Topic: Stupid Tax Tricks

“Pension Smoothing” is a Sham

By :: July 9th, 2014

Pity House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp. He wants to rewrite the tax code in a serious way, but instead he’s spending his days trying to come up with imaginary revenue sources to pay for important spending priorities like rebuilding our crumbling highways. Tomorrow, his committee will consider a proposal to partially pay […]

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The Strange Fruit of the House’s Bonus Depreciation Bill

By :: June 13th, 2014

When the Ways & Means Committee sent the House a measure to make permanent extra-generous tax subsidies for firms that purchase capital equipment, I noted in passing that the bill included a provision extending “bonus depreciation” rules to fruit and nut trees. If I had read the bill more carefully, I would have noticed that while […]

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Tax-Free Olympic Boodle is Gold Medal Stupidity

By :: August 7th, 2012

President Obama and conservative GOP senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) agree: Olympic medals and the cash awards that go with them should be tax-exempt. This is the dumbest idea of the summer—and in our overheated campaign season, that’s saying something. The idea seems to have originated with anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist. Rubio instantly turned Norquist’s press […]

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Three Strikes and You're Out for Tax Extenders

By :: February 1st, 2012

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on “Extenders and Tax Reform: Seeking Long-Term Solutions.”  It’s about time!  The charade of annual or biennial debate about perpetually “expiring” tax provisions is terrible tax policy and a symbol of our failure to come to terms with budget reality. If you need help sleeping, download the Joint […]

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The Final Frontier: A Tax Break for Burial in Space

By :: December 13th, 2011

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, the Virginia General Assembly is about to consider a bill that would provide a tax subsidy to encourage people to be buried in space. Is buried the right verb? Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore has proposed a deduction of up to $8,000 for people who agree to have […]

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Why A Repatriation Tax Holiday is Still a Bad Idea

By :: October 13th, 2011

In another one of those bad ideas that never seem to go away, Congress may be about to grant a huge tax break to multinational companies that have stashed earnings in their foreign subsidiaries. A temporary tax holiday for firms that return those profits to the United States is the latest evidence that bipartisanship is […]

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Jon Stewart's Fake News on Tax Expenditures

By :: May 11th, 2011

Dear Jon, The Daily Show is my favorite TV show.  I think you’re the smartest policy analyst on television.  (Okay, as you prove time after time, that’s a really low bar, but, seriously, you’re brilliant.) Last month, however, your satire missed the mark.  You had a lot of fun with President Obama’s pledge to make “spending […]

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Why do cash-strapped states subsidize moviemakers?

By :: March 2nd, 2011

While states are trying to balance their budgets by cutting education and health care as well as aid to local governments, governors are fighting to protect truly important initiatives such as film industry tax credits.  In today’s LA Times, Michael Kinsley does a great job dissecting these boondoggles. He cites a nice paper by Bob […]

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The Tax Vox 2010 Lump of Coal Award, Job-Killing Edition

By :: December 23rd, 2010

It’s time for Tax Vox’s fourth annual Lump of Coal Award, given to 2010’s worst moments in fiscal policy. Bad law, outrageous rhetoric, and months of inaction made it tough to choose, but here are our Top 10 nominees: 10. A GOP leadership that sees “job-killers’ everywhere. The health bill was a job killer. The […]

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The Roth Rollover Boondoggle

By :: September 3rd, 2009

High-income investors are about to enjoy a massive tax windfall from Uncle Sam. In just a few months, they’ll be able to convert their Individual Retirement Accounts–where investment earnings are taxable at withdrawal– to Roth IRAs– where they are tax-free. As financial planners are happily telling their big-ticket clients, this will be the gift that keeps on giving.

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