Lunch Links: Kentucky Gives Tax Credits to Film About Cheerleaders and Serial Killers, IRS Reverses on Telephone Audits

May 10, 2016

Today is May 10, the anniversary of Parliament’s passage of the Tea Act in 1773, which gave preferential tax treatment for British tea exports to North America. The Tea Act sought to use tax policy to wipe out non-British competitors, with the side “benefit” of getting colonists to buy the cheaper but still taxed tea and thus accept Parliament’s power of taxation over them. Colonists didn’t go along with it, responding by dumping the tea into Boston Harbor on December 16, the Boston Tea Party.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • IRS Bans Telephone Audits After Press Report: Reacting quickly to revelations that the IRS had initiated audits by telephone while saying they didn’t, the IRS issued a statement banning this practice and requiring notification by mail. The evidence emerged at a National Taxpayer Advocate forum in Iowa and was disseminated all over the tax world by Tax Notes Today. (Tax Notes)
  • Clinton Advisors Attack Trump Tax Plan: I guess we’re in general election season, with Clinton policy aide Jake Sullivan and former Obama economic advisor Gene Sperling calling Trump’s tax plan “risky, reckless, and regressive.” Trump had talked taxes over the weekend, saying he’s open to revising his plan. He also tweeted that his plan is a better starting point than other candidates’. (Washington Post / Christian Science Monitor)
  • Sliding Scale for Capital Gains Tax: My colleague Alan Cole reviews this feature of Clinton’s tax plan, which would impose different tax rates depending on how long the investment has been held. He uses Shake Shack in his explanation, so check it out. (Tax Foundation)
  • Treasury Secretary Tours Puerto Rico: Jack Lew visited an elementary school with termites in the walls and an abandoned shopping district as part of his message that Congress needs to act with respect to Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt level. A new bill may be introduced Wednesday. (USA Today)
  • “Mr. Brexit” Gets a Chilly Reception in Washington: Leave.EU co-founder Arron Banks was welcomed warmly by John Bolton but didn’t impress the Treasury Department and was awkward with the Cato Institute. (Bloomberg)
  • Bernie Sanders vs. Mayor Kenney on Philadelphia Soda Tax: In an op-ed the National Taxpayers Union and the Commonwealth Foundation say Sanders has it right in criticizing the proposed 3-cent-per-ounce soda tax as regressive. Councilmembers, meanwhile, are pitching alternatives. (Philadelphia Inquirer / PhillyVoice)
  • Illinois Municipalities and Districts Figuring Out How to Repay Funds: A state error resulted in $168 million in overpayments to local governments and school districts. Some aren’t sure yet how they’ll repay it. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Kansas’s Missed Opportunity: A Wichita Eagle editorial uses words like “wimps” and “cowards” to describe legislators who didn’t vote to repeal the pass-through exclusion. I’m not sure if that’s helpful rhetoric, but they’re right that a lot of legislators opted for the status quo instead of solving the state’s fiscal woes. (Wichita Eagle)
  • Kentucky Releases Details on Film Tax Credits: The state provided $1.15 million in tax credits to a “horror comedy” about “a group of cheerleaders who capture a serial killer in hopes that he will train them to become serial killers themselves.” Would that movie get you to visit Kentucky? (Kentucky Legislature via Bluegrass Politics) reports that Americans spent $30 billion on Mother’s Day this past weekend. The e-mail said sons spent an average of $177 and daughters an average of $97. Those both sound high to me, but maybe that makes me a bad son. Even if it’s close, though, I’m amazed that it by far beats the mere $1 billion spent so far on the 2016 presidential race.

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