TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ben Carson's Tax Plan:  14.9% Flat Tax, No Charitable, Mortgage, State & Local Tax Deductions, No Tax On Capital Gains, Dividends, Interest

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ted Cruz’s Simple, Radical Tax Plan

CruzNew York Times:  Ted Cruz’s Simple, Radical Tax Plan, by Josh Barro:

Like Rand Paul before him, Ted Cruz is promoting a tax plan that relies heavily on a value-added tax, or VAT. And like Mr. Paul, Mr. Cruz is not calling his VAT a VAT.

He has good reason not to.

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December 31, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Problem With Hillary Clinton's Tax Plan: $250,000 A Year Is Not Middle Class

Hillary 2016New York Times op-ed:  $250,000 A Year Is Not Middle Class, by Bryce Covert (ThinkProgress):

Hillary Clinton has vowed not to raise taxes on the middle class.

It’s a pledge that has worked well for others on the campaign trail before her, a resonant assurance to voters who saw themselves as middle class or aspired to be. But it’s a bad promise.

Mrs. Clinton is using a definition of middle class that has long been popular among Democratic policy makers, from her husband to Barack Obama when he was a candidate: any household that makes $250,000 or less a year. Yet this definition is completely out of touch with reality. It also boxes her in.

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December 29, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tax Policy Center:  Trump Tax Plan Adds $10 Trillion To Debt, Slashes Taxes For Top 0.1%

TrumpLeonard E. Burman, Jim Nunns, Jeff Rohaly & Joseph Rosenberg (Tax Policy Center), An Analysis of Donald Trump's Tax Plan:

This paper analyzes presidential candidate Donald Trump’s tax proposal. His plan would significantly reduce marginal tax rates on individuals and businesses, increase standard deduction amounts to nearly four times current levels, and curtail many tax expenditures. His proposal would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households. The plan would reduce federal revenues by $9.5 trillion over its first decade before accounting for added interest costs or considering macroeconomic feedback effects. The plan would improve incentives to work, save, and invest. However, unless it is accompanied by very large spending cuts, it could increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product by 2036, offsetting some or all of the incentive effects of the tax cuts.

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December 22, 2015 in Political News, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Warren Buffett Endorses Hillary Clinton's Tax Plan

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Corporate Tax Reform Plan

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

WaPo, WSJ Criticize Hillary Clinton's Tax Credit Orgy

Hillary 2016Washington Post editorial, Hillary Clinton Panders to Middle-Class Voters With Unrealistic Tax Promises:

If there is a social or economic need, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has a tax credit to match. She’s proposed one for businesses that institute profit-sharing plans (cost: $20 billion over 10 years); another for hiring disabled veterans; and, as of last week, a tax credit worth up to $1,200 to help families defray the cost of caring for their elderly members at home (a $10 billion, 10-year item). Coming soon: changes to Social Security to benefit workers who take time off to care for the elderly.

When it comes to paying for these “targeted” benefits, plus her other promises such as universal preschool, however, the former secretary of state has a clear principle: none of the 97 percent of U.S. households that earn $250,000 or less per year will be asked to contribute higher taxes.

If this strikes you as implausible — the Democratic equivalent of the no-tax-hike pledge Republican candidates regularly impose on themselves — we agree. There is simply no way that the federal government can meet its current fiscal commitments, plus the increased demands of an aging population, and provide the new forms of middle-class relief and business tax relief Ms. Clinton promises, while tapping only the top 3 percent of earners. ...

Eventually, our leaders will have to stop pandering to the middle class, hopefully before a crisis forces them to face facts.

Wall Street Journal editorial, Hillary Clinton’s Tax Credit Sweepstakes: There’s One for You, and You, and You, and Don’t Forget Him Over There:

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December 1, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Growing Tax Agenda

Hillary 2016Wall Street Journal, Clinton’s Proposed Tax Credits Expand: Latest Focus on Caregivers Is at Least the Ninth Tax Proposal Since This Summer:

If you’re caring for an aging parent, deciding whether to invest in rural America or struggling to pay medical bills, Hillary Clinton has a tax credit for you.

