Lunch Links: European Delegation Visiting, Mississippi Repealing Tax on Investment, British Beard Tax Proposal

May 17, 2016

Today is May 17, the date in 1733 when the Molasses Act received royal assent, imposing a tax on imported molasses. Its purpose was not to raise revenue, but to punitively tax non-British products and thus push colonists to purchase from the British West Indies instead of cheaper French, Dutch, and Spanish competitors. The law was effectively nullified by colonial non-compliance, British authorities gave up enforcing it in the 1740s, and it was repealed in 1764.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • European Tax Delegation Visiting U.S.: The European Parliament’s TAXE 2 Special Committee on Tax Rulings arrives this week for three days of meetings as part of their investigation of international tax compliance standards. They meet with Tax Foundation experts on Thursday as part of their trip. (European Parliament)
  • Russia Considering Income Tax Increase: Slow growth, low oil prices, and post-Crimea sanctions are dragging the Russian economy, which is spending down reserves to balance its budget. An increase to the flat 13 percent income tax may be in the works after the next election in 2018. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Mississippi Governor Signs Repeal of Tax on Capital Investment: The franchise tax will be phased out starting in 2018. Mississippi was the very first state I ever testified to, in 2008, and eliminating that destructive tax was our #1 recommendation, and it was endorsed by a state commission that year. Income and self-employment taxes will also be reduced. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger)
  • Illinois Legislators Pitch Soft Drink Tax: Called a soda tax in California and the East Coast, I’m guessing it’d be called a pop tax in Illinois. Sen. Donne Trotte (D-Chicago) says it would bring in $375 million. (Capitol Fax)
  • California May Vote on Nearly Tripling Cigarette Tax: Supporters of the proposed ballot initiative to raise the tax from 87 cents per pack to $2.87 per pack have turned in their signatures. The state also just raised the smoking age from 18 to 21. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Congress Weighs Bill to Keep Preserve Donor Privacy on Tax Forms: Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) has a bill that will stop the IRS from collecting donor details. Details have periodically been accidentally disclosed, and two state attorneys general are seeking access to the information. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Alabama v. NAACP (1958) that states cannot demand donor lists as a condition of operating in a state. (Wall Street Journal / Wikipedia)
  • Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte Releases Internet Sales Tax Proposal: The hybrid origin sourcing proposal by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) would have the state where the sale originates collect the tax, but using the tax rate of where the customer is located. A voluntary clearinghouse of states would distribute the money, and there would be no requirement that states simplify their sales tax systems to ease compliance. Goodlatte hopes his idea will stall an alternative from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), while states consider their own laws attempting to enforce collection on their own terms. (State Tax Notes)
  • The Strange Case of the Postal Service’s Disappearing Board: The USPS has lost $56 billion since 2007, and senators and congressmen unhappy with reform options have halted appointments of USPS Board members for six years. Only one board member remains, and his term expires in December. Congress has however passed 17 bills since last year renaming Post Offices. (Tax Foundation)
  • Sanders Says Fed Should Aid Puerto Rico: Rejecting proposals to restructure the island’s revenue and spending, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) instead called on the Fed to help the island restructure its debt. (Morning Consult)
  • British Barber Calls for Tax on Beards: Antony Kent of Worcester has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, saying the trend of men growing beards gave him a great idea for new revenue. I’m sure the chance to use the tax system to punish men who no longer need his services has nothing to do with it. (Worcester News)

Also, the National Taxpayer Advocate holds a public forum this morning at 10:00 AM in the IRS headquarters building. And be sure to check out our new chart book on Pennsylvania, released yesterday.

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