Posts Tagged ‘Mike Gronstal’

Tax Roundup, 1/7/2014: Koskinen proposes voluntary IRS preparer certification. And: Obamacare, small business incubator?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 by Joe Kristan
This Koskinen isn't the IRS commissioner

This Koskinen isn’t the IRS commissioner

The new IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, would like for IRS to oversee a voluntary preparer certification program if their preparer regulation power grab fails in the courts, reports Accounting Today. But he would still prefer the power grab:

“If you could require certification of preparers and some educational requirements, it would help taxpayers feel some level of confidence that preparers actually know what they’re doing, and the vast majority of them do,” Koskinen said during a conference call with reporters after he was sworn in ceremonially Monday by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew with an audience of many IRS employees in attendance. “My sense is that we should be able to provide that same educational training and that background to preparers. If you can’t require it, offer it, and if you complete the information, you get a certificate that says, ‘I have completed the IRS preparer course.’ I think that could be over time very valuable to preparers, and consumers could ask preparers, ‘Have you gone through the IRS training?’ Whatever happens with the court case, we ought to be able to move forward on that and provide taxpayers with as much assurance as we can that the preparers they are dealing with have met some kind of minimum standards.”

Somebody should point out to him that there already is such a program: the Enrolled Agent Program.  If the IRS runs the now-mothballed Registered Tax Return Preparer literacy test as a voluntary program, it will be a crippling blow to the more rigorous and underappreciated EA designation. Before he worries more about the competence of preparers, Commissioner Koskinen should fix his agency first (my emphasis):

“When I look at the impact of the budget and the implications of further cuts or what happens the next time there’s a sequester, the first thing that happens is the waiting time on a phone call goes up and our service goes down,” he said. “We try to get to 70 or 80 percent, but sometimes it gets as low as 50 or 60, which means at 50 percent that half the people who are calling are getting no answer at all and no satisfaction. It just seems to me that’s intolerable. Taxpayers deserve better, so we need to do whatever we can to provide the services that taxpayers need and expect. They ought to be able to dial the IRS number and get an answer promptly, and they ought to be able to get accurate information.”

Even the shabbiest storefront preparer at least processes more than half of its customers.

 

Why Iowa income tax reform will go nowhere this yearvia the Sioux City Journal:

Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said Senate Democrats would formulate a tax-relief approach geared toward income tax cuts for middle-class Iowans, not the two-tiered plan being pushed by Republicans.

“Nobody in my caucus is going to go along with a scheme that leaves middle-class Iowans carrying more than their share of the tax burden in Iowa so rich people can choose whichever one works the best for them,” Gronstal said.

The idea that the state income tax system is somehow a way to fight The Rich Guy is willfully dumb, with zero-income-tax South Dakota right next door.  Oh, and you know what another word for “the rich” is?  Employers. 

Source: The Tax Foundation

Source: The Tax Foundation

 

Megan McCardle poses the question “Will Obamacare Inspire Small-Business Ownership?“:

One theorized benefit of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is that it will unleash a new era of entrepreneurship. Undoubtedly, there are people in the U.S. who wanted to start a business but feared losing their health insurance. Now that they know they can buy it, presumably they’ll be freed to take risks without fearing that they could end up uninsured and uninsurable.

Unfortunately, we just don’t have that much empirical evidence. European nations with more generous social safety nets have lower rates of entrepreneurship than the U.S. does, even though a thought experiment might suggest that generous welfare programs would encourage people to take more risks. Nor did we see a radical unfurling of entrepreneurial energy in Massachusetts after RomneyCare.

She also points out that Obamacare is a kick in the head for businesses that actually succeed:

Meanwhile, of course, the law imposes significant new penalties for growing a company; anyone with more than 50 employees not only has to provide health insurance for their employees, but they also have to meet a substantial regulatory burden to demonstrate that they’re providing affordable coverage. That might discourage people from growing their firms. 

You know, it just might.

