Lunch Links: California Public Employee Pension Substantially Underfunded; Nevada Voters Poll ‘No’ to Stadium Tax; Court Ruling Means Exelon Underpaid Taxes

September 20, 2016

Today is September 20, the tenth anniversary of Utah adopting a major tax overhaul, creating a choice for taxpayers to pay a flat tax of 5.35 percent with no deductions, or the existing system of 6.98 percent with deductions. Not long after, the flat tax was made the only option, at an even lower rate of 5 percent. About 90 percent of taxpayers paid less or the same under the simpler tax system, and Utah now ranks in the top ten of our State Business Tax Climate Index.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

Trump Tax Plan Coverage: Articles on our analysis of the Trump revised tax plan(s) from Associated Press, NPR, Politico, PoliticoPRO, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Tax Notes, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Washington Examiner, The Hill, ThinkProgress, The Street, and Slate. All told, the report was cited 2,015 times by 585 news outlets in the 24 hours since we released it.

California’s Pension Meltdown: In 1999, at the peak of the Internet bubble, California made its public employee pension benefits substantially more generous because it expected rapid investment growth would cover it. By 2016, the pension fund has assets of just $295 billion, compared to the $613 billion needed. The board overseeing the recommendation had no independent members without ties to the unions. (Los Angeles Times)

Nevada Voters Would Oppose Stadium Tax: A proposal to raise hotel taxes by $750 million to pay for an NFL stadium gets 32 percent support in a Rasmussen poll. 52 percent oppose and 14 percent are undecided. (KTNV)

Vermont Governor Candidate Wants Lower Taxes but Restored Film Tax Credit: Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R), in a competitive race for governor against former state Transportation Secretary Sue Minter (D), says he wants to incrementally reduce individual and corporate tax rates as revenues permit. But he also wants to restore the state’s tax subsidy to film producers, which expired in 2011. Minter says she wants a carbon tax. (State Tax Notes)

No, Oregon Does Not Have the Lowest Corporate Taxes in America: Corporate tax collections in the state are about middle of the pack, 26th highest in the U.S.; our report ranks Oregon’s corporate tax structure as 37th best in the country. Those who say it’s the lowest/best in the country misread one study. (Tax Foundation)

Exelon Loses $1.6B Case: The U.S. Tax Court ruled Monday that the energy company’s sale-leaseback of power plants was actually loans, meaning they underpaid their taxes by $1.6 billion. (Law360)


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