Tax Reform, Tax Expenditures, and Kevin Spacey

Tune in to TPC’s Tax Reform event today. A panel explores “The Politics of Tax Reform” today at noon at the Urban Institute. If you can’t join Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute, Chris Faricy of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, William Galston, of the Brookings Institution, and TPC moderator Howard Gleckman in person, watch online here.

Tax extenders redux: True to his word, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden plans to release his “tax extenders” plan today and may try for a committee mark-up this week. He’d like to restore the 50+ tax subsidies through 2015 but insists this would be the last time he’d give them new life. The tax breaks expired last December 31 but lobbyists are pushing hard to bring them back.

State tax laws are changing with the economy. “At least 30 states are considering some kind of tax change this year, mostly tax cuts, as the economic recovery takes hold,” reports USA TODAY. It’s a pattern, as TPC’s Elaine Maag and University of Illinois at Chicago’s David Merriman have demonstrated. Meanwhile, the Illinois House has effectively said “no” to a progressive state income tax and New York has dashed Mayor de Blasio’s hope for a tax on New York City’s wealthy residents to fund the city’s preschool programs.

Will Kevin Spacey hear “no?” Life imitates art: The star of the hit Netflix video series House of Cards did his best to convince Maryland legislators to increase state tax breaks for the show’s production by dining with a  group of elected officials. Unfortunately, they left with the taste of bad crab in their mouths. The House of Delegates approved a bill that would let the state take by eminent domain sets and other property from the show. The state Senate, by contrast, has voted to increase tax subsidies for film productions from $7.5 million to to $18.5 million. Frank Underwood would know what to do. Bloomberg tells the story, and TPC’s Howard Gleckman explores the effectiveness of such tax subsidies.

Meanwhile, states are looking to tax somebody for streaming video… somehow. Tax Analysts Cara Griffith wades through the quagmire of digital product taxation: “States will continue to use a variety of methods to attempt to subject streaming video to tax. Streaming any media content is unlikely to fit neatly within existing definitions and laws, which will likely result in states taking creative positions to ensure its taxability. This puts taxpayers like Netflix in a difficult situation.”

Word to the wise: The IRS will not contact you online, so don’t open that email. There’s yet another phishing scam afoot. Fake email with a bogus IRS case number appearing to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service is hitting inboxes. The email offers links that can trick a reader into providing personal information, with a message such as: “Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error… To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.”

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