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David Brunori

Deputy Publisher


All Posts by David Brunori

May 25, 2016 - 9:07 AM EDT
Do You Care About Good Tax Policy?
Let's be honest. Most people don't. In fact, most people don't think about taxes beyond complaining about them once in a while. Most tax lawyers and accountants don't think much about the principles of sound tax policy. Politicians certainly don't think about principles much. Oh, a few do once in a... [Read More]
May 18, 2016 - 8:16 AM EDT
A Due Process Win for Taxpayers
You don't see many due process clause cases arising from state taxation. Nor do you see many victories for taxpayers in those cases. A taxpayer won recently in the Ohio Supreme Court. The case, which was correctly decided, hinges on facts that should be important to anyone doing interstate work. Re... [Read More]
May 11, 2016 - 9:02 AM EDT
Abolish the IRS? Stop It.
A few weeks ago the House Republican Study Committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend abolishing the IRS. The committee called the Service "an inefficient behemoth weighing down our economy" and demanded its dissolution. The “work” of the IRS would be transferred to a new, smaller agency within... [Read More]
May 4, 2016 - 8:53 AM EDT
When Social Politics and Tax Policies Mix
Recent events in Tennessee illustrate the danger of mixing social politics and tax policies. Sometimes it gets, well, ugly. There was a bill in the legislature that would have required students in public schools and universities to use bathrooms that matched the gender on their birth certificate. M... [Read More]
April 27, 2016 - 8:29 AM EDT
Regressive, Addictive, and Immoral -- What's Not to Like About Gambling?
The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government recently released a report on state revenue generated from gambling, which everyone should read. The use of gambling as a source of state revenue has proliferated over the past three decades. Only Hawaii and Utah don't use any form of gambling to pa... [Read More]
April 20, 2016 - 8:38 AM EDT
Why Tax Freedom Day Matters
The Tax Foundation recently released its annual Tax Freedom Day report. Tax Freedom Day is the day when the nation has earned enough money to pay its federal, state, and local tax bills for the year. In 2016, that day is April 24. This year Americans will pay $3.3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6... [Read More]
April 13, 2016 - 8:44 AM EDT
Why Study Combined Reporting?
"Yeah, we're going to study that combined reporting thing," said an Indiana legislator when asked whether he supported combined reporting. In his defense, he's not a tax guy. Perhaps the decision to study combined reporting in Indiana is a good thing. Gov. Mike Pence (R) recently signed legislation... [Read More]
April 6, 2016 - 9:28 AM EDT
If I Were a Rich Man
Recently, 50 really rich folks wrote a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), asking him to not only raise their taxes but to raise the taxes of all rich people. Well, maybe they don't want to tax all rich people -- just the top 1 percent of earners in the state. It's always fun to see rich peop... [Read More]
March 30, 2016 - 8:33 AM EDT
Tampons, Viagra, and Other Important Tax Issues
The first time the issue of the "tampon tax" came up, I stuck my fingers in my ears and started singing la la la. I come from a generation that does not talk about such things in polite company. Actually, men didn't talk about such things in any company. I joked in a previous column that I am uncom... [Read More]
March 23, 2016 - 10:50 AM EDT
How to Save the Corporate Tax
Since 2002, I have been saying that states should repeal their corporate income taxes. The tax has not raised much money, and it never will. We spend an inordinate amount of time litigating, planning, auditing, and agonizing over it. We should stop pretending the tax matters, because it doesn't. Be... [Read More]
March 16, 2016 - 8:46 AM EDT
Immigrants Continue to Be Good for Us
If you're following the presidential campaigns, you know that immigration is the great polarizing issue in American politics. It has dominated public discussion more than any other controversial topic, including abortion, guns, and gay marriage. Conservatives are particularly vexed over the issue.... [Read More]
March 9, 2016 - 8:03 AM EST
If You Need Tax Credits, You Shouldn't Be in Business
OK, I'm trying a new tack: shame. I have been criticizing special tax breaks and incentives for 30 years by pointing out that they violate every principle of sound policy. Politicians don't even pretend to care about sound tax policy. But we know that state taxes aren't all that important in busine... [Read More]
February 24, 2016 - 9:27 AM EST
Pay-to-Play Is an Awful Shakedown
A bill (SB 2923) is before the Hawaiian Legislature that would require citizens to pay all taxes, interest, and penalties before they appeal assessments. The prepayment requirement would apply only to assessments exceeding $50,000. The sponsors think they are looking out for the little guy, but don... [Read More]
February 17, 2016 - 9:14 AM EST
Transfer Pricing Is All the Rage -- in the States
For most of my 29 years in the tax business, transfer pricing was considered an international issue: Japanese corporations selling televisions to their American subsidiaries, with the IRS claiming they were charging too much; and American companies leasing patents held by related companies in Luxem... [Read More]
February 10, 2016 - 9:14 AM EST
Base-Broadening and Rate-Lowering Remains a Good Idea
Georgia Senate Finance Chair Judson Hill (R) is proposing two good tax policy measures, which my liberal friends will hate but which warrant serious consideration. The first, SB 280, would reduce the personal income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.4 percent; eliminate all itemized deductions except th... [Read More]
February 3, 2016 - 8:57 AM EST
Paying for Past Sins
If Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has his way, his fellow citizens will be paying mightily for past budget indiscretions. The state faces a massive deficit that might reach close to $2 billion next year. And the state is short a bunch of money this year -- some say $700 million. Those are big... [Read More]
January 27, 2016 - 10:02 AM EST
Most People Lose When Pols Pick Winners and Losers
I thought there was hope for Maryland. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan seems like a moderate guy compared with most Maryland pols. I had hoped the governor would release a comprehensive tax plan to broaden the base and reduce rates in a state long known for its bad tax policy. Instead, Hogan has propos... [Read More]
January 20, 2016 - 8:58 AM EST
Good Government Developments in the Tax World
The Washington Department of Revenue has ruled that Boeing Co. and other aerospace firms must disclose savings from their tax breaks. The DOR had previously determined that those companies were not required to disclose their tax savings to the public. But bowing to pressure from The Seattle Times (... [Read More]
January 13, 2016 - 8:08 AM EST
Montana's School Credit Is Unconstitutional, but Not for Obvious Reasons
I've been following the brouhaha in Montana over the tax credit program for private school tuition. The Legislature passed a law that provides a new income tax credit of up to $150 for donations to organizations that grant scholarships to students at private schools. That is not unusual; many state... [Read More]
January 6, 2016 - 8:51 AM EST
Taxing Guns Is Just Wrong
A Washington state appellate court recently upheld Seattle's excise tax on firearms and ammunition. Last August the city imposed a $25 tax on gun sales and an ammunition tax of 5 cents per round, and 2 cents per round for .22 caliber and smaller rounds. It was challenged as unconstitutional. Unfor... [Read More]
December 16, 2015 - 7:08 AM EST
Some things worth pursuing in 2016
As 2016 fast approaches, I have some suggestions for those responsible for state tax policies. These suggestions will make the tax system -- and indeed, the government -- fairer, more transparent, and more efficient. And they should be issues that both Democrats and Republicans agree on. Here they... [Read More]
December 9, 2015 - 8:59 AM EST
More Private Tax Collectors – A Monumentally Bad Idea
On December 4 President Obama signed into law the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. While it deals with funding transportation, the new law also contains a pernicious scheme to raise revenue. It requires the IRS to use private debt collectors. While the IRS has long had discretion to us... [Read More]
November 18, 2015 - 3:04 PM EST
Business Entities Pay a Lot of State Taxes
The Council On State Taxation and EY released their 13th annual business tax burden study. The study remains one of the most important publications in the state and local tax world. I have written about it many times. The study's initial release, more than a decade ago, was a stroke of genius. Corp... [Read More]
November 11, 2015 - 8:29 AM EST
More Than a Surrender When It Comes to Taxing Business
There are a lot of nonsensical things about state taxation. For example, public finance experts say we should impose sales tax on services (we don't). Those experts say we should never subject business purchases to sales tax (we do). We also shouldn't use excise taxes for general fund spending, hav... [Read More]
November 4, 2015 - 8:26 AM EST
Impeaching the IRS Commissioner Is the Wrong Thing to Do
The House Republican attempt to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is one of the most unseemly developments of the Lois Lerner affair. Unseemly is probably not a strong enough word to describe the partisan effort to remove a sitting commissioner. It is just wrong. I say that without any particu... [Read More]
October 28, 2015 - 8:32 AM EDT
Billionaires Who Want to Tax Poor People
Have you ever noticed that rich people sometimes spend their time trying to make life harder for poor folks? Billionaire investment mogul Thomas Steyer is one of them. As a billionaire, he is, well, really rich. In the past, he has funded efforts to impose regressive taxes on energy. Now he is fund... [Read More]
October 21, 2015 - 7:57 AM EDT
The Best Tax Policy Proposal of the Year
I spend a lot of time criticizing bad state tax policy. And my writings are usually imbued with negativity. Not today. There is a proposed regulation in Iowa (ARC 2178C) that should give hope to those who care about the principles of sound tax policy. It would expand the number of purchases that ar... [Read More]
October 14, 2015 - 8:47 AM EDT
Getting Taxpayers to Rat on Each Other: Uncool
I must confess I've never been big on tattling, particularly when the tattlers have something to gain financially. There is a lot of that going on in the state tax world these days. I'm talking about qui tam lawsuits, of course. Most Americans don't know much about them. Indeed, a lot of legislatur... [Read More]
October 7, 2015 - 7:51 AM EDT
North Carolina Tax Changes -- Sort of Good, Kind of Bad
Recently, North Carolina enacted significant tax changes. Some of them were very good. A few were awful. On the good side, the state lowered the personal income tax rate from 5.75 percent to 5.49 percent. Lowering rates is usually good for the economy and for the people paying taxes. I believe tha... [Read More]
September 30, 2015 - 8:35 AM EDT
A Word of Advice for Legislators of All Stripes
It's time for my annual advice column directed to our state legislators. Lawmakers of both parties would benefit from adhering to some common-sense ideals. I did not conceive these ideas. Rather, they were formulated by some of the greatest public finance thinkers. For conservative lawmakers, I of... [Read More]
September 23, 2015 - 9:04 AM EDT
Don't Be Fooled -- Services Should Be Subject to Sales Tax
We know the story very well. Most services aren't subject to sales tax in most states. From a tax policy perspective, that's no good. The sales tax should fall on all final consumption -- preferably at a very low rate. So everything we buy should be subject to tax. There are several reasons for thi... [Read More]
September 16, 2015 - 8:17 AM EDT
Silliest Tax Proposal of the Year -- Really
New Jersey is known for bad tax policy. Everyone knows that. Income, sales, and property taxes in the Garden State are badly in need of repair. But if you can believe it, some folks in the state are trying to make its revenue policy even worse. State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) is proposing a bill (S 272... [Read More]
September 9, 2015 - 9:37 AM EDT
Let's Get High for the Children
I believe that all states will legalize marijuana in the next five years. There will be several proposals this year to legalize the stuff that made Cheech and Chong famous. Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Most of them use the guise of m... [Read More]
September 2, 2015 - 8:48 AM EDT
Messing With the Markets: Using the Tax Laws to Influence Economic Behavior
I shudder every time I see a state government use the tax law as an incentive for a business to do or not do something. I shudder a lot. States provide these incentives so businesses can create jobs, make investments, locate here, locate there, use specific energy sources, etc., etc. There are thou... [Read More]
August 26, 2015 - 8:36 AM EDT
Why Exactly Are We Taxing Guns?
Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council enacted an unusual excise tax on guns and ammunition. I say unusual because attempts to regulate firearms through taxation are usually taken up by the federal or state governments. The Seattle council passed a measure that imposes a $25 tax on firearms a... [Read More]
August 19, 2015 - 8:47 AM EDT
Retroactive Tax Laws Are Just Wrong
What one word comes to mind when you hear "due process"? It should be fairness. We inherently know what's right and wrong. We know when someone is being treated unfairly. And the Constitution reflects those beliefs. We think it is wrong to beat a confession out of someone. We think it is wrong to d... [Read More]
August 12, 2015 - 8:00 AM EDT
Taxing Beer
Here in the dog days of August, it seems fitting to write about beer. I know some of you don't drink it, but in the immortal words of country music star Billy Currington, beer is good. In Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne says, "I think a man working outdoors feels more like a man if he can have... [Read More]
August 5, 2015 - 8:45 AM EDT
Supermajority Requirements for Raising Taxes Are Troublesome
In the state of Washington, the irrepressible conservative political activist Tim Eyman is leading yet another antitax fight. Eyman's Initiative 1366, on the November ballot, could slash state tax revenue by $8 billion over the next six years. The initiative would reduce the state's 6.5-cent sales... [Read More]
July 29, 2015 - 6:41 AM EDT
Michigan's Wrongheaded Approach to Tax Policy
Over the past few years, I've offered advice to both liberal and conservative politicians on tax policy. One of my pearls of wisdom is that both the left and the right should at least try to adhere to the concepts of sound tax policy. Both parties ignore and violate the principles of good tax poli... [Read More]
July 8, 2015 - 8:24 AM EDT
You Should Pay for Your Government
Exporting tax burdens is a long-revered political tactic. The goal is to get people from outside your state to pay taxes that benefit your constituents. Your residents and businesses get the goodies -- roads, police, healthcare -- while others pay the freight. Whoever invented this concept is a pol... [Read More]
July 1, 2015 - 8:13 AM EDT
Lessons on How Not to Run Your Government
Good tax policy advocates have looked aghast at recent developments in Kansas, Louisiana, and Maine. Whatever your view on the appropriate size and role of government, there are right and wrong ways to pay for public services. Ideally, people will determine the level of government they want and pay... [Read More]
June 24, 2015 - 8:04 AM EDT
Rand Paul’s Tax Ideas Are Worth Serious Consideration
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a GOP presidential candidate, released his tax plan last week. As expected, some commentators piled on criticism. Howard Gleckman of the Urban Institute said Paul was trying to use the tax proposal to “fundamentally restructure the federal government as we know it.” Bob McI... [Read More]
June 17, 2015 - 8:45 AM EDT
The Revolt of the Corporations
It won't be confused with the storming of the Bastille or the proletariat assault on the Winter Palace. But recent events in Connecticut suggest corporate America is taking to the streets in response to proposed dramatic tax increases. In a rare exhibition of public lobbying, three corporate giants... [Read More]
June 10, 2015 - 8:48 AM EDT
Brownback Can’t Catch a Break
Liberals take great pleasure in bashing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R). They call him nasty names on social media. I have never believed name-calling was a particularly effective debate tool. Yet, the age of electronic communication seems to have turned everyone into an 8-year-old. And Brownback, mo... [Read More]
June 3, 2015 - 8:41 AM EDT
Amazon Does the Right Thing
Something surprisingly good happened recently in the little city of Shakopee, Minnesota (population 37,000). Amazon was talking about building a distribution center there. Shakopee political leaders were so excited about the prospects of Amazon creating 1,000 full-time jobs and making a substantial... [Read More]
May 27, 2015 - 8:53 AM EDT
Scalia Is Right
The Supreme Court kept state tax folks busy last week by deciding Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne. By far the most interesting and entertaining part of the decision was Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent. He colorfully called the dormant commerce clause, upon which the majority hangs... [Read More]
May 20, 2015 - 9:18 AM EDT
Shilling for Corporatists
In Rhode Island, Rep. Joseph Shekarchi (D) is doing the bidding of big corporations once again. For the third year in a row, he has introduced a bill that would provide tax credits to "job creators." This time Shekarchi has allies in Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D).... [Read More]
May 13, 2015 - 9:02 AM EDT
A Flat Income Tax is a Good Thing
Theoretically at least, the proposal in Alabama to adopt a flat income tax is a great idea. The proposal -- called the Simplified Flat Tax Act of 2015 -- would amend the constitution and create a flat income tax for individuals and corporations. It is stalled at the moment, but it is worthy of seri... [Read More]
May 6, 2015 - 9:18 AM EDT
The Highest Corporate Tax Rate Should Be Zero
The Tax Foundation recently released a report detailing the state corporate tax rates around the country. The highest statutory rate is in Iowa at 12 percent. Others in the top 10 are Pennsylvania (9.99 percent), Minnesota (9.8 percent), Alaska (9.4 percent), the District of Columbia (9.4 percent),... [Read More]
April 29, 2015 - 9:16 AM EDT
Immigrants Are Good for Us
Immigration is one of the great polarizing issues in American politics. It is the issue that riles my conservative friends the most. They oppose anything that smacks of amnesty, open borders, or more people entering the country illegally. They argue that those people are prone to committing crimes,... [Read More]
April 22, 2015 - 10:03 AM EDT
It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere for Alcohol Taxes
Taxing booze doesn't get much attention in the United States. Recently, a legislator from a very low-alcohol-tax state asked me why the nation doesn't tax alcohol more heavily. I will note that this legislator is looking for revenue and not dreaming of idyllic tax policies. Here is my take on state... [Read More]
April 15, 2015 - 9:27 AM EDT
The Arrogant and the Greedy Team Up to Take Your Money
There is a theory that says the tax laws should be used to do one thing -- raise revenue to pay for public services. Taxes should not be used to engineer society, promote social agendas, foster economic development, or help anyone in particular. This theory has merit. Adherence would lead to less c... [Read More]
April 8, 2015 - 9:25 AM EDT
Greed, Piracy, and Cowardice
Several people have asked me recently where the blame lies for the 30-year proliferation of tax incentives. Some folks blame greedy corporations for trying to take advantage of interstate competition. Others blame the pirates at economic development consulting firms (and I include big law and accou... [Read More]
April 1, 2015 - 8:09 AM EDT
Transparency: Good for the Tax System, Critical for Good Government
Modern state tax policy has been dominated by cravenness and cronyism. But every once in a while, politicians muster the courage to do the right thing. Several proposals have been advancing in legislatures that will bring more transparency to state fiscal systems. I cannot overstate the importance... [Read More]
March 25, 2015 - 6:34 AM EDT
Louisiana Tax Reform: Some Smart Guys Worth Listening To
Recently, the Louisiana Tax Study Group released its report recommending changes to almost all the state's taxes. The study, commissioned by the Legislature, was performed by three academics, Jim Richardson of Louisiana State University and Steven Sheffrin and James Alm of Tulane University. Those... [Read More]
March 18, 2015 - 9:22 AM EDT
A Very Good Tax Reform Idea in Louisiana
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has a tax plan that should be creating buzz all around the country. He wants to convert some of the state's individual and business tax credits from refundable to nonrefundable. Let's be clear: Refundable tax credits are government transfers. They are welfare. They m... [Read More]
March 11, 2015 - 8:48 AM EDT
Local Sales Taxes are Poor Revenue Options
I have been writing about local option sales taxes for 20 years. The issues haven't changed much. To varying degrees, local sales taxes apply in 38 states. They are imposed in thousands of jurisdictions. Kentucky is an exception. Its local governments cannot impose a sales tax. But there are folks... [Read More]
March 4, 2015 - 8:56 AM EST
Tax Incentives Cause Trouble For More Reasons Than You Might Think
In a microcosm of all that is wrong with state tax policy, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) wants to renegotiate the tax incentive agreements his state has with 240 companies. It turns out the state owes about $9.4 billion in tax credits to companies that created jobs in Michigan. That liability costs... [Read More]
February 25, 2015 - 8:37 AM EST
Sorry, Folks -- Clothes Should Be Taxable
North Dakota Sen. George Sinner (D) is sponsoring a bill (SB 2223) before the legislature that would eliminate the sales tax on all clothing purchases. Sinner no doubt means well, but this is an awful idea. The senator is motivated by the fact that the sales tax is regressive and that exempting nec... [Read More]
February 18, 2015 - 9:10 AM EST
Goodlatte’s Idea Is No Good
From the start, I have believed that Quill should be overturned, either by the Supreme Court or by Congress. Requiring remote sellers to collect and remit sales tax imposes no burdens on interstate commerce. But the proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to adopt an origin-based collection system... [Read More]
February 11, 2015 - 8:56 AM EST
It's Time to End Property Tax Exemptions -- for Everyone
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) recently riled folks up by proposing to end property tax exemptions for some nonprofit organizations in the state. Organizations with assets of more than $500,000 would lose their exempt status. LePage's proposal is part of a bigger plan that would greatly reduce state ai... [Read More]
February 4, 2015 - 8:37 AM EST
Ignoring the People in Nevada
Last November, Nevadans went to the polls and wrecked a proposal to adopt a margin tax. Voters rejected the idea of creating a new tax, 3 to 1. The proposal was opposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), and rightfully so. The margin tax was basically a gross receipts tax imposed without regard to profita... [Read More]
January 28, 2015 - 9:28 AM EST
Regressive Taxes Are Neither New Nor Good
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) released its annual "Who Pays" report. The report should be read by everyone in the state and local tax policy business. Once again, ITEP has found that state and local tax systems are decidedly regressive. In fact, ITEP concluded that the effect... [Read More]
January 21, 2015 - 11:45 AM EST
Bad State Tax Ideas Abound – Nebraska, Virginia, and Missouri
I am going to periodically call out bad tax policy ideas as they are introduced in the states. Here are three: 1. Legislators in Nebraska would like to cut property taxes and allow local governments to impose a local option income tax to replace the revenue. This is a terrible idea. Although citize... [Read More]
January 14, 2015 - 8:21 AM EST
Using the Poor for Fixing the Roads
The Michigan Legislature passed a bill that would significantly increase the state's earned income tax credit. Some 800,000 Michigan families will see tax relief. I think that is a good thing. But the change won't go into effect unless voters approve a sales tax increase from 6 percent to 7 percent... [Read More]
January 7, 2015 - 8:14 AM EST
Want Bad Tax Policy? Here's a Blueprint
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently released his proposed budget. It illustrates a lot of what is wrong with tax policy in the states. The governor wants to raise taxes by $1.4 billion over the next two years. Conservatives may think this is terrible -- and it is. But the problem is how Inslee want... [Read More]
December 10, 2014 - 9:28 AM EST
Mississippi’s Very Good Idea to Help its Poor
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) recently proposed a plan to create a 15 percent nonrefundable earned income tax credit for low-income working families. I have not always been a fan of the EITC, mainly because I find it odd to have the tax collector run what is essentially a welfare program. But EI... [Read More]
December 3, 2014 - 8:03 AM EST
Advice for the New Republican Legislative Majorities
Republicans now control 69 of the 99 legislative chambers in the states. It may be the greatest Republican dominance since Reconstruction. Democrats control both houses in only seven states. Republicans managed to capture 11 chambers in this past election, including several in decidedly blue states... [Read More]
November 19, 2014 - 12:04 PM EST
Stop Listening to People Like Warren Buffett on Taxes
I admire Warren Buffett. I admire his genius. I admire his ability to create wealth. But the recent elections show that Americans do not want to listen to billionaires advocating for higher taxes. You may recall Buffett and President Obama saying that no person should pay taxes at a rate lower than... [Read More]
November 12, 2014 - 1:46 PM EST
What Do the Recent Elections Mean for State Tax Policy?
