The Tax Policy Blog

April 03, 2008

Yes, another blog post today about a stupid tax proposal in the Palmetto State. This time the state is seeking to give extra tax incentives to those who are married. This goes beyond eliminating any marriage penalty, as the Augusta Chronicle explains:

Married couples in South Carolina would save an average of $27 a year on their state income taxes under a bill given key...

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April 03, 2008

The folks on Capitol Hill are suffering from the famous "do something" disease when it comes to the current situation with the housing market. As part of the Senate compromise that was reached regarding aid to the housing sector, Sen. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus managed to add in a standard deduction that could be claimed for people who don't itemize yet pay property taxes. The maximum deduction for a married couple would be $1,000, while singles could claim $500.

Don't pay...

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April 03, 2008

Joe Henchman and I attended the first hearing of the MS Tax Study Commission, in Jackson, MS on Monday March 24. The Commission has been appointed by Governor Haley Barbour and will take an all encompassing look at reforming the tax system in the state. They will submit a report by August 31, 2008 with recommendations for improving the state's tax code. The agenda for Monday's hearing included an opening from Governor Haley Barbour, an overview...

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April 03, 2008

A recent Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact analyzes two new housing credits proposed by Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Faced with a choice between the two bad housing credits, the Senate merged the two and added several more unwise housing tax incentives.

"The bill of housing incentives going to the floor of the Senate today is a panicky effort to artificially keep the housing bubble from popping," commented Gerald Prante, Tax Foundation senior economist. "...

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April 03, 2008

The Georgia legislature is currently facing the question of which taxes, if any, should be cut. Arguments have been put forth in favor of cutting income taxes, the personal property tax on cars, and even cutting income taxes for senior citizens only. Each side argues that its tax cut would be best for Georgia's economy going forward. Also on the table is a plan to enact a ceiling on spending growth in the Peach State.

A new Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact, "...

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April 02, 2008

I'm sure you were shocked to read the headline of this blog post. The REALTORS® want more tax preferences for housing. In this week's edition of the rent-seeking lobby's publication "Economist's Commentary," REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun argues that a tax credit is needed to help the housing industry during this downturn.

Unbelievable. We have a situation where too many people bought homes that were...

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April 02, 2008

A man in York, Maine received his tax refund check for $5,666 a couple weeks ago, but he wasn't happy about it. He hadn't even done his taxes yet.

It turns out scammers, who had stolen the man's identity earlier in 2007, had done his taxes online, instructing H&R Block to forward the refund check to their bank in Utah. That's where the scheme went awry: the bank refused to...

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April 02, 2008

An excellent court decision out of Texas last week struck down the ridiculous "pole tax"—a $5 government-imposed charge to be admitted into strip clubs. The tax was enacted earlier this year, with the stated purpose of using the $44 million it would raise to pay for sexual assault support services and health insurance for low-income Texans.

The case, Texas Entertainment Association Inc. v. Combs, decided March 28 by Travis...

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April 02, 2008

Politicians in Washington and in state capitals are responding to consumer complaints about sky-rocketing gas prices with charges that the oil companies are earning “excessive” profits and gauging consumers at the gas pump. Lost in the political rhetoric is the fact that those “excessive” profits are net profits—that is, profits earned after taxes are paid to government. And while the oil companies have enjoyed a few good years, history shows that governments at all levels (foreign...

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April 01, 2008

State-run lotteries are certainly popular (42 states and D.C. have them), with Arkansas's Lieutenant Governor Halter recently reviving the idea of starting a state lottery to raise money for scholarships. Legislators in that state have pledged to do him one better: rather than undertaking all the work needed to start up a lottery, they propose taking over a business that already exists in the state: selling cigarettes.

The legislative proposal would ban the sale of...

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April 01, 2008

After learning that yet another large employer was closing its doors, the Governor of Wismichigillinoserseyania was overheard brainstorming with an aide about possible causes.

"I'll admit our tax code isn't that friendly to the individuals who create jobs," pondered Governor Doyrendholmzinejevich. "Could that be the reason that all the individuals who create jobs stay away from our state?"

Among the features of the state's tax code are the sales tax, which requires a...

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April 01, 2008

Today, the National Association of Shoe Salesmen® (NASS) took to Capitol Hill and called on Congress to give much needed relief to the footwear industry. NASS® is calling on legislators to implement a one-time above-the-line tax deduction for those who purchase a qualifying new pair of shoes through the end of 2008.

"Our industry hasn't been this devastated since the terrible rubber workers strike of 1976," said NASS® Lobbyist Gary Voiganella. "Help is needed for this industry that...

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March 31, 2008

The Harrisonburg (Virginia) Daily News reports on a bill signed earlier this month which exempts income earned from space launches or space resupply services from corporate and individual income taxes, so long as the services supply missions are launched from Virginia:

The legislation amends the state tax code so that, starting in 2009, no tax would be charged...

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March 31, 2008

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, revenue from the 5 cent per bottle tax is running 36% under projection since it went into effect on January 1. The city says it's because people don't buy water in cold weather; the industry notes that suburban bottled water sales (without the punitive tax) have skyrocketed:

January collections were $554,000. That's far short of the...

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March 31, 2008

Presidential candidate Barack Obama has released a new ad that contains a lot of rhetoric designed to appeal to the masses, yet whose underlying economics is pure nonsense.

Obama seeks to impose a tax on the windfall profits of oil companies, which he implies in the advertisement is the cause of the high prices at the pump. The fact of the matter is that it doesn't work that way. The CEO of Shell doesn't get up one morning...

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