The Tax Policy Blog

November 10, 2016

Today is November 10, the date in 1958 when Harry Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution. Winston sent it by U.S. registered mail, paying $2.44 for postage and $145.29 for insurance. The diamond is valued today at $200 million. Winston wanted to sell the diamond to the Smithsonian but donated it after the parties worked with a tax lawyer to figure out how he could...

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November 09, 2016

Today, the natural question for those of us in the tax world is, “What does the election mean for tax policy in general, and tax reform in particular?”

The answer is somewhat mixed. To be sure, Republicans generally have supported lower taxes and the idea of tax reform, but they are not currently unified behind any particular plan or approach. In fact, there are meaningful differences among the policies being considered in the House and the Senate versus the tax plan proposed by...

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November 08, 2016

After the campaign season that seemed to last forever, it all comes down to this. Tonight, we’ll all be anxiously awaiting the results on Colorado Amendment 69.

Okay, maybe that’s not the biggest draw today. Perhaps that honor belongs to Oregon Measure 97, or Maine Question 2, or Louisiana Amendment 3, or California Proposition 55. But just on the off chance that these aren’t the headlines on the election coverage you’re following, here’s a quick guide to some of the major tax-...

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November 08, 2016

2016 has been a busy year for state tax issues at the Tax Foundation. If you’ve been following our blog, you know that Joe, Nicole, Jared, Morgan, and I have been covering all the major state tax proposals considered this year, and that whenever possible, we get in planes, trains, and automobiles to bring our expertise directly to the states we are working in.

This year already, we’ve testified or presented to officials in 34 states and the District of Columbia, sometimes at just a...

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November 08, 2016

Today is November 8, the latest possible date that a U.S. election can be held under federal law, being the latest possible first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The date is Election Day this year, as it was in 1904, 1932, 1960, and 1988.

It’s also the date in 1937 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bogardus v. Commissioner, which defined a “gift” for tax purposes as “detached and...

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November 07, 2016

Today is November 7, the date in 1917 when the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia and began to establish the Soviet Union (1917-1991). There’s not a lot of discussion of taxation in the Soviet Union; when wages and prices are set by the state, and connections and standing in line is how you buy goods rather than by using money, tax rates don’t matter all that much. Russia was still primarily an agricultural country in 1917, and...

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November 04, 2016

Today is November 4, the birthday of actor, cowboy, and social commentator Will Rogers (1879-1935). Rogers once said, “The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf.”

Here are some interesting links I came across:

Clinton Silent on Business Taxes: #1 on The Washington Post’s...

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November 03, 2016

The Great American Beer Festival wrapped up last month, announcing the winners of 96 styles of beer submitted by over 1,700 breweries from the around the United States. The winning breweries are sure to enjoy the bump in sales as beer enthusiast seek out the top beers from the competition, a big advantage in a crowded marketplace. But all breweries may soon receive some help from Uncle Sam. A new bill is making its way through Congress that will lower excise taxes on both craft and macro...

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November 03, 2016

This week, Georgia was named 1st in Site Selection Magazine’s Business Climate Ranking. Some policymakers have used the occasion to celebrate, but unpacking the ranking shows that taxpayers shouldn’t be as quick to rejoice.

Site Selection’s ranking takes into account subjective and objective variables. Fifty percent of the ranking is determined by a survey of site selectors who indicate which states are the...

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November 03, 2016

Today is November 3, the birthday of Russell Long (1918-2003), Democratic Senator from Louisiana (1948-1987) and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (1966-1981). Long, a winner of the 1976 Tax Foundation Distinguished Service Award, famously summarized most people’s view of tax policy as “don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax...

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November 02, 2016

Meals taxes haven’t fared well at the polls in Virginia, but 24 years after a failed referendum, the Commonwealth’s largest county is taking another bite at the apple. Fairfax County’s new meals tax referendum marks the 60th attempt by a Virginia county to levy a tax on restaurant meals and prepared foods since 2000, and the record for proponents of such taxes isn’t very good: voters have...

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November 02, 2016

Today is November 2, the date in 1931 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided United States v. Kirby Lumber Co., a key tax decision on the definition of income. The Kirby Lumber Company issued $12.1 million in bonds in June 1923, and later that same year bought some of them back, at a price below face value of $137,521. Kirby Lumber said debt reduction was not the same as income and they shouldn’t be taxed on it...

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November 02, 2016

This week, Professor Lily Batchelder of New York University published a paper titled “The Silver Spoon Tax,” which argues that the United States should strengthen its wealth transfer taxes, such as the federal estate tax. She argues that wealth transfer taxes are relatively efficient and that the next president should increase the estate tax rate, broaden the estate tax base, and eliminate stepped-up basis at death....

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November 01, 2016

Competing visions for tobacco taxes are on display in two cigarette tax increase initiatives on the ballot in Colorado and North Dakota. Proponents of tobacco tax hikes in both states tout public health outcomes, but while a Colorado initiative seeks to secure these gains, at least in part, by dedicating a substantial share of new revenue to smoking cessation and other health measures, the North Dakota initiative relies on the higher taxes themselves to reduce smoking, while devoting most...

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November 01, 2016

Today is November 1, the date in 1765 when the Stamp Act went into effect and collections began. The law required a tax stamp to be purchased, in British money, and affixed to all legal documents (including attorney licenses and land grants), magazines, playing cards, dice, pamphlets, and newspapers in the American colonies. Besides revenue, the Act’s tax on professional licenses suggested a motive of reducing educated professions,...

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