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Taxes

Majority of Voters Proclaim: “Extend Tax Cuts for All!”
Posted By:  - 07/16/12

A McClatchy-Marist poll shows that 52 percent of registered voters want the Bush Tax Cuts extended for all Americans, including those who make over $250,000 a year.

A view that stands in contrast to the President, who has made it clear that he will veto any attempt by Congress to extend the cuts for all, saying that:

“I would veto it and here’s why…to extend tax breaks for that top 2 percent of wealthiest Americans would cost us a trillion dollars over the next decade.”

This may be a hard sell for the President in today’s still tepid economy, especially when he is attempting to secure the youth vote and the Hispanic vote. These two key demographics, both of which are seen as pivotal in the presidential race, favored extending the tax cuts for all by margins of 69-29, and 62 percent to 36 percent, respectively.

Congressional Republicans, as well as presidential candidate Mitt Romney, both favor preventing the tax cuts from expiring on Dec. 31.

 

 

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Getting Closer to Wireless Tax Fairness
Posted By: Andrew Moylan - 07/13/12

The Wireless Tax Fairness Act, a bill that NTU has strongly supported for years, might be a step closer to becoming law if its sponsor Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has his way. He intends to introduce it as an amendment to S. 2884, a bill the Senate may consider next week. Wyden's legislation would protect taxpayers by freezing state and local charges on wireless phone service for five years and preventing them from imposing multiple and discriminatory taxes and fees.

This common sense legislation is one of few bills that enjoys wide bipartisan support both in and out of Congress. According to a MyWireless.org survey, 80% of respondents support the goals of the bill and Republicans and Democrats alike have aided its movement on Capitol Hill. Late last year, the House actually passed its version (sponsored by Arizona Republican Trent Franks and California Democrat Zoe Lofgren) unanimously on a voice vote. Wyden's amendment gives us hope that the Senate will pick up on that sentiment and pass the bill promptly.

As it stands today, wireless tax rates across the country are mind-numbingly insane. Legislators constantly proclaim the importance of wireless access because it supports economic opportunity and growth, but the taxes they levy on it tell a very different story indeed. Five states charge more than 20% in taxes, 23 states charge combined rates of higher than 15%, and in only ONE state in the nation (Nevada) will you face a lower charge on wireless services than for ordinary sales. Simply put, most states are levying "sin tax"-like charges on a technology they claim to love and support.

It's not the federal government's job to fix the details of each state's insane tax system, but it is their job to prevent states from enacting dumb tax policies that harm interstate commerce. There are few markets that are more interstate in nature than wireless service, so it's perfectly appropriate and necessary for the federal government to exercise its power to eliminate the worst abuses. We'll still have a lot of work to do to fix state tax codes after passing the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, but this is an extremely important first step and it's up to us to make sure Congress takes it soon.

Stay tuned to these pages next week for more information about how the bill will proceed and what you can to to help. In the meantime, we'll be gearing up our grassroots army to push Congress to pass this bill immediately.

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The Internet Tax Threat That Won't Go Away
Posted By: Andrew Moylan - 07/11/12

The so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act," a bill to impose onerous tax collection requirements on remote retailers, is back again for another bite at taxpayers' wallets. We've alerted you to this threat timeand time again, and now proponents and their big-money backers are trying to sneak it through once more. Introduced as an amendment to S. 2237 (a small business tax bill) by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the measure would add to the burden governments heap upon items purchased online while undermining vital taxpayer safeguards. The Marketplace Fairness Act would…