As far as state tax policy is concerned, some things seem obvious from last week's elections. First, state governments became more conservative. Republicans won the governorships in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Maryland -- the bluest of blue states. And except in Pennsylvania, the GOP defended all... [Read More]
November 5, 2014 - 8:32 AM EST
Taxing the Internet Is a Bad Idea – As the Hungarians Learned
American political leaders can learn something from Hungary's ill-fated attempt to impose an Internet tax. The plan in Hungary was to tax Internet usage at the equivalent of about 62 cents a gigabyte. Why tax Internet usage? Apparently, having the world's highest VAT rate (27 percent) doesn't bring... [Read More]
October 29, 2014 - 8:56 AM EDT
Yes, More Problems with Tax Incentives
People who have studied tax incentives know everything that's wrong with them: They don't work (companies choose where to locate for other reasons); they're unfair (some companies get them, others don't, and their benefits inure to the haves rather than the have-nots); they're inefficient (governme... [Read More]
October 22, 2014 - 9:37 AM EDT
Tax Ballot Predictions
States have several tax-related ballot questions slated for November. Here they are, along with my musings: Massachusetts voters will decide whether to repeal the state's inflation adjustment to its gasoline tax (Question 1). The adjustment causes the tax to go up every year. That could be a good t... [Read More]
October 15, 2014 - 8:15 AM EDT
Schooling the Governors
The Cato Institute has long issued a report card on the nation's governors. The grades are based on what Cato thinks constitutes good fiscal policy. Governors who work for policy like that get A's, and those who don't get F's. Back when my libertarianism was still in the closet, I wrote critically... [Read More]
October 8, 2014 - 8:32 AM EDT
Last Stand for Soda Taxes -- Hopefully
Politico recently published an excellent article on the upcoming initiative vote in San Francisco and Berkeley, California, to impose excise taxes on soda. Politico basically said the proposal is the last hurrah for proponents of soda taxes. If they can't get folks in uber-liberal San Francisco and... [Read More]
October 1, 2014 - 8:59 AM EDT
A Very Good Idea to Curb Incentive Abuse
Last month California did something that may turn out to be revolutionary. The state's Office of Business and Economic Development banned consultants from receiving commissions for procuring the California Competes tax credit, effective August 18. Consultants can still get paid, but their compensat... [Read More]
September 24, 2014 - 10:54 AM EDT
$1 Billion Is the New Normal in the Incentives World
The Tesla story drives me crazy. It should drive you crazy as well. The innovative company captured the imagination of smart people. Picture a world in which we can drive high-quality automobiles and not be dependent on oil. Less pollution, less noise, less expense (assuming the cost of electric ca... [Read More]
September 17, 2014 - 12:26 PM EDT
Fairness and the Reality of State Tax Systems
WalletHub is a Web-based company that rates things. You can find the best place to retire, the worst place to have a baby, the best state to open a business if you are Hispanic, etc. This week WalletHub released a rating of the fairest state and local tax systems. Nothing is harder to determine tha... [Read More]
September 10, 2014 - 8:53 AM EDT
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- Florida Governor Rick Scott's Tax Ideas
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is in a tight reelection fight. Former GOP-governor-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist is neck and neck in the polls to reclaim the office. Scott has stepped up his campaign and has proposed a series of significant tax cuts that he hopes will turn the tide of the election. Li... [Read More]
September 3, 2014 - 8:42 AM EDT
Business Pays a Lot of State and Local Taxes
I still remember 12 years ago when the Council On State Taxation released its first business tax burden study. The study was sound, of course -- undertaken by some of the most gifted economists in the country. But its release was genius. Corporations were being pilloried at the time for not "paying... [Read More]
August 27, 2014 - 8:44 AM EDT
Repealing the Bad Franchise Tax is a Good Idea
One of the best ideas of the year comes from Mississippi. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) wants to eliminate the state's corporate franchise tax. I have been calling for the repeal of corporate income taxes for a long time. Corporate franchise taxes are much worse. The Mississippi tax is essentially a tax... [Read More]
August 20, 2014 - 9:57 AM EDT
Using Local Cigarette Taxes for Schools Is Silly
Classic sound tax policy suggests that excise taxes should be limited to paying for externalities. It also suggests that local governments are incapable of imposing excise taxes. Yet William R. Hite Jr., Philadelphia's superintendent of schools, is pressing the Pennsylvania legislature to allow the... [Read More]
August 13, 2014 - 9:15 AM EDT
Congress Shouldn’t Make State Tax Systems Worse
I, like most Americans, am cynical about Congress. Our national legislature, whether the Democratically controlled Senate or the GOP-led House, is a joke. Congress certainly doesn't do taxes well, or at least it hasn't since 1986. The federal corporate tax needs to be reformed. The personal income... [Read More]
August 6, 2014 - 8:12 AM EDT
Keep the Inversion Hysteria Out of the States
Please spare me from another story about unpatriotic, greedy, immoral companies failing to pay their fair share in taxes. Yes, companies invert as part of their tax planning strategies. Yes, inversions cost the federal government about $2 billion annually, which would cover lunch for our defense co... [Read More]
July 30, 2014 - 9:14 AM EDT
Lawyers Whining About Taxes
Republican Bruce Rauner is challenging Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in this fall's gubernatorial election. One of Rauner's big ideas is tax reform. In a nutshell, he wants to cut personal income taxes, freeze property taxes, and expand the sales tax to cover 31 services -- including those provided... [Read More]
July 23, 2014 - 9:35 AM EDT
Who Wants to Tax a Millionaire? Lots of People
On July 16 Stateline, the news arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, published an interesting piece on the ongoing debate over taxing rich people. The article chronicles past and current efforts to impose higher marginal tax rates on the very wealthy. It discusses recent unsuccessful attempts in New Je... [Read More]
July 16, 2014 - 9:16 AM EDT
What Went Wrong in Kansas? Maybe Nothing
Kansas is collecting hundreds of millions of dollars less than its budgeted projections. That number has a lot of people in a lot of states wondering what happened. Here is why answering that question is important. In 2012 Kansas enacted what Nick Johnson at the Center on Budget and Policy Prioriti... [Read More]
July 2, 2014 - 8:05 AM EDT
A Revenue Department Behaving Badly
This week my colleague Cara Griffith broke an important story about the arrogance of government. An erstwhile publishing entrepreneur named William Hoke has a website that published tax information. He published several government documents. The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration de... [Read More]
June 25, 2014 - 8:29 AM EDT
A Bad Law Addressing a Bad Business Tax
North Carolina has eliminated a very bad tax in a very bad way. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed HB 1050 to revoke municipalities' authority to tax businesses beginning in 2015. North Carolina did a good thing by eliminating a terrible tax. But it also curtailed local government taxing authority, which... [Read More]
June 18, 2014 - 12:32 PM EDT
Tax Policy Is Not the Way to Deal With an Ass
Some people are jerks. The soon-to-be former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, is a jerk. His reprehensible racist comments were widely and appropriately condemned. The NBA banned Sterling from the league for life, fined him $2.5 million, and is forcing him to sell the team. That'... [Read More]
June 11, 2014 - 8:59 AM EDT
A Coke and a Smile and a Tax
I'm compiling a list of people who propose terrible tax policy. Today's winner is Illinois Rep. Robyn Gabel (D), the sponsor -- and from what I understand, the mastermind -- of the proposal (HB 397) to adopt a soda tax to fight obesity in her state. The idea was to impose an excise tax of one cent... [Read More]
June 4, 2014 - 8:52 AM EDT
Taxing E-Cigarettes Seems Crazy
The do-gooders in the state capitals are at it again: There have been multiple proposals to tax e-cigarettes in the same manner as traditional cigarettes. I get the rationale for tobacco taxes. You smoke, you get sick, society has to pay for your medical care. That's consistent with the classic rat... [Read More]
May 28, 2014 - 9:53 AM EDT
Taxing Togas and Keggers
States should consider ending the absurd practice of granting property tax exemptions to charitable organizations. Exemptions like those narrow the tax base and cause everyone else to pay more. Moreover, the organizations receiving exemptions use public services. I know that's a political pipe drea... [Read More]
May 14, 2014 - 8:51 AM EDT
Repealing the Property Tax Is an Asinine Idea
There is a lot of buzz about a proposal in Pennsylvania to repeal most of the property tax. SB 76, which Sen. David Argall (R) introduced last year, would eliminate all school district property taxes in the state and replace the revenue with increased income and sales taxes. He would raise income t... [Read More]
May 7, 2014 - 9:06 AM EDT
Tax Follies in Pursuit of Equality
Over the past several years, the issue of income and wealth inequality has been all the rage. Apparently the old adage "The rich get richer" was spot on. The purported inequality never bothered me much. Rich people usually get their money from being smart and working hard and taking advantage of op... [Read More]
April 30, 2014 - 9:06 AM EDT
Sad Pragmatism and Tax Incentives
Readers of this blog know my views on tax incentives -- I believe they are the most pernicious of tax policy choices. I believe they violate every principle of sound taxation. They are neither horizontally nor vertically equitable. They distort markets by design. They lack accountability. They cost... [Read More]
April 9, 2014 - 9:53 AM EDT
I'll Raise a Glass to Lower Booze Taxes
For the uninitiated, bourbon is a type of whiskey distilled from corn. Bourbon can be expensive; Black Maple Hill sells a bottle for $125. Or it can be cheap; I've seen it for $8 a bottle. But whether expensive or cheap, it is almost always from Kentucky. In fact, 95 percent of all bourbon in the... [Read More]
April 2, 2014 - 9:20 AM EDT
Tesla, Taxes, and Free-Market Hypocrisy
Tesla Motors makes electric cars -- and they must be pretty good cars because they cost $70,000. Despite selling really expensive cars, Tesla has long been the darling of the left. Nothing says "I am committed to saving the polar bears" better than driving a luxury, battery-powered car. For several... [Read More]
March 26, 2014 - 8:37 AM EDT
Hang On to Your Wallets
Wallet Hub is a social media company that allows people to search for and compare financial products and interact with a community interested in making “smarter financial decisions.” Wallet Hub also does all kinds of state and local rankings. It lists the best places to work, the best places to b... [Read More]
March 19, 2014 - 8:04 AM EDT
Hawaii Tax Credit Craziness
According to some excellent reporting in the Honolulu Civil Beat, the Legislature is considering a slew of tax incentives to promote manufacturing in the state. Yes, there are those (particularly established manufacturers) who would like to promote something other than tourism, hosting of naval bas... [Read More]
March 12, 2014 - 8:45 AM EDT
Where Is the Outrage?
I recently read the February 24 Good Jobs First report, “Subsidizing the Corporate One Percent,” by Philip Mattera, a respected thought leader in our business. It says that three-quarters of all state economic development subsidies went to just 965 corporations since the beginning of the study in... [Read More]
March 5, 2014 - 9:17 AM EST
Taxing Coca-Cola While Exempting Broccoli Is Bad Policy
The Navajo Nation is trying to use its tax code (I didn't know the Navajos had a tax code) to promote healthier living. The Navajos recently voted to impose higher taxes on “junk food” and reduce taxes on healthier alternatives. I abhor government attempts to get people to do things for their ow... [Read More]
February 25, 2014 - 1:59 PM EST
Great Opportunity for Tax and Public Finance Students
If you teach tax law, accounting, or public finance, Tax Analysts is offering a great opportunity for your students. We are conducting our first student writing competition. You should encourage students who have written quality papers to submit them to by May 31. The winning... [Read More]
February 19, 2014 - 8:31 AM EST
Blaming Big Corporations Is Not the Answer
My friends at Citizens for Tax Justice believe that federal corporate tax burdens are too low. They also believe that the system is infected with planning opportunities that allow corporations to avoid their "fair share" of taxation. Seeing as CTJ is one of the nation's premier progressive advocac... [Read More]
February 12, 2014 - 8:21 AM EST
Tax Breaks for Lawyers -- No Joke
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I read recently in the Kansas City Business Journal that Missouri gave a big law firm $2.8 million in tax incentives to move to Kansas City. I thought there must be some kind of mistake. Certainly, no politician would agree to give citizens' hard-earned money to l... [Read More]
February 5, 2014 - 8:27 AM EST
Casino Taxes for Horses or Children?
Horse racing has been a dying sport since Nathan Detroit bet on a horse named Paul Revere in Guys and Dolls. In Pennsylvania, the schools are broke. So naturally, when governments need money, they turn to a moribund pastime to pay the bills. Rep. Todd Stephens (R) has proposed taking money from som... [Read More]
January 29, 2014 - 10:04 AM EST
A Sales Tax Conundrum
The sales tax has been a blessing and a curse. One of its great virtues is that it is collected by the vendor, which then remits it to the state. Neither the taxpayer nor the tax agency has much to do except pay and collect. The vendor does the work. The success of the sales tax for the last 90 yea... [Read More]
January 22, 2014 - 9:12 AM EST
Why Exactly Are We Taxing Pot?
