Lunch Links: New Jersey Deficit, Rhode Island Surplus, Tampon Exemption Reaches Europe

May 20, 2016

Today is May 20, the date in 1899 when the first traffic ticket was issued (to a taxi driver speeding down Lexington Avenue in Manhattan at 12 mph). Traffic tickets generate over $6 billion a year in revenue for state and local governments.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • Fewer Shareholders Pay U.S. Tax on Dividends: 75 percent of U.S. corporate stock is owned by tax-exempt and tax-preferred entities like 401(k) plans. That the number is so high surprises many and could complicate tax reform efforts. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Wal-Mart Files Brief in Puerto Rico AMT Appeal: The lower court ruled that the 114 percent tax on Wal-Mart was confiscatory, and noted that Puerto Rico has no working system of enabling taxpayers to get refunds if a tax is struck down. Puerto Rico is appealing to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. (Law360)
  • New Jersey Has $1.1 Billion Deficit: Tax revenues are down, which officials say is due to the weak stock market. Gov. Christie (R) plans to reduce the surplus account by $239 million, cut spending by $303 million, slow payment of tax breaks and accelerate collection of taxes owed by $160 million, and state agencies are on track to spend $508 million less than budgeted. State law requires the budget, which ends June 30, be balanced. (North Jersey Record)
  • Rhode Island Has $121 Million Surplus: The extra cash is from strong tax collections, despite recent cuts to business taxes. Spending is actually $16 million above what it should be. Massachusetts and Connecticut tax receipts are below forecasts. (WPRI)
  • Massachusetts Considers a Millionaire Tax: The Legislature passes the first hurdle for putting a 4 percent surtax on the November 2018 ballot. (Tax Foundation / Boston Globe)
  • Curtain Won’t Fall on Massachusetts Film Credit: While Massachusetts looks to raise the income tax, the state film credit was spared the chopping block. The program costs tens of millions of dollars a year. Gov. Baker (R) and Rep. Angelo Scaccia (D) attempted to limit it to $7 million. (Boston Globe)
  • Oklahoma Requires Online Retailers to Notify Customers About Tax: Only 4 percent of Oklahomans pay their use tax for purchases made online. The new law approved by Gov. Fallin (R) requires retailers to notify customers of the obligation. Unlike laws in other states, this one doesn’t require the information to also be sent to the state, which reduces constitutional problems but may also reduce compliance. (Tulsa World)
  • Calls for Tampon Exemption Reach Europe: The European Union requires countries with VATs to apply it to all products except a narrow list where a lower 5 percent rate can be charged. Activists are demanding that tampons be completely exempted from tax. In the United States, which has no overarching requirements for exemptions, some two-thirds of all purchases are exempt from sales tax in the average state. (The Economist)

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