As the Democratic presidential front-runner rolls out her policy agenda, she has repeatedly turned to the tax code as one of her favorite policy tools. It offers a way to reward behavior she wants to see more of, punish actions that she sees as harmful, and directly aid families with particular challenges.

Compared with outright spending programs, tax cuts can be simpler to administer, carefully targeted and politically easier to enact.

But there are downsides: They have a mixed record of success and often reward businesses for doing things they were going to do anyway. It can be complicated to claim the benefits. And the Internal Revenue Service, already sagging under budget cuts and the complex task of administering the Affordable Care Act, would be given even more work.

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November 24, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 16, 2015

NY Times: The Tax Code Can Be Simpler, But Not Three Pages

CarlyNew York Times:  The Tax Code Can Be Simpler. But Not Three Pages, by Josh Barro:

All the Republican presidential candidates say they want to make the tax code simpler. But no candidate has been more aggressive about simplicity than Carly Fiorina, who says “our tax code needs to go from 73,000 pages down to about three pages.”

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November 16, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Iowa Tax Prof Andy Grewal's Role In The Pivotal Moment Of Saturday's Democratic Presidential Debate

Hillary 2016Washington Post, A Defensive Hillary Clinton Lost Last Night’s Debate:

The Des Moines debate will ultimately be remembered for just one moment: Clinton playing both the gender card and invoking the Sept. 11 attacks to defend her coziness with and campaign cash from Wall Street. 

Here is the exchange that everyone is talking about:

  • Sanders attacks: “Let’s not be naive about it. Why, over her political career, has Wall Street been a major, THE major, campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? You know, maybe they’re dumb and they don’t know what they’re going to get, but I don’t think so. … Why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something! Everybody knows that!”
  • Clinton pulls out a rhetorical bazooka: “Wait a minute, he has basically used his answer to impugn my integrity. Let’s be frank here: … Not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small. And I’m very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60 percent. So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan, where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.” ...

Clinton tried to walk it back: Later in the debate, as Twitter exploded, CBS presented her with an emblematic viewer tweet. University of Iowa law professor Andy Grewal wrote:

Grewal

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November 16, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

WSJ: Value-Added Tax Catches On In Republican Presidential Race

VATWall Street Journal, Value-Added Tax Catches On in Republican Presidential Race:

This year’s crop of Republican presidential candidates has pitched many ways to bust up the tax code, but one idea—converting to a value-added tax—has been anathema to both parties for decades despite being a staple worldwide.

Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas want to replace the 78-year-old payroll tax, which is now dedicated to Social Security and Medicare, and the 106-year-old corporate income tax with a single levy. That new tax would be so big and broad-based that Mr. Cruz’s version would raise $25.4 trillion over the next decade and would become the federal government’s primary funding source, raising more than a reduced individual income tax.

Their proposals have drawn scant attention on the campaign trail, and are hardly revolutionary globally, as the U.S. is the only developed country without a value-added tax.

But some conservative critics are beginning to raise alarms. Adopting a broad tax on goods and services, they say, would make the sting of taxation less palpable and—eventually—let the U.S. adopt the revenue system that fuels the European social-welfare states.

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November 14, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Last Hurrah For Republican Tax Slashers

Financial Times op-ed:  A Last Hurrah for Republican Tax Slashers, by James Pethokoukis:

The Republican party’s raison d’être is cutting taxes. It may even be its divine commission. God put Republicans on earth to cut taxes, the conservative columnist, Robert Novak, once said, and failure to do that means “they have no useful function”.

Republicans should pray for a new purpose. Their standing with middle-class voters is little improved from 2012. If Hillary Clinton becomes the 45th US president, it would be the first time since 1948 that the Republicans have lost three consecutive elections. Their “supply-side” orthodoxy would merit much of the blame. Big tax cuts, particularly for the wealthiest, do not work in an age of high inequality and heavy debt. Republicans need an economic agenda that respects markets while also recognising the challenges facing America and its anxious middle class. ...

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November 12, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WSJ: Republican Candidates Push Bold Tax Plans

Tax Foundation 1

Following up on last week's post, NY Times, WSJ Editorialize On Republican Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans:  Wall Street Journal, Republican Candidates Push Bold Tax Plans:

Republican presidential candidates are competing to propose dramatic changes to tax policy that go well beyond the party’s previous platforms and all but ensure the issue will play a central role in the general election.

