By Renu Zaretsky :: March 2nd, 2015
Alabama’s GOP Governor wants higher taxes on car and cigarette sales. Robert Bentley released details on how he’d close the state’s $700 million budget shortfall. And $587 million would come from new revenues. He’d raise an estimated $200 million by doubling the state sales tax on automobiles from 2 percent to 4 percent and collect another $205 million by boosting cigarette and tobacco taxes by 82.5 cents per pack. The governor would also “unearmark” $187 million in funds to put more money in the state’s Education Trust Fund: He’ll explain that later this week.
Is it time to start taxing jet fuel in Atlanta? When Delta Airlines was facing bankruptcy in 2005, lawmakers allowed tax-free jet fuel purchases at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. But Delta closed out 2014 with pre-tax income of $4.5 billion, $1.9 billion more than in 2013. Now, a bill working its way through the state legislature would restore taxes on jet fuel at the world’s busiest airport. The measure would raise $23 million a year for aviation upgrades throughout Georgia, according to state budget analysts.
In South Carolina: Don’t ask, don’t tell. In 2006, the state cut homeowners’ property taxes by about half, believing that a one cent increase in the state’s sales tax would make up the revenue for school districts. But wishful thinking doesn’t pay the bills and sales tax collections never reached expectations. So far, the cumulative $866 million shortfall has been covered largely through the state’s General Fund. The Greenville News reports that GOP Senator Mike Fair, a member of the state’s Senate Finance Committee, didn’t know the how big the shortfalls have been. “Not a clue. It hasn't been discussed.”
“What if we funded public education like Affordable Care Act health insurance?” TPC’s Eric Toder imagines it, and his thought experiment is an instructive lesson in the difference between direct spending and tax expenditures. If, instead of making publicly-funded schools available to all, state and local governments used ACA-like income-based tax subsidies and penalties to run K-12 education, “it would drastically reduce direct spending for public schools and the taxes necessary to support those outlays.” Of course, the total cost, including for those tax expenditures, would be about the same. Plus, running public education though the tax code “would make life much more complicated for state and local taxpayers and tax administrators.” But it sure would sound better to spending-averse lawmakers.
What do you need to know about dynamic scoring? TPC’s Donald Marron lays out three basics in his contribution to TaxVox’s dynamic scoring forum. First: It shouldn’t be just about taxes. Spending and regulations move the economy too and a dynamic score of the House repeal of the Affordable Care Act would illustrate that. Second: Dynamic scoring isn't new. It’s just that now, multiple estimates will have to be winnowed down to a single estimate for the official score. And third: Dynamic scoring won’t live up to the hype pushed by its advocates or its critics—and that’s a good thing. All told, Marron is “cautiously optimistic” about its use.
Corporate tax rate cuts will come in India. India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley announced a plan to cut the nation’s corporate tax rate to 25 percent and eliminate various local levies and surcharges that bring the current overall rate to nearly 34 percent. India also plans to implement a Goods and Services Tax beginning in April 2016. The GST rate is likely to be at least 16 percent. The average corporate tax rate in Asia was 21.91 percent in 2014.
Australia is collecting from multinationals. Under pressure to crack down on firms’ profit shifting to lower tax jurisdictions, the Australian Tax Office reports it is collecting an additional AU$250 million in tax from 13 multinational corporations. It says it's continuing to audit another two dozen companies. The former Labor government gave the Tax Office about AU$225 million over four years to eliminate tax avoidance and recoup about AU$1 billion in revenue.
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