Florida Gov. Rick Scott Proposes $500 Million in Tax Relief
In a recent appearance on Bloomberg TV, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced plans for a $500 million tax cut. While the plan is still in the drawing board phase, he is committed to working with the legislature to devise the right path to provide tax relief to Floridians. Further, Gov. Scott stated that his long term goal is the complete elimination of the Sunshine State’s corporate income tax. Gov. Scott’s proposals are good ideas and would benefit the Florida economy and taxpayers.
Now is the perfect time to for tax reform in the Sunshine State. Florida has the highest revenues in state history, and is projected to have an $850 million budget surplus next year. Even after implementation of the $500 million tax cut proposed by Gov. Scott, the state would still be left with a $350 million surplus. Scott’s current priority—the $500 million tax cut—would result from the reduction of recently imposed fees and business tax relief. His long term goal of complete elimination of the corporate tax would have even more of an economic impact.
At 39.2 per cent, the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax in the world. It behooves states to avoid exacerbating this disadvantage with high state corporate taxes, because the fact is that Corporations do not pay taxes, people do. There is a wealth of evidence now showing that the burden of the corporate income tax is borne by ordinary workers in the form of lower wages and by consumers through increased prices. Further, millions of 401(k) and IRA owners own shares in corporations which serve as their retirement plans. But, when after-tax profits decrease because of higher taxes, the value of 401(k) and IRA plans also decreases. Corporate taxes can hit seniors especially hard.
There is a large body of economic research that finds the corporate tax to be one of the most economically destructive taxes on the books. While that alone is a good reason to zero out state corporate taxes, another good reason to scrap them is that they don’t even generate that much revenue for state coffers. Florida’s corporate income tax generated only a little over $2 billion in revenue last year, representing a paltry 2% of the state’s general fund. Corporate taxes hurt individuals, families, and employers, and for all of that harm, they don’t even bring in that much revenue to boot. Gov. Scott is wise to recognize that the optimal state corporate tax rate is zero. Significant corporate tax relief was also signed into law this year by New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez (R) and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R).
Florida has succeeded in attracting new businesses and growing its economy in large part due to tax cuts, and pro-business, pro-growth policies championed and implemented by Gov. Scott. Americans for Tax Reform applauds Governor Rick Scott's $500 million tax relief proposal. While many in Washington – on both sides of the aisle – champion the need for tax reform, Gov. Scott's latest proposal reminds everyone once again that states are the scenes of action – not just talk. While many in Washington—on both sides of the aisle—champion the need for corporate tax reform, Gov. Scott’s latest proposal reminds everyone once again that the states are the scenes of action—not just talk. And it is Republican governors leading the way on showing Washington what a successful reform agenda—and the political will to implement it—looks like.
Obamacare Cancels Coverage for 66,000 Tennesseans
With the botched Obamacare rollout going down in flames, headlines like this one have become the new normal. As with most promises liberals make, the very opposite comes true. Unfortunately for millions of Americans—66,000 in Tennessee—this means they cannot keep their health insurance plan, even if they like it.
Of course the insurance company is avoiding the word “cancelled,” and simply telling policy holders they must choose a new plan. But this wasn’t the President’s promise. 66,000 policy holders in Tennessee did not expect to be forced to change plans. They were told they could keep their plans, period. And what makes this recent phenomenon of Obamacare induced massed cancellation even worse, is that the White House knew it was coming.
Why is this happening? Obamacare mandates that insurance plans provide minimum standards of coverage for ten different categories. Among these is maternity care; that means that every policy—even those held by men—must cover maternity care. Put differently, it is illegal for an insurance company to offer a plan to a single adult male that does not provide maternity care. Only Big Government bureaucrats could devise such a ridiculous plan. Kathleen Sebelius was pressed on this issue during a hearing, but had little to say.
Website failures, embarrassingly low enrollment figures, and cancelled plans are only the tip of the iceberg of Obamacare’s wave of destruction. Just wait until all the 20 new or higher taxes kick-in, and the employer mandate takes effect. Layoffs will increase, and the economy will suffer; to top it all off, premiums will increases for families all across America.