Driven by a desire to stand out in a crowded field and spark economic growth, the GOP contenders no longer just say they want to lower rates and expand the tax base. Their new ideas, once the province of right-leaning think tanks, make previous Republican plans look timid.

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November 11, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Clinton Foundation Spin-Off Reverses Position, Agrees To Refile Corrected Tax Returns After Republicans Call For Audit

Clinton FoundationFollowing up on Tuesday's post, Clinton Foundation Spin-Off Won’t Refile Tax Returns To Correct Mistakes, Despite Earlier Pledge:  Politico, Clinton Foundation Spinoff Reverses on Refiling Tax Forms:

An organization related to the Clinton Foundation has again reversed itself on fixing errors on its federal tax filings and now says it plans to submitted amended returns.

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November 5, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Vox: 100 Years Of Tax Brackets, In One Chart

Vox, 100 Years of Tax Brackets, in One Chart:

The US currently has seven tax brackets — and many presidential candidates think that's too many. ... Generally, politicians want to reduce the number of brackets because they believe it will simplify the tax code. That said, tax brackets are among the easiest parts of the tax code, thanks to modern software and, well, math.

Vox

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November 3, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Clinton Foundation Spin-Off Won’t Refile Tax Returns To Correct Mistakes, Despite Earlier Pledge

Clinton FoundationPolitico, Clinton Foundation Spin-Off Won’t Refile Tax Returns:

An organization spun off from the Clinton Foundation has no plans to refile its tax returns due to mistakes in prior years, an official said, contradicting a highly-publicized news report earlier this year.

A series of articles published as Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign kicked off this spring noted that the Clinton Health Access Initiative, set up in 2002 as the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative and spun off from the foundation in 2010, had not fully complied with aspects of a conflict-of-interest agreement negotiated before the former first lady and senator became secretary of state in 2009.

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November 3, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, November 2, 2015

NY Times, WSJ Editorialize On Republican Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans

Tax Foundation 1

New York Times editorial, Why the Republican Tax Plans Won’t Work:

The Republican presidential candidates were full of tax talk at this week’s debate. But none has a tax plan coherent enough to be the basis of a substantive discussion, let alone one that could meet the nation’s challenges.

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November 2, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ted Cruz Releases Flat Tax Plan: 10% For Individuals, 16% For Businesses

Cruz 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  A Simple Flat Tax for Economic Growth: A 10% Income Tax and a 16% Business Tax Would Put an End to the Eight Lean Years of Obama, by Ted Cruz:

Imagine 4.9 million new jobs. Imagine, instead of President Obama’s income stagnation, average wages rising 12.2% over the next decade. Capital investment rising 43.9%. And Americans at every level of the economy enjoying double-digit increases in after-tax income.

Imagine exports and manufacturing jobs booming. The trade deficit falling as the tax bias against American-made goods is eliminated. Imagine a 10% income tax. Every American filing his or her taxes on a postcard or an iPhone app. And abolishing the IRS as we know it.

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October 29, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, October 16, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 890

IRS Logo 2Breitbart, Ben Carson’s Book Tour Threatens to End Civilization As We Know It:

Ben Carson is going to suspend his presidential campaign for two weeks to hawk his book! This is unprecedented! It shows he’s not serious about running for president! It proves he doesn’t understand anything about how politics works! It’s the end of the world as we know it, and nobody feels fine!

“Sen. John McCain suspended his presidential campaign for a financial crisis. Famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson is doing so for a book tour,” gasped the Huffington Post. The notion that Carson was “suspending” his campaign appeared in headlines and news stories across the Internet. ...

In the ABC report, Carson spokesman Doug Watts explained that leaving the campaign staff behind while Carson spends a few days focusing on his book tour alleviates concerns about “co-mingling from the corporate standpoint to the Federal Election Commission standpoint so it’s just better to avoid any bad appearance.”

Does anyone, post-IRS scandal, think it’s a bad idea for Republican candidates to be extra-careful about attracting the interest of Obama Administration regulatory agencies? Does everyone remember which agency IRS scandal kingpin Lois Lerner worked for, before she signed up with Internal Revenue?

