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Clint Stretch

Senior Tax Policy Counsel


All Posts by Clint Stretch

March 30, 2015 - 12:59 PM EDT
Who Should Pay for the Mess We’re In?
I've spent some time recently looking at the national debt and my own net worth. I think there's a correlation. As a country, we have mortgaged our future. We have chosen collectively to borrow and shift the cost of today's government onto our children and grandchildren. At the same time, freed... [Read More]
March 17, 2015 - 9:17 AM EDT
How to Make Tax Return Filing Easier
As readers of my February 6 post know, I'm not too impressed by the possibilities for tax simplification. But I recently finished filling out all the online pages that will cause a very thick package of tax returns to come back to me out of some wondrous piece of software. So I've “done my taxes... [Read More]
March 3, 2015 - 1:40 PM EST
Time to Retire Income Tax Reform?
Last week, my colleagues Marty Sullivan, Jeremy Scott and Joe Thorndike wrote long blog posts on tax reform. Marty expanded the menu of possibilities, Jeremy wondered if we are asking the right questions about spending, and Joe discussed the optimists' view. I have a more direct approach to income... [Read More]
February 17, 2015 - 9:43 AM EST
Tax Policy Is Really About Our Grandchildren
It's exciting to think of the possibilities as a united Republican Congress starts shaping tax and budget policy. President Obama's veto pen may ultimately get in the way, but the new governing majority in Congress should let nothing stop them from sending him a clear vision for the future. I rec... [Read More]
February 6, 2015 - 8:57 AM EST
Defining Tax Reform
Statements of position or principle by lawmakers are sometimes most interesting for what they don't say. Last week's letter from Senate Finance Committee Democrats to committee Chair Orrin Hatch outlining their seven principles for tax reform was no exception. It should remind us that Humpty Dumpt... [Read More]
December 18, 2014 - 9:03 AM EST
Did Next Year’s Holiday Gift Shopping Just Get Easier?
President Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba may add Cuban cigars and Cuban rum to next year's holiday gift possibilities. This would certainly make life easier for anyone who wants to give me a gift, and I suspect I'm not alone. Fortunately, normalization doesn't require congressiona... [Read More]
April 29, 2014 - 9:00 AM EDT
Dreams of Tax Reform
At the risk of revealing too much of my sentimental side, I have to admit that I'm a huge Patsy Cline fan. So I recently found myself at the small but carefully curated Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va., which is holding a special exhibit on Patsy's life and career. The most comm... [Read More]
March 11, 2014 - 1:37 PM EDT
10 Reasons Voters Should Think Before Deciding About Camp’s Tax Reforms
Tax reform is a decidedly mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the inevitable. Of course, what is good or bad is a matter of opinion, not fact. Here's my list of things I think voters should reflect on before they make up their minds on the tax reform proposals from House Ways and Means Committee C... [Read More]
March 4, 2014 - 8:13 AM EST
10 Reasons Republicans Should Embrace the Camp Tax Bill
1. It is as close to their flat-tax dream as they can get for now. 2. If they want a credible claim that Obama and Democrats are responsible for the failure of tax reform, they must pass a bill in the House. 3. It dramatically lessens the tax code's influence on business choices. 4. It honors pers... [Read More]
February 27, 2014 - 12:51 PM EST
10 Reasons Democrats Should Like the Camp Tax Bill
1. Republicans don't seem to like it. 2. For future legislation, it provides a great list of now-Republican-endorsed loophole-closing provisions. 3. For campaigns, it provides a great list of horrible things Republicans would do to businesses and individuals. 4. It confirms the appropriateness of... [Read More]
February 25, 2014 - 9:08 AM EST
The Tax Reform Blame Game
An interesting orthodoxy was emerging among lovers of the tax reform fantasy at the Tax Council Policy Institute's tax policy symposium last week in Washington. Reform advocates were trying to convince people that the reason tax reform is going nowhere is a lack of leadership on the part of Presid... [Read More]
February 4, 2014 - 9:03 AM EST
Dumb Mistakes Aren’t Crimes
When my wife and I stepped into a cab at Tucson International Airport last week, we didn't expect to receive a civics lesson. We discovered that our driver was a Somali who had come to the U.S. from the refugee camps in Kenya. He was very grateful to be here. When we asked what he liked most about... [Read More]
December 10, 2013 - 8:28 AM EST
Remember the Tax Reform Act of 1995?
For two years, Washington has been asking whether or how another 1986-style tax reform might be accomplished. Whatever happened to 1995-style tax reform? That year, Republicans gained control of both the House and Senate. Rep. Bill Archer, who took over the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means... [Read More]
December 3, 2013 - 9:01 AM EST
Shopping for Tax Extenders
Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are behind us, it's time to see what gifts are available on Capitol Hill. Folks are headed to the Finance and Ways and Means committees with their wish lists of holiday-season extenders. Like children asking if Santa is coming, taxpayers want t... [Read More]
November 26, 2013 - 8:46 AM EST
Max Baucus and the Stamp Tax
I have been reading biographies of our Founding Fathers recently. One of the acts of Parliament that inspired fierce opposition among the colonists was the Stamp Act, which imposed tax on numerous documents, including newspapers and pamphlets. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, D... [Read More]
November 19, 2013 - 9:28 AM EST
Turning Down the Heat on Energy Tax Policy
