Michigan HB 4344 Amendment Hurts Small Auto Businesses

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Friday, April 29th, 2016, 3:07 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to Michigan legislators Monday:

"On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Michigan, I write today to urge you to reject calls for additional tax increases. After being hit with more than 20 federal tax increases over the last six years, the last thing Michigan taxpayers need is for lawmakers to pile on with further tax increases at the state level.

In addition to rejecting efforts to raise taxes further, it’s also important to avoid protectionist policies that, like tax hikes, reduce your constituents’ available income through increased costs and reduced consumer choice. One example of such protectionism that recently arose in Michigan is an amendment to House Bill 4344 aimed at monopolizing market share for favored companies by limiting competition in the replacement auto parts market.

The amendment at question would effectively prohibit Michigan residents and mechanics from using aftermarket parts on any car newer than six years. This amendment stifles consumer choice, will increase costs, and harm Michigan employers. This amendment is an example of the government picking winners and losers in the private sector. In this case, the winners will be favored corporations with well-heeled lobbyists in Lansing, while the losers will be your constituents who need to replace a part on their car or truck, and small businesses in the aftermarket auto parts industry that are already struggling to cope with the load of costly regulations and higher taxes that have been imposed on them from Washington.

Not only does this protectionist amendment to HB 4344 represent bad policy, it’s also terrible politics. Your constituents have been hit with higher taxes in recent years. I would advise against piling on the recent gas tax increase with legislation that will drive up the cost of vehicle repairs. It’s already bad enough when someone gets in a wreck; do lawmakers really want to add insult to injury by passing legislation that will inflate the cost of vehicle repair at the behest of favored companies? One hopes not.  

Failure to remove this protectionist amendment would result in the establishment of a monopoly in the crash parts market, with negative consequences for consumers and Michigan’s $10.8 billion aftermarket auto parts industry. For these reasons, I urge you to remove this amendment from HB 4344 and if the amendment cannot be removed, I urge you to vote against the bill."

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Obama Inversion Regulations Likely to Backfire

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, April 29th, 2016, 3:00 PM PERMALINK


Recently announced regulations designed to stop American companies from inverting will backfire, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) predicted today at an event sponsored by Bloomberg Government.

As reported by Politico Pro Tax, Chairman Brady fears that new debt equity regulations will fail to address America’s underlying competitiveness problem and will also have the unintended consequence of reduced investment in U.S. businesses. As Chairman Brady explains:

"Part of that was a Band-Aid that doesn't get to the root cause. Secondly, I think in their haste to build a wall to keep companies from leaving the U.S. they may well have built a wall to keep investment from coming back to the United States.”

Although Treasury regulations were unveiled to prevent U.S. businesses inverting, the debt equity regulations under section 385 of the tax code are far broader and will restrict or complicate a broad range of transactions for businesses. In short, the regulation grants the Obama administration the authority to unilaterally characterize debt as equity for federal tax purposes.

Under the tax code, debt financing is taxed at the business level, while equity is taxed twice – at the business level and then at the shareholder level. This means that equity is subject to far higher levels of taxation, which has the effect of encouraging business to take on more debt than they otherwise would.

Implementing such a broadly encompassing regulation will block or complicate the ability of American businesses to utilize common international management practices. In today’s global economy capital is mobile and investors can just as easily invest in businesses based in other developed countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, or Ireland.

American businesses are already disadvantaged compared to businesses operating overseas and this new regulation will undoubtedly make things worse.

The U.S. corporate tax rate sits at a combined state and federal average of 39.1 percent, far above the average rate in the developed world, which is just 25 percent. In addition, the U.S. is just one of six countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with a worldwide system of taxation.

While other countries have pro-actively reduced their rate and updated their systems to compete in the global economy, the U.S. tax system has remained almost unchanged since the Tax Reform Act of 1986 -- three decades ago. This competitiveness problem is driving businesses to shift their headquarters overseas through an inversion and or making U.S. businesses a target for foreign acquisition.

Rather than crushing new regulations, the Obama Administration should focus on working with Congress to reduce business taxes and update the outdated worldwide system. Instead, the proposed debt equity regulations will increases tax complexity and speed up the exodus of American businesses.   