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October 16, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hillary Clinton Proposes Financial Transactions Tax

Hillary Clinton Supporters Endorse 'White Privilege Tax'

October 10, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Jindal Tax Reform Plan: Everybody Has To Have Some Skin In The Game

The Jindal Tax Reform Plan: Everybody Has to Have Some Skin in the Game:

JindalMy tax plan lowers the tax bracket for every American, and it dramatically simplifies the tax code for every American. To grow the American economy we must reduce our tax burden and make taxes simpler. My plan has only three rates – 2 percent, 10 percent, and 25 percent. Most Americans will be in the 10 percent bracket.

Most Republican plans brag about the idea that they will allow about half of all Americans to pay zero federal taxes. I think that is a terrible mistake. Again, most Republican plans do not require the lowest wage earners to pay anything, and some basically require half of Americans to pay zero federal taxes.

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October 9, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fleischer: Trump Tax Plan A Triumph Of Showmanship Over Common Sense

Trump 3

Following up on Monday's post, Trump's Tax Plan: 'Tax Reform That Will Make America Great Again':  New York Times Deal Book:  Trump Tax Plan a Triumph of Showmanship Over Common Sense, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

A mercurial candidate needs a mercurial tax plan. Donald J. Trump’s proposal to overhaul the tax code fits the bill. But it would hardly raise the revenue needed to pay the nation’s invoices.

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September 30, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Trump's Tax Plan: 'Tax Reform That Will Make America Great Again'

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Tax Angle To The Iran Deal?

Politico, A Tax Angle to the Iran Deal?:

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is demanding to know whether President Barack Obama, as part of his recent Iran deal, plans to waive tax penalties on Americans doing business there. In a letter to Obama, Ryan noted that U.S. companies and individuals doing business in countries designated as sponsors of terrorism can lose foreign tax credits and face immediate taxation on their earnings there. Ryan, who opposes the Iran deal, wants to know whether Obama plans to use his statutory authority to waive those penalties.

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September 24, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Would The IRS Revoke The Catholic Church's Tax Exempt Status If Pope Francis Endorses Bernie Sanders?

Pope BernieForbes:  Presidential Race — Let's Talk Religion, Politics And The IRS, by Peter J. Reilly:

The IRS continues to make it clear that political campaign intervention by 501(c)(3) organizations including churches is absolutely prohibited. ... Of course when it comes to such a prohibition, the devil is in the details.  ”Certain activities may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances”.  As we head into a new election season, it is worth looking at some of those devilish details.

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September 21, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

NY Times: Jeb Bush Bites The Tax Hand That Feeds His Campaign

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book: The Surprising Target of Jeb Bush’s Tax Plan — Private Equity, by Andrew Ross Sorkin:

Earlier this year, Henry R. Kravis, the private equity investor, held a $100,000 a plate fund-raising dinner for Jeb Bush at his Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan. The guest list was a who’s who of private equity and real estate executives, including Jerry I. Speyer, the billionaire New York property owner.

The dinner raised more than $4 million.

That’s why Mr. Bush’s tax reform plan — unveiled last week and a likely topic of discussion at Wednesday night’s Republican debate — was such a surprise. Mr. Bush’s proposal seems to take a direct shot at the very people who filled the tables that night to support him.

In a departure from Republican orthodoxy, his new tax proposal calls for raising taxes — and closing a longtime loophole — on carried interest, which represents investment gains largely from private equity and hedge funds. (In this regard, Mr. Bush was following his Republican rival Donald Trump, who has been criticizing the carried-interest provision for weeks.)

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September 15, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jeb Bush's Tax Plan To Unleash 4% Growth: 28% Top Individual Rate, 20% Top Corporate Rate

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Economics Prof Works To Flesh Out Ben Carson's Biblically Inspired Flat Tax

Ben Carson 3Bloomberg:  Ben Carson's Economist Seeks Tax System Overhaul, by Richard Rubin:

Get Thomas Rustici talking about the current state of U.S. economic policymaking, and the adjectives start flowing: Corrupt, worst, wasteful, bloated, dangerous. 

And at least one important person is listening. Rustici, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, is now the senior economic adviser to Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate who is surging in polls nationally and in Iowa. 

