Report: Tax credit for me would benefit me. Report: Tax credit would help Iowa biochemical industry (Des Moines Register).
The argument that this industry, above the thousands of industries out there, deserves funding at the expense of other businesses in the state, and that Iowa’s elected officials are just the ones to figure that out, is hard to credit. It might almost be plausible if it came at the end of a careful and systematic process where the state looked at all of the possible industries that would be good for the state to have and then carefully selected finalists based on objective and unbiased review.
That never happens.
Instead, the Bio-renewables credit is following a path blazed by the film industry and other credit recipients. Somebody decides a tax credit would be a good thing. It’s never hard to get the industry that would receive the subsidy on board. Local business boosters climb on because they know of a local business that would benefit. They fund studies to prove that this industry offers extraordinary benefits. Economic development officials join in, because that’s what they do. Politicians like giving away money, and soon you have amazing results.
I don’t fault businesses for using state tax credits. If somebody gives you money, you take it. But that doesn’t make it good policy for the rest of us.
There are two little words that credit boosters never bring up: opportunity costs. The money spent on the favored industry isn’t conjured into existence out of thin air. It is taken from somebody else. This year it’s taken from every Iowa business that uses the $500,000 Section 179 limit, which the Governor says the state can no longer afford. There are businesses in every county that will pay higher taxes if Iowa reduces its Section 179 limit to $25,000. Those businesses lose the opportunity to use funds to grow their own businesses and hire their own employees.
If there is to be any benefit here, it’s that it might actually teach the General Assembly about the opportunity costs of benefiting sympathetic industries. Here, it’s the cost of the lost Section 179 benefit to constituents statewide.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided the lowest level of telephone service during fiscal year 2015 compared to prior years, with only 38 percent of callers who wanted to speak with an IRS assistor able to reach one. This lower level of service occurred despite lower demand from callers seeking live assistance, which has fallen by 6 percent since 2010 to about 51 million callers in 2015. Over the same period, average wait times have almost tripled to over 30 minutes. IRS also struggled to answer correspondence in a timely manner and assistors increasingly either failed to send required correspondence to taxpayers or included inaccurate information in correspondence sent.
The picture they draw isn’t pretty:
When you turn around, it’s important to turn in the right direction.
Robert D. Flach has your Friday Buzz! He covers ground from choosing a tax professional to extenders to a certain presidential candidate.
William Perez, How to Know if You Should Hire a Tax Attorney
Matthew McKinney, Iowa’s open records law – who, what, when, and why? (IowaBiz.com).
Kay Bell, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie kills film & TV tax credits. Good.
Jack Townsend, Updated FAQs for SFOP and SDOP Streamlined Processes. “The IRS has updated the FAQs for the Streamlined Domestic and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures.”
Robert Wood, Beware: IRS Now Has Six Years To Audit Your Taxes, Up From Three. “The three years is doubled to six if you omitted more than 25% of your income.”
Peter Reilly, Conservation Easement Tax Deductions And Valuation Abuse. “I think this is another instance of what Joe Kristan calls using the Tax Code as the Swiss Utility Knife of public policy.”
Megan McArdle, Gaming of Obamacare Poses a Fatal Threat. “The problem: People signing up during ‘special enrollment’ (the majority of the year that falls outside of the annual open enrollment period) were much sicker, and paying premiums for much less time, than the rest of the exchange population.”
Scott Greenberg, The Cadillac Tax will Now Be Deductible. Here’s What That Means. (Tax Policy Blog)
TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 981. “Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released two new reports regarding serious flaws in the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) audit selection processes. GAO confirmed that these flaws mean the IRS could continue to unfairly target American taxpayers based on their political beliefs and other First Amendment protected views.”
Robert Goulder, India’s Long Journey to a VAT (Tax Analysts Blog)
Renu Zaretsky, Winners, Losers, and Movers. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers last night’s presidential debate, Missouri earnings taxes, and innovation boxes.
Jim Maule, Powerball, Taxes, and Math:
The expectation that widened my eyes is a meme circulating on facebook, and elsewhere, I suppose, that claims splitting the $1.4 billion evenly among all Americans would give each person $4.33 million. Good grief! This is just so wrong. The responses pointing out the error are themselves amusing, with the best one pointing out that it would generate $4.33 per person, enough to buy a calculator.
This explains more about the political process than I care to contemplate.