The New Hampshire House is poised to pass a law legalizing marijuana use -- and taxing it. The bill, HB 492, sponsored by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R), would impose a 15 percent sales tax on retail marijuana purchases and a $30-per-ounce sales tax on wholesale purchases. It would raise about $30 mil... [Read More]
January 15, 2014 - 8:39 AM EST
Apple and Wal-Mart Are Perfect Together in a World of Bad Tax Policy
It's kind of funny to see Apple and Wal-Mart in bed together. Two companies could not be more different. Apple represents the young, hip, educated, and cool. Everybody loves an iPhone. Wal-Mart is ridiculed by the very people who make Apple successful. It is a place at which urban sophisticates wa... [Read More]
January 8, 2014 - 9:11 AM EST
Utter Ignorance When It Comes to Sales Taxes
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of legislators about sales tax policy. I was asked if I had any ideas for reform. I mentioned the common ideas of broadening the base by taxing services and remote sales, and lowering rates. I also said that states should exempt business p... [Read More]
January 1, 2014 - 11:49 AM EST
State Tax Reform Advice for 2014 – Think About Spending
Writing for a tax magazine, I have always focused on the revenue side of public finance. I believe that there is either a right way or a wrong way to raise money to pay for public services. Everyone assumes that any significant changes to the tax system must occur in a revenue neutral way – that i... [Read More]
December 18, 2013 - 8:22 AM EST
Follow the Tea Party on Stadium Financing Issues
The Atlanta Braves are planning to move their stadium to the suburbs. The Braves blackmailed, threatened, and coerced the backboneless politicians in Cobb County, Ga., to pay for the stadium. You might think that Cobb County is run by conservative small government leaders who disdain picking winne... [Read More]
December 11, 2013 - 12:01 PM EST
States Should Just Say No to Boeing
After the milquetoast political leaders in Washington agreed to give Boeing a tax break that will last well past all of our retirement years, the aircraft manufacturer could not come to terms with its union. So Boeing decided to take its toys and find another playground to build its 777X jetliner.... [Read More]
December 4, 2013 - 8:37 AM EST
Indexing the State Income Tax Brackets Makes Sense
Missouri Rep Paul Curtman (R) wants to index his state's income tax brackets to inflation. Of all the tax ideas presented this year, this is among the best. Missouri imposes its top rate of 6 percent on all incomes over $9,000. Nine grand was a lot of money in 1931 – and the top tax rate was aime... [Read More]
November 27, 2013 - 8:27 AM EST
Confusing Tax Cuts with Tax Reform
The American Legislative Exchange Council recently released a report detailing the tax cuts of the past year. It can be found here. The report notes that 18 states cut taxes in 2013. ALEC thinks that's good, as do I. The states -- in case you have not been reading your State Tax Notes -- are Alask... [Read More]
November 20, 2013 - 8:37 AM EST
Hasn’t the Government Done Enough to Mess Up Higher Education Finance?
The worst tax idea of the month comes out of Michigan, where legislators “determined to do something, somewhere, somehow” proposed a tax credit for student loan payments. Under the proposal (SB 408), graduates of Michigan universities, both private and public, would receive a tax credit equal to... [Read More]
November 13, 2013 - 9:07 AM EST
Tax Incentives That Aren't Incentives At All
In 2040 I will likely be wherever tax journalists go when they die. But the Boeing Co. will still be getting tax breaks from the state of Washington. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed legislation this past weekend that will extend the already extremely lucrative tax breaks Boeing receives from the state u... [Read More]
November 6, 2013 - 8:36 AM EST
Feckless Legislators and Corporate Welfare
Archer Daniels Midland Co. is big. In 2012 the food processing and commodities corporation had $90 billion in sales and about $4 billion in operating income. The company has been headquartered in Decatur, Ill., for 40 years and now wants to move. The good news -- for the state -- is that ADM wants... [Read More]
October 30, 2013 - 9:06 AM EDT
Tax Advice for State Legislators of All Parties
With the state legislative season on the horizon, I thought I would provide some tax policy advice for state lawmakers. For conservatives, I offer the following: First, remember that citizens want a certain level of state and local government. No amount of blustering and hyperbole and antitax rheto... [Read More]
October 23, 2013 - 8:38 AM EDT
Eliminating the Sales Tax Is a Very Good Idea
There is much talk in Rhode Island about repealing the state's 7 percent sales tax. It is a very good idea. Eliminating the sales tax would likely draw customers from the rest of tax-happy New England and spur retail investment. That could lead to an overall economic boom. To be sure, the sales tax... [Read More]
October 16, 2013 - 8:47 AM EDT
When Liberals Preach Fairness, Hold On to Your Wallet
In a few weeks, voters in Colorado will have a chance to reform one of the most significant tax limitations ever enacted. Amendment 66, designed to raise nearly a billion dollars a year for education, would end the state's flat income tax structure. It would mandate a progressive income tax – hig... [Read More]
October 9, 2013 - 8:45 AM EDT
A Solid, Albeit Mild, Tax Reform Proposal
The erstwhile folks at the Tax Foundation and the Platte Institute for Economic Research have a plan to fix Nebraska's tax system. What exactly are the problems they're trying to fix? The Tax Foundation and the institute identify plenty. They say Nebraska's top income tax rate and corporate tax... [Read More]
October 2, 2013 - 8:47 AM EDT
State Taxes and the Poor
I believe liberals are most convincing when they are arguing for tax relief for the poor. Too often liberals are consumed with either screwing the rich or raising revenue from any source to fund crony public works or bloated union bureaucracies. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP)... [Read More]
September 25, 2013 - 8:44 AM EDT
Marriage and Religious Freedom Act Promotes Neither
A bipartisan group of lawmakers thinks it's appropriate for the American taxpayer to subsidize organizations fighting for "traditional marriage." But the sponsors aren't so much interested in perpetuating marriage between John and Mary as they are in preventing marriage between John and Jimmy. The... [Read More]
September 18, 2013 - 9:18 AM EDT
The Conundrum of Taxing Lots of Kids
Utah is the home of big families. It has long had the largest household size in the country. It's easy to understand why. About 60 percent of the state's residents are Mormons, and Mormons have traditionally favored big families. All those children have a significant impact on Utah public finances.... [Read More]
September 11, 2013 - 9:34 AM EDT
Want a Tax Shelter? Just Do It.
Nike is iconic. It is the definition of American business success. The company shods everybody from the New York football Giants to the New York football Cosmos. The University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Cal Poly Mustangs wear the swoosh. The company is famous for its famous endorsers -- Tiger... [Read More]
September 4, 2013 - 9:26 AM EDT
Feeling Petty About Guns? Tax Them
Two U.S. Congressmen, who know nothing about tax policy, have introduced a bill that will dramatically increase federal taxes on guns and ammunition. The Congressmen are Democrats Danny K. Davis from Illinois and Bill Pascrell from New Jersey. The bill cleverly called the Gun Violence Prevention an... [Read More]
August 28, 2013 - 9:17 AM EDT
A Cacophony of Opinions, Left, Right and Center
Kyle Wingfield, an editorial writer for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, wrote a column on August 15, 2013 calling for repeal of Georgia's personal income tax. Based on his own research, Wingfield calculated that no income tax states had higher growth, population, and job rates than high income t... [Read More]
August 21, 2013 - 7:24 AM EDT
Governor Christie Does Not Understand Tax Policy
Like many governors, New Jersey's Chris Christie is not well versed in the principles of sound tax policy. In fact, if recent events are an indication, he is ignorant of the basic concepts. On August 19, he vetoed a very good tax policy measure (S 1868). That law would have provided a sales and use... [Read More]
August 14, 2013 - 8:46 AM EDT
I Like the Internet, Taxed or Not
As State Tax Today reported recently, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John Thune, R-S.D., introduced legislation to make permanent the ban on state and local jurisdictions taxing Internet access. This will turn the Internet Tax Freedom Act into the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (get it?). I... [Read More]
August 7, 2013 - 7:49 AM EDT
Lotteries Are Winners, Except for the People
New Mexico last week was touting the fact that its lottery netted a record $43.7 million. The absent minded politicians proudly noted that the money will be used for college scholarships for poor kids. Isn't that great? No actually, it's not. You see the lottery system is a big fat scam. It takes m... [Read More]
July 31, 2013 - 8:40 AM EDT
Sales Tax Holidays and the Planet of the Apes
Some aficionados of the genre may remember this from the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. After the climactic battle, former underwear model Mark Wahlberg and always alluring (even when dressed as a gorilla) Helena Bonham Carter convince man and ape to make peace and work together toward a common... [Read More]
July 24, 2013 - 8:36 AM EDT
Don’t Cheat the Tax Man (Wink, Wink)
I have quit smoking, I think. Actually, I have been smoking electronic cigarettes, which apparently will not kill you. Sure, they are not as cool as the real thing. I can't see James Dean or Humphrey Bogart puffing on an e-cig. But they won't kill you. Unlike many ex-smokers, I do not care if you... [Read More]
July 17, 2013 - 8:33 AM EDT
Immigrants Are Good for Us
As I write, there is a contentious, heated debate in the U.S. Congress about immigration reform. Some political leaders, mostly Republicans, don't like providing illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship. Their argument is that people who came here illegally are being rewarded for breaking the... [Read More]
July 10, 2013 - 8:32 AM EDT
Taxing Teen Texts and Other Terrible Tax Things
I wish someone would tell me the policy rationale for taxing wireless services. What is it about my ownership of a cell phone and the subsequent texting, tweeting, emailing, etc. that gives rise to punishing me? I get taxing traditional telephone service (for you younger readers, ask your parents w... [Read More]
July 3, 2013 - 7:59 AM EDT
Cuccinelli's Corporate Tax Plan Does Not Go Far Enough
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is proposing to cut the state corporate income tax from six percent to four percent over the next four years. Cuccinelli is making a big deal about this proposal, claiming that it will spur economic growth. I believe that cutting the tax ra... [Read More]
June 26, 2013 - 8:47 AM EDT
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 concluded that “nearly every empirical stu... [Read More]
June 19, 2013 - 8:25 AM EDT
Gas Tax is the Way to Go
Newspaper editorial pages rarely get tax policy right. Some, like The New York Times and Washington Post, are so driven by political agendas that they do not even pretend to understand the principles of sound tax policy. Unfortunately, smaller city newspapers all want to be The New York Times so th... [Read More]
June 12, 2013 - 8:01 AM EDT
The Myth of State Balanced Budgets
One of the great charades of American public finance is that “states must balance their budgets.” I have been hearing this since I entered the business many years ago. In fact, it was a common mantra of national Republican leaders who often said “the federal government should be like the states... [Read More]
June 5, 2013 - 8:49 AM EDT
On its 35th Birthday, Prop 13 Remains Flawed
Tomorrow, June 6, is the 35th anniversary of the passage of Proposition 13 in California. This very famous amendment to the state constitution limited property tax rates to one percent and limited increases in assessed value to two percent. It was the start of the modern property tax revolt and her... [Read More]
May 29, 2013 - 11:59 AM EDT
Worst Tax Idea of the Year? Cuomo Wins by a Landslide
An ideal tax system is based on a broad base and low rates. At least that is what the thinking folks believe. An ideal tax system also treats similarly situated people and organizations the same. People concerned about fairness have always thought that. And an ideal tax system minimizes economic di... [Read More]
May 22, 2013 - 11:19 AM EDT
Soviets Run Mississippi, Planned Economies and All
My friends at Good Jobs First released a report on Mississippi tax incentives recently that liberals, small government conservatives, and libertarians should find appalling. Between corporate tax breaks, withholding tax rebates, property tax abatements, and infrastructure and training grants, the s... [Read More]
May 15, 2013 - 8:29 AM EDT
Balderdash Masquerading as Tax Policy Arguments
It is no secret. This may hurt my libertarian credentials, but I believe the U.S. Congress should pass the Marketplace Fairness Act. The tax system is sound when built on a broad base and low rates. Broad base means you tax everything without regard to who is lobbying the legislature. It follows –... [Read More]
May 8, 2013 - 8:55 AM EDT
Go Big or Go Home -- Tax Reform in Maine
The big idea of the last week was a dramatic tax reform proposal in Maine. The idea is big and bold. Big and bold usually means a measure has no chance of passage. State legislators from both parties are not exactly profiles in courage. The proposal would change all of the state's primary taxes. F... [Read More]
May 1, 2013 - 9:20 AM EDT
Pancho Villa and Three Hundred Million Joints
As everyone knows, Colorado recently legalized marijuana. I think that is terrific. We should not care if people get “nice with Johnson” which is what my high school buddies called smoking pot. It is one of those code terms you can use in front of adults. You can be in front of Johnny's parents... [Read More]
April 24, 2013 - 6:36 AM EDT
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 to seem pure in thought. They profess to car... [Read More]
April 17, 2013 - 8:34 AM EDT
States Should Repeal Their Estate Taxes
There are a lot of tax reform proposals being bantered about in the states. The most notable measures center on replacing or reducing personal income taxes with expanded and higher sales taxes. But states can go a long way toward meaningful reform by repealing their estate and inheritance taxes. I... [Read More]
April 10, 2013 - 6:00 AM EDT
Prohibition Through Taxation
