Lunch Links: Google Responds to Europe; Hawaii Vetoes Airbnb Bill; DC Confronts Alligator Gap

July 18, 2016

Today is July 18, the 69th birthday of Steve Forbes, who ran for President in 1996 on a platform of enacting a 17 percent flat tax. Forbes said: “The tax code is a monstrosity and there’s only one thing to do with it. Scrap it, kill it, drive a stake through its heart, bury it and hope it never rises again to terrorize the American people.”

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • Google Responds to European Tax Accusations: CEO Sundar Pichai argued that Google pays the bulk of its taxes to its home country (the USA) but has still invested heavily in Europe and employs 14,000 people there. Google offices in Paris and Madrid have recently been raided by European tax investigators. (AFP)
  • Illinois Unpaid Bills Backlog to Reach $10 Billion: State Comptroller Leslie Munger said the state will spend $2.5 billion more than it brings in from taxes over the next six months. (Peoria Journal-Star)
  • Pennsylvania Budget Includes Hotel Tax Grab: Lehigh Valley economic development and tourism promotion officials were shocked to learn that the newly signed state budget shifts their hotel tax revenue to a new fund to subsidize hotel renovations. Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) said he inserted the provision because the Allentown area needs more quality hotel rooms. (Allentown Morning Call)
  • Hawaii Governor Vetoes Airbnb Taxation Bill: Gov. David Ige (D) vetoed the bill, which would have simplified taxation of Airbnb short-term rentals. Ige said he’d prefer the units be used for homeless residents, seemingly under the impression that his veto would ban Airbnb (it won’t, it just means the state won’t get the tax money). (Don’t Mess With Taxes)
  • DC Metro Discusses Financial “Alligator Gap”: WMATA, the operator of Washington’s rail and bus system, has declining ridership but growing expenses. Called the “alligator gap” for how it looks presented on a chart, it’s sparking discussion on how to make expenses sustainable. Discussion of a regional tax to support Metro is also on the table. (WTOP)

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