Maybe now, Americans will finally realize, once and for all, that big government doesn’t work. Bureaucrats don’t know best, healthcare cannot be centrally planned from Washington. It’s time for real health care reform. Reform that focuses on restoring and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship; real reform requires less bureaucrats, not more. Let’s get government out of the healthcare business.
Identity Thieves Get $4 Billion in Tax Refunds
What a week it’s been for everyone’s favorite neighborhood bureaucrats at the IRS; first we learned that volunteers had been incorrectly preparing tax documents, and now we learn that the IRS awarded four billion dollars to criminals. And who could forget the revelations that the IRS had targeted conservative organizations for extra scrutiny. There’s one theme to all these incidents: incompetence.
Why should we be surprised? The IRS represents everything bad about Big Government, a bloated agency that is mismanaged and a threat to taxpayers. Despite what Harry Reid thinks, no one likes to pay taxes, but Americans especially do not like to pay taxes when they know their hard earned income is given to criminals. This is simply inexcusable.
The inspector general’s report will attempt to assuage concerns by noting that last year they prevented $12 billion in fraudulent tax refunds from going to identity thieves. But what will be buried in a foot note is the fact that the amount refunded to identity thieves increased by $400,000 million from last year! Clearly, the IRS is aware identity theft is problem, yet they don’t seem to be getting any better at stopping it. Shocker.
It’s worth noting that over 600 fraudulent returns were sent to a single address in Lithuania. Does the IRS really think that over 600 American citizens live in the same Lithuanian house? One would expect that some sort of algorithm would have picked up on this, but then again the government isn’t very good at building websites. Not only did the government fail at building the Obamacare website, it contains serious flaws that are ripe for fraud.
The time has come for meaningful tax reform that fundamentally changes how the IRS does business. No more political targeting, no more fraudulent tax refunds. ATR’s Grover Norquist and Patrick discussed the need for reform in their latest Reuter’s column. The American people deserve to know that if money is going to be taken from their paychecks, it will not be sent to criminals.
Municipal Tax Reform Badly Needed in Ohio
Called "absurd" and "punitive" by the Tax Foundation, Ohio's municipal tax system stands as an impediment to job creation. Double-taxation, burdensome rules and non-uniform procedures prevent businesses from opening up shop in Ohio. In January, a bill, HB 5, was introduced to reform the municipal tax system in a way that is not hostile to job growth. Unfortunately, a substitute bill has been introduced that strips away vital reforms and leaves the old system essentially untouched. This is the wrong plan for Ohio. ATR joins a tax reform coalition to call for the Ohio legislature to enact true municipal tax reform and bring jobs back to Ohio:
November 5, 2013
Dear Ohio General Assembly Members,
The Tax Foundation rates Ohio’s municipal income tax system as the worst of its kind, describing it as “the most complicated, absurd, and punitive system of municipal taxation in the nation.” This unique system, which will collect nearly $5 billion of revenue this year, is uncompetitive with all other states, seriously impeding Ohio’s ability to create jobs and retain residents.
All of Ohio’s neighboring states, except Pennsylvania, have grown total non-farm employment at a higher percentage rate than Ohio since January 2011. The situation is worsening as Ohio has fallen to 44th among all states in the rate of job creation for the 12 months ending August 2013.
Alone among all states, the General Assembly unwisely granted municipal officials great latitude to define and administer their own separate local income tax schemes. These officials have failed at the task of crafting tax policy in the public interest. Job-killing policies abound such as the frequent double taxation of pass-through business net profit; inadequate operating loss carry forwards; mind-numbing non-uniformity of rules, procedures, and forms; throwback; higher effective tax rates on self-employed business people; and cumbersome rules for casual entrant workers.
After decades of inattention to this debacle, we urge the General Assembly take strong actionthis session to begin substantially overhauling Ohio’s municipal income tax system.
House Bill 5, introduced in January by Rep. Grossman and Rep. Henne, and supported by the Municipal Tax Reform Coalition of 30 major Ohio organizations, offered a promising start for legislation to bring greater uniformity, fairness, and simplicity to the existing crazy-quilt system of over 600 separate municipal income systems in Ohio.