 

Russ Fox, Your Mileage Log — Start It Now (2014 Version).  You would not believe how much it helps in an IRS exam.  And doing it retrospectively when the IRS exam notice arrives tends to go badly.

Peter Reilly, Post Divorce Tax Intimacy Can Be Riskier Than Post Divorce Sex   Ewww…

Paul Neiffer, Roger’s Top Ten. “Roger McEowen from Iowa State University and their Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT) just listed his Top 10 Ag Law and Taxation Developments for 2014.”

William Perez, Resources for Preparing and Filing Form W-2 for Small Businesses

Robert D. Flach tells us WHAT’S NEW FOR NJ STATE TAXES FOR 2013

Kay Bell, Tax Carnival #124: Happy New Tax Year 2014

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Martin Sullivan, Goodbye Baucus, Hello Wyden (Tax Analysts Blog): “On tax reform the current chair of the Senate Finance Committee has been a laggard. Wyden will be a leader.”

Jeremy Scott, A To-Do List for Wyden (Tax Analysts Blog).  Tax Reform, Extenders, and the Tea Party investigation.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 243

 

Joseph Henchman, Parking and Transit Benefits Tax Exclusion Parity Expires Again; Congress Should Consider Permanent Fix.  (Tax Policy Blog).  “The tax code is probably the wrong place to be subsidizing commuters, and the entire provision ought to be eliminated. If Congress wishes to retain it, it ought to consider a non-expiring unified exclusion of all transportation commuting expenses.”

Tax Justice Blog, Corporate Income Tax Repeal Is Not a Serious Proposal.  Stawmen go up in flames.

Ben Harris, Rethinking Homeownership Subsidies (TaxVox).  He wants to revamp them.  I’d prefer to get rid of them.

 

TaxGrrrl, Cracker Barrel Waitress Serves Up Happiness, Gets Tip & More .  $6,000 more.

The Critical Question: Is College That Guy on eBay Who Never Paid For the Crap You Sent Him? (Going Concern)

 

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Tax Roundup, 12/31/2012: No cliff deal yet. And Branstad won’t try to fix income tax this year.

Monday, December 31st, 2012 by Joe Kristan

No cliff deal.  As of this morning, the President and Congress continue to fail to to make a “fiscal cliff” deal.  Rest assured, though, that even when they cobble together a lame and harmful deal, as they will today or weeks from now, they won’t even begin to address the real fiscal calamity — the government’s incontinent spending.

The unforgivable sin of the current president, and the last one, and their Congressional enablers, is spreading the idea that the government can buy us all free stuff, and the rich guy will pick up the tab.  Sorry.  The rich guy isn’t buying.

 

Income taxes: the redheaded stepchild of Branstad tax policy?  It looks more and more like the Branstad agenda for the 2013 Iowa legislative session  won’t include income tax reform.  From the Sioux City Journal:

Asked during a recent interview if there was room in all that for income tax reductions during the 2013 session, Branstad replied: “Probably not.”

“Honestly, property tax would be my priority and I’d love to do income tax, too, and maybe, if revenues exceed expectation, we could provide some income tax relief in addition,” Branstad said. “But I think I would rather focus and get something permanent done on the property tax. That’s the place where we’re the least competitive.”

That’s a shame.  Given the economically unwise attitude of the Senate leader, maybe nothing is possible:

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said he would need more details but at first blush he doubted it would go very far in the legislative process if it proved to be “just a way for the wealthiest Iowans to cut their taxes dramatically” while middle-class families picked up a greater share of the tab for the cost of state government.

That’s just silly.  The rich guy isn’t buying for Iowa either.  The wealthiest Iowans always can dramatically cut their taxes with a moving van, until Senator Gronstal figures out a way to keep them from escaping to zero-tax South Dakota or Florida.

Iowa’s income tax is way overdue for replacement.   Instead, it will get more Bondo and bumper stickers.

