David Brunori doesn’t think much of the tax wisdom of the Iowa House of Representatives ($link):
The Iowa House of Representatives recently passed the Iowa Reinvestment Act, which would allow companies to keep sales tax revenue they collect rather than turning it over to the general fund as the citizens think will happen. Basically, the act is designed to allow businesses to recoup the cost of development. The state has done that before to allow the public to help finance a speedway and other projects that apparently can’t be justified in the free market. The vote for that abomination of tax policy was 87 to 9. That’s what we call bipartisan bad tax policy.
Just more of using your money to subsidize the well-lobbied and well-connected.
Related: David Cay Johnston, Subsidies – Good News and Not So Good (Tax.com)
Jim Maule leaps from his blog to Tax Notes, IRS-Prepared Tax Returns: A Theory That Doesn’t Work in Practice. (Via the TaxProf):
The idea of the IRS preparing individuals’ returns is a classic example of a theory that cannot survive in a practical world. Like most theories, it deserved an experiment. It had that chance, in California, and it failed, with only a tiny portion of the eligible population deciding to participate.
Making taxpayers’ lives easier is a matter of simplifying the tax law, not enabling the complexities by turning tax preparation over to the IRS.
This strikes me as wise. I just can’t imagine IRS data processing ever making this possible, considering the complexity of the income tax and the way Congress changes it all the time.
On one hand, $3.4 million is a lot of money — nobody should doubt that. But we’re also nearly completely blind in America to how much is “enough” for retirement. Many people would say the word “millionaire” and imagine Uncle Pennybags or Uncle Scrooge. But consider this: If you wanted to get $40,000 a year in retirement income and do it just on interest payments alone (in other words, if you were trying to avoid taking anything out of your nest egg and just live on the interest), then if you had your money in “safe” 10-year Treasuries earning 1.78%, then you’d have to have more than $2.2 million in the bank. Under those conditions, “rich” doesn’t really look so rich anymore.
I don’t think the nation’s biggest problem is people saving too much.
Holding your breath for tax reform? Exhale. Martin Sullivan says tax reform is on the Fast Track to Nowhere. (Tax.com)
Donald Marron, Immigration, Dynamic Scoring, and CBO (TaxVox)
Kay Bell, 5 tax tips for Cinco de Mayo
We have written several times about the dangers of nontraded or thinly traded REITs. They are a popular way of investing in real estate but they can be difficult to sell or liquidate if an investor suddenly needs cash.
I saw an elderly, ill client with severe cash problems while holding a private REIT investment that he couldn’t cash out. This really does happen. This is not a problem with widely-traded REITs, which are as liquid as any stock.
Jim Maule, Why the “Toss Tax Records After Three (or Seven) Years” Advice is Bad. I never throw away tax returns, and you need to keep records to support the cost of shares and big assets. If you have loss carryforwards, you need to keep the records that support the losses as long as you are using the carryforwards.
Trish McIntire, RAL Fees in Court
Scott Hodge, In Memorial: Gordon Paul Smith. We lose an important tax scholar.
The tax law: is there anything it can’t do? Scientist Pitches Proposal to Curb Bird Deaths: A Tax On Cats (TaxGrrrl)
Potassium forever? An accused embezzler apparently was in no hurry to stand trial. From StarTribune.com:
A Texas man faces more than 16 years in federal prison for his role in a scheme to bilk nearly $400,000 from his former Eagan employer, Advantage Transportation.
Clayton “Craig” Hogeland, 43, also obstructed justice by faking a life-threatening medical condition, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz found. That caused delays for both his trial and sentencing hearing.
How did he delay his trial?
Further health-related delays stretched out the trial before his conviction on Dec. 6, 2011. He was placed in custody Jan. 8, 2013, and the erratic blood potassium readings stopped. Six days later, his wife reported to federal authorities that she found in his belongings four zip-top bags of what turned out to be potassium chloride.
Despite his continuing complaints about symptoms after being jailed, tests revealed no abnormal blood potassium levels, the prosecution said.
I’m not sure this was well thought-out. What’s the next move? More potassium? Maybe when you are looking at 16 years in federal prison, delay is its own reward.