  • Dismantle Key Taxpayer Protection - Currently, online and remote retailers cannot be required to remit a state’s sales tax unless they have a physical presence there. This amendment would dismantle that taxpayer protection by allowing states to force tax collection dictates on businesses regardless of their location. Dissolving the physical nexus standard for collecting sales taxes could encourage overzealous state tax administrators and lawmakers to reach far across their borders in order to fill their coffers.
  • Impose Enormous Compliance Burdens - The Marketplace Fairness Act could force online businesses to comply with the rates, rules, and definitions of every last one of the country’s 9,600 (and growing) sales tax jurisdictions. Meanwhile, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers generally must contend with the sales tax in a single jurisdiction: the one in which their business is physically located. This would be a distinctly “unlevel” playing field that imposes much more onerous administrative obligations for businesses that dare to operate online. Such obligations won’t be made magically care-free by tax software packages, any more than the billions in payroll income tax compliance costs for businesses have somehow disappeared with the advent of computers.
  • Drain More Dollars from Taxpayers with No Reform in Sight -  Piling complex tax rules on the backs of remote retailers could lead to millions (or billions) of dollars in additional tax money for state governments at the expense of online shoppers. But nothing in the proposal ensures that those new costs aren’t just added on top of the many others borne by taxpayers struggling in today’s economy. The amendment doesn’t include any language to require or even encourage states to reform their sales taxes so that net burdens on taxpayers don’t rise.

It is particularly odious and contradictory to attempt hanging this proposal on a bill purporting to assist small businesses. S. 2237 is problematic for taxpayers in its own right, but is made all the worse with an Amendment that fails on so many counts. As a practical matter, the paltry “small seller exemption” contained in the language means that numerous firms will become ensnared in a web of higher tax-compliance overhead costs. Businesses that could be contributing to a more robust economic recovery will instead squander resources extricating themselves from this trap, or worse, resign themselves to oblivion.

As a philosophical matter, the amendment treats the Internet and e-commerce as a sinister, alien force for small business, when the opposite is true. Where would brick-and-mortar retailers be, for example, without the convenience of online inventory control, or other “B2B” transactions that make management so much more efficient today? What losses would retailers suffer without the new markets for goods and services for which the Internet has provided the portal? How many millions of everyday citizens, who have created thriving online “mom and pop” proprietorships, would be denied the opportunities to provide for their families? To be clear: No Senator who claims to support taxpayers and small businesses should vote for this amendment. There are fairer, less burdensome ways to address any real “level playing field” issues in this area of commerce.

 

It's unclear as of now how the Senate will proceed on this amendment or the underlying small business tax bill, but rest assured that we'll be hammering away to make sure that well-financed lobbyists don't fleece taxpayers and businesses with this awful bill. 

 

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Donations to Pay Down Debt Soar
Posted By:  - 06/18/12

Today's Wall Street Journal reports the following:

"... there’s been a noticeable spike in voluntary payments made by taxpayers to pay down the government’s $15.7 trillion debt.

From October 2011 through April 2012, the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Public Debt reported it collected $5.8 million in voluntary payments from taxpayers earmarked solely for paying down the debt. That’s more than the $3.3 million collected during the entire 2011 fiscal year – which ran from October 2010 through September 2011."

This is an option that we've suggested several times in the past for those who feel that they don't pay enough in taxes.  Why be forced to pay more?  Why not write a big check voluntarily and feel better about it?  If you would like to make a gift to pay down the public debt, you can learn more here.

Flashback:  Legislation would allow tax overpayments to be directed to the public debt.

Double flashback:  Virginia's "Tax Me More Fund" Needs Help

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Speaking of Taxpayers, June 8, 2012: Election Roundup, or Return of the Taxpayer!
Posted By: Douglas Kellogg - 06/11/12

Subscribe to NTU's podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes!

State Govt. Affairs Manager Brent Mead makes his final Speaking of Taxpayers appearance to discuss Wisconsin and California election results with Pete & Doug - plus, a new segment: the Fiscal Five...
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NTU Letter to Gov. Kasich Reminds All that Positive Tax Reform does not Include Punitive Energy Tax Hikes
Posted By:  - 06/07/12

National Taxpayers Union released an open letter to Ohio Governor John Kasich yesterday giving due credit for his effort to reform income tax burdens, but warning against a damaging energy tax included in the proposal. The Governor’s plan would increase severance taxes on specific types of wells, harming oil and natural gas producers.

