The Tax Policy Blog

January 22, 2009

A potential breakthrough in California's perpetual budget crisis, following news that some Republican legislators are open to tax hikes as part of a larger budget package. From the National Taxpayers Union:

The GOP caucus realizes a tax hike will be part of any budget pact but could support it only if agreement were reached on permanent program cuts, a hard spending cap and other issues,...

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January 22, 2009

Tri-Rail, the commuter rail system serving southeast Florida, has been massively successful over the last few years.  Fueled by (until recently) soaring gas prices, ridership has doubled since 2005.  However, even as ridership has risen, Tri-Rail's funding is in doubt, as the three counties within its service area face budget crises.

Tri-Rail is therefore seeking a tax...

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January 22, 2009

Users of Microsoft Excel sometimes encounter a cell filled with pound signs ("###########"). As Thinkquest helpfully explains:

If numerous pound (###) signs appear within a cell, it is only a protective measure taken by Excel. It simply means that the column width isn't wide enough for the number trying to be...

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January 21, 2009

The IRS has started a Tax Tips e-mail service, which anyone can join. From the IRS press release:

The Internal Revenue Service is offering a daily series of tax tips for the 2009 federal tax filing season that began this month.

Tax Tips offer concise, useful information on topics affecting millions of taxpayers. More than 70 tips on federal taxes will be available...

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January 19, 2009

The streets around the Tax Foundation's office, and a large portion of  the rest of Washington, D.C., are filled with out-of-town visitors today, here for Inauguration Day tomorrow.  While everyone in the country will be waiting with bated breath to see what tax policies Obama will try to implement in the coming four years, some D.C. residents and their...

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January 16, 2009

We're pleased to see the impact our research has been making lately: elected officials in four states have recently used Tax Foundation data in speeches and op-eds. Here are the details:

On Jan. 10, California Congressman Devin Nunes (21st District) cited the Tax Foundation’s State-Local Tax Burdens report in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled...

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January 16, 2009

Just across the Hudson from New York City lies Hoboken, New Jersey, a 2 square mile city of about 40,000 people. Once a thriving port, the city after World War II suffered through failed urban renewal and crime until recent years, when it once again became a thriving community where people (especially commuters to Manhattan) want to live.

Unfortunately, the city's government...

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January 16, 2009

From the "Frequently Asked Questions" section of Indiana's government website:

Question
Do my taxes pay the salaries of State workers?

Answer
Yes. State employees are typically paid from state taxes (e.g., sales, income, corporate, gam[bl]ing, etc.), as well as federal taxes and fees.

I hope...

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January 15, 2009

The House of Representatives yesterday voted 289-139 to pass a 156% increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes (taking it from 39 cents per pack to $1.00, not counting state taxes which average over $1 a pack). The estimated $33 billion tax hike (over 4-1/2 years) would be earmarked to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). The bill is almost identical to a previous version that was vetoed in the summer of 2007, and it will soon go to the Senate.

In ...

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January 15, 2009

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) gave his State of the State address last night, and urged that tax reform be a key part of improving his state's economic competitiveness:

First, given the economic times in which we live, and given the global competition that we’re in for jobs, capital and way of life, we need to do things each year to make our business climate more competitive....

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January 15, 2009

The stated explanation for Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's tax problems is the complexity of the tax code.   Whether that will be a sufficient explanation is up to the U.S. Senate, but it does yet again point to the increasing complexity of the U.S. tax system. 

It is worth pointing out that President-elect Obama put forward a fairly extensive tax program during his campaign that would expand or add a number of new tax provisions carefully targeted to low- and moderate-...

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January 14, 2009

The new year brings new legislative sessions in every state. And almost every state is going through tough fiscal times in the midst of this economic downturn. While every state legislature and governor is figuring out what to tax, how to spend and where to cut, there are some who see state fiscal crises as an opportunity for government reform. Staff Economist Josh Barro talks with David Yepsen, columnist from the...

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January 14, 2009

An article in Monday's Wall Street Journal discussed Obama's plans for the federal estate tax:

Mark it down as the first tax increase of the new Democratic era. The Journal reported yesterday that President-elect Obama and Congressional leaders intend to maintain the estate tax rather than let it expire on schedule in 2010.

They will do so even though their economic stimulus...

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January 14, 2009

Bloomberg is reporting that Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has told reporters that the cost of the stimulus plan Congress is negotiating may grow to $800 billion to $850 billion. This is substantially higher than the reported $775 billion cost of President-elect Obama's stimulus plan.

The Obama camp maintains that their plan will "create or save" between 3 million and 4 million...

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January 14, 2009

Last month, the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates released updated tax collection statistics. As the only state to raise every major tax in 2008 to fund new spending programs, it is a good case study to follow, particularly since it's turning out to be a study of what not to do.

For instance, Maryland doubled its cigarette tax from $1 to $2, notwithstanding the smuggling induced by...

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Subscribe to Tax Foundation - Tax Foundation's Tax Policy Blog The Tax Policy Blog is the official blog of the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization that has monitored tax policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. Our economists welcome your feedback. If you would like to send an e-mail to the author of a blog post, please click on that person's name to locate his or her e-mail address or visit our staff page here.

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