Posts Tagged ‘The Other McCain’

Tax Roundup, 5/21/2013: thief subsidy edition. And why the IRS scandal is so depressing.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20130117-1Iowa’s elected leadership has come up with a deal to bring down Iowa’s high commercial property taxes in exchange for an increase in Iowa’s earned income tax credit.  The Democrats who control the Senate have long been pushing for an increase in the EITC, and this seemed like an obvious compromise from early in the session.  There will be much rejoicing if the deal gets completed, as appears likely; property tax reform has been the Governor’s highest legislative priority.

It’s too bad that the cost of a sensible property tax is a big increase in a program that is a poverty trap for honest taxpayers and a pinata for thieves.  The phase-outs of the EITC result in shockingly-high marginal tax rates on each additional dollar earned by relatively low-income taxpayers.

The EITC  is refundable, which means it is really a welfare program run through tax returns.  About 25% of the EITC is claimed “improperly,” which is a nice way to say it’s stolen.  The annual cost of the Iowa EITC boost is estimated at $35 million, so the price of fixing a broken commercial property tax regime is an $8 million annual thief subsidy.  So while the politicians celebrate their great compromise, Iowa’s petty thieves also have occasion to raise a glass, filled by you.


TaxProf,  Supreme Court Unanimously Reverses Third Circuit, Says PPL Can Claim Foreign Tax Credit for U.K. Windfall Tax and Avi-Yonah and Christians on Yesterday’s PPL Decision.


Jeremy Scott, Rand Paul’s Claim of “Written Policy” Seems Like GOP Overreach

It is unlikely that Republicans will find Paul’s smoking gun, but the IRS scandal is almost certainly the result of political bias on some level.  It is hard to believe that a group of officials would innocently pick terms like “Tea Party,” “patriot,” and “9/12” to single out organizations for additional scrutiny.  It would be incredible to find such disinterested tone-deafness even in the most politically insulated of civil servants (and the IRS is far from insulated).

I doubt the White House left fingerprints on IRS efforts to harass political opponents (though it didn’t lift a finger to stop it).   That leads to an even more depressing possibility: that the IRS went out its way to beat up on the President’s opponents on its own.  Nobody blew the whistle.  That means IRS management is so corrupt and political that it would go after the administration’s political opponents with only a wink and a nudge.  And anybody who doesn’t think this was politically-motivated is kidding themselves.

James Taranto puts it well:

And the IRS scandal was a subversion of democracy on a massive scale. The most fearsome and coercive arm of the administrative state embarked on a systematic effort to suppress citizen dissent against the party in power. Thomas Friedman is famous for musing that he wishes America could  be China for a day. It turns out we’ve been China for a while.


No-longer-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller

No-longer-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller

Megan McArdle, Yes, What Happened at the IRS is a Scandal

Russ Fox, The IRS Scandal Reaches the White House

TaxGrrrl, IRS Hearing Marks End Of Their Worst.Week.Ever But Congress Signals More Hearings Are On The Way

Kay Bell, House and Senate committee hearings on IRS screening of Tea Party tax-exempt applications set for May 21 & 22

ViralRead, Report: Head of IRS Employees Union Met With President Obama the Day Before Tea Party Targeting Began

The Other McCain, Portrait of a Thug: IRS Union Boss


Peter Reilly, Bank Cannot Issue 1099-C And Subsequently Try To Collect

Jason Dinesen, Same-Sex Marriage, Community Property, And Multi-State Income — Part 3

Fiduciary Income Tax Blog, Passive Income: Good or Bad?


Paul Neiffer,  A Farmland REIT is Now Publicly Traded

Stephanie Fitch, 5 Questions Congress Should Ask Obama Commerce Nominee Penny Pritzker

William Perez,  IRS Offices to be Closed on May 24

Linda Beale, How Apple avoids US taxes with shell games


Going Concern,  Last Year Was a Very Unfortunate One to Be Wealthy and French, Even By French Standards.  When marginal rates exceed 100%, you know a country is off the rails.

Robert D. Flach has a new Tuesday Buzz up!

The Critical Question: NFL Linebacker James Harrison Spends More On Massage Than You Did On Your House. But Can He Deduct It?  (Tony Nitti)



Tax Roundup, 3/27/2013: Iowa leads the nation! In high corporate tax rates. And: film scam? No prize for you!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

We’re number one!  Weekly Map: Top State Corporate Income Tax Rates (Nick Kasprak, Tax Policy Blog):

Via Tax Policy Blog.

Just another dubious leadership role for Iowa.



