Lunch Links: Apple, Ireland, U.S. Treasury Object to European Commission Tax Edict; Trump’s Latest Battle Over D.C. Property Tax; IRS Insider Not Happy With Direction of Customer Service

August 30, 2016

Today is August 30, the 123rd birthday of Huey “The Kingfish” Long, governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and U.S. Senator from then until his assassination in 1935. When governor, he repealed the poll tax, reduced personal property taxes, and created a homestead exemption. In 1934, he pushed through a 2 percent state gross receipts tax on newspapers with a circulation of more than 20,000, what he termed a “tax on lying” but what everyone else understood was an attack on critical press coverage. He announced his “Share Our Wealth” plan as part of a 1936 presidential run, which would cap personal fortunes at $100 million ($1.75 billion in 2016 dollars) by progressively taxing wealth over $1 million ($17.5 million in 2016 dollars) and capping inheritances at $5 million ($87.8 million in 2016 dollars). The money would be redistributed in grants to each American household of $5,000 ($87,800 in 2016 dollars); economists said the plan would not balance.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

European Commission Orders Apple to Pay €13 Billion to Ireland: European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager (Denmark), in charge of competition policy, said Ireland allowed the company to “pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years,” which “is illegal under EU state aid rules.” (European Commissioner)

Ireland Objects to Decision: Finance minister Michael Noonan said the ruling violates the integrity of the Irish tax system and deprives taxpayers of certainty. He promised to appeal. (BBC)

Apple Responds: CEO Tim Cook: “We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don't owe them any more than we've already paid.” (Apple)

U.S. Treasury Disappointed: A spokesperson: “We believe that retroactive tax assessments by the Commission are unfair, contrary to well-established legal principles and call into question the tax rules of individual Member States.” (MarketWatch)

Trump and D.C. Fight Over Property Tax Bill: Trump’s company is converting the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue into a luxury hotel, but disagrees with the city on a fair assessment of the lease. The city says it’s worth $91 million (reduced from $98 million after an appeal) but Trump’s company says it’s only worth $28 million. The city points to bank statements valuing the property at $210 million in the motion to dismiss the case. (Politico)

National Taxpayer Advocate Cautious About IRS “Future State” Project: The IRS says moving more services online will help it do more with less. Nina Olson, the autonomous National Taxpayer Advocate inside the IRS, says the IRS thinks it doesn’t need to invest in one-on-one customer service and that online accounts don’t solve that problem. She wants Congress to review the IRS’s plans. (Don’t Mess With Taxes)

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