My last blog post went up as I started a trip to southern New Mexico and West Texas. During 10 days in and around the Permian Basin, my perspective on the energy tax policy debate shifted a bit. It struck me that Washington is behind the country in understanding energy and that its improvident appr... [Read More]
November 5, 2013 - 9:56 AM EST
What Happens After Nothing Happens?
Last week, Joe Thorndike wrote an obituary for tax reform and Jeremy Scott did the same for any possible revenue-related deal in the budget conference. As readers of this blog know, I am skeptical when it comes to the chances for tax reform, so I will concur in those obituaries. Now the question be... [Read More]
October 22, 2013 - 9:02 AM EDT
Whom Do Tax Reformers Want to Help?
A reader of one of my recent blog posts observed that many current tax benefits “go unused by the majority of taxpayers throughout their lifetimes.” He added, “Taxpayers don't really care about choice; they care about dollars. They can't afford tax planning.” All true enough. The comment led... [Read More]
October 8, 2013 - 9:13 AM EDT
Tax Reform Is on Furlough
Remember when House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., were promising tax reform packages and a markup this fall? They haven't started, and time is marching on. The reason is that the failure of the House and Senate to negotia... [Read More]
September 24, 2013 - 9:14 AM EDT
Shopping for Tax Reform
At the grocery store the other day, I noticed that the shampoo and conditioner section took up 150 linear feet of shelving. That piqued my curiosity about other products. A quick look at the store's online ordering site disclosed a dazzling array of choices: 354 different packages of cookies, 246... [Read More]
September 10, 2013 - 7:40 AM EDT
Healthcare and Tax Reform
From 1998 through 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the population grew by 32 million. However, the private insurance market failed to meet the needs of this increased population. In 2011, nearly 1 out of every 6 Americans lacked healthcare coverage. The number of individuals covered by gov... [Read More]
August 27, 2013 - 10:17 AM EDT
Home From Vacation
Happily, much of Washington has been away for the month of August – the traffic has been light and the partisan bickering less intense. The quiet ends next week. Perhaps, with vacation fresh in their minds policymakers can think about tax reform and whether it's fair to ask ordinary taxpayers to p... [Read More]
August 13, 2013 - 8:33 AM EDT
Getting the Tooth Fairy to Pay for Tax Reform
One of the most endearing things about the American people is our profound optimism. In the realm of tax policy, this optimism expresses itself in the persistent belief that all we have to do to find the revenue for tax reform or deficit reduction is close the compliance gap. So I could not have be... [Read More]
July 30, 2013 - 10:55 AM EDT
In the Trade or Business of Generating Capital Gains?
From a policy perspective, one of the most interesting decisions made in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was the decision to eliminate any corporate capital gains preference. The two most common explanations are that (1) Congress needed the revenue or (2) that a preference no longer made sense in the pr... [Read More]
July 16, 2013 - 8:00 AM EDT
15,000 Poor Reasons to Do Tax Reform
Tax reform advocates say that because “Congress has made more than 15,000 changes to the tax code” since 1986, the code needs to be reformed. At first blush, this number leaves a pretty poor impression not just of the code but also of Congress. An alternative view could be that succeeding Congres... [Read More]
July 2, 2013 - 8:11 AM EDT
Tax Reform or Shotgun Wedding?
Any parent of adult children is curious about whether and when one of their kids might announce “I'm getting married.” The announcement is more expected at some times than at others. What is never expected is that the child will fix the date (“by the end of next year”) but have no idea what t... [Read More]
June 18, 2013 - 8:50 AM EDT
Want New Ideas? Look Outside Washington
Except for the fact that I headed into the Deep South in June, I was lucky to get out of Washington last week. Few in Washington would dare express the views I heard from a good-sized group of young tax professionals. They were unencumbered by the constraints of political correctness and ideology t... [Read More]
June 4, 2013 - 8:43 AM EDT
The IRS Exempt Org Debacle: An Easy Fix
In my last post, I suggested that tax reform include a review of the tax exemptions granted to various organizations under section 501(c)(4) and subsequent sections. Given how angry everyone is at the IRS for its handling of these organizations, we should just go ahead and fix the problem. The way... [Read More]
May 21, 2013 - 10:48 AM EDT
Targeting tax-exempts and tax reform
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 it is possible without a deeper budget agreement and whether this “sc... [Read More]
May 7, 2013 - 9:46 AM EDT
Will DOMA Issues Doom Tax Reform?
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 by other couples to sponsor their spouse for a visa to enter... [Read More]
April 23, 2013 - 9:07 AM EDT
Getting It Wrong: Energy Tax Policy
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 the energy tax policy expressed in President Obama's FY 2014 budg... [Read More]
April 9, 2013 - 9:55 AM EDT
Are Roth IRAs Your Best Choice?
This is the time of year when tax planning is reduced to “fund your retirement plan by the due date of the return.” What intrigues me is how many people, including many tax advisors, think that Roth-style retirement plans are tax-exempt -- while traditional retirement savings plans are merely t... [Read More]
March 26, 2013 - 8:38 AM EDT
Which Kind of Imbalanced Solution Do You Want?
Washington has been fighting over the president's “balanced” approach to deficit reduction and the Republicans' “spending only” approach. Now that the issue of top tax rates seems to be settled, this old debate feels a little like a false choice since the tax measures on the table are “spendi... [Read More]