Lunch Links: Clinton on Taxes in Acceptance Speech; Vancouver Tax on Foreign Buyers; Louisiana Runs Out of Film Credit Money

July 29, 2016

Today is July 29, the first day of back-to-school sales tax holiday weekends in Mississippi and Tennessee. (Georgia starts tomorrow.) Sales tax holidays sound great but distract from real, permanent, and economic beneficial tax reform. There’s little economic growth effect because consumers mostly shift the timing of planned purchases, not buy more. July 29 is also France’s Tax Freedom Day (well, there they call it Tax Liberation Day).

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • Hillary Clinton Talks Taxes in Acceptance Speech: Three mentions: (1) “It’s wrong to take tax breaks with one hand and give out pink slips with the other”; (2) “Wall Street, corporations, and the super rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes”; and (3) “And if companies take tax breaks and then ship jobs overseas, we’ll make them pay us back and we’ll put that money to work where it belongs, creating jobs here at home.” (Washington Post)
  • Joaquin Castro on Taxes: Rep. Castro (D-TX) said in his convention speech: “No one ever told me that their ancestors came here looking for the lowest corporate rate.” As my colleague Scott Greenberg noted in response, the U.S. was literally born in a tax revolt. (Twitter)
  • Henchman on Sales Tax Holidays: Politico asked me to opine on the future of state sales tax holidays. The temporary gimmicks, which distract from real tax reform and cause confusion about what’s included and what’s not, exist in only 17 states now, mostly in the southeast. (Politico)
  • Vancouver Announces 15 Percent Tax on Foreign Buyers: British Columbia Premier Christy Clark (Liberal) announced that beginning August 2, foreign nationals or foreign-controlled corporations who buy property in Vancouver must pay an extra 15 percent property transfer tax. That’s significantly more than the existing 1 to 3 percent tax. China’s government press is outraged. A boom of property sales in Vancouver has driven down vacancy rates and driven up prices, although it’s recently stalled out of concern that it’s a bubble. (CBC / Globe and Mail / Twitter)
  • Massachusetts Considers Property Tax on Nonprofits: The spark was when the University of Massachusetts bought a 230-unit apartment complex, turning out residents and taking the complex off the property tax rolls because the university is exempt. Legislators are now considering a bill to require nonprofits to pay property tax on certain properties. Connecticut passed a similar law last year. (Boston Globe)
  • Louisiana Runs Out of Film Tax Credit Money: Four weeks into the fiscal year, Louisiana has already approved all $239 million in this budget year’s subsidies to filmmakers. The obvious conclusion for demand exceeding supply is that the credit is too generous (it covers 30 percent of production costs; excess credits are transferable via brokers at around 85 cents on the dollar).
  • Excessive, Excessive, Excessive Taxes on Carsharing: Cities who assess fixed-dollar taxes on car rentals mean that taxes on hourly reservations from companies like Zipcar, Car2Go, and Enterprise CarShare are over 30 percent. (Investopedia / Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development)

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