The Tax Policy Blog

April 28, 2008

Tax Foundation Chief Economist Patrick Fleenor has written an op-ed in the Boston Globe on cigarette taxes and smuggling:

Massachusetts is awash in bootleg cigarettes.

High state cigarette taxes have turned packs of cigarettes into pots of gold for criminals, spawning a massive black market supplied by...

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April 28, 2008

Presidential candidate Barack Obama is using the high price of gasoline to try to get voters to support a windfall profits tax on oil companies based on the price of oil. The issue has not been explored too heavily in the economics literature, but here's some thoughts:

A windfall profits tax on oil companies would not lower the price at the pump.

A windfall profits tax initially would be borne by shareholders of the companies, whose net worth would fall. The...

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April 28, 2008

This presidential campaign season has produced a lot of discussion over the various candidates' supposed knowledge of economics. The sad result is that none of them — Clinton, Obama, or McCain — seems to have a grasp of basic economics. Or perhaps they really do know what they're talking about and are just pandering to those who may benefit from certain policies or those who have a limited understanding of how markets work.

Clinton and McCain are supporting a temporary repeal of the...

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April 28, 2008

The first stimulus checks were mailed today. When your economic stimulus check arrives depends on whether your 2007 tax return set up a direct deposit payment, and on the last two digits of your Social Security number, according to an IRS announcement updated today:

...

Direct Deposit Payments

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April 28, 2008

Co-sponsored by the Tax Foundation and three other nonprofits, a conference on domestic policy issues will be held on Tuesday morning, April 29, from 8:30 to 12:30 at the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (next to Hart Senate Bldg) at 144 Constitution Ave, NE.

American University, the New America Foundation, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget are co-sponsoring the event with the Tax Foundation. The forum includes top advisers to the...

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April 27, 2008

Our new Tax Freedom Day® video has received over 15,000 views on YouTube, one of the most viewed this week, and has received some attention in the blogosphere:

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April 26, 2008

Back when cigarette tax increases were justified by politicians on the grounds of paternalism (even though they really just wanted more money), critics argued that the same argument could be applied to other unhealthy activities and products like candy bars or soft drinks. But such criticisms were dismissed as being scare tactics and unrealistic. But now the nannies at groups like the totalitarian Center for the Science in the Public Interest are having their voices heard in the...

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April 25, 2008

In addition paying $5 million in back taxes, Wesley Snipes has been sentenced to three years in jail for failing to file tax returns as required by law. In his plea for leniency, Snipes asserted that the tax protestor cheats who convinced him that he had no obligation to pay taxes were "wolves and jackals," but to no avail.

We dissected the "§ 861 Argument" that Snipes fell for...

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April 25, 2008

As part of the budget signed by Governor Paterson this month, New York has adopted the "Amazon tax"-a requirement that any out-of-state online retailer collect sales tax on purchases if the business does at least $10,000 worth of business with in-state affiliates. New York officials estimate the tax will bring in...

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April 25, 2008

Today is Arbor Day. And to celebrate, we look back at the Tax Policy Blog archives at a post two years ago on one of the wackiest tax laws in the United States: Hawaii's Exceptional Tree Deduction.

From former TF economist Curtis Dubay:

To mark this occasion we bring to you an amusing personal income tax deduction from Hawaii. The ‘exceptional tree’ deduction is as follows, from the Hawaii Personal Income Tax Instructions:

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April 24, 2008

There must be something in the water of the Great Lakes given how bad tax policy is in the region, and it's hard to argue that it's any worse than in Michigan in recent years. But even when the state is cutting taxes, it doesn't do that right, as is seen in this article from MLive:

The state Senate on Thursday passed tax breaks potentially worth up to $35...

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April 23, 2008

One of the ten principles of sound tax policy is transparency: tax decisions should be made openly, and it should be clear who and what is being taxed. This is to ensure that the benefits and costs of our tax system are understood by those who have the power to change it.

Currently, many taxes are not transparent; instead some are embedded in prices. For example, many state sales taxes are applied not only to final...

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April 23, 2008

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial discussed the rise of heavy cell phone taxes:

A recent analysis by economist Scott Mackey in the journal State Tax Notes shows that the average monthly tax burden on wireless customers is more than 15% – double the average sales tax burden. In some states, such as New York (big surprise), the total tax bite is more than 20%.

The topic...

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April 23, 2008

Happy Tax Freedom Day!

Today is Tax Freedom Day, and our experts have been busy all day giving radio, TV, and print interviews. Every year Tax Freedom Day receives extensive media coverage, both at the national level and in the states. Following are just a few of the recent articles and interviews that have addressed Tax Freedom Day.

Audio (MP3): Tax Foundation Senior Economist Gerald Prante...

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April 23, 2008

The New York Times and Washington Post had two articles today discussing McCain's economic policies and his economic staff. First, David Leonhardt wrote a column in the New York Times that focused mostly on McCain's advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, who is widely respected in tax policy circles in Washington.

Another McCain article...

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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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