Lunch Links: Massachusetts Marijuana Initiative Gets Clarification; Alabama Starts Tax Amnesty; Why Arizona Sales Tax is High

July 8, 2016

Today is July 8, the 58th birthday of actor Kevin Bacon, the center of the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” parlor game. In 2009, IRS tax examiner John Snyder was convicted of abusing his power to look up tax records of 200 prominent celebrities and professional athletes. Perhaps because of the Six Degrees game, Kevin Bacon was the first-listed of Snyder’s victims.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • National Taxpayer Advocate Releases Objectives Report: The official IRS watchdog praises the IRS for reducing taxpayer service phone wait times this year, but criticizes them for overly relying on enforcement and for treating international withholding provisions as guilty until proven innocent. (National Taxpayer Advocate)
  • Alabama Begins Two-Month Tax Amnesty: The state is offering to waive penalties on owed individual income, corporate income, privilege, sales, excise, and withholding taxes, through August 30. However, it’s flawed in that potential amnesty takers have to disclose their details prior to negotiating the deal, unlike the two-step process used in other states. (Alabama Department of Revenue / State Tax Notes)
  • Massachusetts Court Orders Rewrite of Marijuana Initiative: The title “Marijuana Legalization” will now read “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana” and the description language will clarify what’s being taxed. The proposed ballot initiative would impose a 3.75 percent excise tax on marijuana in addition to the state sales tax, plus allow local taxes of up to 2 percent. (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court / Bloomberg BNA)
  • Arizona Sales Tax is High – Why?: Experts weigh in on why Arizona has a high sales tax. Short answer: it has a low income tax and relies on the sales tax a lot, although the sales tax is still lower than California. (Arizona Republic)
  • Oklahoma to Review Tax Credits: The new Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission has selected 11 tax incentives to review for effectiveness: a five-year ad valorem tax exemption for some new and expanding manufacturers, research and development companies, computer services and data processing companies with significant out-of-state sales, aircraft repair companies, oil refineries, and wind power generators. (State Tax Notes)
  • New York Governor Defends Tax Break Program: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told reporters that the START-UP NY program, which waives 10 years of taxes for new businesses near state universities, has cost the state nothing. His remarks react to recent news that the state has spent $53 million on ads promoting the program along with questions about how many jobs it really has created. (Poughkeepsie Journal / State Tax Notes / WGRZ)
  • Stop Dreamin’: The Economist is not bullish on state tax reform in California. (The Economist)

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