Politics Feed

Congress is looking to revise at least part of the bloated U.S. tax code in the coming months. In addition to reducing taxes, lawmakers say they want to make things simpler for taxpayers. In support of this argument, politicians and policy groups often point to the Internal Revenue Code’s complexity and compare it unfavorably to other nations. Our closest ally, however, shares a lot of the same tax troubles, at least according to one British economics writer. Growing British tax code: "Every [English] government promises to simplify taxes. None succeeds. We need more scrutiny of schemes that are too easy... Read more →


Most of the time, employees who are fired must look elsewhere for work. However, that’s not the case for some Internal Revenue Service personnel. An audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that around 10 percent of more than 2,000 former employees the IRS rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 were folks the agency had let go earlier because of conduct and performance issues. Troubling terminations: Those 213 rehired workers, according to TIGTA, had previously been ousted for workplace issues that included falsifying documents, avoiding taxes and taxpayer privacy offenses. Specifically, the July 24 report... Read more →


Virginia GOP Rep. Thomas Garrett, sponsor of a legislative petition to force a House vote on a clean repeal of Obamacare without any replacement measure. (Screen shot from appearance on Fox News) Congress isn't meeting this month, but that hasn't stopped a group of conservative Republicans in recent days from devising a plan they hope will, as they've promised for seven years, repeal Obamacare. House Freedom Caucus members are looking to force a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act, known as the ACA or more (un)popularly Obamacare, and the health care law's related taxes. The erasure of the law,... Read more →


Downtown Seattle seen from Queen Anne Hill, with the Space Needle standing out and Mount Rainier in the background. (Photo by Rattlhed via Wikimedia Commons) Washington is one of seven states that does not have a personal income tax, but it’s largest city plans to collect one from its wealthiest residents. If the courts let it. On July 14, Seattle City Council bill 119002 became ordinance 125339, which beginning in 2018 will officially impose an income tax on high-income residents. The 2.25 percent tax will apply to individuals within the city's borders with an annual income exceeding $250,000 a year,... Read more →


Tax reform, or at least tax cuts, will top Congress' agenda when it gets back from August recess. But will Representatives and Senators actually rewrite the tax code the way most Americans want? Today's Shout Out Saturday piece says maybe not. Donald J. Trump reportedly is now backing a corporate tax rate of 20 percent to 25 percent, up from the 15 percent rate included in his April tax overhaul outline. That slightly higher business tax rate jibes with what corporate executives and business lobbyists say is attainable. That, however, is not what American taxpayers want, according to a recent... Read more →


I’ve mentioned in few posts already this month that it’s hot. Here in Central Texas, we’re in a stretch of triple-digit temperatures that are breaking records every day. That’s why our pantry is full of Cokes — that’s Texan for any kind of soft drink — and bottled water, since I like the carbonated kind. The refrigerator also is stocked with juices and, of course, beer. Our increased liquid diet every summer means that we pay added sales taxes based on what beverages are in our grocery cart. Soft drinks are subject to Texas state and local sales taxes, but... Read more →


The Trump Administration announced Wednesday, Aug. 2, support for an immigration plan that would dramatically reduce the number of people allowed to live and work in the United States. The president might want to rethink that. Newcomers could be needed to fill the slots left by people who are voluntarily leaving the country. Yes, I know it’s apples and oranges. But the apparently coincidental timing of the effort to limit immigrants as even more citizens and long-term residents permanently leave is striking. Surge in U.S. exits: The announcement of the latest group of expatriates, which will be officially published today,... Read more →


Does the surging stock market mean it's time to take capital gains? Tax reform could complicate the decision. The U.S. stock market passed another notable boundary today, moving above the 22,000 mark. It didn’t stay there long, bouncing around a bit before, yes, finally closing at 22,031. Today's activity got investors wondering whether such flirting will turn into more than a one-day stand. A more solid investment gains relationship, perhaps. Or will it dip under 22,000 and eventually, as investment bears warn, tumble much lower? Those questions have investors pondering their options. Do they take earnings now at historic highs... Read more →


Every taxpayer is well aware of the length of the federal tax tentacles. What Congress does to the Internal Revenue Code affects state taxes, too. And it’s not just the residents who live in the states who are affected. It’s the states themselves. Even before any tax code changes have been made, many are already feeling the Trump Effect on their treasuries. “April income tax returns brought bad news for state budgets,” according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government. “Payments with tax returns usually arrive in April and early May, and often they are surprising. By mid-to-late May, states know... Read more →


Wisconsin workers soon could be working at new Foxconn plant if state lawmakers approve huge tax benefits for the Taiwanese electronics company. Are you worried that your next iPhone will cost more than you planned now that Foxconn is opening a plant in Wisconsin? The Taiwanese electronics supplier will be paying U.S. employees much more — an average of almost $54,000 a year plus benefits annually — than workers who put together Apple products in China. Don't be. Foxconn's American operation won't be making smartphone components. Instead, it will produce liquid-crystal display panels for televisions and computer screens. But Wisconsin... Read more →


"We looked at healthcare and said let's make sure that we do tax reform better and differently." — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) talking about what's next legislatively after the GOP failed earlier today to deliver on its seven-year pledge to end Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan has been pushing his "A Better Way" economic and tax plan for years. Will he finally succeed in 2017 as a Republican-led Congress and White House turn their attention to tax reform? Doing a better job in rewriting the tax code than they did during the recent Affordable Care Act repeal and/or replace... Read more →


School supplies are among the items that are sales-tax-free during some of this summer's state tax holidays. (Photo by Kay Bell) Shoppers in 15* states are gearing up for their summer state tax holidays. Mississippi and Tennessee are next in line, with those sales-tax-free events set for this coming weekend. But are they really saving? As I noted in my blurb for this week's tax tip on these summer 2017 event, they are bad public policy. How bad? Political gimmicks like sales tax holidays distract policymakers and taxpayers from genuine, permanent tax relief. If a state must offer a "holiday"... Read more →


On the presidential campaign trail, Donald J. Trump promised to end many federal agency regulations. It's one pledge he's delivered. The day he moved into the White House, Trump's chief of staff issued an memo to agency heads calling for a freeze on rules that Obama Administration officials finalized before leaving office, but that have not yet taken effect. The Jan. 20 document basically sets up the framework for the Administration's framework for his deregulation policy. That was followed by Executive Order (EO) #13777 on Feb. 24 to reduce federal regulation and control regulatory costs. It calls for agencies to... Read more →


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 →


This post was updated Tuesday, July 25, 2017. 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 hoping to get back fee you paid for your IRS-issued special identification number, you could be waiting a bit longer. The Internal Revenue Service on July 24 formally asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to... 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 →