If Iowa's tax law were a car, it would look like this.

If Iowa’s tax law were a car, it would look like this.

 

Fiscal Cliff Notes:

Greg Mankiw, New York Times:

When President Obama talks about taxing the rich, he means the top 2 percent of Americans. John A. Boehner, the House speaker, talks about an even thinner slice. But the current and future fiscal imbalances are too large to exempt 98 percent or more of the public from being part of the solution.       

Ultimately, unless we scale back entitlement programs far more than anyone in Washington is now seriously considering, we will have no choice but to increase taxes on a vast majority of Americans.

Think Finland.  Unless we choose to be Greece or Argentina.

Gongol: Fiscal Cliff…not resolved. I note a false choice:

The people who make the decisions at the highest level in this republic are either dishonest or utterly economically incompetent if they don’t say the following out loud: “We are demanding more out of our government than we can presently afford. We need to pay more, get less, or both.”

“Either?”  I say “both.”

Kay Bell: Senate ready for some football; adjourns Sunday without reaching fiscal cliff deal

TaxGrrrl, Budget Talks Stall As Reid Calls Latest GOP Move A ‘Poison Pill’

Kevin Drawbaugh, Fiscal cliff talks down to the wire (Tax Break)

Nick Kasprak, 2012 Likely to be First Year Without AMT Patch

Peter Reilly, Dysfunctional Congress – At Least They Are Not Maiming One Another.  If they don’t, maybe we should.

 

The roundup:

Cara Griffith, What Will Become of Physical Presence? (Tax.com)

Paul Neiffer,  Be Careful Of Fiscal Year Section 179 Issues!

Jason Dinesen,  6 Tax Predictions for 2012 — How Did I Do?

Tres Bien. French Court:  75% Tax Rate on Millionaires Is Unconstitutional (TaxProf)

Robert Goulder, Gérard Depardieu: Tax Exile (Tax.com)

TaxGrrrl, Congress Hasn’t Fixed The Budget Yet, Getting A Raise Anyway.  Courtesy of the President, who maybe thinks they make him look good by comparison.

Chris Sanchirico, New Ways to Think About a Tax on Public Companies

Insureblog,  Cavalcade of Risk #173: Post-Mayan Apocalypse Edition

The Critical Question: Is This Tax Preparation Nightmare Reawakening? (Jim Maule)
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Report: ax the film credit, cap others.

Monday, January 11th, 2010 by Joe Kristan

The state agency supergeniuses who have been reviewing Iowa’s corporate welfare tax credits issued their report Friday. While their recommendations are surprisingly bold for a bunch of state agency heads, they fall far short of what makes sense.
They recommend:
– repealing eight credits, including the two film credits.
– eliminating the ability of taxpayers to sell unused credits – a big attraction for a number of tax credit programs, including historic rehab credits
– requiring all tax credits to sunset after five years.
– capping all tax credits.
– ending “refundability” of research credits — that is, not writing checks to taxpayers who have credits in excess of their tax, making it a pure subsidy.
The report also calls for evaluating tax credits “using sound cost-effectiveness analyses techniques that incorporate appropriate assumptions.”
While these recommendations would be a big improvement, they fall far short of the right answer — getting rid of all of the economic development credits.
As long as the credits are still around, even in limited form, they are troublesome. There will continue to be political pressure to make credits available to favored groups and to loosen restrictions on transferability, especially as time passes and people begin to forget about the film credit disaster. The sunset provisions are likely to be a joke, like the perpetually-expiring federal tax “extender” provisions. And the “cost-benefit studies” either won’t be done or they will be made using assumptions rigged to make the credits appear beneficial.
It’s unlikely that the legislature will approve even these limited recommendations. The corporate welfare lobbyists are already unhappy with the report:

The recommendations drew criticism from Dave Roederer, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, which represents chambers of commerce and economic development groups across the state. He said economic development tax credits that have been used the most have been the most successful, creating more research jobs.
“Why would we be sending a signal to business and industry throughout the country, as well as in Iowa, that we don

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Harold Hill Follies: four weeks later.