I love stories like this. In 2010, Utah raised its excise tax on cigarettes from 69 cents to $1.70 a pack. Why did Utah do this? Call it prohibition through the tax code. A lot of folks in Utah don't like smoking for moral reasons. They come to the same conclusion as obnoxious liberals from the Up... [Read More]
April 3, 2013 - 9:00 AM EDT
Gas Tax Follies
Many states are rethinking how they pay for transportation in general and how they tax gasoline in particular. Maryland is the latest state to pass legislation (HB 1515) dramatically changing the look of transportation finance. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who isn't known for promoting good tax polic... [Read More]
March 27, 2013 - 8:42 AM EDT
Bored Politicians Taxing Strippers
Every once in a while politicians have the need to tax or regulate some aspect of the adult entertainment industry. Sometimes they go after hookers. Some times they go after dirty movies. Sometimes they go after adult book stores. Often the politicians go after strippers. Strippers are an easy targ... [Read More]
March 20, 2013 - 9:27 AM EDT
Everybody Loves a Drone
Drones are hot. At least you might think that considering all the press drones have been getting lately. The U.S. military has been using drones to whack terrorists from Somalia to Pakistan. Now terrorists are not exactly the most sympathetic characters. Their main goal in life is to kill Americans... [Read More]
March 13, 2013 - 8:28 AM EDT
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 the most influential organizations in state and lo... [Read More]
March 6, 2013 - 8:12 AM EST
Remember the Alamo, Buy a Gun
This story comes from Texas. And it's politically incorrect. Nothing gets liberal ire up like proposing to put more weapons in the hands of citizens. And that is exactly what some in Texas want to do. Rep. Jeff Leach (R) wants to give all Texans a sales tax break on the purchase of firearms and am... [Read More]
February 27, 2013 - 8:41 AM EST
Capital Gains from Copenhagen to Bakersfield
The Tax Foundation released a report recently that showed California had the second highest capital gains tax burdens – in the world. The top rate you would pay if you lived in Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, or San Bernadino is a whopping 33 percent. That of course is not only California's... [Read More]
February 20, 2013 - 8:38 AM EST
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 forced to collect taxes on sales in the state. W... [Read More]
February 13, 2013 - 8:49 AM EST
If You Hate or Love Excise Taxes Read this New Report
Napoleon Complexed politicians like Michael Bloomberg live to tell people how to live. They are almost always motivated by naked aggression. When challenged, these leaders fall back on old standbys. Their favorite argument is that there are societal costs associated with some behavior and such beha... [Read More]
February 6, 2013 - 8:59 AM EST
Who Pays? Who Cares? You Should
I am no fan of progressive taxation. I think it is a morally bankrupt idea. And I can never get anyone to explain how progressive is progressive enough. If a 40 percent marginal rate is fairer than a 35 percent rate – as the President maintained – wouldn't a 50 percent rate be even fairer? There... [Read More]
January 30, 2013 - 9:48 AM EST
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.” Lefty, as golf aficionados refer to him, said he might be taking some d... [Read More]
January 23, 2013 - 9:12 AM EST
Jindal's Bold Move
Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has made the most provocative tax reform recommendation in many years. Jindal said he was going to overhaul the tax law. If he has his way, he will revolutionize it. The governor proposes to eliminate both the personal and corporate income tax in Louisiana... [Read More]
January 16, 2013 - 8:32 AM EST
Virginia's Gas Tax Reform
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has proposed a somewhat radical plan to fund his state's transportation infrastructure. The highlights of the plan are complete repeal of the 17.5 cent a gallon gas tax and the imposition of a .8 percent increase in the general sales tax. McDonnell also proposes var... [Read More]
January 9, 2013 - 7:47 AM EST
Good -- and Not so Good -- Corporate Tax Ideas from New Mexico
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a rising star among GOP politicians, is calling for a steep reduction in the corporate tax rate. She proposes cutting the rate from 7.6 to 4.9 percent. That is good news. The corporate income tax is -- and will likely remain -- one of the worst ways to raise rev... [Read More]
January 6, 2013 - 11:55 AM EST
Doing it Gangnam Style
Maine GOP Governor Paul LePage released a YouTube video recently touting his administration’s tax cutting prowess. In particular he highlights the fact that 70,000 low income workers have been relieved of their income tax burden with the elimination of the bottom two percent bracket. The rich also... [Read More]
January 2, 2013 - 9:02 AM EST
Only Tax Professionals Benefit from the State Corporate Tax
I was drinking beer and watching football with some old college friends recently and posed the following question. Who do you guys think pays the corporate income tax? There were four responses. 1) Don’t know. 2) Don’t care. 3) You’re weird, there’s football on. The fourth response is not print... [Read More]
December 27, 2012 - 10:56 AM EST
Michael Moore and Film Tax Credits
My liberal friends love Michael Moore. He is the guy behind Bowling for Columbine, Roger and Me, Sicko, and other documentaries in which he tries to illustrate how screwed up America really is. I must admit I find his movies entertaining, albeit often misleading. Here is what we know about Moore. H... [Read More]
December 19, 2012 - 6:28 AM EST
If the Shoe Fits: Oregon Lawmakers Get Rolled
Nike, the sneaker giant, effectively blackmailed the Oregon political establishment last week. Nike demanded that the single sales factor apportionment formula used by Oregon never be changed. Actually, the company said it did not want it to change for 30 years. If the Oregon legislature and govern... [Read More]
December 12, 2012 - 9:39 AM EST
Time To Get Rid of the Deduction for State And Local Taxes
Since the federal government needs money, here is a quick way to pick up about $70 billion -- eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes. My friends in blue states won't like that. But it is the right thing to do. Here are a few reasons why. First, eliminating these expenditures is consisten... [Read More]
December 6, 2012 - 1:47 PM EST
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 that I have a philosophical desire for higher taxes. Liberals have lo... [Read More]
December 5, 2012 - 8:38 AM EST
Note to Everyone: Business Should Not Pay Sales Tax
The New York Times ran a series highlighting the breadth and depth of state tax incentives. It was a terrific set of articles. But they contain one serious flaw. The articles list sales tax exemptions of business as incentives. The articles further imply that such exemptions are bad tax policy. But... [Read More]
November 28, 2012 - 8:38 AM EST
Fetal Craziness
The recent craziness in Michigan illustrates all that is wrong with tax policy in America. A group of Republican lawmakers have proposed (HB 5684 and HB 5685) a tax credit for unborn fetuses of 12 weeks gestation. What is wrong with such a measure? Everything. First, Adam Smith, who I doubt was pro... [Read More]
October 31, 2012 - 3:09 PM EDT
Sacrebleu -- More French Taxes
It is bad enough that the French have a 75 percent top marginal tax rate. Now the Socialists in power want to raise the tax on beer. You would think beer is an easy target in wine swilling France. But the French make some well known beer -- Kronenburg and Fischer for example. The French will never... [Read More]
October 2, 2012 - 1:46 PM EDT
Hawaii's Solar Power Cronyism
Hawaii has one thing in abundance: sunshine. So you'd think that there's no reason for the government to get involved in promoting something dependent on sunshine like solar power. Yet Hawaii, like a lot of other states, doles out money to support a corrupt system. Public taxes are used to support... [Read More]
September 24, 2012 - 12:07 PM EDT
Are They High?
It’s a cliché, I know. But a lot of people in Colorado think that legalizing marijuana and taxing it will solve the state’s fiscal problems. Voters, in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, will decide in November whether to legalize pot. It is not clear that the measures will pass. After all, a simi... [Read More]
September 17, 2012 - 11:33 AM EDT
Cowardly New Jersey Cronyism
The not so courageous New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority approved a $40 million tax credit for Honeywell International to keep it from moving its headquarters to Pennsylvania. Then the authority not so courageously approved a $40 million Grow New Jersey tax credit for Dotcom Distribution,... [Read More]
September 7, 2012 - 6:03 PM EDT
Tax Credit Scammers
Missouri has many screwed up tax incentive programs that benefit the connected, the powerful, and those willing to throw a little money around the halls of the capitol. Governor Jay Nixon has reconvened a commission to study tax credits in the state. That is a good thing, of course. The state spend... [Read More]
August 16, 2012 - 11:45 AM EDT
Shame on Companies Who Use the Tax Laws To Stifle Competition
This is almost unbelievable. The big three tobacco companies are lobbying the Texas legislature to adopt a special, “extra” tax on small tobacco companies. Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and Lorillard Tobacco are doing the lobbying. Apparently, smaller cigarette manufacturers are undercutting the... [Read More]
August 6, 2012 - 12:44 PM EDT
Governor Kasich's Latest Income Tax Reduction Plan
Ohio Governor John Kasich is going to try to reduce his state’s income tax burden once again. Kasich has long wanted to slash income tax rates; most recently he tried to pay for income tax cuts with a fracking tax. Now the governor would like to reform his state’s sales tax to pay for income tax... [Read More]
August 2, 2012 - 10:54 AM EDT
Michigan Will Limit Taxes in November, Other States will Follow
In November, Michigan voters will decide whether future tax increases will require a two thirds vote of the legislature. It will pass. The people of Michigan are increasingly weary of taxes and the inefficiencies of government. Like many folks around the country they do not think they are getting a... [Read More]
July 24, 2012 - 3:02 PM EDT
What is Wrong with the Press?
When you get to the bottom of this post, you will demand special prosecutors, resignations, and perhaps jail time. The Associated Press recently published a story about the top Republican challengers to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. McCaskill took heat last year for having to pay $320,000 in ba... [Read More]
July 11, 2012 - 9:50 AM EDT
Free the Puppies, Tax a Millionaire
When I was a progressively minded editorial writer, I was never opposed to higher income taxes. I come from a long line of Brunoris who knew neither terrible poverty nor great wealth. It was easy to shrug off attempts to tax people who were better off than I am. But now I'm convinced that calls for... [Read More]
June 27, 2012 - 3:35 PM EDT
They Don’t call it Country and Western Anymore
ABC Studios is going to do a television series called Nashville. The show will, appropriately, be about the country music scene. Nashville is the home of country music. In fact, the city calls itself “music city.” It is the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the CMA M... [Read More]
June 6, 2012 - 10:07 AM EDT
Governor Corbett Joins the Bad Tax Club
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) wants to give Shell Oil Co. $1.7 billion in tax breaks for its planned ethane cracker plant. Corbett's proposal would provide Shell $67 million in annual tax credits over a 25-year period beginning in 2017. Corbett should be impeached for suggesting such a ridi... [Read More]
June 5, 2012 - 10:15 AM EDT
I Guess I am 'un-American'
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe had the nerve to call anyone who does not support tax breaks for the wind energy industry "un-American." To a politician like Beebe, handing out tax breaks to particular industries may seem very American. In fact, it is much more like Soviet economic planning than anyt... [Read More]
May 16, 2012 - 9:56 AM EDT
More Nanny Taxes
I keep hearing more and more state legislators talk about imposing taxes on "violent video games." It reminded me of an article I wrote earlier this year about such proposals. Back in February, bored Oklahoma lawmakers took a break from playing checkers and talking about OU football to make an imp... [Read More]
May 10, 2012 - 7:00 PM EDT
When the Mob is Your Role Model
Pennsylvania casinos earned $1.5 billion for the state last year. That was the tax haul from fleecing gamblers. Everyone – conservatives, liberals, libertarians – should be appalled. I know, the folks who get the $1.5 billion are happy. The teachers, police officers, and the myriad companies livi... [Read More]
May 4, 2012 - 1:29 PM EDT
I'll Drink to That
Several years ago, in a blatant money grab, the California Board of Equalization decided that flavored malt beverages should be taxed as hard liquor (at $3.30/gallon) rather than beer (at a much more civilized 20 cents/gallon). This week, in a 3-0 decision a California appeals court said that “the... [Read More]
March 6, 2012 - 10:06 AM EST
The GOP Offers a Sound Tax Reform Plan in South Carolina
The Republicans in the South Carolina House are preparing a significant reform plan that will vastly improve the state's tax system. Although details are sketchy, the plan will broaden the sales tax base by eliminating two thirds of the exemptions and lower the rate by half a percentage. All remain... [Read More]
February 10, 2012 - 11:05 AM EST
Exempting Groceries from Tax is Feel Good Bad Policy
My friends at Roth & Company – the preeminent CPA firm in Iowa – posted a chart on their Tax Update Blog showing which states tax groceries. Actually the chart is from the Tax Foundation. I was shocked to see how many states completely exempt groceries from sales tax (32) and how many tax at redu... [Read More]
February 8, 2012 - 3:50 PM EST
Corporate Tax Reform Book
I just finished reading my colleague Marty Sullivan's new book on corporate tax reform. It's called Corporate Tax Reform: Taxing Profits in the 21st Century and is a nonpartisan guide to what he calls the great debate on the subject. As many know, Marty is one of the most influential thinkers when... [Read More]
January 27, 2012 - 11:44 AM EST
Still the Worst Idea Out There
On June 12 North Dakota voters will decide whether to pass Constitutional Measure 2. That measure will repeal all property taxes. It is the most ridiculous idea ever proposed in the field of state and local public finance. The property tax remains the only source of revenue that insures local auton... [Read More]
January 11, 2012 - 7:59 PM EST
I Will Ask Again, Why Are We Taxing Corporate Income?