Unfortunately, the chairman of the Ohio House Ways & Means Committee bottled up this high priority bill for over nine months—and now has brought forward a substitute version of his crafting for a possible quick vote. The Tax Foundation has analyzed this substitute proposal and found that many important reforms have been stripped out or watered down and that the plan reaffirms many existing anti-growth tax policies.
General Assembly Members should reject this attempt at a phony reform bill that does little to improve Ohio’s climate for job creation.
Instead, we urge the General Assembly, with support from Governor Kasich, to pass a substantive municipal income tax reform bill this session. Such legislation can be readily crafted by combining the reforms found in HB5 (as introduced) along with additional improvements and reforms embodied in a subsequent version of the bill text prepared by the sponsors of HB5.
For decades, Ohio has trailed the nation in job creation, leading to a large and tragic net out-migration of residents. Ohio cannot be turned around without fixing its municipal income tax system. For the good of Ohioans, we urge the General Assembly to get the job done now – the right way..
Grover Norquist Duane Parde
President, Americans for Tax Reform National Taxpayers Union
Nicole Kaeding Eli Miller
Americans for Prosperity Americans for Prosperity—Ohio
PC: The Honorable John Kasich
San Francisco Nanny State Considers Soda Tax
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener has embarked on a crusade to levy a 24 cent tax on every can of soda in his city. Of course, Wiener has nothing on Bloomberg who tried to outright ban soda in NYC, but he's still managed to make liberals proud. As his top selling point, Wiener is recycling a familiar refrain: it's for the children.
The revenue raised from the tax is directed toward recreation, health, and nutrition programs in San Francisco public schools. He claims obesity is a public health issue which government has a responsibility to solve. San Francisco can certainly take steps to reduce obesity, but soda taxes are the wrong approach. ATR has previously noted that the connection between soda taxes and declining obesity rates is dubious at best. The two states with soda taxes, Arkansas and West Virginia, are among the 10 most obese states in the country.
Nanny-state liberals always think government knows best; in fact, this will probably be the name of the new health and nutrition text books in San Francisco. A 24 cent tax on soda has no guarantee of achieving its stated goal. There is little evidence to support Wiener's claims. This study from the Tax Foundation, found that taxing soda does not guarantee people will reduce their caloric intake. Further, soda consumption may not be the chief cause of obesity in an individual, so reducing consumption via excise tax will have little effect. A much more likely effect will be a loss of revenue to retailers, as San Francisco locals flee the city limits to buy their soda at cheaper prices.
For what it's worth, Wiener understands he's facing an uphill battle. Previous attempts to tax soda in nearby cities have been halted by voters. Wiener's plan explicitly links the revenue raised to the funding of nutrition plans. He hopes this will attract support, because "it's for the children." But San Francisco taxpayers are smarter than he thinks. They'll see through his thinly veiled attempts to grow government and fund the nanny state. Instead of imposing highly regressive sin taxes on soda,, let's teach children about personal responsibility and the power of consumer choice. Those are life lessons they can use.
Amendment 66 Has It Wrong, More Money Will Not Improve Public Schools
On the November 5 ballot in Colorado is Amendment 66, a 27 percent state income tax increase that would be enshrined in the state constitution if voters give their approval. Americans for Tax Reform recently highlighted how Amendment 66 poses serious threats to small business; It’s also important for voters to know that Amendment 66 will not achieve its stated goal: to improve the quality of public education in Colorado.
Under the new spending mandates imposed by Amendment 66, 43% of all state sales, excise and income tax revenue must be spent on public education every year. Simply throwing more money at a broken system will not solve anything. A report by the Independence Institute notes that Amendment 66 does not “reform the establishment’s problematic culture, poor staffing policies, outdated work rules, and curricular insufficiency.”
There is much research to suggest that higher levels of education funding do not automatically beget higher levels of student achievement. In 2010 and 2011, the federal government issued $26.6 million in aid to Colorado school districts with the intention of improving poorly functioning schools. However, The Denver Post reported that while spending increased, student achievement actually decreased; perhaps because nearly 40% of the money was spent on consultants. Further expanding a bloated bureaucracy and enriching consultants does nothing to further student achievement.
