Taxes to fight terrorism, fund health care, encourage baby-making and make life easier for ladies of the evening
When I started this blog about a year and a half ago, the hubby worried that I'd have trouble coming up with a new tax topic every day. He didn't want me to get frustrated and annoyed. That's his job.
Not to worry, sweetie.
In fact, lately I've found myself stockpiling items that I planned to get to later. Well, going through the collection today, I discovered some some that need to be mentioned or they soon will become too dated.
So here's a quick weekend tax roundup, from the serious to the silly.
Most Americans want the federal government to guarantee health insurance to every citizen and would pay as much as $500 more a year in taxes for the coverage, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll relapsed Friday. Read the NYT report on the poll here; CBS coverage here.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the former Democratic legislator who returned to the Senate last fall as an Independent, is advocating a tax to fund the war on terrorism. When he first raised the topic in early February, the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog reported that Lieberman told Pentagon officials, "[P]eople keep saying that we’re not asking sacrifice of anybody but our military in this war, and some civilians who are working on it. When you put together the DOD budgets with Homeland Security budgets, we need to ask people to help us in a way that they know when they pay more it will go for their security." Lieberman reiterated his terrorism tax idea today on CBS' Face the Nation.
Speaking of taxes and the military, the IRS wants troops to know that they may be eligible to receive free help with their returns as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Military-based VITA sites provide free tax advice, tax preparation, return filing and other tax assistance to military members and their families. The tax volunteers are trained to address military-specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits. Get details on the program in this IRS news release.
A dedicated cadre remains committed to permanently repealing the estate tax. While their efforts continue on Capitol Hill, the IRS has just completed a round of job cuts in the gift- and estate-tax area. The IRS says the latest buyouts reduce staff from 471 to 379 and reflect the shrinking number of estate-tax returns being filed.
Now to a couple of world tax tidbits, brought to our attention by TaxProf.
Officials in the Indian state of West Bengal rejected a proposal by prostitutes that they pay tax in return for the halting of police raids on brothels and checks on clients soliciting their services. Since prostitution is illegal, Indian officials said the government could not tax sex workers.
That technicality hasn't stopped more than 20 U.S. states from taxing illegal drugs. Of course, the drug-owning American taxpayers don't get any quid pro quo of no drug law prosecution for complying with the tax component. The U.S. drug taxes, which generally take the form of requiring the purchase of tax stamps, are intended to give the state leverage when prosecuting the illegal drug activities. As expected, affected individuals have challenged drug taxes, with varying degrees of success.
And finally, our weekend tax tour heads to Hong Kong, where the elderly are becoming the dominant population demographic. So the city-state's finance secretary has offered large tax incentives to encourage people to have more children. Perhaps another Hong Kong tax proposal, to reduce alcoholic beverage taxes, might help couples seeking baby-making tax breaks by encouraging them to share a few glasses to get the romantic fires burning.