Federal Budget Spending Feed

Technology, not heavy equipment, can close the Tax Gap, according to two former IRS commissioners. The Tax Gap has always been a concern of the Internal Revenue Service, Congress, and taxpayers who pay their taxes. Basically, it's the amount of money the IRS figures it is due from filers, but which it's been unable to collect. Two former IRS execs say they know a way the agency can collect more unpaid taxes. Even better, write former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti (he was head honcho from 1997 to 2001) and Fred Forman, former associate commissioner for modernization from 2000 to 2004,... Read more →


Sin taxes, those government levies on products or activities generally deemed as not good for us, typically are a favorite revenue raiser for states. Now Uncle Sam, or at least Capitol Hill Democrats looking for ways to pay for their proposed $3.5 trillion economic package, are taking a page from their state tax counterparts. One of the suggested taxes is a hike of the current federal excise tax on cigarettes and cigars. Another is a new tax on vaping. The House Ways and Means Committee summary of the taxes says: This provision doubles the current rate of excise taxes on... Read more →


Capitol photo by Scrumshus via Citypeek-Wikipedia As Capitol Hill creeps toward further consideration of the Biden Administration's $3.5 trillion spending bill, the focus is narrowing on just how to pay for Uncle Sam's fiscal year 2022 budget. One of the ways the White House wants to pay for the measure's climate initiatives, paid leave, child care, education, and health care is by raising the top marginal individual income tax rate to 39.6 percent. That's the tax rate the wealthiest paid until the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut it in tax year 2018 to 37 percent. That tax reform change... Read more →


UPDATE, Aug. 9, 2021: A last-minute push to limit new cryptocurrency tax reporting requirements in the $1 trillion infrastructure package (see Aug. 4 update below) failed today, despite a bipartisan agreement and a frenzied lobbying push, per The Washington Post. UPDATE, Aug. 4, 2021: In response to the concerns elaborated on in the rest of this post, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has offered an alternative cryptocurrency revenue-raising plan. The amendment was crafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (more on his complaints later in this post) of Pennsylvania and Cynthia Lummis of... Read more →


Joe Biden's campaign slogan "Build Back Better" now is part of his presidency's agenda. Many promises he made in 2020 now are part of the Biden Administration's first federal budget proposal. President Joe Biden's first federal budget proposal, which is for the 2022 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, comes in at $6 trillion, detailed in more than 1,700 pages. The White House projects its changes will bring $3.6 trillion to the Treasury over the next decade. It also projects a $1.84 trillion deficit. That's a substantial number, up from 2019's $984 billion deficit, but a sharp decrease from the... Read more →


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, airline health protocols got most of the attention. That's not surprising, since when flying, we're all trapped for hours with strangers in a metal tube with recycle air. Now, with more of us vaccinated and ready to get out again and see sights beyond our homes, the travel focus has shifted. It's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer and a major road-tripping holiday. Highway bound: AAA expects Memorial Day 2021 travel to rebound substantially. The national motoring membership organization predicts 60 percent more travelers this long holiday weekend than last year's... Read more →


President Joe Biden's proposal to give the Internal Revenue Service an extra $80 billion over the next decade to go after tax cheats — which the ol' blog talked about earlier this month in this post — is getting a lot of attention in advance of his nationally televised speech night. I suspect the current IRS hierarchy is pleased, despite the comments to The New York Times by a former commissioner that an extra $25 billion over a decade would be sufficient. "I'm not sure you'd be able to efficiently use that much money. That's a lot of money," said... Read more →


Even though we definitely are more than ready for 2020 to end, the celebration of its official departure in a few hours — that's for us here in the United States; Happy New 2021 to all y'all on the other side of the International Date Line — likely will be subdued. Thanks, no thanks, COVID-19. May you, too, be gone soon in the coming 12 months. But even if the ringing in the New Year will be in smaller, pandemic-precautioned pods, some adult beverages will be raised as the clock strikes midnight. And among those celebrating the most will be... Read more →


The Trump Administration plans in the next few weeks to announce a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, according to Bloomberg and Financial Times. The proposed spending on roads and bridges is seen as a way to further jump start the COVID-19 hobbled U.S. economy. The money reportedly would be spent over 10 years, but those familiar with the White House thinking say the plan is still "fluid and could take time." It also would go head-to-head with not only a sizable Democratic highway bill now before a House subcommittee, but also a GOP version that cleared the Senate last summer. Mapping... Read more →


