This isn’t the first time the IRS has been accused of targeting groups for partisan reasons
The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais. The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.— When the IRS targeted liberals
The $140 billion industry that keeps the IRS from doing your tax returns for you
It is an industry made up of accountants and companies like H&R Block and Intuit, which makes the TurboTax software used by many Americans. And it is an industry that, according to ProPublica, has worked hard to keep the IRS from preparing your tax returns for you for free. Intuit, for example, has spent millions lobbying the federal government, opposing bills that would allow the IRS to send you pre-filled-in returns (the agency already has most of your relevant information) and supporting bills that would ban the practice.— It shouldn’t be so hard
The organization that helps U.S. corporations dodge $100 billion a year in taxes
OECD officials “have been digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole by blindly pursuing a mistaken approach that allows multinationals to avoid taxes,” said Sol Picciotto, an emeritus professor of law at Lancaster University in the U.K. A quasi-governmental body that helps some of the world’s biggest economies set tax policy, the OECD writes guidelines letting companies avoid taxes by moving income into tax havens, a practice it deems legal. The organization has long enjoyed a close relationship with industry. Its three top tax officials left in 2011 and 2012 to join firms that help companies avoid taxes by taking advantage of laws to move profits to locations such as Bermuda and Mauritius.— OECD Enables Companies to Avoid $100 Billion in Taxes
What happened to Obama’s “hold the line” strategy?
Now, by all accounts, Obama is prepared to extend the Bush tax cuts up to $400,000 a year. Or maybe more. As of Friday, Obama had told Republicans they could have the tax cuts extended on income up to $400,000 if they would accept the estate tax rising from its Bush-set rates. As of last night, Democrats were conceding the estate tax plus the higher exemption on tax rates, which had risen to $450,000. And Republicans still hadn’t agreed to it! Why would they, when Democrats keep hurling money at them? By midnight, Republicans might be getting the Saturday Night Live version of Obama’s offer (“a 1% raise on the top two Americans — just two people”) … he is allowing Republicans to whittle down the sum by essentially threatening to shoot themselves in the head. And this is the most ominous thing about it. The big meta question looming over Obama’s term is whether he has learned to grapple with Republican political hostage-taking. Hostage-taking is not simply aggressive or even irrational negotiating. It is the specific tactic of extracting concessions by threatening to withhold support for policies you yourself endorse, simply because your opponent cares more about the damage. Republicans agree that the debt ceiling must be lifted, but forced Obama to offer them policies he opposed because they believed he cared more about damage to the country than they did.— Why Is Obama Caving on Taxes?
During World War II, as the government was hiking taxes on most workers to help pay for the war, Irving Berlin wrote an upbeat patriotic ditty called “I Paid My Income Tax Today,” which Danny Kaye sang and hundreds of radio stations played. When Americans Took Pride in Paying Taxes
The economic arguments in favor of legalizing pot are no hallucination. Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight reports that Washington state could pull down nearly $2 billion in additional revenue over five years, through fees on licenses granted to pot providers. Colorado, which would manage pot sales differently, could earn about $342 million from excise taxes over five years. In a tough economy, with voters staunchly opposed to most new taxes, that’s a meaningful amount of revenue. Will Pot Be the Next Obama Stimulus Plan?
Is Grover Norquist’s wall crumbling?
[Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell], the outgoing head of the Republican Governors Association, made clear that raising taxes isn’t his first choice. But he said that the political reality of a Democratic president and Democratic Senate makes it unlikely that a grand bargain can be struck without some compromise on raising revenues. “As a piece of an overall package with tax reform that is more comprehensive, I think it’s something that absolutely has got to be discussed,” he said of tax hikes for the wealthy in an interview at the traditional post-election GOP governors’ conference here. “We’re in deep, deep trouble in America right now and I think with the president in power there’s no way to get a budget solution that’s spending cuts only.”Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracing the origins of the phrase “fiscal cliff”
In 1990, the phrase [fiscal cliff] was first used in reference to the national budget, with the Pittsburgh Press calling the impending crisis both a “fiscal cliff” and “a series of ‘rolling cliffs’ that threaten to leave the federal government without the authority to spend money.” The phrase spread during the Clinton era, when it was often used to address the mounting anxiety over social security and healthcare: “Social Security is heading over the fiscal cliff, and even the president has noticed. Unfortunately, Medicare is in similar straits. In less than a decade the program will run out of money: The annual deficit will eventually hit a trillion dollars as the huge Baby Boom generation retires,” noted the Washington Times on March 22, 1999. And the phrase continued into the Bush administration, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted before the 2004 election, “The country is headed for a fiscal cliff, and the elephants and the donkeys are racing to see who can plunge over it first.”Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
Secretary of Explaining Things
this is the political equivalent of Romney and Ryan doling out heaps of candy to the public but then saying they’ll work with the Congress to determine precisely which teeth will have to be drilled to deal with the resulting cavities The Romney-Ryan Tax Loophole Fantasy
“filers with over $200,000 of income earned 26% of all personal income in 2009, but received only 12% of tax exemptions and deductions.”
We can look at the IRS Statistics of Income report for 2009, the most recent year available. Tax returns reporting less than $200,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI) accounted for a total AGI of $5.86 trillion, and taxable income of $3.96 trillion. That is, deductions and exemptions amounted to 45 percent of adjusted gross income for people making under $200,000. Tax returns with more than $200,000 of AGI (the highest-earning 2.8 percent of filers) had a total of $1.96 trillion in AGI and $1.62 trillion in taxable income. For this high-income group, deductions and exemptions were just 18 percent of adjusted gross income.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fact checkers: Romney’s debate claims on Medicare and taxes “mostly fiction”
Many of those within Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” are people expected to vote for him
According to a map published by the Tax Foundation, eight of the top ten states with the lowest income-tax liability are the heart of Romney country — the deep south. The only exceptions are Florida, a battleground state, and New Mexico, which leans toward Obama. Meanwhile, most of the states with the lowest level of nonpayers are Obama states. As for other entitlements, of course Social Security and Medicare are reserved for the elderly — and are generally popular. But it seems simplistic to think these are all Obama voters, especially since polling indicates that the Republican share of the vote among white seniors have increased in each of the last five elections, to 58 percent in 2008.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
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