It's up to Rustici to figure out the details of Carson's big-picture policies—balance the budget, impose a Biblically inspired flat tax—and he's got plenty of ideas. In his first interview since joining the campaign, he outlined some of them.

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September 8, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Would President Trump Eliminate Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges?

TrumpBloomberg:  Donald Trump Wants to Raise His Own Taxes, and Here’s How He Could Do It, by Richard Rubin:

Billionaire Donald Trump, who built his fortune in real estate, told Bloomberg Politics this week that he wants to raise his own taxes. One way to do it is a bipartisan proposal that would blow up one of the real estate industry's favorite tax breaks. 

The break, known as the like-kind exchange or "1031" for the tax code section it comes from, lets real estate owners sell one piece of property and buy a new one soon afterward without paying any capital gains taxes on the profits from the sale. The result is an ever-increasing pile of deferred capital gains, taxed only whenever there is a final sale or, better yet, never taxed as income at all upon death. 

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August 31, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Trump Says Tax Code Is Letting Hedge Fund Managers 'Get Away With Murder'

TrumpNew York Times, Trump Says Tax Code Is Letting Hedge Funds 'Get Away With Murder':

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump blasted hedge fund managers on Sunday as mere "paper pushers" who he said were "getting away with murder" by not paying their fair share of taxes.

In a telephone interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," Trump vowed to reform the tax laws if elected and said the current system was harming middle class Americans who currently faced higher tax rates than traders on Wall Street.

"The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky," Trump said.

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August 24, 2015 in News, Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Trump Bashes $4 Billion In IRS Refunds To Illegals

TrumpForbes:  Trump Bashes $4 Billion In IRS Refunds To Illegals, by Robert W. Wood:

President Obama and Donald Trump see immigration differently. The President’s aggressive executive action on immigration is still being litigated, and Mr. Trump proposes action of a different kind. In the meantime, tax credits and refunds for illegal immigrants have become controversial. Mr. Trump says illegal immigrants get $4.2 billion in tax credits. He can point to a 2011 audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. It confirms that individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States were paid $4.2 billion in refundable credits.

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August 21, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (17)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Harvard Law Prof Larry Lessig Mulls Presidential Bid, Would Resign After Passage Of Campaign Finance Reform And Let VP Bernie Sanders Or Elizabeth Warren Take Over

LessigHuffington Post:  Why I Want to Run, by Larry Lessig (Harvard):

Today I announced the formation of a committee to explore my entering the Democratic Primary for President. By Labor Day, I will decide whether a run makes sense.

I want to run. But I want to run to be a different kind of president. "Different" not in the traditional political puffery sense of that term. "Different," quite literally. I want to run to build a mandate for the fundamental change that our democracy desperately needs. Once that is passed, I would resign, and the elected Vice President would become President.

Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig Weighs Campaign for One-Day Presidency:

The Harvard law professor, who says his top priority is to “unrig this rigged system,” is launching an unconventional bid to be what he calls a “referendum president.”

His idea is straightforward: If elected, Mr. Lessig would take action to overhaul campaign-finance laws and end what he describes as voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering. Then — perhaps even after a single day, though he acknowledges that’s “hopeful”—he would step aside and let his vice president lead. He says he would consider Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren—who has repeatedly said she does not plan to run—to join him on the ticket.

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August 11, 2015 in Legal Education, Political News | Permalink | Comments (5)

Hillary Clinton And Bernie Sanders Want To Use The Tax Code To Weaken Wall Street

Wall StreetVox:  Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Want to Use the Tax Code to Weaken Wall Street, by Ezra Klein:

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama's tax policies sought to achieve the normal ends of Democratic tax policy: Fund the basic operations of the federal government, give more money to the poor and middle class, and take more money from the rich. That is, for the most part, what we expect Democratic tax plans to do.

But the tax plans Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have unveiled are more radical than that. Yes, they raise money to fund government operations, and sure, they redistribute wealth a bit. But their real aim is far more ambitious: They want to change the way the economy actually works.

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August 11, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hillary Clinton Releases Her 2007-2014 Joint Tax Returns Reporting $139 Million Income; 99% Of Charitable Contributions Went To Clinton Family Foundation

Clinton 3Hillary Clinton late Friday afternoon released her 2007-2014 tax returns, showing that she and Bill reported $139.1 million in adjusted gross income, paid $43.9 million in taxes (a 31.6% tax rate), and made $15 million (10.8% of their AGI) of charitable contributions, $14.9 million of which went to the Clinton Family Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.

