Tax Break

Essential reading: Mortgage-interest deduction could be in play, and more

November 29, 2012

Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.

* Mortgage-interest deduction could be on the table in ‘fiscal cliff’ debate. Brady Dennis – The Washington Post. As Congress and the White House negotiate the first major rewrite of tax laws in decades, changing the generations-old mortgage-interest deduction — which costs the government roughly $100 billion a year — has gone from far-off possibility to part of the conversation. Link

* Energy: The next big idea. Ed Crooks – The Financial Times. One key factor in many energy company deals is the master limited partnership (MLP) structure: a tax-privileged structure, protected under 1987 legislation that allows its use for companies in a handful of industries, including natural resources. As the U.S. frets about the approach of the fiscal cliff, there has been speculation that MLPs’ tax-favored status could be under threat. Link

* Obama is flexible on highest tax rates. Damian Paletta and Carol Lee – The Wall Street Journal. President Barack Obama signaled he wouldn’t insist tax rates on upper-income Americans rise to Clinton-era peaks as part of a deficit-reduction deal. The new clarity of the White House position marks a potentially important moment in Washington’s effort to figure out how to handle tax rates that are due to snap higher next year. Link

* CEOs optimistic after ‘fiscal cliff’ meeting. The Wall Street Journal. President Barack Obama’s renewed outreach to America’s top executives took a seemingly positive turn Wednesday, as a group of business leaders emerged from a White House meeting convinced the Obama administration would move soon on a deficit-reduction plan. Link

* What tax increases are in store at the end of 2012? Jackie Calmes – The New York Times. A slew of tax cuts — $400 billion for 2013 — expire on Dec. 31: All of the Bush-era rate reductions; smaller tax cuts that periodically expire for businesses and individuals; and the 2-percentage-point cut in payroll taxes that President Barack Obama pushed in 2010, which increased an average worker’s take-home pay by about $1,000 a year. Link

* The growing burden of payroll taxes. Owen Zidar – The New York Times opinion. Payroll taxes and corporate income taxes accounted for an equal share of federal tax revenue in 1969. By 2009, payroll taxes generated more than six times as much revenue. We’ve become reliant on payroll taxes, and a goal of a tax overhaul should be to reform and reduce them, permanently. Link

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