Archive for the ‘Tax Administration’ Category

How Political Gridlock Encourages Tax Avoidance

In July, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked Congress to stop the current wave of corporate expatriations. The legislation is going nowhere, and Treasury and the IRS are unwilling to act on their own, though some legal experts believe they already have the authority to curb the transactions. This is just the most recent example of […]

Abuse of financial products by hedge funds

Today, I testified before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (the “Subcommittee”) on the abuse of structured financial products by hedge funds, in particular by the Renaissance funds. This is what I told the Subcommittee: Almost a century ago, Congress reduced the tax rate for long-term capital gains. Then, long-term meant holding assets for […]

The Real IRS Flap Is About Dark Money, Not Emails

Don’t get distracted by the political theater over lost IRS emails. There is little new about headline-seeking politicians berating IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Like most of what happens in Congress these days, these second-rate star chambers do little more than create cable TV sound bites and base-motivating outrage. But get past the shouting and two […]

Don’t Turn Over IRS Debt Collections to Private Contractors

The latest example of why bipartisanship is not necessarily good: A bill proposed by senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Pat Roberts (R-KN) to require the IRS to hire private debt collectors. The last time Congress made the IRS try this, the agency lost money. It was a terrible idea then and it is a terrible idea now. Schumer and Roberts slipped […]

Profiles in Courage at the IRS (Really)

Let’s take a break from fake IRS political scandals to consider how the Service handled a real scandal 45 years ago.  Randolph W. Thrower was IRS commissioner from 1969 to 1971. The Nixon White House insisted that the IRS audit the president’s enemies. Thrower, a lifelong Republican, refused to do it. According to the Washington […]

How 19 Million Uninsured Tax Filers Could Get ACA Coverage

Back in November, I suggested that tax prep firms might be a useful portal for low-income people to get insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The idea: Since many key ACA-related issues are income-based, commercial tax prep is an easy way for folks to learn whether they are eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage, how […]

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 […]

How Not to Fix the IRS

House Republicans have decided to make the IRS their summer piñata. Its leadership says it will bring a series of anti-IRS proposals to the floor later this month. And an appropriations subcommittee’s spending bill would slash the agency’s budget by $3 billion, 24 percent below levels Congress approved in March. If the plan is to […]

The IRS and the Tea Party: Treasury Report Finds Big Bungling but Small Scandal

The IRS’s botched processing of requests for tax-exempt status by political groups isn’t the new Watergate. In fact, as scandals go, it is barely the Days Inn–based on what we’ve learned from a much-anticipated report by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). That any report by TIGTA is much anticipated says something about […]

Simplifying Child Care Tax Benefits

Every year at tax time I am reminded of two tax benefits that subsidize my children’s child care – the employer-provided child care exclusion and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC). Families with sufficient expenses can benefit from both provisions. Congress could simplify these child care benefits by harmonizing the maximum allowable expenses for […]