* Missouri political donor thrives with no limits. Nicholas Confessore – The New York Times. Since 2008, when Missouri abolished contribution limits, donor Rex Sinquefield has donated more than $20 million to local candidates and political action committees. More than half of that money has gone to advance his signature cause: eliminating state and local income taxes in Missouri, a major source of government revenue, and replacing them with sales taxes. Link
* JPMorgan: If the payroll tax cut falls, so does growth. Suzy Khimm – The Washington Post. JPMorgan no longer thinks the payroll tax holiday will survive the fiscal cliff negotiations. It’s downgraded its GDP growth forecast for the first quarter from 1.5 percent to just 1 percent and revised its second quarter forecast from 2.25 percent to 1.5 percent. Link
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – These are testing times for tax preparers.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is urging about 340,000 preparers of annual returns to take the agency’s new proficiency exam.
The test is part of a regulatory shake-up to the tax return preparation business. The IRS started an overhaul in 2009 to weed out illicit tax preparers who opened for business in tax season and then disappeared before they could be prosecuted for refund fraud.
WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) – These are testing times for
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is urging about 340,000
preparers of annual returns to take the agency’s new proficiency
The test is part of a regulatory shake-up to the tax return
preparation business. The IRS started an overhaul in 2009 to
weed out illicit tax preparers who opened for business in tax
season and then disappeared before they could be prosecuted for
Essential reading: Officials say Obama could veto a bill blocking ‘fiscal cliff’ without tax hike for rich, and more
* Officials: Obama ready to veto a bill blocking ‘fiscal cliff’ without tax hike for rich. Lori Montgomery – The Washington Post. President Obama is prepared to veto legislation to block year-end tax hikes and spending cuts, collectively known as the “fiscal cliff,” unless Republicans bow to his demand to raise tax rates for the wealthy, administration officials said. Freed from the political and economic constraints that have tied his hands in the past, Obama is ready to play hardball with Republicans, who have so far successfully resisted a deal to tame the debt that includes higher taxes, Obama’s allies say. Link
* Voters with questions at debate still have them. Trip Gabriel – The New York Times. Debate questioner Mary Follano, 54, a respiratory therapist with six grown children, some struggling with part-time jobs, said she agreed with President Obama on raising taxes on incomes above $250,000. But she was sympathetic when Mitt Romney said raising taxes on high earners would hurt small-business owners, who create jobs. Link
Essential reading: California unions fighting fundraising proposal rather than pushing for tax hike, and more
* California’s labor’s big-money focus on fundraising law may hurt chances of tax hike. Chris Megerian – The Los Angeles Times. California’s Labor unions are pooling their money to fight Proposition 32, which would eliminate their primary political fundraising tool — paycheck deductions — at the same time Gov. Jerry Brown is counting on their support for his tax-hike initiative also on the ballot next month. Link
* Why tax reform could help growth. Dylan Matthews – The Washington Post. In large measure, what you think about the tenability of Mitt Romney’s tax plan depends on what you think his tax reform proposal can do for economic growth. Optimistic growth estimates have predicted only a mild economic boost from Romney’s proposal — $53 billion of the $360 billion annual cost of the plan would be recouped from higher revenues that result from faster growth. Link
* Where everything is lavish except the property taxes. Elizabeth Harris – The New York Times. The shimmering limestone tower at 15 Central Park West, where apartments routinely trade for upward of $20 million, has become symbolic of the most luxurious upper reaches of New York’s real estate market. Yet despite the residential portion of that Manhattan building is officially valued by the city, for tax purposes, at only $332 per square foot. Link
* Treasurers worry over accounting for money fund changes. Emily Chasan – The Wall Street Journal. As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner moved to reintroduce money market reforms last month, corporate treasurers who invest in the funds are focused on how structural changes might complicate accounting for them. Corporate treasurers are planning for various scenarios, but are getting stumped on accounting issues, Ronni Horillo, assistant treasurer at Google, said on a panel at the Association for Financial Professionals conference in Miami on Monday. Link
Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.
* N.J. lags on sales tax. Heather Haddon – The Wall Street Journal. A new analysis set to be released this week shows New Jersey is one of only nine states in the U.S. that saw a decline in sales-tax revenue this spring, a sign that consumers are holding back spending as the state’s economy struggles to recover. Link
* IASB chairman laments delays to reform. Adam Jones – The Financial Times. The chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board has delivered a scathing assessment of its progress in carrying out urgent reforms, saying repeated delays had shaken people’s faith in the body’s ability to meet deadlines. Hans Hoogervorst said the slow pace was redolent of “dysfunctional working processes and dysfunctional decision-making”. He added: “We have broken deadlines so often that nobody believes in them any more.” Link
WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – The Obama administration said
on Friday it has not changed its stance on letting tax rates
rise at year-end for high-income Americans, despite comments
from Vice President Joe Biden in Thursday night’s debate that
seemed to suggest a shift.
“Our position on the Bush tax cuts has not changed,” White
House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Friday, referring
to the expiration in 2013 of tax cuts enacted a decade ago under
Republican President George W. Bush.
* Biden and Ryan dispute economic toll of raising the top tax rates – but both are correct. J.D. Harrison – The Wall Street Journal. One of the most politically charged small business matters resurfaced during the vice presidential debate when Paul Ryan and Joe Biden squared off on the connection between high-income tax rates and job creation. The contention centers around the fate of the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year. The administration wants to extend the current tax breaks for the middle class but allow them to expire for families earning more than $250,000 a year, while Republicans support reissuing the cuts for all Americans. Link
* Biden indicates shift to $1mln threshold for 2013 tax increases. Patrick Temple-West and Rick Cowan – Reuters. Did Vice-President Joe Biden shift on the Obama administration’s tax increase plan for the wealthy? During a debate on Thursday with Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Biden signaled a possible change from that figure, saying tax increases would start with million-dollar earners – a level possibly more palatable to lawmakers in Congress. Link
WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – Did Vice-President Joe Biden
shift on the Obama administration’s tax increase plan for the
And if he did, was it a signal that Democrats are offering
to strike a quick deal with Republicans on one of the most
difficult year-end fiscal decisions Washington faces?