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Sentencing Reform Gets New Life in the Senate

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Thursday, April 28th, 2016, 5:23 PM PERMALINK


Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee reaffirmed its commitment to proven justice reforms with its rollout of the new Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA). Changes added aim to address the concerns of some legislators while keeping substantive reforms to the nation’s broken justice system.

Speaking on the new legislation from the Senate Judiciary committee, ATR president Grover Norquist released the following statement:

“With these new changes, and the addition of Senators Kirk, Sullivan, Cochran, and Daines the Senate has reaffirmed its commitment to conservative reform that works. The groups endorsing these reforms span the conservative spectrum from faith groups, to fiscal hawks, to law enforcement advocates. America deserves a criminal justice system that will make our communities safer, as these provisions have done in the conservative states that pioneered them.”

The proposed legislation is sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and it is co-sponsored by notable Republican senators such as John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

SRCA is not a revolutionary new approach to the justice system. Rather, it is a measured application of years of reform experience onto the federal prison system. Thanks to years of education and study, not only have conservative stalwarts like Senators Grassley and Lee led on the issue, but leaders like Senator Sullivan (R-AK.), and Senator Kirk (R-Ill.) have come to champion the proposed legislation. This is a major development after the demagoguing and falsehoods peddled by actors who neglect to offer their own proposals.

Cornyn, one of the original sponsors of the bill, explained the conservative pedigree of the S. 2123 going back to its roots in the Texas legislature. He explains that instead of going the same, unsustainable route, “[Texas] decided to get smart on crime.” It indeed made improvements reflected in the significant reductions in crime rates that Texas has seen since the passage of their own reforms.

The Senate bill works by creating “safety valves” to existing mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory minimum sentences are congressionally mandated sentence lengths that judges must not go below when sentencing offenders for certain crimes. In theory, this is meant to deter crime, but in practice, lengthy sentences often lead to higher recidivism and more dangerous communities. These safety valves would allow judges to determine the risk of recidivism as well as previous criminal history to determine whether to deviate from mandatory minimums.

This provision would only be retroactive for offenders with no serious violent felonies on their record and requires the full cooperation of the individual in question. This is a far cry from the fear-mongering that some pundits spread with regards to conservative justice reform.

In fact, both the National District Attorneys Association and Concerned Veterans for America have endorsed the proposal.

Although this is not a complete solution to America’s ossified justice system, it is a start in the right direction. Congress should listen to Senator Cornyn and “get smart on crime.”

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Americans for Tax Reform Applauds the House for Passing H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act

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Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 4:14 PM PERMALINK


Washington, DC- After a long battle, the House voted to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 through passing H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act.

The following can be attributed to Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform:

"American privacy was the big winner when the House passed the Email Privacy Act! They send the bill to the Senate after a 419 -0 vote.  If the Senate concurs the government will need a warrant to read your e-mails—just as they have always needed a warrant to read your snail mail.

This should pass the Senate easily where there are over 25 co-sponsors including both Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders."

Katie McAuliffe, ATR’s Federal Affairs Manager and Executive Director of Digital Liberty said,

“Passage of the Email Privacy Act was a large bipartisan effort and a major victory in securing American’s digital privacy. Updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is absolutely necessary in order to secure the privacy of emails and other items stored in the Cloud.” 

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M1911jim

I always find it interesting that "journalists" report on bills based on who liked it without ever disclosing exactly how the bill will affect citizens. What exactly does the 'required" search warrant have to specify? How long can the gov request that the notification to the citizen be withheld? Why is no justification for withholding the notification required? Why is the bill named the "Email Privacy Act" instead of being named the "Email Invasion of Privacy Act"? Privacy, as with all our rights, is implicit. We need no laws to have our rights. We are born with them. Laws are needed only to take away rights.


Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller Refuses to Rule out Tax Hikes in Bid for Congress

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Posted by Adam Radman, Paul Blair on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 3:04 PM PERMALINK


Greg Zoeller is the only Republican candidate for Indiana’s 9th Congressional district to refuse to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising to oppose higher taxes. His unwillingness to rule out tax hikes is somewhat unsurprising, given his call for higher taxes in Indiana as recently as last year. Zoeller asked the state legislature to impose a new 24 percent wholesale tax on tobacco-free electronic cigarettes and vapor products in the lead-up to the legislative session.

