Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.
* EU’s trading tax takes slow road. Tom Fairless – The Wall Street Journal. Deep disagreements among 11 European Union states that have pledged to introduce a tax on financial transactions mean the proposal faces delays and could be significantly scaled back, EU diplomats involved in the discussions said on Thursday. Link
* Richest 20 percent get half the overall savings from U.S. tax breaks, CBO says. Lori Montgomery – The Washington Post. The 10 largest breaks in the U.S. tax code will save taxpayers more than $900 billion this year, with just over half the benefits flowing to the richest 20 percent of households, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday. Link
* Swiss bow to pressure for more bank data. Laura Saunders and John Letzing – The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. government won a victory against tax cheats with offshore bank accounts after Swiss officials agreed Wednesday to let banks release information on the overall holdings of their American clients. Link
* New IRS chief taps GAO’s Fisher as senior adviser. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. Danny Werfel, acting commissioner of the embattled Internal Revenue Service, went outside the agency for a top lieutenant, tapping David Fisher of the Government Accountability Office to be the tax agency’s chief risk officer and senior adviser to the commissioner. Link
* Republicans stoking fire of IRS scandal with eye toward 2014. Josh Hicks – The Washington Post. Republicans have been trying to take advantage of the Internal Revenue Service’s politically toxic targeting scandal to better position their party for the 2014 midterm elections. And one big area of focus is President Obama’s new health-care law. Link
Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.
* Groups targeted by IRS tested rules on politics. Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo – The New York Times. A close examination of some conservative groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former IRS officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review. Link
* High-end health plans scale back to avoid ‘Cadillac tax’. Reed Abelson – The New York Times. Companies hoping to avoid the tax are beginning to scale back the more generous health benefits they have traditionally offered and to look harder for ways to bring down the overall cost of care. Link
* In tax overhaul debate, large vs small companies. Graham Bowley – The New York Times. Some of the biggest companies in the United States are fighting for a cut in the official corporate tax rate. But the nation’s millions of small businesses fear they will be the ones paying for it. Link
* States’ rift on taxes widens. Mark Peters – The Wall Street Journal. Minnesota’s move to raise new taxes puts it among a handful of states controlled by Democrats that are adopting more liberal fiscal policies at a time when many Republican-dominated statehouses are pushing to cut taxes. Link
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lois Lerner, an Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the scandal over the agency’s extra scrutiny of conservative groups, was put on administrative leave on Thursday after she refused to resign, a U.S. senator said.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa said new acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel was the one who asked for Lerner’s resignation.
* Push on corporate tax rules goes global. Howard Schneider – The Washington Post. A global effort to tighten corporate tax rules is gaining momentum as politicians in Europe and the United States take aim at American tech giants whose savvy use of international tax laws has provoked a public backlash. Link
* Europe pushes to shed stigma of a tax haven. Andrew Higgins – The New York Times. There is relentless pressures being piled on opaque money centers around the world amid a sweeping global assault on tax evasion and the secrecy that enables it. Link
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three congressional hearings during the past week have allowed lawmakers to vent their anger at the U.S. tax agency for its targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny, but the sessions have yielded few answers about who was responsible.
The frustration on Capitol Hill seemed to reach a crescendo on Wednesday when Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official who first acknowledged the targeting – and the day’s star witness before a House panel – refused to testify.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a tax scandal about extra scrutiny of conservative groups told a congressional hearing on Wednesday she had done nothing wrong but asserted her constitutional right not to answer questions.
“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws,” Lois Lerner, head of the IRS tax-exempt unit, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook made no apology on Tuesday for the iPad maker saving billions of dollars in U.S. taxes through Irish subsidiaries and told lawmakers that his company backs corporate tax reform, even though it may end up paying more.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that Apple in 2012 alone avoided paying $9 billion in U.S. taxes, using a strategy involving three offshore units with no discernible tax home, or “residence.”