I have been opining, preaching really, for years on why we should repeal the state corporate income tax. As I noted before, any corporation with a breathing accountant can avoid all or most state corporate income taxes. It's not the fault of corporations. They generally act responsibly with respect... [Read More]
January 9, 2012 - 6:11 PM EST
Despite What Everybody Thinks, Tax is Not a Four Letter Word
The Policy Institute of Montana issued a report recently calling for higher taxes through a more progressive system. The report is titled “Tax is not a Four-Letter Word: Ideas for a More Progressive Taxation System in Montana.” The Institute would like to raise income taxes on the wealthy (above... [Read More]
January 5, 2012 - 9:35 AM EST
Paying Your Fair Share
A common refrain from liberals is that the wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes. Such charges usually devolve into a debate over how much the one percent does, did, and should pay. The debate over how progressive the income should be has raged since its inception. Blum and Kalven concluded... [Read More]
December 1, 2011 - 6:23 PM EST
Advice for Conservatives
Just about a year ago, I wrote a post outlining my advice for liberals with respect to tax policy. As we enter the next legislative season, I thought I would share some advice with conservatives. Let’s start with this premise. Citizens want a certain level of state and local government. No amount... [Read More]
November 2, 2011 - 2:04 PM EDT
Down With Stadium Financing
The Minnesota Vikings would like the people of Minnesota to pay for a new stadium. Specifically, the team wanted the legislature to okay a local option sales tax to finance the stadium. But the Minnesota legislature has said no (although most legislators are open to a public referendum). There is n... [Read More]
October 21, 2011 - 11:32 AM EDT
Why Experts Really Don't Like 9-9-9
Most mainstream public finance experts have been critical of Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan. They have called the plan crazy and nuts and evil. I was shocked at the unanimity of the opposition. But I know why they hate it. First, Cain is a guy who sold pizza for a living. The intellectuals are going to t... [Read More]
October 7, 2011 - 8:45 AM EDT
Haley May Be Right About Repealing the Corporate Tax
Way back in August 2010, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for repeal of her state's corporate income tax. I blogged about this issue at the time. I pointed out that the state corporate tax was an inefficient and ineffective way to raise revenue, but that I was not sure South Carolina coul... [Read More]
September 21, 2011 - 1:55 PM EDT
A Tax Hike Even Liberals Oppose
The District of Columbia Council narrowly voted to impose higher taxes on its wealthiest citizens. The law, expected to be signed by Mayor Vincent Gray, will tax those making more than $350,000 a year at 8.95 percent. Those earning more than $40,000 will continue to be taxed at -- a still high -- 8... [Read More]
August 30, 2011 - 5:01 PM EDT
Bad Idea of the Week
Republican Maine Governor Paul LePage is proposing to exempt all pension income from the state income tax. Old people vote and I get the politics of the proposal. But it is fundamentally bad policy to exempt all pension income from tax without regard to one’s ability to pay. LePage says the propos... [Read More]
August 17, 2011 - 11:13 AM EDT
Income Taxes Do Not Lead to Out Migration
If you have not done so, you should read the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’s newest report on the effects of taxes on migration (Higher State Taxes Bring More Revenue, Not More Migration). The report, authored by Bob Tannenwald, Jon Shure, and Nick Johnson shows that higher personal incom... [Read More]
August 12, 2011 - 3:22 PM EDT
Corporations are People
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney created quite a stir when he tried to explain why he was against raising corporate taxes. In response to a heckler in the audience, Romney said that "corporations are people, my friend." He took a lot of heat for that rather innocuous comment. Democrats had a... [Read More]
June 30, 2011 - 2:47 PM EDT
Tax Friendly States for Old People
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine came out with its ranking for the most tax friendly states for retirees. Wyoming is Number 1, followed by Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Delaware, and Louisiana. Where the heck is Florida? I thought old people... [Read More]
June 13, 2011 - 11:42 AM EDT
Wacky Tax Expenditures in Ohio
A lot of people agree that Ohio has a lot of unnecessary tax expenditures that should be repealed. The state gives you a $20 tax credit just for being an Ohioan. That little incentive costs the state $165 million a year. The state provides a deduction for campaign contributions. That deduction cost... [Read More]
May 31, 2011 - 11:52 PM EDT
Taxing Inmates
Just when you thought you heard every weird idea in the state and local tax field, folks in Michigan surprise you. Michigan Rep. Anthony Forlini (R) introduced legislation that would force inmates to pay Michigan’s six percent sales tax on any good they buy in prison. So if you are doing 25 to lif... [Read More]
May 16, 2011 - 2:25 PM EDT
Always Picking on the Fat Kids
Illinois Rep. Shane Cultra (R) has said publicly that parents of obese children should lose their income tax deductions. He thinks that will spur parents to get their kids to go on diets. I know if I was going to lose my deduction, I would have my kid running about five miles every day while I foll... [Read More]
May 4, 2011 - 5:19 PM EDT
Terrible Tax Idea of the Week
Rhode Island governor Chafee has had a lot of tax ideas recently. Some have been good. But one in particular is awful. Chafee would like to impose the state sales tax on “purchases used for manufacturing” and “property or service purchased to make a finished product for resale.” All I can say i... [Read More]
April 26, 2011 - 8:47 AM EDT
Nothing Fair about “Fair Tax Acts”
There are “Fair Tax” proposals being floated in several states – the most serious is in Missouri. The latest is in Louisiana. Some legislators have introduced the Louisiana Fair Tax Act (HB 239) which will repeal all personal and corporate income taxes as well as the franchise tax. It will repla... [Read More]
April 13, 2011 - 11:18 AM EDT
Ready to Rumble over Combined Reporting
Alabama Rep. Merika Coleman (D) said that "It’s time to Rumble" in response to a question as to whether the state Democrats would fight for combined reporting. There is a measure before the Alabama House that would have the state adopt combined reporting for all corporations. Contrary to the argum... [Read More]
April 5, 2011 - 7:09 AM EDT
Lawmaker: I Was Shocked to Discover I Supported This Legislation
Florida Rep. Chris Dorworth (R) introduced a bill (HB 1069) that would create tax incentives for certain investments in the state. Even with Florida's $4 billion deficit, Dorworth’s bill is not all that unusual. But the Orlando Sentinel broke a story that the proposed law would benefit only one co... [Read More]
March 25, 2011 - 3:12 PM EDT
Great Ideas In Oregon
Oregon has a $1.6 billion budget gap. But some folks there figured out that the state forgoes $31.3 billion every biennium through deductions, credits, and exemptions. That proves that narrowing the tax base not only violates the prime directive of broad base and low rates but also costs a lot of m... [Read More]
March 14, 2011 - 4:29 PM EDT
Amazon to California: Back Off or We'll Kill Our Employees
OK, Amazon isn't actually going to kill anyone. But the company that's on every state's list of ways to raise more revenue did send California a threatening letter. California has a budget deficit so big that it can no longer be stated in numbers. It's simply "very big." The state would like to mak... [Read More]
March 9, 2011 - 1:33 PM EST
A Bad Idea in Georgia
Lots of folks in Georgia want to raise the cigarette tax by a $1.00 a pack. Georgia has a very low cigarette tax ($0.37/pack, 47th in the nation). It probably does not collect enough cigarette taxes to pay the costs of smoking related illnesses in the state. And a tax hike is probably warranted. Bu... [Read More]
February 15, 2011 - 6:43 AM EST
Amazon to Texas: Adios
Amazon the internet behemoth is mad as a hornet at Texas. In fact, the company is so mad it closing its distribution center in Dallas. The company informed its employees that it is leaving because Texas is not treating them so nice. You see, Texas has billed Amazon $269 million for sales taxes the... [Read More]
February 8, 2011 - 8:52 AM EST
Taxing Lawyers
There are some folks in Minnesota who are earnestly thinking about expanding the sales tax to services. And some folks would like to see legal services included in the sales tax base. In the modern era, of course, no state has ever expanded the sales tax to any professional services. That failure h... [Read More]
February 3, 2011 - 6:11 AM EST
After 80 Years, Still Trying to Figure Out the Sales Tax
The way the sales tax is supposed to work is simple. You tax all final consumption at a low rate. But from the time the sales taxes started during the Great Depression it has never really worked that way. States have never taxed most services, or intangibles, or real estate. Then states, justifiabl... [Read More]
January 26, 2011 - 1:38 PM EST
Remember: State Budgets are About Values
I know it sounds quaint or a little naïve. But state budgets reflect the values of the citizens. They reflect our preferences for the size of government. Some states (New York) have large, sophisticated government operations. Some (New Hampshire) do not. The budgets reflect how we value particular... [Read More]
January 19, 2011 - 2:45 PM EST
My Advice to Liberals on Tax Policy
I have always considered myself a liberal in the sense that I believe the government has a role to play in making society a better place. In other words, I do not agree with President Reagan when he said that “government is the problem.” To play the role in improving society state and local gove... [Read More]
January 12, 2011 - 9:56 PM EST
A Surrender in New Jersey
New Jersey will soon join the many states that have decided that the corporate income tax is not and will not be an important source of revenue. It’s telling that the Democrats in the State Legislature are behind the adoption of a single-sales-factor formula. New Jersey Democrats have long held th... [Read More]
January 4, 2011 - 8:57 AM EST
The Pension Mess Must be Fixed
States face an estimated $3.2 trillion shortfall in their pension obligations. Keep in mind total state spending is only $1.5 trillion a year. Keep in mind also that local governments faced a pension shortfall of over $500 billion – which in some places must be assumed by the state upon default. I... [Read More]
December 9, 2010 - 10:40 AM EST
Transparency is Good
Everyone should read the new report released by Good Jobs First. The report examines how states disclose tax incentives and other economic subsidies. I think tax incentives and subsidies are bad policy. But whether you agree or not from a policy perspective, disclosure of special deals is essential... [Read More]
December 8, 2010 - 10:15 AM EST
Outrage in California
The Los Angeles Times ran a great story yesterday about corporate hypocrisy. Genentech is a California bio tech firm with a market cap of about $100 billion and annual sales of a million. Genentech was also one of the major opponents of Proposition 24, which appeared on the ballot in California las... [Read More]
December 7, 2010 - 6:32 AM EST
What Happens When You Don't Have Money
A recent study finds that the poor condition of Pennsylvania's roads cost the state over $8.2 billion a year. The roads and bridges in the Commonwealth are in terrible condition which increases the cost of vehicle maintenance, gas, lost time in traffic, and more accidents. The shape of the transpor... [Read More]
December 3, 2010 - 6:38 AM EST
A Not so Crazy Idea Rejected in Wisconsin
Governor elect Scott Walker, incoming Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, and most Democratic lawmakers soundly rejected a tax reform proposal by former Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler. Chandler, working on Walker's transition team, suggested raising the state sales tax to 7.5 percent and signifi... [Read More]
December 2, 2010 - 7:17 AM EST
Look For Tax Reform Proposals in Georgia
I understand that there is likely to be a serious proposal toward major tax reform in Georgia in the coming months. The proposal will likely be to expand the sales tax to more services coupled with a reduction in the state income tax. What is interesting about such an idea is that broadening the sa... [Read More]
December 1, 2010 - 4:06 PM EST
In Washington State -- More Gimmicks
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said she is considering pushing back a payment due school districts by one day -- from June 30 to July 1 next year. This will "save" the state $240 million in the current fiscal year. I am sympathetic to the governor's problem. Washington faces a mid year $1 billi... [Read More]
November 30, 2010 - 8:53 PM EST
Arkansas Task Force on Poverty Makes Tax Recommendations
The Arkansas Legislative Task Force on Reducing Poverty and Promoting Economic Opportunity issued several recommendations on tax policy in its final report released on Nov. 29. One in five Arkansas residents live on incomes below the federal poverty line. The task force obviously believes changing... [Read More]
November 29, 2010 - 9:51 PM EST
Tough Decisions Will Have to be Made
State governments will continue to deal with record deficits in the coming years. In fact, state tax revenue is unlikely to reach 2008 levels for some time -- even as the national economic picture improves. The state fiscal crisis has many causes: the recession, antiquated revenue systems, politica... [Read More]
November 3, 2010 - 10:39 AM EDT
Did the Anti-Taxers Win on Tuesday?
