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Today’s Taxpayer News!
Electric fail: An investigation by WZZM TV showed that pouring taxpayer money into electric cars has basically failed. The federal government has spent $5 billion on this work all while charging stations, originally intended to replace gas stations, sit empty.
An expensive day’s work: A key agency in the Washington, DC education department paid almost $90,000 to a Chicago based education firm for one day of work at a conference. The cost “included a half-hour keynote speech, three 45-minute parent workshops and hundreds of copies of parenting books.” The Washington Post has more details.
Historic waste: A new study shows the Veterans Administration (VA) has ignored several federal laws surrounding historic buildings. The VA often builds new facilities instead of fixing up older ones, which wastes taxpayer dollars. More on CNSNews.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Massive Marshal waste: NTU’s Pete Sepp is quoted in this WSBTV article exposing the U.S. Marshals Service for the agency’s waste on gifts ranging from Christmas ornaments to silk scarves to commemorative coins. In total the Inspector General found almost $800,000 worth of waste.
Medicare mismanagement: Medicare has paid out millions of dollars to the deceased, a new Inspector Generals report found. The report tallied $23 million of improper payments to deceased Americans and those illegally living in the country. More information at Healthcare Payer News.
Call waiting: Vermont state officials found that the state wasted $272,000 on cell phones that went unused by state officials in 2012. Of the 11 million minutes purchased by the state, 5 million were not used. More details at VNews.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Ballot Measures 2013: Taxpayers Thwart Worst, But Many Bad Measures Still Pass
Despite what may have appeared to be a sleepy off-year election, a host of ballot measures compiled by National Taxpayers Union (featured in The Wall Street Journal) with national implications appeared on November 5 state and local ballots across the country, and the results might surprise you. At the end of the day, there were both silver linings and disappointments for taxpayers across the country.
Last but not least, the results of Colorado’s marijuana tax hike measures could be considered good, bad, or ugly, depending on your point of view. While Coloradans rejected the Amendment 66 income tax hike, they approved the Proposition AA marijuana taxes 65 to 35 percent. Locally, voters in Eagle, Red Cliff, Littleton, Boulder, and Denver also passed new taxes on marijuana. All of these measures increase taxes on a product recently deemed legal under state law.
Keep an eye on NTU.org for additional analysis and commentary on 2013 ballot measures.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Last week's release of the latest BillTally research offers taxpayers an in-depth look at the legislation that's been proposed on Capitol Hill so far this Congressional session, and the data doesn't offer much consolation for those who'd like to see less federal spending. NTUF found that the 86 unique, non-overlapping bills scored between both the House and the Senate would increase the budget by about $1.28 trillion per year: in other words, for every dollar Congress proposed to cut, they sought to spend an additional $3.83.
So where does the bulk of those new spending proposals come from? Largely in the form of legislation that would attempt to reform healthcare and stimulate job creation. The American economic recovery is still considered by most economists to be on relatively shaky ground, and many experts have warned of the detrimental impacts that rising healthcare costs could bring. Lawmakers in Washington have seemingly been paying attention to these signs and continue to introduce legislation designed to confront the issues.
NTUF Director of Research Demian Brady broke down the new spending proposals by issue area, and health- and economy-related legislation played a major factor in affecting the overall spending trends for the first six months of the 113th Congress.
In the House:
And in the Senate:
By far the largest health-related spending bill in the House was a plan to implement a single-payer system. That proposal would amount to $1.16 trillion in new spending. Other multi-billion dollar bills related to healthcare to emerge from that Chamber include:
The massive cost of healthcare-related proposals is in line with previous years. There was no single-payer bill introduced in the Senate during the first six months of the year, but even without such legislation, health-related spending bills in the Senate were still over four times as costly as the next most expensive issue area (education, at $27.3 billion per year).
Economic stimulus bills were more common in the House (40 bills) than in the Senate (14 bills). Of course, the Senate also proposed much less spending across all policy areas: its total net agenda would reduce federal spending by $46.8 billion, and Senators proposed fewer $100 billion or larger spending bills than their colleagues in the House. And even without single-payer healthcare legislation, the House's net spending agenda would still increase federal outlays by $37.5 billion. It is still very possible that the Senate's net agenda will increase significantly with the introduction of more "big-ticket" healthcare and stimulus proposals as seen in the House.
Read the full BillTally report online here.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Costly skies: The state of Illinois spends more than $4 million a year flying state officials from Chicago to Springfield. An investigation by Fox 32 Chicago found that almost half of all flights have four or less passengers aboard, wasting the estimated $3,000 per flight cost.
Welfare waste: Beneficiaries of Tennessee’s welfare program have used state issued Electronic Benefit Transfer cards on outlandish expenses, state records show. Funds were used on liquor, cafes, electronics, and even theatre tickets in Memphis. Read more at WMCTV.
