Archive for the ‘Federal Budget & Economy’ Category

Tax Policy is MIA in the State of the Union

When it comes to tax policy, President Obama’s State of the Union address last night was a model of modesty. There was little new. And, while it is always hard to tell what really matters in a speech that included more than 40 separate initiatives, the president showed little enthusiasm for broad-based tax reform. With […]

IRS Gets Hammered in the 2014 Budget Agreement

The Internal Revenue Service is one of the biggest losers in the 2014 budget deal agreed to last night by House and Senate negotiators. Under the agreement, the service would get just $11.3 billion, which is $526 million below its 2013 budget and $1.7 billion less than President Obama requested. According to the House Appropriations […]

Pay to Extend Unemployment Benefits? Why Not Pay to Extend Temporary Tax Breaks Too?

In the battle over whether to extend long-term unemployment benefits, one of the Republican talking points is: Sure, we’ll consider an extension, but it must be paid for. That’s a fine idea. Here’s another: In exactly the same way, Congress should offset the cost of restoring dozens of temporary tax breaks that expired on Dec. […]

Rethinking Homeownership Subsidies

Tax expenditures for homeownership, such as deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes and the partial exclusion for capital gains on the sale of a primary residence, have long been recognized as ineffective, regressive, and extraordinarily expensive—costing $121 billion in 2013 alone. Until now, most reforms—including the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan—have focused on restructuring the mortgage […]

TheTaxVox 2013 Lump of Coal Award: Wait ‘Til Next Year Edition

Tax Vox proudly announces its seventh annual Lump of Coal Award for the worst tax and fiscal policies of 2013. The year was a curious mix of really bad ideas and dithering. After all, Congress’s finest moment may have been its December budget mini-deal—a decision that effectively ignored every one of the great fiscal questions facing […]

The Year in Taxes: From the Fiscal Cliff to Tax Reform Talks

The year in taxes started with the nation toppling, briefly, over the fiscal cliff. And it ended with some interesting policy proposals on tax reform though little political progress. Remember the fiscal cliff? While that crisis was resolved on New Year’s Day, it really began in 2001, when President George W. Bush signed the Economic […]

The Budget Deal: A Needed Time Out From Washington’s Fiscal Tantrums

House and Senate budget negotiators have reached what can only be called a temporary fiscal truce—if they can convince their congressional colleagues to accept it. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) hammered out a lowest-common-denominator deal that gives both parties two years of breathing room—and talking points. […]

Whither the Tax Extenders?

In three weeks, more than 60 expiring tax provisions will…expire. At least for a while. It isn’t unusual for these mostly-business tax breaks to temporarily disappear, only to come back from the dead a few months after their technical expiration. But this time businesses are more nervous than usual. Their problem: Congress may have few […]

Analyzing Taxes and Transfers Together

Government redistributes income through tax and spending programs. Nearly everyone pays some tax – be it federal or state income taxes, payroll taxes, or sales taxes. The tax system also affects people by delivering a host of benefits through tax expenditures (subsidies like the mortgage interest deduction or the child tax credit).   And broad spending […]

Why the Next Debt Limit Debacle Might be Worse

Congress’s latest flirtation with debt-limit default caused barely a ripple in the financial markets. Rates on short-term Treasuries spiked in early October, before quickly subsiding to more normal levels. The spread between one- and three-year Treasuries temporarily widened, but quickly fell back to a more normal trend. All told, financial markets barely blinked. Unfortunately, the […]