Politics Feed

Some type of marijuana use is legal in more than half of the United States. State and local coffers get associated pot taxes, but that could stop if the feds start cracking down on what is still an illegal drug in Uncle Sam's eyes. (Photo courtesy GreenerCulture.com) U.S. Attorney General (for now) Jeff Sessions apparently really wants federal law enforcement to once again target marijuana. But a return to a tougher prosecution by Uncle Sam could produce some serious push-back from states where pot is legal if they show tax revenue results like Colorado. Since Colorado became the first the... Read more →


Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons As the health care battle on Capitol Hill continues, there's one thing upon which both side can agree. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. No piece of legislation is. Just ask Republicans trying to craft a replacement for Obamacare, as the seven-year-old health care law is known. And just ask a California couple who now owe the Internal Revenue Service almost $13,000 because of miscalculated Obamacare advance premium payments. Premium tax credit help: The Walkers, a married California couple, got health care coverage in 2014 though one of the Golden State's insurance marketplaces.... Read more →


Paid tax return preparers must sign their clients' 1040 forms and include their IRS-issued professional ID number. The IRS lost a court case to charge a fee for the identifiers, known as PTINs, but is seeking a stay of that order pending possible appeal of the case. If you're a tax preparer who's paid fees for your IRS-issued special identification number, you'll have to wait a bit longer to get any money back. On June 1, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that while the Internal Revenue Service can require tax preparers to get the ID... Read more →


The Senate will get back to work next week crafting an Obamacare repeal-and-replace measure, an already difficult task made more problematic by the messages lawmakers got from their constituents over the July 4th holiday. There are many reasons, both political and practical, that devising a health care system for all of America is so complicated. One of the key ones is because we are so diverse. In health coverage's case, the diversity issue is generational. Source: Oliver Wyman and Fortune Knowledge Group analysis "For the past few years, healthcare companies and policymakers have been striving to craft consumer health strategies,... Read more →


The cost of college continues to simmer as an educational policy and legal issue, particularly when it comes to student loans. Democratic attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia on July 6 filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department to stop her from changing rules that erased the federal student loan debt of those who were cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently. Consumer groups also have joined the litigation list. The Obama Administration finalized the so-called borrower defense rules last October. They were scheduled to take effect on July 1. DeVos, however, froze... Read more →


Drug prices are one of the major concerns of all Americans. A group of Senators is calling for a new excise tax to penalize drug makers who dramatically increase their products' prices. Leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate today gave up on holding full vote this week on their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Supporters of the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), as well as similar Obamacare repeal efforts in the House, say their bills are part of the answer to, among other things, stopping the escalating price of medical care. Whether the GOP proposals will... Read more →


Private bill collectors are, according to four U.S. Senators, making calls about overdue federal taxes that could put taxpayers in financially compromised situations that are scarier than those faced by the terrified Cindy Campbell character (played by Anna Faris, pictured above), in the "Scary Movie" films. During a recent U.S. House hearing, Internal Revenue Service watchdogs told Representatives that, less than two months on the job, private tax bill collectors were already breaking collection and consumer protection rules. Now four Democratic Senators have raised additional concerns about one of the private collection agencies' tactics, which could put owing taxpayers' homes... Read more →


Here's a look at eight Affordable Care Act taxes that Republicans in both the House and Senate agree on eliminating. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), joined by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and a mostly hidden Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) held a press conference today to denounce as "meaner" their GOP Senate colleagues' version of health care reform to replace Obamacare. (Photo courtesy Sen. Schumer's Twitter account) The Senate today finally revealed its version of Obamacare repeal and replace, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 or BCRA. The 142-page document, which Senate leadership is describing as... Read more →


Donald J. Trump's got a lot of campaign promise policy issue irons in the fire. This week, he pulled one out a bit by deciding to let undocumented residents known as DREAMers stay in the United States. The decision was announced as part of a fact sheet released by Homeland Security late June 15. That document's next-to-last line notes: "The June 15, 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect." A group of DREAMers, the undocumented youths who hope to remain in the United States, make their point during a 2016 presidential... Read more →


The Financial Choice Act is a third of the way to becoming law. Want to take a guess as to what it might do? It obviously deals with money. But it's about giving more choices to financial institutions, not to consumers. The Financial Choice Act essentially seeks to roll back much of the Dodd-Frank Act, one of President Barack Obama's signature accomplishments. The current law, enacted in 2010 and whose full, official Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act moniker comes from its former U.S. Senate champions Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Barney Frank of Massachusetts, was created to... 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 →