In Washington they did. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure that would have imposed an income tax on the state's wealthiest citizens. They also voted to repeal the sales tax on candy and a special excise tax on soft drinks.Oh, and they passed a measure requiring a 2/3 vote of the legislature... [Read More]
November 2, 2010 - 7:07 AM EDT
Care About Taxes? Then Vote
Today is election day. And if you really care about tax policy, you should vote.These elections are important at both the federal and state levels. They will determine the level of taxes we pay, the level of government services we receive, and the amount of public debt we leave to our children. The... [Read More]
October 28, 2010 - 6:05 AM EDT
First Amendment Violation. Really?
The federal judge's ruling on October 25 that the North Carolina Department of Revenue cannot force to disclose customer information on the grounds that the state's request violates the First Amendment is incredible. For the uninformed, North Carolina asked Amazon for a list of its custo... [Read More]
October 25, 2010 - 2:27 PM EDT
Tone Deaf Tax Administrators
If you would like to see why Americans are frustrated with government go to Lewiston, Idaho. Or just go to Glenn Beck's home page where the story has been front and center for several days. It seems that officials from the Idaho State Tax Commission forced two kids to close down their pumpkin stand... [Read More]
October 21, 2010 - 7:11 AM EDT
Tax Cheat Sentenced to Making Pizza
Here is a great story from the Buffalo News. Joe Jacobbi owns a popular pizza joint in Buffalo. His pizza is reportedly very good. But Joe has a tax problem. It seems that he was collecting sales tax on his pizza sales and not paying the tax dollars over to the state. That is generally a big no no... [Read More]
October 19, 2010 - 7:49 AM EDT
Statewide Property Taxes are Bad Ideas
Some politicians in Texas are considering asking the citizens to approve a constitutional amendment authorizing a statewide property tax. That tax would in effect replace most of the local property taxes used for education. The measure is being pushed by several Republican senators who are saying t... [Read More]
October 14, 2010 - 7:11 AM EDT
The Tax and Spend Issue in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is about $3 billion in the hole for the next two year budget cycle. GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has proposed cutting business taxes to help stimulate the economy. He offers no new revenue options, but is banking on tax cuts to spur economic activity which will raise incomes,... [Read More]
October 12, 2010 - 6:56 AM EDT
The Real Problem
The states continue to face large deficits. Many experts blame either the Great Recession or structural deficiencies in our tax system for the bleak fiscal picture. High unemployment, a crashing real estate market, and the inane way we tax have certainly contributed to the crisis. But we have seen... [Read More]
September 30, 2010 - 6:12 AM EDT
Four Ways to Reduce Poverty
With the recession lingering and poverty on the rise, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) released a study this week explaining how states can help out their poorest citizens. ITEP says that states should offer refundable earned income tax credits (currently only 24 states have EIT... [Read More]
September 28, 2010 - 7:37 AM EDT
A Taxing Issue in Maryland
The Washington Post ran a terrific article on Sunday highlighting a big difference among the candidates for governor in Maryland. The Republican challenger (and former governor) Bob Ehrlich promises to roll back the state's sales tax rate to where it was when he left office. The incumbent, Democrat... [Read More]
September 23, 2010 - 6:54 AM EDT
Harley Davidson to Get $25 Million from State
The state has offered Harley-Davidson Inc. $25 million in tax credits for keeping its factories in Wisconsin, a deal aimed at protecting about 1,000 blue-collar jobs in the state. But Wisconsinites should ask themselves if the incentives were necessary.The company just reached a seven year labor co... [Read More]
September 21, 2010 - 6:30 AM EDT
Good Tax Policy from the Tea Party
Conservatives in general and the Tea Party folks in particular are not known for their support of tax reform. You see, tax reform usually means broadening the tax base, i.e., taxing more stuff, and lowering rates. But broadening the base is often seen as a tax increase and off the conservative rada... [Read More]
September 16, 2010 - 6:46 AM EDT
CBPP Says Cutting Corporate Taxes Won't Work
As many practitioners and policy makers know, I am no fan of the state corporate income tax. I simply do not think that the tax is an effective or efficient way to raise revenue. But more troubling are the politicians who claim that repealing or lowering the state corporate income tax will magicall... [Read More]
September 14, 2010 - 6:41 AM EDT
A Dying Field?
The Kansas State Department of Education is running out of money. So understandably, it is making cuts in aid to local school districts. The department announced last week that it will no longer fund high school journalism programs. The department says it doesn't have the money and that journalism... [Read More]
September 9, 2010 - 7:44 AM EDT
Interesting Campaign Question in Michigan
As most people are aware, President Obama has proposed significant tax incentives to help the business community. The president's goal is to spur investment and hiring. I suspect most Democrats are going to get behind the president's proposal. But what about Republicans? Michigan is a state which d... [Read More]
September 7, 2010 - 12:05 AM EDT
That Wacky Sales Tax
Some of us believe that the sales tax should be imposed on all final personal consumption, lest all kinds of ridiculous distinctions appear. In New York, bagels purchased for "takeout" are not subject to sales tax. They are designated as food for home consumption and exempt. If you eat your bagel i... [Read More]
September 1, 2010 - 11:16 PM EDT
Pay Your Taxes or Stay in Australia
On the lighter side of the news, Australian tax authorities are preventing actor Paul Hogan from leaving the country. Hogan of course is the star of those lovable Crocodile Dundee movies. So Hogan lives in Los Angeles with all the other beautiful people, but goes back home to attend the funeral of... [Read More]
August 31, 2010 - 7:37 AM EDT
Fiscal Policy in 2010
New Hampshire is considering allowing corporations to "sponsor" its state parks. Basically, a corporation would buy the naming rights to a park in a similar fashion to sports stadiums. For example, the Washington Redskins play at FedEx Field. The Pittsburgh Pirates play at PNC Park. The Seattle Mar... [Read More]
August 26, 2010 - 6:40 AM EDT
Who Has the Highest Sales Tax Rates?
The Tax Foundation recently released a report on average combined state and local tax rates. Tennessee has the highest combined state and local rate at 9.44 percent. The single highest combined rate can be found in Birmingham, Alabama where the municipal, county, and state rates total 10 percent. A... [Read More]
August 24, 2010 - 7:20 AM EDT
The Myth of the Balanced Budget: Illinois is $120 Billion in the Hole
There is an old saw that unlike the federal government, states must balance their budgets. It is true that all states -- except Vermont -- have balanced budget requirements. But those rules are for annual operating budgets and usually exclude long term capital spending and pension and retirement ob... [Read More]
August 19, 2010 - 7:52 AM EDT
Consolidate School Districts To Save Money
I have always been a big believer in localism, particularly with respect to education. I think local governments are more efficient, democratically responsive, and effective at providing services within a limited jurisdiction. But I also believe that many states need to rethink the wisdom of having... [Read More]
August 17, 2010 - 7:03 AM EDT
Haley Wants to Eliminate SC Corporate Taxes
South Carolina GOP gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley has proposed eliminating the state's corporate income tax to stimulate the economy. I am no fan of the corporate income tax. It raises relatively little revenue. It consumes an inordinate amount of administrative and compliance resources. And, wi... [Read More]
August 12, 2010 - 6:12 AM EDT
The New Stimulus Reflects What's Wrong with the States
The Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act was signed into law on Tuesday. The new law, designed to prevent teachers from being laid off and the poor from being denied healthcare, is terrible policy, but not for the reasons you may think. The law will funnel billions of dollars to states for K-... [Read More]
August 10, 2010 - 6:40 AM EDT
Can Attorney General Tom Corbett Keep His Promise if Elected?
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett is running for the Democratic nomination to be governor. Next year, Pennsylvania expects a $5 billion budget shortfall. Corbett has promised however that he would not raise taxes if elected. Such "no tax pledges" are common among GOP candidates, misguided b... [Read More]
August 5, 2010 - 6:33 AM EDT
Did Obama Already Break His Pledge? Of Course He Did.
President Obama promised during the election, and often afterwards, that he would not raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year. Conservatives, particularly the Americans for Tax Reform, have been blasting the president for failing to keep his promise. The president and his supporters... [Read More]
August 3, 2010 - 6:34 AM EDT
I Am Back with Celebrity Tax News
After a little vacation, I am back with some hard hitting celebrity tax news which I admit I am borrowing from my friends at TaxProfBlog. Celebrity Number One is Chris Tucker, the cool actor who was in all the Rush Hour movies. He owes the IRS $11.6 million and the state of California another $3.6... [Read More]
July 1, 2010 - 7:23 AM EDT
Luring More Coneheads to New Jersey
Film and television notables have been lobbying the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to retain the tax credit for production companies. Everyone thinks that New Jersey, which is bleeding deficits, will eliminate the film and television production credits, which Christie recommended... [Read More]
June 29, 2010 - 7:11 AM EDT
The Rich Get Richer
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report over the weekend showing that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007. The CBPP concluded that the data suggests grea... [Read More]
June 24, 2010 - 7:08 AM EDT
You Got to Love These Guys
The Idaho State Tax Commission has four members. With the state facing a huge deficit, and state workers having their wages cut, the foursome decided to reduce their own salaries in solidarity. Royce Chigbrow, David Langhorst, Sam Haws and Tom Katsilometes took 292 hours of furlough in recent month... [Read More]
June 22, 2010 - 6:30 AM EDT
Tax the Rich!
