Topic: Tax Administration

DOMA’s Tax Hassles for Same-Sex Couples

By :: March 26th, 2013

The annual income tax season is no fun for any of us but it can be a lot worse for same-sex couples in California, Nevada, and Washington. Those three states follow community property law and recognize either same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships. The combination makes tax filing an even bigger hassle than the rest of us […]

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Chairman Camp Agrees: Too Many Choices Burden our Tax System

By :: January 28th, 2013

Last week’s draft plan by House Ways & Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) to reform the taxation of financial products includes two key changes that would simplify rules, reduce manipulation, minimize compliance burdens, and improve tax administration. The first would require investors to use the “mark-to-market” method of accounting for all derivatives, other than […]

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Can Filing Taxes Connect Low-Income Families to Bank Services and Save the Government Money?

By :: September 7th, 2012

Is there a way for low- and moderate-income households who do not have bank accounts to receive tax refunds electronically? A new Urban Institute study found these households may be willing to participate in a program that delivers their refunds directly to a prepaid card account. We evaluated a Treasury Department pilot program called the […]

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Can Behavioral Science Improve Tax Compliance?

By :: July 9th, 2012

In Sunday’s New York Times, Richard Thaler laments that “as a general rule, the United States government is run by lawyers who occasionally take advice from economists.” That makes for better policy than a tyranny of lawyers alone. But it certainly isn’t enough. Policy is ultimately about changing the way people behave. And to do […]

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Billions in Tax Refund Fraud--and How to Stop Most of it

By :: May 29th, 2012

The Treasury may be losing as much as $5 billion a year from fraudulent tax refund claims—and most of that fraud is entirely preventable. The New York Times reportedyesterday about the rampant use of identity theft to exploit weaknesses in the IRS’s tax refund processes, sometimes resulting in thousands of fraudulent refunds. The most common form […]

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Five Challenges for the IRS’s New Capital Gains Reporting Rules

By :: May 1st, 2012

Sellers of stocks and other assets have always had to calculate their cost basis (generally, what they paid for the investment) in order to figure their taxable capital gains. In the past, this was often a hit-or-miss experience that required lots of tedious research (occasionally with help from brokers) and more than a bit of […]

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Tax Extenders and Tax Reform

By :: February 2nd, 2012

On Tuesday, I testified before the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing titled “Extenders and Tax Reform: Seeking Long-Term Solutions.” I was already depressed about the state of our tax system before I started preparing. As I drafted my testimony, I became distraught. Our tax system is a mess and unless we send a clear […]

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Why the Tax Code is a Mess, Graphically

By :: September 12th, 2011

I just came across this bar chart, which illustrates graphically why the tax code is such a mess.  The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) is the official scorekeeper for all tax legislation passed by the Congress.  The chart shows the number of requests for estimates and other analysis that they’ve received from Congressional offices since […]

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Unearned Interest in the Homebuyer Tax Credit

By :: July 29th, 2011

Taxpayers who took the 2008 tax credit for new homebuyers were unhappy when Congress made the credit much more generous in 2009. People who bought homes in 2008 have to repay the $7,500 credit over 15 years. Those who bought in 2009 or 2010 don’t have to pay their credits back. It turns out that […]

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Too Many Cooks on Tax Policy?

By :: May 16th, 2011

I’m preparing a presentation on our tax system for a group of visiting foreign tax officials and they wanted to know how responsibilities are divided within the federal government.  Seems like a fair question. In other countries, the process is often quite streamlined:  a Ministry of Finance, which makes the political decisions, a Treasury Department, […]

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