Tax Break

Essential tax and accounting reading: Romney’s plan questioned, planning for a dividend tax hike, Transocean’s transfer pricing, unhappy California, and big taxes in Spain

March 1, 2012
 
Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources. 

* Investors gird for higher dividend taxes. Arden Dale – The Wall Street Journal. Financial advisers and their clients are starting to plan for, if not yet act on, a possible jump in taxes on dividends. Dividend-producing stocks have had a special attraction among investors in recent years, in part because of the lower-than-usual tax rates dividends have enjoyed for much of the past decade. Those low rates gained even more luster as the stock market tanked — driving up the dividend yields — while interest rates on savings accounts have been so low. A 2 percent dividend yield also looks more interesting to investors than it did before U.S. bond yields declined last year and remain near historical lows. Increases in taxes on dividends, capital gains and ordinary income all are currently planned, but dividends may be seeing one of the biggest changes. Link  

 * Credibility of Romney’s big tax cut questioned. James Politi and Richard McGregor – The Financial Times. Mitt Romney’s latest tax-cut proposals would result in $3.4 trillion in foregone revenue for the federal government, with revenues stuck at the very low level of 16 percent of gross domestic product for the next decade, according to a study by an independent think-tank. The calculations by the Tax Policy Center will raise questions about the fiscal rectitude of Romney’s economic plan at a time when the former Massachusetts governor is vowing to slash US budget deficits. Link  

* Transocean says may face $473 million U.S. tax bill. Braden Reddall – Reuters. Transocean Ltd may face $473 million in U.S. back taxes, according to its annual filing, though it also said it was cleared in a similar dispute dating back eight years, which may give its lawyers a useful precedent. Transocean, owner of the world’s largest offshore oil rig fleet, said the latest assessment received this month for 2008 and 2009 related to accounting between subsidiaries, for both engineering services performed between them and transfer pricing for rig charters. Link 

* California cities hit the wall. Bobby White and Vauhini Vara – The Wall Street Journal. Confronted by declining tax revenue and rising employee costs, Stockton, Calif., is considering bankruptcy—while several other struggling California cities warn they could eventually face the same predicament. Stockton officials voted Tuesday night to take the initial step toward a bankruptcy filing by the city of 290,000, located in the agricultural Central Valley. The decision launches the first test of a new state law that requires cities to negotiate with employees, creditors and others to try to stave off a filing before making the move. Link  

* Spain moves to top of tax table. Stephen Fidler – The Wall Street Journal. Soon after it took office, the new Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy raised income taxes to curb a swelling budget deficit. The tax increases, write three Spanish economists in a paper published today for the free-market Cato Institute, have left Spaniards paying among the highest income tax rates in Europe. Link 

* Geithner, top congressional tax writers to meet. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is expected to talk about rewriting the tax code at a Thursday meeting with the chairmen and ranking members of Congress’s tax-writing committees. The meeting – apparently the first since the administration rolled out its plan for a business-tax overhaul – is expected to be a closed-door session. Link

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