Monday Open Thread: The Tax Man Cometh(The Other McCain).  If you were tax dictator, what would be the first bad tax law to go?  I would get rid of (in order) The AMT, Section 409A on deferred compensation, and the new net investment income tax.  But there are so many worthy candidates…


Philip Panitz, guest-posting at Janet Novack’s blog,  How Real Estate Investors Can Protect Themselves From The IRS:

So save all your expense receipts, try to keep a log, and try to stay friendly with—and maintain contact information for—workers and tenants. You might, for example, need to call as a witness a gardener who can say he got his instructions directly from you instead of a real estate company.  And maybe the guy who is always grousing about his plumbing needing fixing or the woman who wonders why the gardener missed a spot in his watering will be asked to testify that they kvetched to you —not a real estate agent–when the toilet needed fixing.


U.S. film festival cancels award to UK film after tax scamPerhaps the least of actress Aoife Madden’s problems, considering the 54 month prison sentence she got out of it.


Jason Dinesen,  Married Filing Separately, Iowa Tax Returns & Itemized Deductions — Am I Missing Something?  On the quirks of Iowa’s separate-combined filing status.

Roberton Williams, DOMA’s Tax Hassles for Same-Sex Couples


Clint Stretch,  Which Kind of Imbalanced Solution Do You Want?  (  Mr. Stretch is, or maybe was, a career lobbyist for a national accounting firm that I once worked for.  Considering that his career involved crafting loopholes, this is a fascinating observation (my emphasis):

I am no fan of spending through the tax code. Tax expenditures are government grants with the barest of qualification criteria administered by an agency with no subject matter expertise when it comes to the purpose of the incentive.  The incentives – from business tax credits to mortgage interest deductions – may influence behavior at the margins,
but many of the beneficiaries are rewarded for doing what they were going to do anyway.  Like direct spending; tax expenditures are spending and individuals do benefit.  Although a rate reduction or a fiscally sound government might cushion the blow, reducing tax expenditures will be another spending cut that takes resources away from affected taxpayers.  We should stop talking about spending versus taxes.  Instead, we should work on how to make reasonable, holistic reductions in major areas of government influence. 

That’s why I think he must have retired.  I don’t think he could say stuff like that if he were still lobbying.


Joseph Thorndike : Why the Tea Party Should Support Soda Taxes.  Because it would really annoy people, leading to a tax revolt.   It sounds like an underpants gnome approach to me.

Jack Townsend, IRS Identifies Its Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013

Principles of the tax law.  Heads They Win – Tails You Lose (Paul Neiffer).  The Obamacare tax on wage income cannot be offset with farm losses.

TaxGrrrl,  All I Needed To Know About Taxes I Learned From My Kids


No, no, that’s not how it works, Senator.  You’re supposed to give them money.  Bored Politicians Taxing Strippers (David Brunori,

Group that stands to benefit from government spending calls for government spending.  (Radio Iowa)

Now the IRS is in trouble. William Shatner ‘appalled’ at IRS Star Trek video spoof (Kay Bell)

News you can use.  If You’re Failing the CPA Exam, You’re Not Making the Most of Bathroom Breaks (Going Concern)



Tax Roundup, 12/24/2012: the coming preparer crash. Also: a modest fiscal cliff proposal.

Monday, December 24th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

20121224-1IRS preparer rules may create a catastrophic preparer shortage.  A press release last week from the IRS urging preparers to take the new Registered Tax Return Preparer examination saves the real news until the end (my emphasis):

So far, there are more than 48,000 preparers who have earned RTRP certificates. There also has been an increase in the number of people taking the enrolled agent exam.

Starting Jan. 1, 2014, only registered tax return preparers, enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys will be authorized to prepare and sign federal individual returns.

There are currently 739,000 tax preparers with 2012 PTINs. Approximately 350,000 of them are subject to the new testing and CE requirements.

It’s likely the population of authorized return preparers will crash.  That will increase demand for the big national tax preparation franchises, which probably was the real goal the new regulations — written by a former president of H&R Block.  A reduction in preparer supply will increase prices.  It will cause some taxpayers on the margin to prepare their own returns, and some to stop filing altogether.  Hardly a step forward for tax administration.

UPDATE, 12/27: The IRS Regulates Mom-and-Pop Tax Preparers Out of Business, Just in Time for Tax Season!


Tyler Cowen: point out that the rich guy isn’t buying.  The economist makes an interesting suggestion for the GOP now that “Plan B” has failed (my emphasis):

 To see how this could work, consider this script: Let’s say the Republicans decide to largely give in to what the President Obama is proposing. There is, however, a catch: the president has to agree to raise marginal tax rates on all income classes, not just on the rich.  The tax increase would be one-quarter of a percentage point, or some other arbitrary small amount, with larger increases possible for higher incomes, as has been discussed. The deal also stipulates that both the president and Congress must publicly acknowledge that current plans for government spending can’t be financed unless taxes on most or all income groups climb further yet, and by some hefty amount.