Most Americans living abroad don't like the U.S. requirement that they have to send the Internal Revenue Service a Form 1040. That's one of the findings in Greenback Expat Tax Services most recent annual survey of U.S. expatriates. If your trip abroad turns into something more permanent, you'll have many U.S. expatriate issues to consider, including taxes. (Photo courtesy Those Dam Americans blog) Sixty-six percent of expats queried earlier this year told Greenback they don't believe they should be required to file a U.S. tax return while they are living outside Uncle Sam's borders. That more than two-thirds percentage is... Read more →


Most of us suspected it would happen. We just didn't think it would happen so soon. "It" is apparent disregard by some private debt collectors of the rules established in connection with the collection agencies' latest congressionally mandated foray into federal tax collection. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George tells a House Appropriations subcommittee last week of his watchdog agency's concerns about the latest use of private collection agencies to bring in delinquent federal taxes. (Click image to watch full hearing on YouTube.) Private collection agencies are approving installment agreements with delinquent taxpayers beyond what the law... Read more →


Donald J. Trump's first official overseas trip as president included a stop in Italy. He's back in Washington, D.C., now, but that country and a tangential tax connection to Trump has popped up in international news reports. Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a real estate mogul and friend of Trump, reportedly is under investigation by Italian authorities for alleged tax evasion. Thomas Barrack, founder of Colony Capital, in a 2012 interview with The Leap TV discussing making movies and deals, such as saving Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch from bankruptcy. (Click image to watch YouTube video clip.) Luxury resort sale alleged Luxembourg... Read more →


Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey), center, makes a point as he and fellow Problem Solvers Caucus member Rep. Tom Reed (R-New York), right, talk with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle about their efforts in late April to prevent a federal government shutdown. Click image to watch the full interview. The email topic line said something about the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, so naturally I almost hit delete thinking that such an oxymoron had to be spam. But curiosity got the better of me. I opened the message. Lo and behold, the Problem Solvers Caucus is a real deal. How effective it can... Read more →


Most Obamacare attention this week has been on the been on the revised Congressional Budget Office estimates that show the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause fewer people (only 23 million vs. 24 million) to lose coverage, but at a higher cost ($31 billion more than the March version of the bill) to Uncle Sam's bottom line. But at the same time, nuts and bolts work on the American Health Care Act, or AHCA as the Republican bill is known, also continued at the Congressional committee level. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) in March... Read more →


Mick Mulvaney, the Trump Administration's Office of Management and Budget Director, met the press this morning to discuss the 45th president's fiscal year 2018 budget proposal. (Screenshot of C-SPAN broadcast; click image to watch the full event) It's official. The amount of money going to the Internal Revenue Service under Donald J. Trump's first federal budget gets cut yet again. The White House today released its fiscal year 2018 budget. As expected from the Administration's so-called skinny budget made public in March, the fully fleshed out $4.1 trillion plan proposes cuts to long-time safety net programs for lower income Americans... Read more →


Remember that recent economic analysis that said Americans were more in debt than they've been in almost a decade? The bulk of that debt is housing related, but student debt also is a big contributor to the growing owing. Households today are borrowing differently than they did nine years ago, note New York Times reporters Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley. The latest data show that student loan debt, driven by soaring tuition costs, makes up 11 percent of total household debt, up from 5 percent in the third quarter of 2008. Nice days mean students can turn their college campus... Read more →


Americans have again dived into the deep end of the personal debt pool "Americans have now borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008, just as the global financial system began to collapse," write Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley in today's New York Times' DealB%k column. The $12.73 trillion in debt reported in the first quarter of 2017 is comprised mainly of housing-related borrowing. But there is a bit of good news here. Here's hoping that the new residents find being homeowners as sweet as these house warming cupcakes. (Photo by Danl Lurle... Read more →


In his new book, "The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis — and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance," Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse says young people in the U.S. are failing to launch. He explained to Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" how we ended up here and what Americans can do to prepare for adulthood. (Click image to view CBSN video) Sen. Ben Sasse swears that his book is not just 320 pages of old man "get off my lawn" rants at neighbor kids. First of all, the 45-year-old Sasse is far from old. Plus, says the Nebraska... Read more →