Topic: State and Local Taxes

The Trouble with State Tax Triggers

By :: September 25th, 2015

State policymakers are increasingly using “triggers” to pass big tax cuts while ducking tough decisions on how to pay for them. They are bad tax policy. Naturally, they are incredibly popular. Here’s how a tax trigger works: A state cuts taxes over a period of years. There may be an initial tax cut that takes […]

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States That Cut Taxes Do So At Their Peril

By :: July 29th, 2015

Ever since the 1970s, when Jude Wanniski and Arthur Laffer came up with the ideas that are now referred to as supply-side economics, conservative politicians have been unable to resist the siren song of tax cuts for big earners. In recent years, this enthusiasm has spread to state governments led by conservatives, offering new tests […]

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Puerto Rico: Not Your Father’s Debt Crisis – or Your Greek Uncle’s

By :: July 1st, 2015

In a remarkable statement, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced this week that Puerto Rico’s debts are “not payable.” Nobody was really surprised. The island can work its way out of this financial mess with a two-pronged strategy: An aggressive short-term effort to raise taxes, cut spending, and improve financial controls combined with a long-run plan […]

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How Would the Kansas Senate Close the State’s Budget Gap? Mostly by Taxing Poor People

By :: June 12th, 2015

Kansas is grappling with a self-inflicted budget crisis. In 2012 and 2013, the state decided to experiment with major income tax cuts and an exemption of most small business and partnership income aimed at boosting the economy. The experiment is not going well to say the least. Now, faced with a serious budget gap and […]

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Oklahoma Pulls the Trigger on an Unaffordable Tax Cut

By :: January 5th, 2015

Increasingly, states are tying tax cuts to revenue targets. It sounds reasonable enough: If a state collects more tax than it needs to fund government in a future year, rates automatically go down. But such tax triggers open the door to shameless budget gimmickry. The latest poster child for this is Oklahoma, which enacted a […]

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What Falling Oil Prices Will Mean for State Budgets

By :: November 25th, 2014

Oil prices are dropping…fast. This may be good news for drivers but not so good for a handful of states that use energy tax revenue to help fund their budgets. It may be especially challenging for states that rely on taxes from production of shale oil that uses methods that may be practical only at […]

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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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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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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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