I previously blogged the Clintons' tax returns for prior years:

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August 1, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Clintons Reaped Millions From Foreign Bank After Hillary Intervened In UBS Tax Case To Reduce IRS's Requested Disclosures Of Americans' Offshore Accounts By 91%

Wall Street Journal, UBS Deal Shows Clinton’s Complicated Ties; Donations to Family Foundation Increased After Secretary of State’s Involvement in Tax Case:

FruitfulA few weeks after Hillary Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state in early 2009, she was summoned to Geneva by her Swiss counterpart to discuss an urgent matter. The Internal Revenue Service was suing UBS AG to get the identities of Americans with secret accounts.

If the case proceeded, Switzerland’s largest bank would face an impossible choice: Violate Swiss secrecy laws by handing over the names, or refuse and face criminal charges in U.S. federal court.

Within months, Mrs. Clinton announced a tentative legal settlement—an unusual intervention by the top U.S. diplomat. UBS ultimately turned over information on 4,450 accounts, a fraction of the 52,000 sought by the IRS, an outcome that drew criticism from some lawmakers who wanted a more extensive crackdown.

From that point on, UBS’s engagement with the Clinton family’s charitable organization increased. Total donations by UBS to the Clinton Foundation grew from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014, according to the foundation and the bank.

The bank also joined the Clinton Foundation to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city loan programs, through which it lent $32 million. And it paid former president Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a series of question-and-answer sessions with UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive Bob McCann, making UBS his biggest single corporate source of speech income disclosed since he left the White House.

There is no evidence of any link between Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the case and the bank’s donations to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, or its hiring of Mr. Clinton. But her involvement with UBS is a prime example of how the Clintons’ private and political activities overlap.

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July 31, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More On Hillary Clinton's Capital Gains Tax Plan

HillaryFollowing up on Sunday's post, Hillary Clinton's Capital Gains Tax Plan

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July 28, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Capital Gains Tax Plan

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rand Paul: How Would You Kill The Tax Code?

July 22, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Tax Plan

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Brown: Jeb Bush Pays Too Much In Taxes. So Do The Rest Of Us.

JebFollowing up on my previous posts:

Washington Post op-ed:  Jeb Bush Paid Too Much in Taxes. So Did the Rest of Us., by Dorothy Brown (Vice Provost, Emory):

When we think of Jeb Bush—grandson of a U.S. Senator, son and brother of former presidents—it’s pretty easy to classify him right away as a political stand-in for the one percent; a wealthy and connected former two-term governor who few us would compare to an average Joe. And based on what he makes in a year, he is, indeed, a one-percenter. But when it comes to paying taxes, Bush isn’t like a lot of his one-percent compatriots—he’s actually not unlike the rest of us. Most of his income has, over time, come from his labor, and not capital gains. Pretty much the case for most Americans. ...

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July 9, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fleischer: Jeb Bush Tax Returns Recall Old Days Of Shelters

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  Jeb Bush Tax Returns Recall Old Days of Shelters, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

Jeb Bush’s tax returns take us back to the time when it was a point of pride for high-income earners to buy a piece of a Panamanian gold mine, a Hollywood movie, a Texas oil well or a California alpaca farm. The point was not to make money but to use the artificial tax losses from a partnership to shelter one’s true salary from tax.

Mr. Bush released 33 years of returns on Tuesday, and his effective tax rate of 40 percent in 2013 contrasts notably with that of the last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who disclosed an effective rate of 13.9 percent in 2010. After releasing his returns, Mr. Bush joked that he “apparently didn’t take full advantage” of deductions.

Mr. Bush should be careful when throwing stones; he did not always pay tax at such a high rate. In the 1980s, before the Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed many of the rules related to tax shelters, Mr. Bush’s dealings in real estate allowed him to pay almost no income tax, even when he earned considerable wages and had little to no risk of economic loss on his investments.

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July 5, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jeb Bush Releases 33 Years Of Tax Returns

Bush

Jeb Bush yesterday released 33 years of tax returns, more than any presidential candidate in history. 