So what is the answer? The aforementioned report by the Independence Institute notes that reforms which expand school choice have proven successful in raising test scores and education outcomes. Instead of another state tax increase, Colorado legisaltors should instead consider adopting proven education reforms, such as expanding access to charter schools.
Structural reforms that focus on increased instructional time, tutoring, and evaluative practices that use unit tests and frequent quizzes should be considered. Doing so will have a real and measurable impact on student achievement in Colorado. Not only has such an approach proven more effective, it avoids the negative economic consequences that would come from Amendment 66’s massive tax increase on individuals, families, and employers. It’s time for politicians to get serious about improving education and to stop lining their bloated, bureaucratic pockets with taxpayer dollars. Americans for Tax Reform urges Colorado voters to reject Amendment 66.
Amendment 66 Wastes, Misallocates Taxpayer Dollars
Colorado voters have an important choice to make on Election Day: to support or oppose a massive, 27 percent income tax hike. Amendment 66, if approved, would abolish Colorado’s flat income tax of 4.63% and impose a new two tier bracket system. Incomes under $75,000 would be subject to a 5% tax and incomes above $75,000 would be subject to a 5.9% tax. This is exactly the wrong path for Colorado. This tax increase will be devastating to families and small businesses across the state.
In addition to deciding whether they want to send more of their hard-earned income to politicians in Denver, Colorado voters will also decide on Nov. 5th whether it is sound fiscal policy to put a spending earmark in the state constitution. Amendment 66 mandates that 43% of all state sales, excise, and income tax revenue be allocated for public schools every fiscal year. According to a recent report by the Independence Institute, this would not translate into greater education spending or, more importantly, improved education outcomes. Even if birthrates fall, and the cost of education is reduced by new technologies, the amount spent on education remains unchanged under Amendment 66. So, no, Amendment 66 is not about education; it’s about more money for politicians at the state capitol.
If Amendment 66 is approved by voters, public schools are eligible to receive more funding based on the number of “at-risk” students enrolled. Schools determine this classification based on participation in the free and reduced lunch program. In doing so, Amendment 66 employs a flawed funding distribution formula that invites fraud and abuse. There is evidence of such fraud in other states where this formula is used.
Amendment 66 simply funnels more money to the public school system without making one change or reform that will improve outcomes. If a system is broken, simply throwing more money at it is not the answer. Instead of taking money out of the pockets of families and small businesses, Colorado officials should enact real education reforms that will have a measurable impact on the academic success of students. Higher taxes are never the answer.
Hollywood Gets $500,000 to Write Obamacare Propaganda into TV and Movies
Desperate to boost Obamacare enrollment, liberals are turning to their most influential ally: Hollywood. The recent rollout of Obamacare, filled with embarrassing missteps, has been disastrous and a complete debacle for the Obama administration. All of Obama’s efforts to promote the exchanges seemed to have borne little fruit, with the Daily Mail reporting that only 51,000 people have enrolled in the exchanges. To combat the negative publicity and haze surrounding Obamacare, Hollywood will soon begin writing flattering storylines about Obamacare and all its glory.
The California Endowment recently awarded a $500,000 grant to a program affiliated with USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center. The program’s director told Marketplace that people learn from TV and tend to regard what a fictional doctor tells a fictional patient as fact. In this case, the fictional doctor will tell the fictional patient how to get enrolled in Obamacare. And for that, the writer will probably win an Emmy.
Hollywood is apparently frustrated that politicians have failed to tell stories that will make the American people see the good in Obamacare. I guess Paul Ryan shoving grandma off a cliff doesn’t strike the right tone. Who knew? But now Hollywood is taking over the messaging battle in a last ditch effort to keep Obamacare from toppling down. You can see a new coming of age story in the works: the 26 year-old who buys his own health insurance plan for the first time. That is the new benchmark for achieving manhood.
Curiously absent from these storylines will be the long waits in doctor’s offices thanks to access shock, and the 20 new or higher taxes that Americans are now subjected to. And I doubt much attention will be paid to the skyrocketing premiums, small business that have shuddered their doors, or doctors that have simply closed shop. No matter how hard liberals try, they will never be able to cover up Obamacare’s flaws and problems. The American people are smarter than liberals think.
