Tax Break

Essential reading: Tax fairness or tax competiveness?, Shockingly low taxes, and more

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said he's shocked how little tax some wealthy citizens pay

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

* How to really simplify the tax code. Bruce Bartlett – The New York Times. Politicians hide behind grandiose plans for wiping the tax slate clean because they know that support for every specific tax expenditure is very high. In practice, saying that one would eliminate all tax expenditures is meaningless, nothing more than a gesture that avoids confrontation with the constituencies supporting tax expenditures. Perhaps the worst offender, in this regard, is Paul D. Ryan. Ryan steadfastly refuses to name a single loophole that he would eliminate. Link

* White House highlights tax fairness ahead of Obama speech. Alister Bull – Reuters. Taxes for America’s highest earners have fallen sharply since 1995, according to a White House report on Tuesday, released ahead of a speech by President Barack Obama on fairness in the tax code that is a key part of his campaign for reelection. The White House estimated the 400 highest income households in the country, who all earned over $110 million, paid an average of 18.1 percent of their income in federal taxes in 2007, well down for 29.9 percent those households paid in 1995.Obama travels to Florida later on Tuesday where he will urge support for the Buffett Rule. Link 

* Osborne ‘shocked’ by rich tax dodgers. Hannah Kuchler – The Financial Times. George Osborne, the British chancellor, has said he was “shocked” to discover that some of the richest people in Britain have used avoidance schemes to pay “virtually no” income tax. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that some of the highest earners paid an income tax rate of only 10 percent by using legal loopholes. The report found that Britain’s top 20 biggest tax avoiders had used three main loopholes to legally reduce their bills by a total of 145 million pounds ($229.96 million) in one year. The loopholes included offsetting the cost of business mortgages or borrowing on buy-to-let properties, receiving tax relief on donations to charity and writing off business losses in one of their companies against their income tax bill. Link

* The IRS lost my tax return. Maryam Ansari – Findlaw.com via Reuters. The IRS can lose your tax return. That’s what the First Circuit Court of Appeals essentially said in a recent case. If you’re running a small business, you might want to take heed. It’s important to keep track of all your tax documents, in case the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service loses your return. The court was very clear in saying that if the medical center could prove that the claim was put in the mail, then they would give them some leniency. But they couldn’t prove it. They had no receipts from the post office, no recollection of putting the documents in the mail and no certified receipt or registered receipt. Link 

Essential reading: Push on corporate tax rules goes global, and more

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

* 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    

* Tax fairness top agenda at European summit. Gebriele Steinhauser and Sam Schechner – The Wall Street Journal. Faced with public outrage over tax-evasion scandals at a time of austerity budgets, European leaders pledged Wednesday to ensure that everybody—from high rollers to big multinationals—pay their fair share to cash-strapped governments. Link 

Essential reading: State Republicans divided on tax cuts, and more

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks after the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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

* Governors, GOP allies clash over tax cuts. Mark Peters and Neil King – The Wall Street Journal. Republican lawmakers in several states are blunting plans by GOP governors to reduce or eliminate income taxes, putting the legislators at odds with figures many in the party see as leading voices on reshaping government. Link

* FATCA treaties held up in U.S. Senate. Ben DiPietro – The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Senate is unable to ratify three Foreign Tax Account Compliance Act treaties because of a hold by Senator Rand Paul, and if the delays continue much longer they could complicate implementation of the law, which is due to take effect in January. Link

Essential reading: Businesses become REITs to avoid taxes, and more

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

* Restyled as real estate trusts, varied businesses avoid taxes. Nathaniel Popper – The New York Times. A small but growing number of American corporations, operating in businesses as diverse as private prisons, billboards and casinos, are making an aggressive move to reduce — or even eliminate — their federal tax bills. Link    

*  European FTT could cost U.S. funds ‘up to $35 billion.’ Mark Cobley – The Wall Street Journal. Europe’s proposed levy on financial transactions could cost U.S. money market funds up to $35bn, according to the first quantitative analysis of the impact of the tax on the U.S. funds industry. Link    

* Survey: Economists say higher taxes, lower government spending not affecting businesses. The Associated Press. The National Association for Business Economics survey asks how higher taxes and lower government spending effected businesses in the first three months of 2013. Link    

Essential reading: TurboTax’s lobbying fight, and more

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

 * How the maker of TurboTax fought free, simple filing. Liz Day – ProPublica. Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years. Although the lobbying spans a range of issues, Intuit’s disclosures pointedly note that the company “opposes IRS government tax preparation.” Link 

 * Post analysis of Dow 30 firms shows declining tax burden as a share of profits. Jia Lynn Yang – The Washington Post. Most of the 30 companies listed on the country’s most famous stock index, the Dow Jones industrial average, have seen a dramatically smaller percentage of their profits go to U.S. coffers over time. Link    

