Tax Break

Essential reading: payroll tax talks, state income tax cuts and a Swiss bank fine

Swiss bank Julius Baer, Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.  

* Payroll tax negotiations heat up again. Rosalind Helderman – The Washington Post.

U.S. House and Senate negotiators appointed to reach a compromise over how to pay for extending the expiring payroll tax cut hold a key meeting early on Tuesday. Ongoing discussions between the 20-member conference committee, as well as House and Senate leaders, will make clear whether Democrats and Republicans will reach a quick deal by Feb. 17 to extend the tax cut for the remainder of the year. Democrats and Republicans remain split on how to pay to extend the tax cut. Link.  

* Julius Baer expects fine in tax probe. Anita Greil – The Wall Street Journal.

Julius Baer Group said it expects to pay a fine as a result of a U.S. campaign to track down Americans with assets hidden overseas, as it reported a decline in full-year net profit. Anxious to end pressure from Washington, the Swiss government has been negotiating a sweeping settlement covering all Swiss banks that may have helped Americans evade taxes. But Bern and Washington have been wrangling over details such as the size of any fine and an agreement to hand over thousands of names of secret account holders. Without an agreement, U.S. authorities have gone on investigating 11 Swiss banks, including Julius Baer, Switzerland’s largest private bank, and Credit Suisse Group AG. UBS AG reached a settlement over the tax matter in 2009, paying a fine of $780 million, handing over the names of nearly 4,500 clients and admitting to wrongdoing. Link.

Tax clips from the Web: Oklahoma mulls cutting income tax, how to spend your refund and more

Miss Oklahoma, Betty Thompson (R), first runner up in the Miss America contest

Oklahoma wants to abolish its state income tax. The plan, according to Governor Mary Fallin, is to achieve one of the lowest income tax rates in the country by eliminating some tax credits and closing loopholes in the tax code. Other taxes would not be increased, according to The Oklahoman.

“Our goal is to transform Oklahoma into the best place to do business, the best place to live, find a quality job, raise a family and retire in all of the United States. Not just better than average, but the very best,” state Representative Leslie Osborn said. (Cue Rodgers and Hammerstein music)

Across the United States, the average state sales tax rate has dropped, according to William Barrett at Forbes.