Politics Feed

But some firms, especially if they specialize in lobbying lawmakers, have other considerations in mind for their annual end-of-year festivities. The holiday season is here at offices, too. That means office parties. Oh, yay! OK, some people love office Christmas parties. Anything for free food and libations. And they actually like most of their co-workers. But if you're not one of them, go anyway. Surely you can fake it for a few hours. And, again, free refreshments. Plus, opting out of implicitly required conviviality could hurt your career. Tax-free thanks: Offices throw these parties as a way to thank workers... Read more →


A driver pulled over in La Conchita, California, the evening of Dec. 6 to save a rabbit he spotted scurrying amid flames from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Click image to watch full video posted on YouTube by RMG News/Reuters/NJ.com. California is on fire. Literally. Again. Just two months after the northern part of the Golden State was ablaze, deadly wildfires are raging across Southern California. And while residents right now are simply trying to stay safe and, if possible, save as much of their personal possessions as they can, in a few weeks or months, they'll be trying... Read more →


The House and Senate have officially agreed to hash out their respective tax reform differences. Both chambers passed their own versions of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Rather than one side accepting the other's bill, they now must come up with a new piece of legislation that incorporates some parts of both. That job falls to 14 Senators and 15 Representatives selected by their Party's leadership. Let's get this tax negotiation party started! House conferees: On the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin selected nine GOP Representatives. They are: Kevin Brady of Texas (chair of the... Read more →


Time's person of the year for 2017 is a lot of people. The magazine selected all the women and men who who publicly spoke about being victims of sexual harassment and abuse as a way to stop it and help others who have been victims, known on social media as the #MeToo movement. Ironically, today's announcement of Time's 90th most notable person (called Man or Woman of the year until 1999) was overshadowed by the continuing sexual harassment controversy in the political world. Sitting and wannabe Senator troubles: Roy Moore, who is seeking Attorney General Jeff Session's former Senate seat... Read more →


Many homeowners breathed a sigh of relief when the Senate's version of tax reform followed the House's H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and included a tax deduction for property taxes. But it might be time to start hyperventilating again. While both chambers would keep the itemized deduction for the local real estate taxes that every homeowner faces each year, they will reduce its tax value. Each bill caps the deduction amount at $10,000. Most homeowners' taxes covered: For many homeowners, that limit is cool. Their property tax bills are high, but not into five digits, so it... Read more →


(Image by Rochelle Truong | Reddit) As we continue to plow though the Senate's version of the House tax reform bill, many folks, both on Capitol Hill and across the country, are still upset with the process used by GOP leaders to get the measure through the upper chamber. Changes traded for votes: One of the biggest complaints is about the legislative changes made on the fly to woo enough Senators to the "yea" side. That's not necessarily unusual. Quid pro quo is common in crafting legislation. But the problem for opponents of the bill was that some of these... Read more →


After 14½ hours of debate, the U.S. Senate early on Saturday, Dec. 2, approved 51-49 its version of tax reform. Now the hard work starts. (C-SPAN2 screenshot; click image to watch video of the full debate and votes) It's alive! Tax reform, or at least tax cuts (for a while, for some people) survived a marathon session in the Senate, with that chamber approving its Internal Revenue Code revisions early Saturday, Dec. 2, morning. Now the real fun begins. Since the House version (H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) passed on Nov. 16 is different from the Senate's... Read more →


Ho, Ho, Ho, hoss. It's the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays and year-end tax moves are here! (Photo by Kay Bell of a scene at Marble Falls, Texas' annual Walkway of Lights along the lake) Hello, holidays! We're so happy you and your good cheer have finally arrived. But the arrival of December also means 2017 is almost over, giving us only 31 days to take care of tax tasks that could save us money when we file our returns next year. This year, it also looks like Congress might actually make some tax changes, if not... Read more →


A crush of shoppers rushes to start their Black Friday quest for bargains. (Photo via Diariocritico de Venezuela/Stan Honda/Flickr CC) Black Friday, the day-after-Thanksgiving kickoff to the holiday shopping season, may have lost some of its luster in recent years, but plenty of shoppers still hit the stores today to bargain hunt. If you're among the frenzied shoppers, hang onto your receipts if you buy a lot or big-ticket items. They could bump up your itemized tax deduction. And your 2017 tax return might be the last time you'll be able to take advantage of this deduction. Tax reform deduction... 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 →


John Koskinen's days of giving formal testimony as head of the IRS ended when his commissioner term concluded earlier this month. However, an interview he gave the week after leaving the tax agency post has raised questions about Donald Trump's tax returns and taxpayer privacy. Remember Donald J. Trump's tax returns? Those he said during the campaign that he'd share with America as soon as the IRS completed its audit of them? Well, we still don't know if the IRS has finished examining those prior year filings, but apparently Trump did sometime this year file his 2016 taxes. The Administration... Read more →


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 →