Treasury was one of only five departments or major agencies — the others are Defense, Veterans Affairs, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Homeland Security — that got budget bumps in the Trump Administration's Fiscal Year 2021 budget request. (Screen shot of CQ/Roll Call video of delivery of budget books to Capitol Hill) The annual presidential wish list, formally known as the administration's fiscal year (FY) budget, is public. Bottom line, and it's a big one, is the FY 2021 proposals top out at $4.8 trillion. When it comes to this funding exercise, regardless of which president or party... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Congress just came up with more tax breaks to wind down 2019 than the number of ornaments we have on our upstairs' mini Christmas tree! (Photo by Kay Bell) Congress finally decorated its Christmas tree early this morning. The ornaments were myriad tax breaks. Or, in some cases, elimination of taxes. With Dec. 25 bearing down and special interest groups sending more requests to Capitol Hill than kiddos' letters to Santa, the House and Senate negotiators finally agreed on, among other things, what to do about those expired tax provisions popularly known as extenders. They OK'ed a handful of them... Read more →


The White House's fiscal year 2020 budget proposal was delivered to Capitol Hill today. (Screenshot from AP video via USA Today) The Trump White House today released its fiscal 2020 budget request. The annual fiscal request for money is a month later than usual this year because of the 35-day government shutdown. In his latest budget proposal, Donald J. Trump asks for $8.6 billion for the border wall. He's also calling for spending cuts of $2.7 trillion, the largest proposed reduction ever by an administration. The math involved also is monumental. The budget forecasts trillion-dollar deficits for four straight years,... Read more →


On top of everything else, the Texas floods have produced rafts of floating fire ants. Click image to see KVUE News Twitter video of this monstrosity! There are new stories every day about folks working to reclaim a semblance of normal after the massive destruction of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Here in Central Texas, hundreds of homes and businesses were (and some still are) under water. Our governor is considering whether to ask Uncle Sam for federal disaster relief to help affected folks get back on their feet. If the Lone Star State does ask and get federal disaster relief,... Read more →


New York magazine's Nov. 13-26, 2017, cover featured Cardi B. Click to see full image. (Photograph by Hassan Hajjaj) Things have been going great for Bronx-born rapper Cardi B. She was the musical guest on last night's Saturday Night Live, hosted by "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman. It seems a New York magazine cover last November got it right when it proclaimed she was made to be this famous. On her way to membership in music and pop culture's top echelon, Cardi B's career has covered an astoundingly wide spectrum. After losing her job as a teenage employee at an... Read more →


Before departing D.C. last week for their version of spring break, Representatives and Senators, some grudgingly, approved a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government operating through September. Donald J. Trump signed the bill, which is massive by both dollar and legislative length (the bill ran 2,232 pages long) measurements, but not before injecting some reality show drama into the mix by threatening a veto. Both the $1.3 trillion outlay and 2,232 pages are huge, but since I have to pick one as this week's By the Numbers figure, I'm going with the dollar amount. Now, about... Read more →


Same old, same old. That's the message the Internal Revenue Service got today when the Trump Administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget. The IRS' base budget amount is about the same as prior years and some old tax enforcement ideas are proposed again. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney discussing the Trump Administration budget last year. For release of the 2019 fiscal year budget, Mulvaney decided to stay off camera "because it's really boring." You can decide if he was right by listening to his remarks yourself via C-SPAN. It's no secret that the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


It's going to be a mixed Thanksgiving in Internal Revenue Service households. The agency definitely won't be thankful for the Senate funding bill released on Nov. 20. That Financial Services & General Government Appropriations measure proposes the IRS get $11.1 billion in fiscal year 2018. That's $149 million less than it received for the 2017 fiscal year. However, the IRS can be grateful that the funding is close to the $11.235 billion that then IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency needs to maintain its current performance levels. And it's $111 million more than what Donald J. Trump's budget recommended... 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 →


Many professional tax preparers say that giving the Internal Revenue Service added regulatory ability over their jobs isn't warranted. The tax agency and Trump Administration disagree. (Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr CC) The Trump Administration has continued the current trend of cutting the Internal Revenue Service's annual operating funds, but a provision in the new White House's fiscal year 2018 budget also could solve a new IRS problem. On June 1, the Internal Revenue Service got the bad news from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that the tax agency can't collect fees from... Read more →