His ignorance and outright hostility to this emerging product category flies in the face of growing evidence that vapor products are at least 95% less harmful than combustible cigarettes and are proven-effective smoking cessation devices. It also stands to make him among the only Republican member of Congress with such misguided and outspoken opposition to the products.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge has been offered to every candidate for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 218 Congressmen and 48 Senators have signed the Pledge, including Rep. Todd Young (IN-09). 

Each of the remaining candidates has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, promising to voters that they would oppose tax hikes. Those candidates include Trey Hollingsworth, Brent Waltz, Erin Houchin, and Robert Hall.

This primary election also comes on the heels of new state regulations that stand to decimate the state vapor market. One could argue that Zoeller’s outspoken position on the products jump-started the effort to overregulate the products in Indiana last year.  

The voters in Indiana have a right to know where a candidate stands on the issues before electing them to Congress. Zoeller’s refusal to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge puts him outside the mainstream of the Republican Party. Eighty-nine percent of all congressional Republicans have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. He would be one of a small group of Republicans open to raising taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The only reason  Zoeller wouldn't sign the Pledge is if he intends to raise taxes.

The promises that Zoeller makes about strengthening Indiana’s economy mean little without the backing of a concrete written promise to oppose higher taxes. Only by signing the Pledge can Indiana taxpayers be certain that Zoeller stands with them.

Voters should keep this in mind as they head to the polls in Indiana next Tuesday, May 3rd.

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charlie

I'm glad I don't live in Indiana. I switched from smoking to vaping 18 months ago and so did some other people who are very important to me. I feel better and save $3,000 a year. Low income families with parents who smoke as I did and who switch as I did will make a huge improvement in family finances. The biggest beneficiaries of that would be their kids. There should be no interference with smokers switching to vaping.


Buck Rogers versus Vladimir Putin

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 1:51 PM PERMALINK


Not since the sixties has space exploration been as exciting as it is now. Just last month, SpaceX, the space exploration company, completed the first successful landing of the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket. Earlier, Jeff Bezos’ outfit Blue Origin accomplished a landing of their smaller vehicle.

Private companies are talking about mining asteroids and setting up bases on Mars. Buck Rogers, here we come. For the first time, the world is weening itself off centrally-run space programs and developing the capabilities to make outer space profitable. That is, unless crony socialism continues to waste taxpayer dollars on funding neo imperialist American enemies.

Some Senators in Congress, among them Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Shelby (R-Al.) are asking Congress to lift a ban on the purchase of a certain rocket engine called the RD-180 which is manufactured by a Russian company called Energomash. This is a company so deeply rooted in the Russian crony-military industrial complex that Reuters ran an investigative piece about them titled Comrade Capitalism.

The main argument for the resumption of the RD-180 purchases is that they are needed for reasons of national defense. Besides the fact that America has launch systems more than capable of delivering our hardware into space well into the next decade, lifting the ban is a terrible mistake in terms of boosting one of our main international rivals and undermining the billions that we spend defending against Russia.

America has spent over $6 billion in aid for Ukraine according to the New York Times. This is all in order to support a nation choking under the boot of Russian-backed aggression and is clamoring for democracy.

This is in addition to the $1 billion that is lost from the Russian sanctions, and the billions that American allies in Europe are being drained from.

ATR has done its part by training Ukrainian activists to develop their own civil society in support of democracy and free markets.

It is also important to remember the $11.5 million per day that is spent trying to stabilize Syria while the Russians do all they can to kill American allies on the ground and prop up the blood-soaked regime of Bashar Assad. This is why ATR recently sent a letter to Congress opposing efforts to lift the ban.

Simply put, meeting Russia in the world stage has cost the American taxpayers a considerable amount. One has to wonder, then, why American Senators would go out of their way to prove Vladimir Lenin correct when he said that “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,” except in this case, the U.S. is giving Russia $1 billion over several years for an over-priced engine. Make no mistake, this money is going directly into the hands of Putin’s cronies and his own ambitions to reconstruct the near-abroad of the defunct Soviet Union.

If you think President Putin is above such corruption, please google the Panama Papers.

If the U.S. is serious about countering Russian aggression, it should not work at cross purposes and commit to sanctioning the illiberal regime, as some political giants have in the past.

SpaceX, Blue Origin, the pioneers at the Mojave Air and Space Port, and countless other new private American companies are on the bleeding edge of space exploration. We should be finding ways of making the tax and regulatory system work for these entrepreneurs to ensure that the space age is an American age. America should not be propping up illiberal rival regimes and it should not lift the ban on the RD-180.