Unspent funds: The Department of Labor’s Navajo Nation educational program has grossly mismanaged taxpayer funds even as thousands wait for job training. A federal investigation showed that the program failed to spend $13.4 million while only serving 62 percent of its expected participants. More details at the Washington Times.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Myth of the 12.6 Percent Effective Corporate Tax Rate
A May 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) claimed that U.S. corporations paid an effective tax rate of just 12.6 percent - a startling revelation considering the U.S. now has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the world at 35 percent. As a wary taxpayer might expect however, there is more to the story…
The GAO study was used by many to bolster the notion that tax loopholes and offshore “tricks” allowed American businesses to duck a great deal of their tax burden. The party for those seizing on this opportunity was short-lived, however, as a more complete analysis performed by international tax expert Andrew B. Lyon (with Pricewaterhouse Coopers ) showed real and significant problems with GAO’s analysis.
Lyon’s study, published in the academic journal Tax Notes last month, exposed glaring omissions that skewed GAO’s baseline finding. Most evident was GAO’s use of just the year 2010 in their analysis. In making their judgment, they selected a narrow window of time that that just happened to coincide with loss write-offs resulting from several years of the Great Recession. Lyon took a more comprehensive approach, breaking down the corporate rate from 2004-2010. His finding was that long-term, “The effective tax rate based on worldwide current tax payments for all U.S. corporations exceeded 35 percent for the 2004-2010 period.”
What’s more, Lyon’s more comprehensive methodology found that even during the limited period GAO examined, effective corporate income tax rates well exceeded the 12.6 percent reported by GAO, largely because the agency failed to account for taxes paid to foreign governments on certain income dividends received by American companies.
An effective tax rate of 35 percent ranks highest among industrialized nations and has America lagging behind in terms of tax competitiveness. With unemployment in particular remaining a challenge for the U.S., it is important for policymakers to clearly understand the damage a punitive corporate income tax rate causes our economy. Taxpayers should not be fooled into a false choice using false facts. How the GAO could issue such a flawed study is another question…
Andrew Lyon’s very in-depth study is highly recommended for those looking to dive deeper into this discussion, read it HERE.
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Five Quirky Taxes to Watch Out for on Tuesday's Ballot
It’s almost Election Day and voters in several states and many more localities will head to the polls to decide the fate of numerous fiscal ballot measures. Some of these proposals stand out more than others. Below we’ve listed the top five strange (and what many would consider punitive) tax issues on the ballot in 2013 that our research has identified:
Also of note for local taxpayers: In California 87 school districts will vote on 45 local bond/tax measures totaling $22 billion. This far exceeds what any other state in America has on the ballot. Additionally, Arizona voters will be deciding on 11 local ballot measures that would implement $209 million for education bonds and $311 million in non-education related bonds (public safety, parks, roads, etc.)
There are many more state and local measures of note. Other entries – strange or not – from sharp-eyed taxpayers across the country are welcome!0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
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Yesterday, NTUF released a special BillTally report examining the first six months of the first session in the 113th Congress. The report comes as lawmakers begin to debate several long-term budget issues, not the least of which is the fact that under the terms of the compromise that ended the recent government shutdown, federal funding will again run dry by early February unless Congress takes further action.
The 113th Congress has, at least to this point, shown a reluctance to address U.S. budgetary dilemmas by cutting spending. Through the first six months of 2013, Congress has introduced 554 bills to increase spending, as opposed to just 114 that would reduce outlays –- a nearly five to one ratio. For context, that ratio in the previous Congress was 3.9 and 4.6 to one in the House and Senate, respectively. Across both Chambers, the 113th Congress has introduced a net spending agenda of $1.28 trillion: about $1.74 trillion in increases and $453 billion in savings.
Perhaps more concerning for taxpayers who are wary of mounting debt and deficits is that if previous legislative trends are any indication, it's unlikely that Congress will introduce savings proposals any more quickly over the rest of the session.
In the 112th Congress, NTUF identified 221 House savings proposals over the course of the two year term. 52 percent of that total had been introduced by the end of the first 6 months, and over 74 percent were considered by the end of the first year. In other words, only about a quarter of any major savings proposals were introduced over the entire final year of that Congressional session.
The 112th Senate followed a similar trend: by the end of the first six months of the two year term, about 56 percent of all savings bills had been introduced. Just over 81 percent of the Senate’s savings legislation had been submitted by the end of the first year.
Through July of this year, the current Congress introduced 81 savings bills in the House and 33 in the Senate. The House had already submitted 72 percent of its savings bills by the end of March, and the Senate had reached 70 percent of its total in that same time.
Although it's impossible to predict how the current Congress might act going forward, history shows that legislative proposals to cut spending tend to be considered earlier rather than later. If that holds true for the 113th Congress, the window for significant savings legislation to be considered may be closing as the year comes to an end.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
This week, NTU released its 2013 Ballot Guide: The Taxpayer’s Perspective. Our findings might surprise you.
As we all know, there’s no Presidential race this November, nor is there a regular round of Congressional elections. However, voters in Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington will decide on statewide ballot measures that will impact the nation’s fiscal policy. Additionally, many taxpayers will find local ballot measures when they head to the polls on November 5. Here are the highlights from our latest guide:
State and local measures can have major implications not just for the citizens deciding them but for taxpayers nationwide. Whether it’s the massive Colorado Amendment 66 tax hike, significant debt increases in Maine, or an attempt to bolster the initiative and referendum process in Washington, voters in many parts of the country will encounter some eye-opening that could impact their wallets for years to come.
Stayed tuned to NTU.org for our post-election ballot measures analysis.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts