Hillary Calls for 65% Death Tax

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, September 23rd, 2016, 10:46 AM PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton has adopted the proposal of socialist Bernie Sanders to increase the top Death Tax rate to 65 percent.

Clinton previously called for a hike to the top Death Tax rate, from 40 to 45 percent, as part of a more than $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) net tax increase on the American People over the next ten years. The true net tax hike figure is likely much higher because Clinton’s campaign has not released specific details for many proposals. To date, the campaign has proposed multiple capital gains tax hikes, an income tax increase, a business tax increase, a tax on stock trading, an "Exit Tax" and even a “fairness” tax.

Clinton’s tax plan offers no tax rate reduction for any individual or business.

And now, Hillary is proposing Death Tax brackets of 50 percent, 55 percent, and 65 percent.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal:

The left claims only the super-wealthy will pay high rates, but the Sanders plan that Mrs. Clinton is copying did not index exemption levels for inflation. One reason a bipartisan movement emerged to reform the death tax in the 1990s was because the then 55% rate engulfed ever more taxpayers over time. Mrs. Clinton would also end the “step-up in basis” on stock valuations for many filers, triggering big capital gains taxes for a much broader population.

She also knows most of her rich friends will set up foundations, as she and Bill Clinton have, to shelter most of their riches from the estate tax. As Americans have learned, these supposed charities can be terrific vehicles for employing political operatives while they wait for Chelsea to run for the Senate.

While Hillary continues to push for a steep Death Tax on the American people, when it comes to her own finances, it is a different story. Clinton’s newly released tax returns show she still uses tax avoidance strategies to shield her Death Tax liability.

According to a 2014 report by Bloomberg News, the Clintons created trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York home to it in 2011. In doing so, they will avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in future death taxes.

As Bloomberg reports:

To reduce the tax pinch, the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now tops out at 40 percent of assets upon death.

The Clintons created residence trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York house into them in 2011, according to federal financial disclosures and local property records.

But Hillary Clinton’s official campaign website, in calling for a steep Death Tax hike, scolds:

She will also close complex loopholes, including methods that people can now use to make their estates appear to be worth less than they really are.

Oh! Let’s go back to the Bloomberg article:

Among the tax advantages of such trusts is that any appreciation in the house’s value can happen outside their taxable estate. The move could save the Clintons hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes, said David Scott Sloan, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston.

“The goal is really be thoughtful and try to build up the nontaxable estate, and that’s really what this is,” Sloan said. “You’re creating things that are going to be on the nontaxable side of the balance sheet when they die.”


Clinton said that “the estate tax has been historically part of our very fundamental belief that we should have a meritocracy.”

The newly released Clinton tax return shows the continued use of an Article 4 Trust, as shown on Schedule E, page 2.

Hillary has a long history of opposing Death Tax relief:

- In 2001, Clinton voted no on H.R. 1836, “the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act,” which contained a series of tax cuts, one of which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $3.5 million.

- In 2005, Clinton voted no on H.R. 8, “the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005,” which fully repealed the Death Tax.

- In 2006, Clinton voted no on H.R. 5970, “the Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006,” which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.

- In 2008, Clinton voted no on S.Amdt.4191, legislation to increase the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.

To learn more about Hillary’s tax hike plan, visit ATR’s dedicated website, www.HighTaxHillary.com

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Roger Reid

Rich Democrats pay the same tax as rich Republicans. The difference is rich Democrats lie about what they are doing and pass tax laws that don't directly apply to them and eventually trickle down to the middle class. A family farm or small business, for instance, can be worth millions on paper but be very cash poor. Inheritors are on the hook for the death tax based on value.

Hillary Calls for Another Capital Gains Tax Increase

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, September 23rd, 2016, 9:42 AM PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton this week called for another increase in the capital gains tax. Clinton proposed limiting the use of “like-kind exchanges,” a provision allowing investors to pay taxes on certain types of capital gains only when they cash out — not if they choose to reinvest earnings into another asset.

The capital gains tax hits income that has already been subjected to income taxes and has been reinvested to help create jobs, grow wages, and increase economic growth. This income should not be taxed and studies have shown that even supposedly modest increases would have strong adverse economic effects.

For instance, repeal of like-kind exchanges would cost the U.S. economy as much as $13.1 billion in lost GDP in the long term, according to a study by Ernst and Young.

The left always derides the capital gains tax as a “loophole” by big government that ought to be repealed. Going after provisions such as like-kind exchanges is another step toward the long term goal of taxing all capital gains as ordinary income.

Hillary has already called for several capital gains tax increases. First, she would create the most byzantine capital gains tax with six brackets for those whose total taxable income puts them in the 39.6 percent bracket. This proposal is supposed to fix the problem of short-term investment, even though investors make decisions based on value, not length of time. Her campaign has not said how much this will increase taxes.

Clinton has also proposed raising taxes on “carried interest” capital gains earned by investment partnerships. Carried interest capital gains are indistinguishable from any other type of capital gain because individuals that derive income from carried interest pay the same capital gains taxes rates as everyone else, as they should. It is not a loophole in any way.

In all, Hillary has proposed at least $1 trillion in new taxes based on the campaign’s own figures. The true Clinton net tax hike figure is likely much higher because her campaign has failed to release specific details for many of her proposals.

She has called for an income tax increase, a business tax increase, a death tax increase, a tax on stock trading, an "Exit Tax" and even a “fairness” tax. In addition, she has refused to rule out a carbon tax and a top advisor has suggested there is no need to lower the corporate rate, even though the U.S. has the highest rate in the developed world.

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F uck Hillary.

Obama Administration Pushing Unilateral Death Tax Increase

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, September 23rd, 2016, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

In his final months of office, President Obama is set to unilaterally increase the scope of the Death Tax. Rather than make this tax more burdensome and confusing, the administration should work with Congress to repeal the unpopular tax.

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department announced a new rule affecting section 2704 of the tax code. The rule limits the use of two valuation discounts that families can take when assessing their Death Tax liability – a lack of control discount and a lack of marketability discount.

A lack of control discount can be claimed when a family holds a minority ownership stake in an asset, resulting in the asset holding less value on the open market.  A lack of marketability discount applies when an asset held by the family cannot easily be liquidated because of market barriers.

The proposed Treasury rules make it much more difficult for families to claim these two provisions. As a result, the rule would increase the Death Tax for many families.

The rule has drawn opposition from lawmakers, led by Congressman Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) who recently introduced the “Protect Family Farms and Businesses Act.” This legislation, which would block the unilateral stealth Death Tax increase is a good, conservative bill and should be supported and co-sponsored by all Members of Congress. 

The rule has also drawn opposition from a broad coalition of 119 business and free market groups including ATR that yesterday sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in opposition to the proposed rule.

At a basic level, Americans know that the Death Tax is not fair. It is a tax you pay on savings you have already paid taxes on at least once, and potentially more than once. Those who are hit hardest generally are first and second generation small business owners, because the truly wealthy can avoid the tax through an army of accountants, attorneys, and charitable planners.  

The Death Tax is also bad for jobs and the economy. According to the Tax Foundation, repealing the Death Tax would create 159,000 jobs and significantly increase wages, GDP, and capital investment.

The intense opposition to the Death Tax is unquestionable. In poll after, the Death Tax has consistently been opposed by nearly 70 percent of adults, registered voters, and likely voters. The House of Representatives even voted to repeal the Death Tax last year with a bipartisan vote of 240-179.

Rather than listen to the will of the people and support Death Tax repeal, the Obama Administration wants to make the Death Tax more complex and burdensome on American families.


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Paul Clark

shouldn't even be a death tax, why are politcians so deaf to what the population wants and says?

Koskinen's Corrupt IRS Scandal Far From Over

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Posted by Laurens ten Cate on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, 3:44 PM PERMALINK

This week John Koskinen appeared before the House Judiciary Committee regarding IRS handling of Lois Lerner emails. The hearing was four hours of Koskinen shifting the blame to everyone but himself. 

The continued denial of any wrongdoing from the IRS in this case by the Obama administration has by now been thoroughly debunked. Watch the video compilation below of statements of Obama, Koskinen and Lerner to once again be amazed by the gross abuse of power by the Obama administration. Credits to 1791L (by Jesua Flores) for the video.


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Rep. Hensarling’s Mission to Save the U.S. Economy

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Posted by Johnathan Sargent on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, 10:02 AM PERMALINK

Last week the House Financial Services Committee approved H.R. 5983, the Financial Choice Act, to be considered by the House of Representatives. This sorely needed piece of legislation, introduced by the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), is the solution to the stagnant economic growth that the United States has experienced over the past several years. By undoing key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, also known as Dodd-Frank, the Financial Choice Act will add much needed stability to our financial system.

Passed in 2010 by a Democrat controlled Congress, Dodd-Frank was supposed to promote financial stability and end “too big to fail”. This year, its 6 year anniversary, Dodd-Frank has failed to achieve its objectives, it has provided no stability and has done little to promote American consumers.

