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    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,...

    Spam and Taxes

    ... On the surface, taxing [Internet] spam is a wonderful idea. Spam clogs the Internet, wastes our time just deleting it and continues because it makes money since you only need a few people so gullible or addled that they believe some Nigerian wants...

    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...

    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...

    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...

    Unkind to Charity

    There's a new whipping boy on Capitol Hill and it's not the bankers who brought down the economy, the fossil fuel companies that are heating up the planet, or the gun lobby that has figured out how to increase sales every time there's a mass...

    Targeting Tax-Exempts and Tax Reform

    by Clint Stretch Many on Capitol Hill are currently focused on the IRS's targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status as evidence of the need for tax reform. I agree we need tax reform. I doubt how dramatic it can be, whether...

    The Rich Will Pay for Our Sins

    More and more Republicans in Congress are distancing themselves from their promise never to raise taxes. In fact, it's been "Throw Grover Under the Bus Week" in Washington. I am no fan of the pledge never to raise taxes. It's not...

    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...

    Things to Read, Sites to Visit

    I decided to share some of my favorite tax resources on the web. The Minnesota Taxpayer's Association has changed its name (after 87 years!) to the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence . The MTA under the direction of Mark Haveman has been one of...

    'Commissioner-Less'

    The Internal Revenue Service is currently without a Commissioner. Douglas Shulman, the 47 th IRS Commissioner stepped down last November . And from what I'm starting to hear, the IRS may not have a new Commissioner for as long as close to two years...

    Wipe-Out - What Surfing and Our Tax System Have in Common

    ... Tax Analysts and Pepperdine School of Law held a symposium on federal income taxes... titled "Tax Advice for the Second Obama Administration," (you can watch the video here) but it could have been called "What's Wrong with Our Tax...

    A Century of Soaking the Rich

    ... Americans will celebrate - or mourn - the 100th birthday of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution . On February 25, 1913, Secretary of State Philander Knox formally certified ratification, establishing once and for all that Congress had the to power...

    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...

    America May Be on the Wrong Track, But Is Paul Ryan's the Right One?

    ... [S]adly for today's GOP, they have more than a few [bad ideas]. Take Paul Ryan's budget plan , for instance. ... Ryan runs into serious problems when he starts suggesting ways to make the tax code simpler. In particular, his emphasis...

    The True Meaning of Sequestration

    [Sequestration] is not about spending cuts; the White House doesn't want spending cuts. Sequester is about taxes, and, specifically, tax increases. President Obama wants rich people to pay more because they don't pay their fair share - whatever...

    Decoding the Fiscal Cliff

    By Alvin D. Lurie November 29, 2012 Decoding The Fiscal Cliff By Alvin D. Lurie November 29, 2012 Executive Summary The waning days of 2012 and of President Obama's final days of his first Administration provide him and the Democratic...

    Getting It Wrong: Energy Tax Policy

    by Clint Stretch Winston Churchill said that Americans can be counted on to do the right thing, after we have exhausted all other possibilities. He might have added that we usually start with the least direct and most complex approach. So it is with...

    It's Time to Stop Talking About Tax Reform

    Enough already: it's time to stop talking about tax reform. Not about necessary and useful changes to the tax code - by all means, let's talk about them. But let's do away with anodyne invocations of "tax reform" as a useful shorthand...

    It's Not Too Late for a War Tax

    In case you needed another reason to support a special war tax, try this on for size: The United States is still paying veterans' benefits to the children of Civil War soldiers. According to the Associated Press , two survivors are each receiving...

    Questions About Pfizer's Taxes

    Over the last five years American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer earned on average over $10 billion of annual worldwide pre-tax profits. How much of this profit was attributable to its U.S. operations? Answer: none. In fact, according to annual reports filed...

    Taxing the Rich, Thenardier-Style

    by Jeremy Scott The popular musical Les Miserables is back. The film won three Oscars Sunday (including one for best supporting actress), and the show is now touring before it reopens in New York in 2014. But the influence of Les Miserables doesn't...

    Paz's Admissions Fuel GOP Ire, But Don't Implicate Administration

    by Jeremy Scott ... Holly Paz, the former director of rulings and agreements for the IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division, contradicts the notion that everything was confined to Cincinnati... ... Paz's assertion that there was no...

    The IRS: It's Bad Enough

    ... Over the years there have been high-ranking IRS officials who conveniently forgot that they were public servants who were supposed to serve, you know, the public. And there have been high-ranking tax administrators who have had trouble with the balance...