This highlights the frivolous, depressing and maddening nature of the “Fiscal Cliff” crisis. They will solve nothing, regardless of the outcome.  The President resolutely ignores the continuing fiscal catastrophe.  Nothing he proposes pays for more than rounding error in federal spending.  His only concern is scoring political points, not solving the problem.  A demoralized GOP lacks the nerve, and perhaps the conviction, to call for the spending cuts needed to approach fiscal sanity.

Of course,  “The Rich” simply don’t have enough money to pay for our incontinent government.


Joseph Henchman:  Switzerland “Debt Brake” As Consensus Policy Option for America? (Tax Policy Blog)


Fiscal Cliff Notes:

Kay Bell,  Average tax bill increase if we fall off the fiscal cliff? $3,446

Patrick Temple-West,  Boehner’s budget ‘Plan B’ collapses, and more (Tax Break)

Janet Novack,  Obama Plays The Adult In The Room–Before Leaving For Hawaiian Holiday

Peter Reilly,  All I Want For Christmas Is An AMT Patch.  Me too.

Trich McIntire,  Congressional Con

Jim Maule, Tax Pledges: Never Say Never.


He’s a little people now.  From an FBI press release:

John J. McCauley Jr., 54, owner and co-operator of McCauley and L’Europa  Public Adjusters LLC and PIA Restoration LLC in Providence Rhode Island, and longtime Rhode Island state legislator, was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States of more than $500,000 and filing false tax returns…

Like some other politicians, he can take the taxes, but he can’t dish them out.  He was Deputy Speaker of the Rhode Island House, according to this report.


TaxProf, Deconstruction Deduction:  Home Disassembly and Charitable Donation Rather Than Demolition Yields Big Tax Savings

Jason Dinesen, New Preparer Requirements on Earned Income Credit = Higher Fees for Clients

12 Days of Charitable Giving 2012: Fisher House Foundation

Jack Townsend, Evasion of Payment Statute of Limitations Runs from the Last Affirmative Act

Russ Fox,  Fat Joe Takes the Rap

Merry Christmas!  TaxVox’s 2012 Lump of Coal Awards  (Howard Gleckman)

Wow.  From the TaxProf:

Yesterday morning, my son was on a bus on I-80 with 52 other Grinnell College students heading to the Des Moines airport to fly home for the Christmas holiday when the driver suffered a fatal heart attack.  The bus veered off the highway to the right, into a snowbank from the 12 inches of snow that fell in Iowa last Thursday.  Miraculously, none of the students were injured, and after being transported to the hospital in Newton, Iowa, Grinnell arranged for alternative transportation for the students to the airport.

My older son drove that route yesterday coming home from school in Chicago.  Happily, his trip was unexciting.  I hope all of you who are traveling this week arrive safely.


That would be sexy indeed.  Too Sexy for Iowa  (The Other McCain).


One too many trips to the Buffett.

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

The President’s newest tax plan isn’t worth a lot of time. It will never pass, and it’s not intended to. It’s a campaign manifesto. The Tax Prof has an excellent roundup if you are interested in the pointless details.
It is worth pointing out that the plan is bad policy built around faulty assumptions.
The bad policy starts with the use of a new form of “alternative minimum tax” to implement the so-called “Buffett Rule” of taxing “the rich.” Alternative minimum taxes are bad policy by definition, as they make taxpayers compute their income multiple ways to figure their tax. They are a result of politicians wanting to have their cake and eat it too, by giving tax breaks with one hand and taking them away by the AMT with the other.
Three bad assumptions underlie the plan. The first is that “the rich” are not paying their “fair share” of taxes. We’ve covered that ground, but a picture says it best:

Chart by Wall Street Journal via the TaxProf
The second bad assumption is that dividends and capital gains are undertaxed, giving an unjustified break to those lighting their fine cigars with $100 bills at their Martha’s Vineyard barbecues. The Tax Policy Blog explains how it really works:

The reality is that capital gains and dividends are taxed at a lower rate at the individual level because this income has already been taxed at 35 percent at the corporate level before it was distributed to shareholders. Both Mr. Obama and his tax advisor Warren Buffett seem unaware that the U.S. has the 4th highest overall tax rate on dividend income among the largest industrialized countries in the OECD at 49.5 percent. Only Denmark (56.5 percent), France (55.9 percent) and the United Kingdom (54 percent) tax dividends at a higher rate.

The third, and most serious, bad assumption is that you can avoid serious spending cuts or tax increases on the rest of us just by taxing “the rich.” While President I Spend Even More than Bush lectures about “math,” the numbers show that