As Chairman Hensarling so eloquently put it: “we are stuck in the slowest, weakest, most tepid recovery in the history of the Republic. The economy does not work for working people.” In addition to the staggering $36 billion in regulatory costs and millions of hours in paperwork, the end result of Dodd-Frank is an added cost of $112 to every American.

What the Financial Choice Act does that Dodd-Frank has not is increasing the market’s transparency and accountability to the American people and reigning in to “too big to fail”. It amends the Bankruptcy code to accommodate the failure of large, complex financial institutions and prohibits the use of the Exchange Stabilization Fund, a reserve intended to be used in the most severe of situations, to be used for the bailout of banks and other financial institutions.

The most senior Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) called the act a “highly partisan, damaging piece of legislation”. A piece of legislation that she noted would “kill Dodd-Frank and harm consumers”. However, Representative Waters conveniently overlooked the harm that Dodd-Frank has done to consumers. As Representative Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) articulated, “regulations intended for Wall Street have hurt Main Street” and that “since the financial crisis we have lost one community financial institution per day”.

Representative Sean Duffy noted that in the midst of the financial crisis Rahm Emmanuel, then-current Chief of Staff for the President and presently the Mayor of Chicago, stated “never let a good crisis go to waste”. Democrats took full advantage of the financial crisis to push their agenda.

Representative Waters criticizes the Financial Choice Act as a “highly partisan” piece of legislation, but the reason that the American economy has not recovered is the partisan piece of legislation that the Democrats pushed through 6 years ago, Dodd-Frank. That massive piece of legislation, which is 848 pages long, was passed through a Democrat controlled Congress without one vote from a House Republican filled with job killing rules and regulations that have not benefited the American people.

It’s safe to say that Representative Waters’ remarks concerning the Financial Choice Act were better suited for Dodd-Frank. Americans have had to endure six years of Dodd-Frank and the stagnant growth, increased costs, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on saving large financial institution that came with it. Chairman Hensarling said it best: “there is a better way forward and it’s called the Financial Choice Act.”

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To watch the hearing in its entirety click here

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Steve Godenich

Consider modifying bank charters to provide customers with the option of secure, segregated accounts for savings and retirement accounts and then abolishing the FDIC, as well as auditing the ESF.

Free Trade is Good for American Businesses and Families

Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Free trade is critical to the American economy and is an essential component to guaranteeing a high standard of living for all Americans.  Free trade cuts and reduces tariffs – taxes on trade – and other barriers to global commerce. Fewer barriers on American exports means less money taken by foreign governments out of the pockets of workers and business owners seeking to trade overseas. Fewer barriers on imports into the U.S. results in more competition and access to a greater range of products at lower prices for consumers across the country.

Although both Presidential candidates have spoken negatively about trade, they are mistaken. Free trade is a positive, not negative force. In a letter to members of Congress, ATR together with 35 conservative, free-market groups urged Members of Congress to continue advocating for free trade policies that benefit the American economy.

Since Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776economists have universally supported free trade. In the past, tariffs were the chief source of federal revenues. However, these taxes on trade have inhibited economic growth and produced serious economic consequences. Conversely, cutting them has led to economic prosperity. Today, more than 1 in 5 American jobs are tied to trade, and these workers earn 16 percent more than jobs in industries not tied to trade.

While the concept of trade is sound, the execution is not always perfect. The 12 member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) contains more than 18,000 tax cuts on American exports and will benefit consumers and businesses, but also contains flaws that may undermine property rights. These issues should be addressed before the agreement moves forward.

Under U.S. law, medical innovators have access to 12 years of exclusivity, while TPP grants as little as five years. The 12 year protection exists for a reason -- it was legislated by Congress following careful consideration of the extensive development costs associated with medicines.

Similarly, TPP explicitly excludes the tobacco industry from the use of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), a “neutral, international arbitration procedure, ”designed to act as a safeguard to ensure that countries do not skirt their responsibilities toward free, open trade.

Despite these flaws, TPP will produce significant economic growth.  A recent report by the International Trade Commission found that TPP will increase U.S. exports by $57.2 billion annually by 2032 and increase overall U.S. real income by $57.3 billion annually over the same period.

The fact is, free trade is pro-growth, pro-business, and pro-American. Members of Congress should freely support and defend free trade.

