More on legislative efforts to give a tax break to winning Olympians(!) …
Archive for Annette Nellen
California always has budget problems. In 2012, temporary tax increases were voted in to raise both the state sales tax rate and the top personal income tax rate. These put California at the top among state for high tax rates. These provisions expire soon, but budget problems remain. So, Prop 55 on the November 2016 ballot calls for extending the income tax rate increase.
Technology has made tax compliance a lot simpler and more efficient. I believe at some point, tax compliance and payment will be a just-in-time activity we can easily do from our smart phone or watch.
But, computer systems and networks need to be extremely secure due to the highly sensitive data and the thieves who work 24/7 to get the data. Just this week, the IRS alerted tax professionals of thieves and scammers trying to get control of practitioner computers to avail themselves of client tax data.
A recent post (8/26/16) on the Tax Justice website was titled – Why We Must Close The Pass-Through Loophole? That caught my attention as I was trying to think what the “loophole” might be? A loophole is a provision that can be used beyond its intended purpose because the rule is not written specifically enough. When a rule is being used as intended, it is not a loophole. For example, sometimes the mortgage interest deduction is called a loophole, but it is not. People deducting interest on the mortgages on their primary and vacation homes is using the rule as intended.
A PTIN is a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Paid preparers of most federal returns must have one and include it on the return along with their signature in order to avoid penalties. The IRS can use the PTIN to track returns prepared by particular individuals (years ago they had to use the preparer’s SSN). PTINs are part of a system rolled out in 2010 where the IRS planned to regulate all preparers of individual returns and a few others. The system was found contrary to Section 330 of Title 31.
For the past few years, tax reform discussions have focused on broadening the base and lowering the rate. We are now hearing a bit more about consumption taxes including in the form of a credit invoice VAT like most of the world uses (in addition to their income taxes).
In recent years, federal tax reform discussions have centered on comprehensive tax reform. This label does not always seem to fit though. Congressional attention is mostly focused on broadening the income tax base to lower tax rates and to move to a territorial system, at least for business income. Tax reform is a significant task, last done 30 years ago with the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Assuming major tax reform happens only every few decades, it is important to do more than match revenue generated from the reduction of a few of the over 200 income tax preferences to reduced income tax rates. While this would improve the tax system, more work is needed to best ensure the creation of a modern and efficient tax system.
On August 24, 2016, the House Republican’s released the last part of their six-part vision/plan known as “A Better Way.” That part deals with tax reform. The plan offers some significant changes including moving business taxation to a consumption tax model at low rates (20% for corporations and a maximum of 25% for flow-throughs).
My Moving Forward? column in State Tax Notes for July 18, 2016 was on “Lessons from State Personal Income Tax Forms” ($). I looked at the personal income tax (PIT) forms and instructions as well as state tax agency websites for all 50 states and D.C. I also looked at how each state collects the consumer use tax. Most have a line on the PIT form; there are several variations among the states.
Here are a few suggestions I have for improving use tax compliance, which represents a significant tax gap for all states.
A review of a few recent sales tax advisory opinions, issued by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, reminds us of the complexities of sales tax exemptions and special definitions of taxed items.
The GAO released a report today called Tax Expenditures: Opportunities Exist to Use Budgeting and Agency Performance Processes to Increase Oversight (GAO-16-622). The report examines the estimated $1.23 trillion annual cost of special tax deductions, exclusions, credits and preferential rates AND how there is basically no oversight of these costs relative to discretionary budget items. Apparently, OMB and federal agencies were to review tax expenditures (there are over 150 of them) to see how they help agency goals. So far, only 11 of 169 expenditures were addressed representing less than one-third of the total cost.