Monday, October 12th, 2009 by Joe Kristan

hh44.jpgThe daily disclosures of chicanery and incompetence from the Iowa Film Credit program have slowed down, four weeks after the scandal exploded with a 4:56 p.m. Friday document dump from the Governor’s office. The film credit program is dead in the water, and it is likely to stay that way for quite some time:

A legislative leader said Tuesday that lawmakers might suspend Iowa’s troubled film promotion operation for up to a year while they figure out how to deal with questionable spending and accounting procedures.
In an interview with The Associated Press, House Speaker Pat Murphy said the attorney general’s decision to open a criminal investigation into the Iowa Film Office tax credit program complicates the issue. Lawmakers might want to wait until legal questions are settled before delving into the matter, he said.

The future of the program seems to be increasingly in doubt. Where politicians at first seemed to think giving money to Hollywood was a good idea in spite of everything, the most powerful legislator now says there is only a 50-50 chance the film program will survive:
According to Gronstal, he and other legislators right now “see very little in terms of potential benefits” to the state from the film tax credits which have been awarded already.

But they buy T-shirts here! And don’t forget the swanky parties!
We are even beginning to see some serious talk in both parties about re-examining Iowa’s awful high-rate, loophole-ridden tax system. Ed Failor, the powerful string-puller who runs the loophole lobby Iowans for Tax Relief, has come out for throwing out the whole system:
“You take the Values Fund, you take the Power Fund, you take film tax credits and all the tax credits and those sorts of things and it

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Film credit regrets

Monday, October 5th, 2009 by Joe Kristan

Now that Iowa’s film credit program has exploded in corruption and mismanagement, one of our legislative leaders is inching towards contrition:

“If it

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Mike, me and Film Credits

Friday, September 25th, 2009 by Joe Kristan

So many questions, so little time.
I shared a podium this week with Mike Gronstal, the Iowa Senate Majority Leader, at the Iowa Bankers Association convention. Also on the panel were Jeff Robinson from the state Legislative Services agency and Republican State Rep. Tom Sands of Muscatine.
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Me, Jeff Robinson, Mike Gronstal, Tom Sands
It was a strange experience. The panel was supposed to talk about the deductibility of federal taxes on Iowa returns, a hot topic in the last legislative session. The guy from Legislative Services talked too long, so I hurried through my piece (short version: federeral deductibility is bad, but higher effective rates are worse). Senator Gronstal pooh-poohed the notion that increasing rates would be bad for Iowa businesses, and Rep. Sands defended deductibility.
Weirdly, the two never even mentioned film credits, the $363 million elephant in the room. It was like being at a funeral without anybody noticing the dead guy. When the time for questions started – and there was only time for one question, I had to say something, so I stole the question time. I asked (approximately): “We spend over $400 million on economic development tax credits. The Iowa corporation tax will net about $186 million this year. Wouldn’t Iowa be better off, and millions of dollars ahead, repealing the corporate tax and the credits together?”
I might as well have asked if Spiderman could beat up Batman in a fair fight. Sen. Gronstal acknowledged that the corporation tax is a minor component of state finances, but he likes how the film credit brings in an industry we never have had in Iowa. If I had time for a followup, I would have suggested we subsidize banana farms too, becauses we’ve never had them. I don’t even remember what Rep. Sands had to say. Neither seem to really get the idea of why “no corporation income tax” might be better for the Iowa economy than targeted tax credits.
I got the distinct impression that the legislature doesn’t yet realize how bad the film credit makes them look. I think Iowans are really unhappy with the looting of the state treasury by the film companies and with the film credit system that invited them in. They don’t seem worried about it yet. Either they are misjudging how this scandal is going over, or I am. Judging from what it seems to be doing to Governor Culver’s poll ratings, they should be worried.

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