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eugah

I dont want a buddy like Putin, and I'm a man.. Theres very little "real" about him. He has had extensive plastic surgery. He takes gay-looking photos of himself on horseback. He steals other people's jewelry. He cant stand to be in proximity of men who are taller than he is. (A classic neurosis among shrimps like Putin). Hes not a patriot, since every year he steers hundreds of millions of dollars to his friends who spirit it offshore. His management of the Russian economy is utterly irresponsible. He wasted 15 years during which he could have re-oriented the country's economy away from its over-reliance on oil production. The Russian people should throw him out just as they are about to do in Venezuela and Brazil. Then the Russian people can have a fresh start and people like me might consider investing money in their economy.

eugah

No. Its Upper Volta with Rockets. Its economy is smaller than Italy's. It pursues wars of aggression in Europe and against its neighbors. Its grotesquely corrupt, on the scale of African countries. Putin and his gang treat the rest of their compatriots like slaves as they lift out huge chunks of the country's economic product and stash it overseas.

Its high time the US stopped buying RD-180 rockets. Theyre not needed and the money we pay the Russians either funds more military aggression or gets secreted into offshore accounts controlled by these criminals.

Mixa Klimment

Putin is the kind of man other men want as a buddy. He’s real. He has a clear mind. He has a sense of humor. He’s not full of himself. He knows where he’s going. He loves his people. He’s a standup guy. He can’t be bullied. He’s a rugged individual. He loves animals and abhors criminals. He’s been a good father. He’s a patriot. He’s a fast thinker. He’s a good communicator. He says what he means. He means what he says. He’s generous. He’s polite. He’s responsible.Those attributes used to be what Americans cherished as ideal qualities. The representatives of America are anathema to me. I envy the Russia people.................

https://youtu.be/xAcp8UiFtxMn


ATR Urges Congress to Look Out for Americans Rather than Putting Money in Putin’s Pocket

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 1:31 PM PERMALINK


On Wednesday, Americans for Tax Reform declared its opposition to the proposed lift on the ban of RD-180 rocket engines in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

In a letter to Congressman William Thornberry (R-Texas), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, ATR President Grover Norquist explained:

“Currently, America is becoming the world leader on space launches as its private space industry matures. Thanks to these developments it has more than one launch vehicle capable of military hardware launches—enough to secure American interests through the early 2020’s.

Some Members of Congress propose to relax or lift the RD-180 ban based on concerns about national security. Besides the fact that America has launch systems more than capable of delivering our hardware into space well into the next decade, lifting the ban is a terrible mistake in terms of boosting one of our main international rivals and undermining the billions that we spend defending against Russia…

America has spent over $6 billion in aid for Ukraine to prevent a Russian partitioning of the country, as well as to ensure the transition of Ukraine from a socialist state into a modern European one.

This is in addition to the $1 billion that the nation spends on sanctions on Russia for their aggression in the Ukrainian civil war.

Americans for Tax Reform has even done its part, helping to train activists in Ukraine who have worked to build up a civil society in support of free markets.

It is also important to remember the $11.5 million per day that our country spends trying to stabilize Syria while the Russians kill our allies on the ground and prop up the regime of Bashar Assad.

Simply put, meeting Russia in the world stage has cost the American taxpayers a considerable amount. Money from RD-180 sales goes directly into the hands of Putin’s cronies and his own ambitions to reconstruct the near-abroad of the defunct Soviet Union…

I encourage you, and the rest of the House Armed Services Committee to uphold the popular and necessary ban on Russian-made rocket engines for military launches.”

Read the full statement here

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Main Street Fairness Act Provides Important Small Business Tax Relief

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 9:00 AM PERMALINK


Under the tax code, businesses are categorized into two basic categories – corporations and pass through firms. Based on how they choose to organize, they face drastically different tax, legal, and employment consequences.

If a businesses is organized as a corporation, it typically calculates profits by subtracting expenses from revenue and then pays a federal corporate income tax rate of 35 percent, plus a state corporate rate which averages over 4 percent.

Businesses organized as pass-through firms don’t pay taxes themselves. Instead, the profits of the business “pass through” to the owners who pay individual taxes on their 1040 form. Typically, this means that pass-throughs pay a higher rate than corporations, exceeding 50 percent in some states.

