Battle lines begin to form on Iowa tax reform. Iowa Governor Branstad appears to be preparing to take advantage of state budget surpluses to push a rate-cutting tax reform. A story in today’s State Tax Notes ($link) foreshadows how the battle lines are likely to play out:
However, Iowa Policy Project Research Director Peter Fisher countered that to stimulate the economy the state should restore funding to post-secondary education to offset the cuts made during the recent fiscal crisis.
Fisher also said that lawmakers should consider tax reform proposals that reduce the tax burden on lower-income families that often pay more in state taxes than federal taxes.
“I think there is an equity issue there that should be addressed,” Fisher said.
Where Governor Branstad will focus on cutting rates, the opposition is likely to focus on spending (“restoring funding”) and on once again pushing for an increase in Iowa’s earned income credit, in spite of its built-in tendency to lock people into low incomes through hidden high tax brackets on the poor.
Peter Fisher is likely to provide the think-tank ammunition for the Governor’s opponents; as we have noted, Mr. Fisher thinks Iowa’s business tax climate is just fine, because it’s ineffective:
Fisher argued that the Tax Foundation’s rankings (State Business Tax Climate Index) misrepresent the state’s tax climate. He said that business tax collections as a share of the economy are actually below the national average.
The State Tax Notes piece has the likely response to Fisher-type arguments:
Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard responded that while Iowa’s business tax burden may fall in the middle of the pack nationally, it has the highest top corporate tax rate in the country at 12 percent.
The study’s rankings favor tax systems with a broad base and lower rate, Drenkard said. He added that a higher rate with a narrower base creates economic distortions.
Distortions like clobbering in-state suppliers to large manufacturers and in-state C corporations, for example. Or corrupt boondoggles like the now-defunct film credits.
Related: The Tax Update’s Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Teform Plan,
Howard Gleckman, What the Joint Tax Committee Really Said About Tax Reform
The JCT plan is very different from other tax reform proposals. For instance, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the chairs of President Obama’s fiscal commission, designed a reform that could get rates as low as 28 percent, but did it by eliminating nearly all tax preferences (not just deductions) and scaling back the few that survived.
So, it turns out, JCT doesn’t contradict groups like the Rivlin-Domenci Commission or Simpson-Bowles, it merely uses different assumptions.
Related: Peter Reilly, Eliminating Tax Expenditures To Cut Rates – Early Results Are Underwhelming
Brutal Assault on Reason Watch:
Roberton Williams, How Much Revenue Would a Cap on Itemized Deductions Raise? “Eliminating all itemized deductions would yield about $2 trillion of additional revenue over ten years if we cut all rates” by 20 percent and eliminate the AMT.”
William McBride, Second Debate Marred by Protectionist Rhetoric
Anthony Nitti, Tax Aspects Of The Obama – Romney Debate, Round 2
Alan Reynolds, Obama’s ‘Trillion Dollar’ Tax-Cut Fraud (National Review)
Jonathan Easley, Sen. Kerry: Romney trying to ‘perpetrate a fraud’ with tax plan (The Hill)
Robert D. Flach is having an OCTOBER HALF PRICE SALE on his worksheet packages.
News you can use: The 10 Most Corrupt Tax Loopholes (Village Voice, via the TaxProf)
Going Concern, PwC Employee Embraces the Cheapskate CPA Stereotype Like No Other. When I worked for predecessor Price Waterhouse, I was cheap for lack of alternatives.
Will “naming and shaming” intimidate Steven Seagal? California has posted its list of “Top 500 Delinquent Taxpayers.” While somebody better at celebrities could surely find more, I spotted a few familiar names:
Joseph Francis, $819,804.11.
Steven Seagal, $347,849.67
Joe Francis has had his share of tax issues, but can you really “shame” a porn magnate?