State of the union: raise taxes more. It will never be enough. If you think we don’t have a spending problem, or think we can solve it through “closing loopholes,” check out three charts gathered by Veronique de Rugy:
The President proposes nothing serious.
Breaking news from yesterday: Look for a Call to End Oil “Subsidies” in Tonight’s State of the Union (Andrew Lundeen, Tax Policy Blog)
Howard Gleckman, Obama’s State of the Union and the Great Deficit Smackdown (TaxVox)
How H&R Block guy got to write preparer regs. Civil Service! Tim Carney reports:
In 2009, the Obama administration hired Mark Ernst, the previous CEO of tax prep giant H&R Block, as IRS deputy commissioner. Ernst became a “co-leader” (in the words of an IRS spokesman) in drafting new regulations for tax preparers.
This seems to clash with President Obama’s executive order barring appointees from working on regulations directly affecting their former employers.
But thanks to a fine legal distinction, these rules didn’t cover Ernst. “Mark Ernst is a civil servant at the IRS; he is not a political appointee,” an IRS spokesman wrote me. “The Presidential Executive order on Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel only applies to political appointees.”
Nobody here but us chickens.
Jason Dinesen has a new installment about his client whose identity was stolen in the ID theft epidemic that really got rolling while the IRS was busy regulating preparers. “If you hired the best comedy writers and satirists in Hollywood, they couldn’t come up with a more farcical script about government ineptness.”
Speaking of government competence:
Not only will most farmers have to file after March 1, 2013 due to a delay in tax forms by the IRS, we now have an announcement that almost all form 1099s issued by the USDA for Natural Resources Conservation Services payments in 2012 are either wrong or were never issued.
via Paul Neiffer.
David Brunori, If You Hate or Love Excise Taxes Read this New Report:
A new working paper recently released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University… finds that contrary to conventional wisdom, sin taxes are often not used to correct externalities but rather for general fund spending. My take on that is politicians don’t really care about externalities. They would like to raise money from people whose activities they despise. The report also found that the goal of “sin taxes” has changed from correcting market failures to protecting consumers from their own choices. That is, people are too stupid to run their own lives and they need help. Finally, the report finds that sin taxes are regressive, i.e., they punish the poor. Unfortunately, my liberal friends never get exercised over this issue. Maybe it’s as the great PJ O’Rourke surmised, liberals hate poor people.
If they would just not wear those icky Wal-Mart clothes and watch their weight, like they tell them to… (Tax.com)
Even accepting that he spent 520 hours working on his own properties, he still lost. Two of the properties were short-term vacation rentals and one was being readied for sale. The time spent on those properties could not be grouped with the time spent on properties dedicated to long term rentals.
As Peter notes, this becomes an even more important tax issue with the new 3.8% tax on “passive” income this year.
Trish McIntire, Child Tax Credit Delays
TaxGrrrl, Spammers Target Taxpayers Expecting Tax Refunds. If you get an email about your refund from the IRS, it’s not from the IRS.
Jack Townsend, Another Bull**** Tax Shelter Bites the Dust
Roger McEowen, Another Court Issues Ruling on Tax Impact of Demutualization.
Patrick Temple-West, Navigating between tax avoidance and evasion, and more
Gene Steurle, Desperately Needed: A Strong Treasury Department (TaxVox)
Robert Goulder, La Bella Italia: Fast Cars & Loose Taxes (Tax.com)
Jim Maule, When Spending Cuts Meet Asteroids: The Value of Taxes. Taxes and spending can never be too high because, you know, asteroids!
The Critical Question. Minnesota’s Sexiest Accountant Contest: Cute or Creepy? (Going Concern)