For many small businesses or startups this results in a significant competitive disadvantage that makes it harder to compete with businesses organized as corporations.

To address this issue, Congressman Vern (Buchanan (R-Fla) today introduced the Main Street Fairness Act, legislation that ensures small businesses are taxed equitably when compared with corporations. 

In support of this legislation, ATR President Grover Norquist released a letter hailing Rep. Buchanan's proposal as pro-small business, pro-taxpayer legislation.

The Main Street Fairness Act ensures that any business organized as a pass-through does not pay a rate greater than the 35 percent rate paid by corporations. This important change will help ensure that businesses are on a level playing field for decades to come.

A key goal of tax reform should be taxing businesses equally, not discriminating based on arbitrary laws, and the Main Street Fairness Act helps ensure this goal becomes reality.

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Congress Needs to Clamp Down on IRS Targeting of Free Speech

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 8:00 AM PERMALINK


Under the Obama Presidency, the IRS has targeted non-profit organizations in order to limit free speech time and time again.

This has taken several forms, including the agency subjecting donors of non-profits to the gift tax in what was a blatant intimidation attempt. In the most notable example of targeting, Lois Lerner and countless IRS employees under her direction discriminated against conservative non-profit organizations based solely on their beliefs. Because of this coordinated effort, just one conservative non-profit was granted tax exempt status over a three year period between 2009 and 2012.

But despite multiple Congressional investigations into this targeting, little has changed, as a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found. As the report noted, serious internal control flaws mean the IRS may still be unfairly selecting Americans for an audit “based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.”

Clearly, there is more that needs to be done.

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee will take another step addressing IRS overreach when it considers several pieces of legislation including the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, introduced by Congressman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)

Rep. Roskam’s legislation prevents the IRS from targeting non-profits by prohibiting the agency from collecting the identity of donors who contribute to these organizations. Bizarrely, the IRS requires non-profits to provide this information but does not use it for any purpose. Given the increasing politicization of the agency, it is likely a matter of time before the IRS decides to use this information to target organizations it does not agree with.

This issue should not be partisan in any way and should be supported by all Members of Congress. Doing nothing in the face of the Obama IRS targeting organizations based on political affiliation opens the door to future administrations doing the same regardless of whether they are Democrat or Republican.

It is well established that the Obama IRS has worked to curtail political speech. Now, Congress must make clear that this targeting is unacceptable and implement reforms to ensure First Amendment rights are protected and the IRS is held in check.

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Congress Should Eliminate, Not Rewrite Business Deprecation Schedules

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016, 5:15 PM PERMALINK


Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) today released a proposal to rewrite existing depreciation schedules. While his Cost Recovery Reform and Simplification discussion draft should be applauded for simplifying the tax code, it ultimately falls short. Rather than papering over the cracks in the tax code by modifying depreciation law, Congress should implement immediate, full business expensing.

Currently, the tax code forces the costs associated with business investment to be slowly deducted over several to many years, in an arbitrary process known as “depreciation.”

Under this system there is a bizarre patchwork of rules governing depreciation that varies widely depending on the purchase. If a business purchases a box of paper clips, it can be written off the first year.  But if a business purchases a computer, it takes five years to recover the cost. A desk takes seven years and a building as much as 39 years.

This distorts business decisions by needlessly and arbitrarily treating purchases differently under the tax code.

The Wyden draft replaces the current 100+ depreciation system with a more streamlined system involving just six “pools.” Addressing this complexity goes in the right direction, but it ultimately falls short of the goal of treating all purchases equally.

It makes no sense for the tax code to say that a wage payment, or a rent payment, or a box of pencils should be deductible on the one hand, and that a computer or desk is not. That's arbitrary and distortive. Most tax experts now believe that a business cash flow system is the right starting point for a better tax base.

Business fixed investment is one of the cornerstones of productivity growth. Without productivity growth, you don’t get economic growth. Without economic growth, our living standards remain stagnant or fall.

In fact, allowing business to immediately deduct expenses would increase investment in capital stock by 15.62 percent, increase wages by 4.42 percent, and grow the economy by 5.21 percent, according to a study by the Tax Foundation.

While the Wyden draft moves in the right direction, it ultimately falls short of the goal of treating all business expenses equally. Congress should not rewrite depreciation schedules, it should eliminate them. 

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