NRO Highlights 30 ObamaCare Fails
By now nearly every American is aware that ObamaCare’s recent rollout did not exactly go as planned. It’s now been eight days since the online market places opened, and the glitches, setbacks, and problems persist. In a recent blog post, National Review Online columnist Andrew Johnson points out some absurd and out right embarrassing ObamaCare related fails. Here are my top five:
4.) MSNBC Anchor Can’t Access Obamacare Exchange
On the morning of the exchange’s rollout, MSNBC’s Mara Schiavocampo ran into problems many people across the country were experiencing: online error messages, long wait times, and sitting on hold for extended periods of time when she called for customer support. “If I were signing up for myself, this is where my patience would be exhausted,” she said before she eventually gave up.
8.) California Forced to Take Down Exchange Website
Even with the lackluster Web traffic on its first day, Covered California shut down its website overnight in order to address a series of technical problems. The website eventually came back online the next morning.
11.) No Enrollments in Delaware After Three Days
“If anyone in Delaware has enrolled in an Obamacare health insurance plan yet, it’s news to state officials,” read the lead of the state’s News Journal three days into the enrollment period. The article goes on to explain that Delaware insurance providers are working to put together paper packets of various plans and scenarios for interested applicants until the website is running properly.
14.) Kentucky Marketplace Customers Have No “Expectation of Privacy”
Kentucky’s state-run Obamacare marketplace issued a disclaimer that users should have “no explicit or implicit expectation of privacy” in the beginning stages of the sign-up process. The site warns that “any or all uses of this system and all files on the system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized state government and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.” After the Washington Free Beacon contacted the site, a spokesperson claimed that the disclaimer was a “mistake” and is intended to warn those trying to access information inappropriately or use the website for criminal actions.
26.) Tennessee Station Can’t Find Anyone Who Signed Up
Nashville’s WSMV announced that, after two days, it was unable to find a Tennessean who was able to sign up for a new plan on the federal-exchange website.
Check out the other 25 examples of ObamaCare rollout incompetence by reading the full article here.
Glitchy Obamacare Website Fails
As if no one saw this coming. The blogosphere is lighting up with stories, tweets and screenshots about the error prone websites for the new Obamacare exchanges. This post from the Washington Examiner captures the debacle perfectly. Creating an account—let alone actually shopping for insurance—on healthcare.gov seems to be next to impossible.
The website has been telling visitors to “please wait,” since there are a lot of visitors to the site. Liberals told the American people that Obamacare would not lead to longer wait times at the doctor’s offices, but they forgot to mention that Americans will wait in long lines on a website. It must have slipped their minds. But this all assumes that the website is even functioning, periodically the error message switches from “please wait” to “the system is down at the moment.”
To comfort frustrated visitors, the site’s Twitter account let everyone know they are #sorry. Apparently, wait times have been longer than expected, not to worry; however, they are working to fix these issues as soon as possible. But isn’t the government shutdown? Clearly, Obamacare website managers are part of the 3 million “essential” government employees not affected by the shutdown.
It’s ironic that the law that was purported to provide access for all Americans to healthcare is now preventing the uninsured from even signing up, let alone shopping for and purchasing an insurance plan!
But all this should come as no surprise. Obamacare is an exercise in Big Government, an attempt by liberals and bureaucrats to hijack the private health insurance business. It doesn’t work in theory, it isn’t working in practice. 20 new or higher taxes, forced layoffs, and limited access, do not add up to reform. They do not improve the quality of care provided, nor do they strengthen the American economy.
To amend Ben Franklin’s admonition, there are three things certain in life: death, taxes, and the failure of Big Government. The Obamacare website was destined to fail because it was the product of Big Government, it makes no difference that it is a large swatch of broadband and not an expansive bureaucratic office building. Big Government will always crumble and fall under its own weight.
Today’s shaky roll out provides clear evidence that Obamacare is not ready to be implemented; that is why a petition has been put forth to demand a full one year delay of Obamacare. This will give the American people a reprieve from the harmful and unintended side effects of a disastrous law. ATR urges all taxpayers to sign the petition. Hopefully after today’s debacle the American people will overwhelmingly agree that Obamacare will do more harm than good.