... Read more →


A proposal to limit certain business estate valuation discounts is outta here under the Treasury's finalized list of eight tax regulations it wants to eliminate or substantially revise. Remember back in July when the U.S. Treasury announced eight tax regulations it said were burdensome and needed to be changed or axed? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his staff have now finalized what they want to do with these eight rules. Three would be tossed out, including one that many say hurt family-owned and operated businesses. Two would be partially revoked. The final three would be substantially revised. "This is only... Read more →


Michael Horowitz, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice and Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, welcomes one and all to Oversight.gov, a new website that consolidates public reports from federal Inspectors General. Whenever talk turns to tax reform, there also are discussions on cutting federal spending. After all, if some of us get more favorable tax treatment, the money to make up for that lost revenue must come from somewhere. Conventional wisdom and political rhetoric tends to focus on Uncle Sam's inefficiencies, both perceived and real. If a federal agency or department... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 13, 2017: Public and Congressional pressure, which included Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) letter to the Treasury Department urging it to review and potentially bar Equifax from consideration in any new or renewed government contracts, has paid off for opponents of the credit reporting bureau deal. The IRS announced, per an Oct. 12 report by Politico, that it has temporarily suspended the $7.25 million, no-bid contract it awarded to Equifax to verify the identities of taxpayers when they create accounts on the tax agency's website. Driver's license data was among the personal info that identity thieves obtained in the... Read more →


Everyone knows the Monopoly Man, even if we don't know his name. His classy duds, compete with top hat, and bushy mustache make him immediately recognizable. For many of us, he and his board game were our introduction to high finance. Now, however, he's branched out. He made a real-life appearance this week at a Congressional hearing. Equifax visual protest: OK, it was someone dressed up like Rich Uncle Pennybags, which is the Monopoly Man's name. And the impersonator stole the show from former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, who continued to make the Washington, D.C, rounds to take heat for... Read more →


Who's in the middle class will determine in large part whether that group of Americans gets Republican-promised middle class tax relief. One of the big debates about any tax reform is whether or how much it will benefit the middle class. That was a question in today's #TaxBuzzChat about the recently released Republican framework for tax reform. First, however, we need to decide what is and who is part of the United States middle class. There are several ways to define the middle class. Some say it is based on income. Other define it by lifestyle. Still others say middle... Read more →


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 →


The arrival of a new NFL season each year also means the arrival of fantasy sports. More states are looking to regulate and, of course, tax daily fantasy sports operations. How's your National Football League team doing this season? For most fans, the answer is probably pretty good. A quick glance at NFL.com's standings after week three shows a preponderance of 2-1 teams, along with a handful that are undefeated. For many fans, however, the more important, and potentially lucrative, question is how is your fantasy football team doing? Quick confession here. I watch NFL games (until my teams start... Read more →