As I recently opined about in the pages of State Tax Notes, New York State United Teachers conducted a poll that found that a majority of voters in three swing districts support higher taxes on the wealthy as a way to avoid cuts in education. OK, what did you expect a poll commissioned by a teacher... [Read More]
June 17, 2010 - 6:36 AM EDT
Another Gimmick
A group of 51 German millionaires and billionaires started a club recently called "Club of the Wealthy." The first official act of this club was to write Chancellor Angela Merkel and offered to give up ten percent of their income to help solve the country's debt crisis. They are actually offering t... [Read More]
June 15, 2010 - 6:07 AM EDT
A Hero in Idaho
An Idaho legislator filed suit against the State Tax Commission alleging that the commission unfairly gives secret tax breaks to wealthy and well connected citizens who game the system. Rep. Shirley Ringo says the commission violates the state constitution's uniformity requirements (that everyone b... [Read More]
June 10, 2010 - 6:05 AM EDT
Sonny Perdue's Good Tax Policy With Vetoes
Georgia Republican Governor Sonny Perdue did the right thing on Tuesday by vetoing two bills that were the epitome of bad tax policy. Perdue rejected the "Jobs, Opportunity and Business Success Act of 2010", a series of initiatives that included a 50 percent reduction in the long-term tax on capita... [Read More]
June 8, 2010 - 6:05 AM EDT
Newt Gingrich’s Fantasy Plan for Detroit
Newt Gingrich gave a speech recently before the Detroit Chamber of Commerce. He has a plan to revitalize Detroit. Now Detroit is a city in need of a savior. It has been mired in economic sadness for decades. Gingrich’s cure for what ails the city is a “10 year tax holiday.” He proposes that all... [Read More]
June 3, 2010 - 6:14 AM EDT
High Tech Tax Credits: A Bad Idea in Maryland
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has proposed a complicated tax credit plan designed to spur the state's technology industries. The plan will ultimately cost the state over $100 million in lost revenue. Under the governor's proposal, the state would raise investment capital through auctioned tax c... [Read More]
June 1, 2010 - 8:46 AM EDT
New Jersey: Learn From California
Last month, New Jersey citizens rejected about 60 percent of school district budget proposals. New Jersey voters often reject school budgets but this year the number was unusually high. Under New Jersey law, school districts can still adopt the budgets despite the voter rejection. And, according to... [Read More]
May 27, 2010 - 6:16 AM EDT
The Democrats Squander an Opportunity in California
California is mired in its worst financial crisis -- ever. The state is once again deep in the hole -- short $19 billion. You would think the crisis would spur reform minded political leaders into action. There are after all serious problems with how California raises and spends money. But the Demo... [Read More]
May 25, 2010 - 6:12 AM EDT
Governor Christie's Call For Shared Sacrifice Rings Hollow
As I have been saying in the pages of State Tax Notes magazine, I'm sympathetic to the challenges faced by the political leaders in New Jersey. For a lot of structural and political reasons, their budget crisis is very difficult to solve. That's as true for Gov. Chris Christie (R) as it was for his... [Read More]
May 20, 2010 - 6:13 AM EDT
Celebrities in Trouble with the Tax Man
Once again, it's time to play Celebrities in Trouble with the Tax Man. Periodically, I scour the universe looking for famous people who owe Uncle Sam or a state money. Actually, I just take the posted list from Paul Caron's TaxProf Blog and embellish the story a little. Read on. Corbin Bernsen owes... [Read More]
May 18, 2010 - 6:18 AM EDT
Things are Looking Good for Utah
The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released its annual economic outlook index for states. Once again, Utah had the best economic outlook in the nation. Utah has held this exalted position for three straight years. After all the praise its getting from ALEC, you would thin... [Read More]
May 13, 2010 - 6:09 AM EDT
The U.S. Congress Should Learn from the Kansas Legislature
Over the past several weeks, the Kansas legislature did something remarkable. It approved a $314 million tax increase. The tax will take the form of a penny per dollar increase in the sales tax (from 5.3 to 6.3 percent). The tax increase is temporary, expiring in three years. Why is this a good sig... [Read More]
May 11, 2010 - 6:27 AM EDT
You Can't Make This Up
Today's post comes from New York. The New York Tax Appeals Tribunal ruled in a case of immense importance to the state's fiscal system that an adult entertainment club's private dance fees were subject to sales tax because they didn't consist of dramatic or musical arts performances. The club (clev... [Read More]
April 23, 2010 - 6:21 AM EDT
Illinois May Start Taxing iTunes, Other Downloads
Illinois is seriously considering imposing its sales tax on some services purchased through the Internet. In particular, there is a lot of talk in Springfield of expanding the sales tax to include Apple iTunes. The state does not currently tax iTunes purchases but they should for several reasons.... [Read More]
April 22, 2010 - 6:12 AM EDT
Asinine Idea of the Week
The Arizona Senate passed a bill on Tuesday called the "I Didn't Pay Enough Taxes" law. If signed by the governor, it will give Arizona citizens the option to donate money to the state's general fund. It is supposed to be a swipe at "liberals" who want to raise taxes. The sponsor, Republican Senato... [Read More]
April 21, 2010 - 6:05 AM EDT
Federal Tanning Tax is Dumb Idea
I know the federal government needs more revenue. But the ten percent tax on indoor tanning sessions passed to help fund health care reform is a bad idea. Society should be hesitant to impose taxes on specific products or services. And it should do so only when there is a reason. The best reason fo... [Read More]
April 20, 2010 - 6:21 AM EDT
Its Time to Tax Pensioners in Michigan
The state of Michigan remains badly in need of revenue. And politicians are starting to look at old folks for more money. Michigan has long had the most generous exemptions for retirement income of the 41 states that impose income taxes. Government pensions have always been 100 percent exempt from... [Read More]
April 16, 2010 - 6:19 AM EDT
I Cannot Help but Write About Celebrity Tax Troubles
The great state of California released its list of people who owe back taxes. And once again, there are some interesting celebrities owing the state big money. For example, "actress" Pamela Anderson owes the state $493,144. What do we know about Pamela? She was Playmate of the Month for February 19... [Read More]
April 15, 2010 - 6:05 AM EDT
California Legislature Approves Important Tax Break for People in Foreclosure
The California legislature passed and Governor Schwarzenegger is expected to approve a measure that will waive state taxes on mortgage debt that has been forgiven in a foreclosure or short sale. More than 30,000 Californians are in that situation. California -- like most states -- considers forgive... [Read More]
April 14, 2010 - 6:12 AM EDT
Oklahoma Rejects Sales Tax Holiday Expansion
Here is a little good news. The Oklahoma legislature defeated a measure to expand the state's sales tax holiday to include school supplies. The bill would have exempted school, art, and instructional materials costing less than $100 from the state's sales tax during the first weekend of August. The... [Read More]
April 13, 2010 - 6:14 AM EDT
A Bad Tax Idea Dies in Colorado
A proposal to give tax credits to Coloradans who make charitable donations for creating nonprofit jobs was rejected by a House committee late last week. The bill would have allowed nonprofits to collect donations through intermediary organizations like the United Way and match those donations when... [Read More]
April 9, 2010 - 6:12 AM EDT
Celebrity Tax Trouble is the Best Tax Trouble
Taking a break from the usual state and local issues, I found an interesting post on Taxprofblog about more famous people in tax trouble. There are some big name people in trouble with the tax man. For example, former Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry owes the IRS $15,000 and change. Barry, who sti... [Read More]
April 8, 2010 - 6:15 AM EDT
Iowa Mayors Want More Tax Options
Mayors in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids Iowa are pressing the state legislature to give their jurisdictions the flexibility to impose different types of taxes as a way of moving away from the property tax. Specifically, these cities want the ability to increase the hotel/motel tax. The mayors are mo... [Read More]
April 7, 2010 - 6:09 AM EDT
Property Tax Reform Likely in Georgia
When the Georgia legislature returns on April 12 it will likely pass a major property tax reform law. The new law would require counties to send out annual property tax assessments and extend the time for owner appeals. It will be the most dramatic property tax law passed since the 1999 enactment o... [Read More]
April 6, 2010 - 6:14 AM EDT
Gambling in Gettysburg? For Shame
There is a big debate going on in Pennsylvania about whether to allow a casino near the Gettysburg Battlefield. Some guy wants to build a 5,000 slot casino a few miles from some of the most hallowed ground in America. I guess folks think that nothing is sacred. I personally think gambling is a ridi... [Read More]
April 1, 2010 - 7:45 AM EDT
Want to Know about your State? Check the Tax Foundation
I often disagree with my friends at the Tax Foundation when it comes to appropriate levels of tax burdens. I am all for progressive taxes. Taking from the wealthy and redistributing to the less fortunate does not bother me at all. But I must admit that the foundation gets good tax policy right. Tha... [Read More]
March 31, 2010 - 7:31 AM EDT
Wind Taxes in Windy States
Wyoming recently enacted legislation to impose an excise tax on wind power. The new law imposes a $1-per-megawatt-hour excise tax on all electricity generated from wind turbines, effective January 1, 2011. A turbine would not be taxed until three years after it first produces electricity. I find th... [Read More]
March 30, 2010 - 6:20 AM EDT
Gun Tax Holidays (Again)
Guns aren't my issue. I grew up around people who hunted and kept all kinds of firearms at home. I know a lot of nice people who own a pistol or shotgun and even the occasional Uzi. Gun violence is horrible. But I must admit I'm more in the "guns don't kill people" camp. Still, gun sales tax holida... [Read More]
March 26, 2010 - 6:16 AM EDT
Should Connecticut Impose Extra Taxes on Executive Bonuses? No
Connecticut is considering imposing a special tax on executive bonuses of more than $1 million that were paid out in 2010 and 2011. The tax would be equivalent to a 2.97 percent surcharge on top of the top state income tax rate of 6.5 percent. The tax would only apply to bonuses paid to executives... [Read More]
March 25, 2010 - 6:11 AM EDT
Want Free State Tax Info? Check out the FTA Website
There are some companies out there trying to sell tax professionals and ordinary citizens all kinds of data that is free on the Internet. If you are looking for basic tax information you should check out the Federation of Tax Administrators website at The FTA has all kinds of neat... [Read More]
March 24, 2010 - 6:19 AM EDT
South Carolina Should Raise its Gas Tax
Nobody likes to hear it. But sometimes a state should raise its gas tax. They are talking about raising the tax in South Carolina. The state imposes a very low 16 cent a gallon tax. That rate has not been changed in more than two decades. Here is the problem. Over that time, fuel costs have skyrock... [Read More]
March 23, 2010 - 6:19 AM EDT
The Fight in Kansas, More Taxes versus Big Budget Cuts
The state of Kansas faces a $470 million deficit for the next fiscal year. That is a lot of money for a relatively small state. There are only three ways to close the gap. You can raise taxes. You can cut spending. Or you can do a combination of both. Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson says more cu... [Read More]
March 19, 2010 - 6:25 AM EDT
Iowa Thinking of Raising Traffic Fees, Fines
Iowa is thinking about raising many fines and fees for traffic violations. Legislators backing the increase hope to raise an additional $8.8 million a year. The money would be used to fund various justice system functions. Iowa looks like it is falling into a trap that befalls many state and local... [Read More]
March 18, 2010 - 6:12 AM EDT
It's Time to Raise the Alcohol Tax in Maryland
There is a bill before the Maryland legislature -- The Lorraine Sheehan Health and Community Services Act of 2010 -- that would increase alcohol taxes the equivalent of ten cents a drink. The tax increase would raise about $214 million. The revenue would be earmarked for various health related serv... [Read More]
March 17, 2010 - 6:14 AM EDT
Massachusetts Jobs Program Didn't Work
The Boston Globe in an excellent March 14 article reported that Massachusetts has given away hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax breaks to companies that created few or no jobs. Indeed, many of the recipients of the tax breaks actually moved jobs overseas or just laid workers off... [Read More]
March 16, 2010 - 6:13 AM EDT
Do We Care if Candidates Release Their Tax Returns?
I don't. Arnold Schwarzenegger took a lot of grief when he was running for governor in California for not initially releasing his tax returns. What did people want to find out? That he was rich? He was and is. Texas Democratic Bill White recently won his party's nomination for governor in Texas. He... [Read More]
March 12, 2010 - 6:54 AM EST
Alabama Senate Democrats Propose Tax Cuts
Who says that Democrats are all about raising taxes? Democrats in the Alabama Senate proposed a slew of tax cuts this week. These cuts include ending the sales tax on purchases of cars manufactured in Alabama, which is probably illegal, but a tax cut nonetheless. The Democrats propose repealing the... [Read More]
March 11, 2010 - 6:15 AM EST
SC Candidate for Governor Opposes Tax Incentives for Retailers
Here is some good news. South Carolina Republican candidate for governor Henry McMaster said that he opposes using the state's economic development incentives program for retail projects. Such incentives are bad tax policy and bad government policy. They place the government in the position of pick... [Read More]
March 10, 2010 - 6:18 AM EST
Colorado Taxpayers Can See Where Their Money Goes on New Website
In a good government program that should be copied by other states, Colorado citizens can see how much tax they pay and how their tax dollars are spent on a new website To my knowledge, no other state has such a good governmental tool. The website estimates the amount of in... [Read More]
March 9, 2010 - 6:11 AM EST
No Gays Allowed
Florida is considering changing its film and television tax credits to ban recipients from airing gay characters. That's right. The federal government is thinking about letting gays serve openly in the Marine Corps, but the state of Florida thinks there is something wrong with gays appearing on tel... [Read More]
March 5, 2010 - 6:14 AM EST
What is Up with Congressional Staffers Not Paying Taxes?
Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, would like to fire Capitol Hill staff who don't pay their taxes. Chaffetz introduced legislation that would allow Hill offices to fire "the hundreds" of Senate and House staffers who owe the government millions of dollars. That's right - there are hund... [Read More]
March 4, 2010 - 6:17 AM EST
More California Voters Want Spending Cuts, Not Taxes, to Close Deficit
A new Field Poll released on Tuesday finds that half of California voters think the state should cut spending rather than raise taxes to close the mammoth $19.9 billion budget deficit. A much smaller percentage -- 29 percent -- thinks the state should use an equal mix of spending cuts and tax incre... [Read More]
March 3, 2010 - 9:10 AM EST
Oregon Business Tax Breaks Total $626 Million
Oregon will provide at least $626 million in tax subsidies for corporations this budget cycle according to a new report by Oregon State Public Interest Research Group. The problem is that the state has no system in place to assess whether the subsidies are accomplishing their goals. Indeed, no one... [Read More]
March 2, 2010 - 6:22 AM EST
Kansas House Advances Bill to Expand Tax Breaks for Businesses
The Kansas House passed a tax break for businesses bringing workers to the state even with lingering concerns that the deficit mired state can't afford it. The bill expands an incentive program created last year to encourage companies to move jobs from other states to Kansas. Basically, more compan... [Read More]
February 26, 2010 - 6:24 AM EST
Snoop Dogg Owes IRS $600k
Snoop Dogg also known as Snoop Doggy Dog when he is not going by his given name of Cordozar Calvin Broadus owes the IRS a lot of dead presidents -- $598,309 to be exact. And the Feds want their cheese (which is rapper slang for money). The IRS filed a tax lien against the famous rapper and his wife... [Read More]