 * On the second day, Supreme Court considers DOMA. Robert Barnes – The Washington Post. When Thea Spyer died in 2009, she left her estate to Edith Windsor. Because their marriage was not recognized, Windsor paid a tax bill of more than $360,000. She has sued for a refund. Link    

Essential reading: Sandy damage leads to tax trouble, and more

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

* After the hurricane, a mound of tax math. Charles DeLafuentie – The New York Times. People who lost their homes or suffered extensive property damage in Hurricane Sandy may qualify for some help from the Internal Revenue Service, but with the usual caveats: the tax code isn’t simple, and not everybody will qualify. Link 

* A doubly trying tax season for same-sex couples. Peter Applebome – The New York Times. For same-sex couples across the United States, an offshoot of being married is a dizzying set of complications in computing taxes. Link  

* McCain says ‘maybe’ to new taxes to avert sequestration. Ed O’Keefe – The Washington Post. Republican Sen. John McCain said Sunday that he is willing to consider supporting new tax revenue as part of a plan to avert $85 billion in looming budget cuts, as the White House pushed back against Republican lawmakers who say President Barack Obama is solely responsible for the spending reductions. Link  

Virginia plan to end gas tax quickly panned

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, entering his last year in office, offered on Tuesday a bold plan to finance badly needed road work and transportation expansion in the state.

His plan, to end the state’s 17.5 cent per gallon gas tax and replace it with a 0.8 percent increase in the state sales tax, was quickly booed by tax experts, however.

Their argument: removing the tax’s connection to gas would shift the burden of road repairs and upgrades to the broader population from the daily drivers who use roads most.

Essential reading: Cliff bill means some pay more taxes, and more

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

* Analysis: 77 percent of households to see tax increase. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. The fiscal cliff bill’s impact would be far-reaching for American taxpayers, and particularly painful for very high-income households, according to a new analysis. About 77 percent of American households would see a tax increase compared to their 2012 tax levels, according to the analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. Link 

* Amid pressure, House passes fiscal deal. Jennifer Steinhauer – The New York Times. Ending a climactic fiscal showdown in the final hours of the 112th Congress, the House late Tuesday passed and sent to President Obama legislation to avert big income tax increases on most Americans and prevent large cuts in spending for the Pentagon and other government programs. Link

* Congress’s feeble finish to the ‘fiscal cliff’ fiasco. The Washington Post editorial. The compromise bill passed by Congress to avert the worst effects of the “fiscal cliff” is a small, imperfect package that will do too little to address the nation’s long-term debt problem. But for all its weaknesses, the bill’s enactment is far better than a failure by this Congress to act before it adjourns Thursday. Link

Essential reading: Tax offer pits big companies against small, and more

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

 * Tax offer for firms pits big vs. small. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. The Obama administration’s offer to revamp the corporate tax code as part of the “fiscal cliff” budget talks raises the prospect that tax rates for large and small companies could diverge significantly. Link  

* Boehner tries to contain defections on fiscal unity. Jonathan Weisman – The New York Times. Speaker John A. Boehner moved Wednesday to maintain Republican unity on deficit reduction talks as lawmakers on the far right openly chafed at his leadership and some pragmatists pressed for quick accommodation on tax rate increases on the rich. Link

 * Executives push for ‘fiscal cliff’ deal, even if their tax concerns have to wait. Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin – The Washington Post. The business executives, while unenthusiastic about higher taxes, say that avoiding the “fiscal cliff” is their No. 1 priority and that many other key issues can be taken care of in broader tax reform negotiations they hope would take place next year. Link  

Essential reading: Payroll tax cut on track to quietly expire

Good morning and welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.

* Payroll tax cut on track to quietly expire. Naftali Bendavid – The Wall Street Journal. Amid a high-decibel fight over the nation’s budget, there is one emerging area of agreement: Both parties appear willing to quietly let a major tax cut expire—a payroll tax break enjoyed by about 122 million people. Republicans were unenthusiastic about the tax cut to begin with, preferring instead a broad overhaul of the tax code and contending it would weaken Social Security. Now the party is openly opposed to extending the tax break. Link

* Study: Romney tax plan would result in cuts for rich, higher burden for others. Lori Montgomery – The Washington Post. Mitt Romney’s plan to overhaul the tax code would produce cuts for the richest 5 percent of Americans — and bigger bills for everybody else, according to an independent analysis set for release Wednesday. The study was conducted by the Brookings Institution and the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. To cover the cost of his plan — which would reduce tax rates by 20 percent, repeal the estate tax and eliminate taxes on investment income for middle-class taxpayers — the researchers assume that Romney would go after breaks for the richest taxpayers first. Link