Jeb 2
According to a letter from former IRS Chief Counsel Hap Shashy, the head of King & Spalding's Tax Practice Group, Governor Bush paid an effective tax rate of 36% over those years (summary).

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July 1, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oklahoma For-Profit Corporation Not Subject to 501(c)(4) Rules Established to Support Republican Senate Candidate

Tulsa World, T.W. Shannon Supporters Set Up For-Profit Corporation to Pay for Political Ads:

T.W.Supporters of U.S. Senate candidate T.W. Shannon are using an unusual, potentially controversial and possibly revolutionary maneuver to pay for campaign advertising in support of Shannon.

Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, which has spent more than $300,000 for television and print advertising on Shannon's behalf, is a for-profit corporation set up Feb. 5. ...  

Theoretically, as a for-profit, private corporation, the company is not subject to the same federal disclosure laws as regular political committees —— meaning it can keep the source of its money secret.

It is also not subject to the same Internal Revenue Service restrictions as the 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organizations that have become popular with political operatives in recent years. The 501(c)(4) organizations do not have to disclose donors, but they do have to convince the IRS that political advocacy is not their primary activity.

Oklahomans for a Conservative Future does have to file expenditure reports with the Federal Election Commission, but otherwise it is free to spend as much as it wants on whomever it wants without having to justify its status to the IRS.

But there are potential drawbacks.

Two types of federal law —— income tax and campaign finance —— come into play, and the two do not always mesh.

Donald Tobin of the Moritz School of Law at Ohio State University said laws are ambiguous on whether for-profit companies engaged primarily in political activity are exempt from reporting requirements."It's an open question," said Tobin, an authority on campaign finance law who predicted in 2007 that private corporations could be used to hide the identity of political donors.

Also unclear, said Tobin, is whether political contributions to a for-profit corporation count as income. "Corporations are prohibited from deducting expenses for advocacy," said Tobin, meaning the money contributed to such corporations could be subject to the full 35 percent corporate income tax rate.

Tobin said political "corporations" like Oklahomans for a Conservative Future have not surfaced previously because 501(c)(4) organizations have been so successful."The social welfare organizations have been so good that they haven't had to form corporations," said Tobin.

For more, see Donald B. Tobin (Ohio State), The 2013 IRS Crisis: Where Do We Go From Here?, 142 Tax Notes 1120 (2014).

(Hat Tip: Jon Forman.)

March 24, 2014 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Historians Give President Obama a B- Grade

B-minusHistory News Network, Historians Give Barack Obama a B-:

HNN recently asked 203 American historians to grade Barack Obama's presidency on an A-F scale.

The results are in: President Barack Obama gets a B-. ...

We polled 679 American history professors via email beginning in April at 56 top colleges and universities (as ranked by the 2013 U.S. News and World Report), including small liberal arts colleges and service academies, to give Barack Obama a letter grade on 15 separate metrics, plus an overall grade (not a composite). We received responses from 203 historians. We then converted the letter grade to a 4.0 GPA scale (using the conversion guidelines laid out by the College Board), calculated the mean letter grade, and reconverted to a A-F scale.

September 11, 2013 in Legal Education, Political News | Permalink | Comments (10)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Obama's Commerce Secretary Nominee Draws Fire Over Use of Offshore Tax Shelters

ObamaForbes:  Pritzker Family Baggage: Tax Saving Offshore Trusts, by Janet Novack:

With President Barack Obams's nomination today of Chicago businesswoman and Forbes 400 member Penny Pritzker to be the Secretary of Commerce, her family’s legendary use of hundreds of offshore trusts to protect its wealth from taxes and the prying eyes of the IRS will  be in the spotlight.

Or at least it will if Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has anything to say about it. In a memo to reporters Thursday afternoon, Grassley wrote:  “Every nominee’s offshore tax avoidance activities should be examined as part of the nomination process.  If the Commerce Committee doesn’t explore these questions with the nominee, I plan to do so, but I hope the committee will give the tax history a serious look.”