This step would undo the good from income tax reductions and curb the potential for job creation and taxable wages in the energy industry. An economic impact study by Kleinhenz Associates estimates that development of the Ultica Shale using existing tax structures will create over 200,000 jobs in the state, increasing output by over $22 billion and taxable wages by over $12 billion. Adding to the promising fiscal future of this industry, each well drilled will produce state and local incomes taxes while generating proceeds from commercial activity and current severance taxes. NTU reminded Governor Kasich that these benefits will not be fully realized if a drastic tax hike is imposed.          

Trimming wasteful spending and modest spending restraint in recent years could have provided enough fiscal latitude to nearly eliminate the state income tax entirely. It is that type of common sense budget discipline that should accompany income tax reductions, not hikes on productive economic sectors.

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NTU Letter to Gov. Kasich Reminds All that Positive Tax Reform does not Include Punitive Energy Tax Hikes
Posted By:  -

National Taxpayers Union released an open letter (available HERE) to Ohio Governor John Kasich yesterday giving due credit for his effort to reform income tax burdens, but warning against a damaging energy tax included in the proposal. The Governor’s plan would increase severance taxes on specific types of wells, harming oil and natural gas producers.

This part of the measure would undo the good from income tax reductions and curb the potential for job creation and taxable wages in the energy industry. An economic impact study by Kleinhenz Associates estimates that development of the Ultica Shale using existing tax structures will create over 200,000 jobs in the state, increasing output by over $22 billion and taxable wages by over $12 billion. Adding to the promising fiscal future of this industry, each well drilled will produce state and local incomes taxes while generating proceeds from commercial activity and current severance taxes. NTU reminded Governor Kasich that these benefits will not be realized if a drastic tax hike is imposed.

Trimming wasteful spending and modest spending restraint in recent years could have provided enough fiscal latitude to nearly eliminate the state income tax entirely. It is that type of common sense budget discipline that should accompany income tax reductions, not hikes on productive economic sectors.

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States Ready to Make Driving Even More Expensive
Posted By:  - 06/05/12

With summer rapidly approaching, Americans across the nation will be heading out onto the nation’s highways for vacations, but higher taxes may be lurking for intrepid travelers as cash-strapped states seek to evolve gas taxes into more costly forms.

Currently, states raise revenue for roads and bridges through a tax on fuel levied by the gallon, but the new proposal would tax drivers for miles traveled in addition to the taxes we already pay at the pump. 

The current federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, whereas states are free to set their own fuel tax per gallon.

Minnesota and Oregon are already exploring technology that will keep track of miles driven, which has included GPS-like boxes which are inserted into people’s vehicles, pre-pay options whereby individuals can “buy” miles ahead of time, and software installed on smartphones to track distance.

These ‘next-generation’ gas and travel taxes, when added to tolls, other taxes, and the price of gasoline, could further empty America’s roads and reduce commerce. Adding to the cost of business, travel, and every day activity is not going to help the economy get back on track, or prove popular with overburdened taxpayers.

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Speaking of Taxpayers, June 1, 2012: Illinois Tax Hike Ambush, WTA, 38 Studios
Posted By: Douglas Kellogg - 06/04/12

Subscribe to NTU's Podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes!
NTU State Affairs Manager Brent Mead joins Doug & a returning Pete Sepp to discuss the continuing tax picture around the country, prop 29, the World Taxpayers Associations 2012 conference, 38 Studios' collapse, and the Outrage of the Week!
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Speaking of Taxpayers (AUDIO): States Have Taxes on the Mind
Posted By: Douglas Kellogg - 05/19/12

Subscribe to NTU's podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes!
State Affairs Manager Brent Mead has a big state roundup including California tax hikes and budget problems, good new from New Hampshire, and more pain in Maryland.
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