* Congress begins meetings on tax reform. Zachery Goldfarb and Lori Montgomery – The Washington Post. Members of the Senate Finance Committee from both parties met for the first time Thursday to start laying the groundwork for legislation to overhaul the tax code, as the House Ways and Means Committee engages in a similar bipartisan effort. Link
* Democrats’ budget mixes tax increases, spending cuts. Kristina Peterson – The Wall Street Journal. Senate Democrats will propose on Wednesday raising $975 billion in new taxes over the next decade in the budget they will release this week, setting up a sharp contrast with a House Republican plan to balance the budget over 10 years without new tax increases. Link
More research was published today showing that the honeymoon is over for American hedge fund managers and technology giant Apple. The iPhone maker was one of the top two most sold stocks by hedge funds in the fourth quarter, according to an analysis of regulatory filings by Bank of America. (The other stock was Tyco International).
* More U.S. profits parked abroad, saving on taxes. Scott Thurm and Kate Linebaugh – The Wall Street Journal. A Wall Street Journal analysis of 60 big U.S. companies found that, together, they parked a total of $166 billion offshore last year. That shielded more than 40 percent of their annual profits from U.S. taxes. Link
* Michigan Sen. Carl Levin will not seek reelection. Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake – The Washington Post. As chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Carl Levin has investigated Enron, the credit card industry, the 2008 financial crisis, and offshore tax havens. Link
By Matthew Goldstein
Many cash-strapped, unemployed or underemployed people are still struggling with too much consumer and household debt. But there is one kind of debt that is getting smaller and smaller–mortgage bonds issued during the U.S. housing bubble by Wall Street banks and finance firms that isn’t guaranteed by either Fannie Mae of Freddie Mac.
Worried about challenges to their corporate tax base, some U.S. states have started to modify their participation in the Multistate Tax Compact, with a few withdrawing altogether.
* Offshore tax probe picks up. Laura Saunders – The Wall Street Journal. After getting a guilty plea from Switzerland’s oldest private bank, which was ordered Monday to pay a total of $74 million for violating U.S. tax laws, federal investigators have fresh momentum thanks to leads gathered from interviews with confessed tax cheats. Link