May 3, 2013 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

President Obama and Conan O'Brien at Last Night's White House Correspondents' Dinner

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Brown: The IRS Should Report on Tax Returns Filed by Members of Congress

Forbes:  It's Time We Learned What Members of Congress Pay in Taxes, by Dorothy A. Brown (Emory):

On Friday President and Mrs. Obama released their most recent tax return for the entire world to see.  They continued a longstanding tradition of sitting presidents releasing their returns, even though no law requires that they do so. The tradition began under the late President Richard Nixon. ...

Itemized deductions often come with a hefty price tag. The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that for 2013 the amount of revenue lost because of the three deductions the Obamas took (which happen to be among the most popular deductions taken) will be: $90 billion for mortgage interest, $47 billion for charitable contributions, and $46 billion for state and local income taxes. ... One part of the minority that benefits from itemized deductions is members of Congress.

Although Presidents have voluntarily released their tax returns for the last several decades, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to members of Congress. McClatchy newspapers reported last July that of the 535 members asked to release their most recent tax returns, just 17 did. ... I suspect that if we looked at the tax returns of eavery member of Congress we would see something close to a 100% itemization rate. Compare that to only a third of the American public, and the numbers would suggest that repeal is the best way forward.

Given that I do not expect members of Congress to change their ways, one way to move closer to reform would be for the IRS to issue a new kind of report, which I call the “535 Report.” It would provide in summary fashion the information from the tax returns of all members of Congress.  The 535 Report would be similar in concept to what the IRS currently produces for the tax returns of the 400 highest-income individuals.

No law is needed, because no privacy rights would be violated. All the IRS would have to do would be to crunch the numbers. Then we would know what percent of Congress itemized deductions and what the most popular deductions were. We could then compare the information with what the IRS already produces about the American taxpaying public in general, and hopefully encourage voters to demand change.

David Cay Johnston reported in The New York Times in June 2003 that the 400 report was begun in response to a professor asking for it.  Let’s see if lightening can strike twice.

For more, see Dorothy Brown, The 535 Report: A Pathway to Fundamental Tax Reform, 40 Pepp. L. Rev. ___ (2013).  For the video of Dorothy's presentation of the paper at the January 18, 2013 Pepperdine/Tax Analysts Symposium on Tax Advice for the Second Obama Administration, see iTunes and YouTube.

April 17, 2013 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Political News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Professor Allows Students to Cite CNN, But Not Fox News

CNNInside Higher Ed:  A Professor vs. Fox News:

Students in a political science class at West Liberty University were given an assignment recently to keep a "politics journal" in which they would record their reactions to various articles they had selected.

The instructor at the West Virginia public institution included some possible news sources, such as The Economist, BBC, CNN and The Huffington Post. But the instructor also specified that two sources could not be used. One was The Onion, which the assignment notes "is not news" and "is literally a parody."

The other barred source is the one that got the instructor -- Stephanie Wolfe -- scrutiny this week. She banned articles from Fox News, writing: "The tagline 'Fox News' makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion."

February 18, 2013 in Legal Education, Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

96% of Political Donations From Ivy League Faculty & Staff Went to Obama

Ivy-leagueCampusReform.org:  96% of Political Donations From Ivy League Faculty & Staff Went for Obama:

From the eight elite schools, $1,211,267 was contributed to the Obama campaign, compared to the $114,166 given to Romney.

The highest percentage of Obama donors came from Brown and Princeton, with 99% of donations from faculty and staff going towards his campaign.

Dartmouth and Pennsylvania’s faculty contributed to the President’s campaign in the lowest numbers, with only 94% percent donating to the Obama campaign.

  • Brown:  129 Obama donors gave $67,728, 1 Romney donor gave $500
  • Columbia:  652 Obama donors gave $361,754, 21 Romney donors gave $34,250
  • Cornell:  282 Obama donors gave $141,731, 11 Romney donors gave $8,610
  • Dartmouth:  90 Obama donors gave $51,018, 6 Romney donors gave $2,850
  • Harvard:  555 Obama donors gave $373,556, 30 Romney donors gave $34,500
  • Princeton:  277 Obama donors gave $155,008, 4 Romney donors gave $1,901
  • Pennsylvania:  376 Obama donors gave $209,839, 26 Romney donors gave $22,900
  • Yale:  399 Obama donors gave $186,834, 13 Romney donors gave $8,655

November 28, 2012 in Legal Education, Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)