Cap-and-Trade or Carbon Tax?

    If you saw the SOTU address earlier this month, you heard President Obama renew his plea for a 'market based' solution to our climate change crisis. That comment triggered a heated policy discussion among my environmentalist friends. What does...

    ... A Menace to the State

    by Alvin D. Lurie * The full quotation, of which the above title is a segment, goes "Every law not based on wisdom is a menace to the State." It is graven in stone on a pillar outside the entrance to the storied courthouse of the New York...

    Let's Stop With the Revenue Neutrality

    For decades, most people have believed that the success of tax reform is dependent on the reform being revenue neutral. That is, whatever happens, the tax system has to raise approximately as much revenue after as it did before. Proponents of reform want...

    Medical Marijuana Business Expenses

    by Joel S. Newman * ... Legal and Illegal [business enterprises] are treated the same way [for tax purposes] because of Comm'r v. Sullivan, 356 U.S. 27 (U.S. 1958) . In Sullivan , the Commissioner denied salary and rent deductions to an illegal...

    When Tax Reform Means Soaking the Rich

    Tax reform has evolved into one of the emptier platitudes of U.S. politics. Politicians support "tax reform" in the same way that they support "a strong national defense," "fiscal responsibility," and "pro-growth economic...

    The Income Tax Is Inquisitorial - Get Over It

    Apparently, the Italians have found a way to make their unpopular income tax even more unpopular . In the face of rampant cheating, they've adopted a new enforcement technique. Now, instead of just pawing through paychecks, bank statements and the...

    'Legal Enemies of the State'!

    How does that old Wall Street saying go? Bulls make money; Bears make money; Pigs get slaughtered. Bulls in this context are easily defined, and so are Bears. Money can be measured. But it seems to me that piggy behavior is in the eyes of the beholder...

    DOMA Doomed by Estate Tax Refund Claim

    The United States Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as an unconstitutional violation of the "equal liberty" protections of the 5th Amendment. The dispute in U.S. v. Windsor * began when Edie Windsor filed a...

    How Important Is Deferral to Multinationals?

    by Jeremy Scott The U.S. tax system allows multinationals to effectively indefinitely defer taxes on profits earned by active foreign affiliates until that money is repatriated to the United States. Deferral as a cornerstone of tax policy dates from...

    Tim Johnson, Kristi Noem, and the Importance of Moderates to Tax Reform

    by Jeremy Scott Another Senate Democrat is retiring. South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson will not seek a fourth term in 2014, leaving an open seat that Republicans will be heavily favored to pick up. Johnson's retirement brings the total number of Democrats...

    Guns and Tax Returns

    Earlier this month, a district court judge for the District of Columbia basically shut down the IRS's registered tax return preparer program . The purpose of the program was to better regulate hundreds of thousands of people who prepare tax returns...

    A Moral Obligation to Aggressively Lobby

    In the United Kingdom a great debate is taking place about aggressive tax avoidance. On one side, David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, says it is immoral . On the other side, most executives say they have a duty to their shareholders, and most...

    Corporate Tax: Why Disclosure Is the Key to Reform

    Two columns of interest emerged today [January 31, 2013] on the issue of corporate tax disclosure, plus another interesting public hearing in the UK, this time with the big four in the hot seat. Put all of this together and we can see very clearly the...

    Are Republicans Throwing in the Towel on Tax Reform?

    ... [I]n the modern era of divided government, tax reform is almost certainly going to be a bipartisan enterprise - or no enterprise at all. Which makes it all the more illuminating that House Republicans have floated the idea of passing a tax reform...

    A World Without 501(c)(4)s

    Should we get rid of 501(c)(4)s? Last week, the New York Times put that question to a range of tax experts and got back (predictably) a range of reasonable answers. Most involved some sort of intermediate reform involving the political activities of "social...

    Stifling Lefty - Political Correctness in the Tax Debates

    Phil Mickelson, the great golfer, caused quite a stir recently when he said (and this is really all he said) that the new higher taxes at the federal level and in his home state of California " doesn't work for me right now ." ... Mickelson...

    Fiscal Surrender

    As part of the discussion about the budget time bomb that Congress tied around itself, and the rest of us, is a debate on what to call it. Is it a fiscal cliff or more like a fiscal slope (and a slippery one at that)? Maybe it's gone to another stage...

    I Am Not Ayn Rand, But What About Me?

    My friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently took issue with my friends at the Tax Foundation. The subject was whether tax increases harm economic growth. The Foundation published a piece written by Will McBride in December 2012 which...

    Senate Democrats Abandon the Estate Tax

    by Jeremy Scott The most progressive tax in the United States is also one of the most unpopular. Thanks to Republican-led efforts to characterize it as a death tax, the estate tax is almost universally reviled in Congress and by voters. To emphasize...

    Will DOMA Issues Doom Tax Reform?

    by Clint Stretch The already grinding gears of immigration reform slowed again last week when Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) angered conservatives by suggesting that his committee extend to roughly 40,000 binational same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed...

    TIGTA Report Implies A Lot, Proves Little, About Bias at the IRS

    The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's report that is at the center of the current firestorm over potential political bias at the IRS... examined the names of... 296 [501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4)] organizations] and found that 98 of them...

    The End of an Era -- And Your Taxes Are Going Up

    An era is coming to a close. Since the dawn of electronic commerce, the famous Quill case cast a pall over state public finance. We in the business know the story well. If a vendor did not have a physical presence in a state, that vendor could not be...

    Permanent Insanity

    Things have been positively dizzy in Washington since the New Year - dizzy from all the spinning coming from Democrats and Republicans on how they saved us from the fiscal cliff. My personal favorite: we now have a permanent tax code. Even the great,...

    Baucus, the Marketplace Fairness Act, and Tax Reform

    by jeremy Scott ... [T]he tax community is... concerned with whether Baucus's retirement will hinder or help the chances of tax reform. The answer might lie in how Democrats handled the Marketplace Fairness Act. ... It appears that Baucus, the...

    Simpson-Bowles Try Again

    by Jeremy Scott ... [T]he details of the Simpson-Bowles plan, originally released in December 2010, have gradually become distorted - so much so that even reform efforts supposedly inspired by the commission's report aren't all that similar...