Tax Break

Essential reading: Republican governors open new front in tax debate, and more

January 25, 2013

Governor Sam Brownback has cut taxes in Kansas. REUTERS/Mike Segar.

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

 * Republican governors open new front in tax debate. Richard Stevenson – The New York Times. Overhauling the tax system is the subject of endless talk and little action in Washington. But Republican governors in a range of states are setting up limited but politically ambitious and potentially telling experiments in what might be possible nationwide. Link

* Towns’ next hit from hurricane is to tax revenue. Alison Leigh Cowan – The New York Times. Localities across the New York region, already reeling from the cost of cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy, are confronting the prospect of an even bigger blow to their finances: a precipitous decline in property tax revenues.  

* US taxes: Certain as death, complicated as hell. James Politi – The Financial Times. The US tax code is under scrutiny as an international outlier that is unable to raise sufficient revenue at a time of big budgetary pressures – and is stifling America’s economic potential and competitiveness at a time when the country is desperately seeking to shift towards a faster recovery. Link  

* Tax-boost bark is worse than bite. Justin Lahart – The Wall Street Journal. A fair number of people may not recognize that their 2013 paychecks have shrunk: In early 2011, shortly after payroll taxes were cut, only a quarter of households surveyed by Federal Reserve Bank of New York researchers were even aware of the decrease. Link

* In Senate, new push on taxes. Kristina Peterson – The Wall Street Journal. Incoming Budget Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, a liberal Democrat from Washington state, told her colleagues Thursday that her first budget would call for additional revenue, drawn from changes to tax breaks that give an advantage to upper-income households. Link  

* What tax preparers really charge. Laura Saunders – The Wall Street Journal. With tax season just around the corner, the National Society of Accountants has surveyed its members and found the average cost for Form 1040 with a Schedule A (for itemized deductions) and a state tax return is $246. Link  

* Time to tweak gas taxes? States weigh options. USA Today. The gasoline tax has lost its value over the past decade. Changes in fuel-saving automotive technology and driving habits are resulting in less revenue to repair crumbling bridges, repave highways or upgrade buses and trains. Link

* Investors get a tax break with early dividends. Matt Krantz – USA Today. More than 600 companies announced plans late last year to either pay dividends early or cough up extra dividend payments in 2012. Link

 * Tax benefit boosts Bristol’s profit. Peter Loftus – The Wall Street Journal. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s 2013 outlook is bolstered by the expectation of a relatively low effective tax rate of 16 percent, thanks to the renewal of a tax credit for research and development. The lower tax rate boosts projected earnings by about 8 percent. Link

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