Topic: State & Local Issues

What Will Next Week’s State Ballot Measures Tell Us About Taxes?

By :: October 31st, 2014

While most national attention is focused on which party will control the Senate and who will win the 36 gubernatorial races, many states also have fiscal initiatives on their ballots. And a few may provide some clues to how the public feels about the trade-off between taxes and government services. Many of the 16 tax-related […]

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Bertha and the French Professor: Lessons for Public Private Partnerships

By :: October 21st, 2014

Jean Tirole is an influential, respected, and by all accounts gracious man who won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Bertha is a 7,000-ton tunnel boring machine that’s been stuck under Seattle for nine months—but is still tweeting—as state officials and a private contractor battle over who should pay to get her out. What do […]

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How Michigan Blocked a $1 Billion Tax Windfall for Corporations

By :: September 15th, 2014

For all the talk of political gridlock, it is amazing how quickly a state legislature can act when $1 billion in unexpected corporate tax refunds are at stake. The lawmakers are in Michigan. And their pistons were fired up following an unfavorable state Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit brought by IBM. The case involved the […]

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Nearly All States Play the Lottery, But None Are Big Winners

By :: September 9th, 2014

Wyoming residents no longer have to cross the border to purchase Powerball tickets. On Aug. 24, Wyoming became the 44th state to legalize a lottery. Proponents laud these games as an easy source of funds for schools and other public services. However, lotteries are often a bad bet: Revenues are relatively modest but their problems […]

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Do Sales Tax Holidays Ever Make Sense?

By :: August 18th, 2014

Politicians love sales tax holidays as good campaign fodder. Retailers celebrate them with gaudy signs announcing tax-free shopping, and consumers line up to take advantage of the deals. But economists and policy analysts across the ideological spectrum condemn them as poorly targeted tax policy that produces little economic benefit. Is there any fiscal justification for […]

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State Taxes and the April Surprise

By :: July 22nd, 2014

In recent months, several governors have complained about the April, 2014, surprise in state tax revenues. They say they were shocked when personal income tax payments fell far below expectations. They shouldn’t have been. What happened? In part, in an effort to beat an upcoming increase in capital gains taxes, investors accelerated realizations into tax […]

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What’s The Matter With Kansas And Its Tax Cuts? It Can’t Do Math

By :: July 15th, 2014

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and his state legislature have embarked on a wonderful natural experiment. Once again we are testing the question: Can tax cuts pay for themselves? The answer– yet again– is a resounding no. We’ve tried this experiment time and again. And tax cut proponents such as economist Art Laffer continue to insist they […]

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Close But No Cigar: The Politics of Class, Race, and Taxes

By :: June 26th, 2014

This week, the District of Columbia City Council approved a major tax reform bill. And, as it happens, some important—but unspoken– issues of race and class are underlying key changes to the revenue code. Earlier this year, the DC Tax Revision Commission proposed a broad rewrite of the city’s tax code, including two modest but […]

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U.S. Taxes Have Changed A Lot Since 1929

By :: June 20th, 2014

U.S. taxes today bear little resemblance to the taxes collected before World War II. Income and payroll taxes have replaced tariffs and excise taxes at the federal level while property taxes have become less important for state and local governments. And while the feds collected just one-third of all revenue before the war, they now […]

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Making State and Local Taxes “Friendly” to Small Businesses

By :: June 19th, 2014

Small business owners are more concerned with the complexity of state and local tax laws than with the amount of tax they pay, according to a recent survey conducted by in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation. Aside from economic conditions, small business owners’ perception of the ease of compliance with licensing, regulatory, […]

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