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EU State Aid Cash Grab Threatens Rule of Law and Investment

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

The recent European “illegal state aid” ruling threatens to upend business certainty and existing international tax rules, and reduce business investment. The ruling, which forces Apple to retroactively pay Ireland $14.5 billion plus interest also shortchanges the American people and threatens the prospects for tax reform.

European Commissioner for Competition Margarethe Vestager has justified this decisions as a way to stop “cozy” relationships and break “unfair competition.”  Clearly though, this is a case of money hungry EU bureaucrats clawing back more revenue after the fact.

The ruling has  caused universal condemnation from American business leaders, Congressional Republicans and Democrats, and the Treasury Department who have all raised concerns that the EU investigations will set a precedent allowing international bodies to override the sovereignty of individual countries.

Both Apple and Ireland have announced that they will appeal this decision and both claim they did nothing wrong. In fact, there are no accusations that the arrangement constituted tax dodging, but rather than not enough tax was paid.

This ruling and those to come threaten to set a precedent for the European Union to take aim at other U.S. companies doing business abroad and leaves them vulnerable to having the same treatment. The EU is set to continue its investigations into American businesses like Amazon and McDonalds, which could open the door to similar action from other countries and international bodies:

“Absent reversal, other countries outside the EU will interpret the decision as acceptable governmental behavior and will put all companies with cross-border investments –including EU-headquartered companies – at risk of having their assets expropriated by foreign governments seeking extra revenue or seeking to punish a successful foreign competitor.”

This is far from hypothetical and is already happening. Officials from EU member countries are already eyeing their “fair share” of the $14.5 billion and just last week Japan ordered Apple to pay $118 million in back-taxes.

Not only do these developments impact business certainty and rule of law, the rulings come at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. Money that is stolen from American businesses under the guise of illegal state aid is no longer available to be brought back to the U.S. economy to be reinvested in jobs and the economy.

As noted by Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) these investigations illustrate why the U.S. desperately needs pro-growth tax reform. American Companies are already struggling to compete because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world – 39 percent, compared to the average in the developed world which is just 25 percent. In addition, our tax code subjects our businesses to double taxation – once when it is earned overseas and once when it is brought back to the U.S.

This system of double taxation – which is used by just six of 34 developed countries – has resulted in more than $2 trillion in after tax U.S. income being stranded overseas. This is just one consequence of the out-of-date tax code, and it should be fixed in pro-growth tax reform.

When this happens, lawmakers should repatriate double taxed income at a rate of just over 5 percent, which when done in the 2000s resulted in $320 billion returning to the country that was reinvested in the economy, in higher wages, and in federal revenues. Now, with more than two trillion stranded overseas, the time is ripe for another round of repatriation that can finance pro-growth tax reform.

EU officials have shown they are aggressively targeting US businesses through state aid investigations.  These efforts should signal that the U.S. desperately needs tax reform so that American businesses can once again compete in the global economy and not be at the will of bureaucrats from other countries.

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Bill Clinton Says Cut the Corporate Rate, Hillary Says No

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, September 21st, 2016, 4:28 PM PERMALINK

Former President Bill Clinton today called for reducing the U.S. corporate income tax rate to a globally competitive rate. Clinton is wise to do to so because America has the highest tax rates for businesses in the developed world. Lowering business taxes to a globally competitive rate will allow our businesses to compete against foreign competitors and put a stop to corporate inversions and foreign acquisitions of American assets.

As reported by CNBC, Clinton called for the rate to be lowered to be closer to the average of the developed world:

"I was the president who urged it to be raised to 35 percent, but when I did it, it was precisely in the middle of OECD countries. It isn't anymore."

In contrast, Hillary Clinton has suggested there is no need to lower the corporate rate. Advisor Neera Tanden recently suggested that Hillary would oppose any effort to lower the corporate income tax rate because “the U.S. has been doing pretty well when it comes to competitiveness."

This position puts the campaign far outside the mainstream of both Democrats and Republicans including President Barack Obama and Speaker Paul Ryan who have called for lowering the 35 percent federal income tax rate to a more globally competitive rate. Democrats have called for a lower rate as part of a net tax increase, while Republicans cut taxes for all families and businesses.

“Bill Clinton has staked out the obvious commonsense position that we can’t compete with a 35 percent rate,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Most Democrats want a rate cut as but only as part of a large net tax increase. Hillary not only wants a massive tax increase, she is opposed to a rate cut. She is wildly to the left on this issue.”

Rather than reduce the extremely high, uncompetitive corporate tax rate, Hillary has proposed an “exit tax.”  The term “exit tax” is used by the campaign itself. Her campaign document describing this proposal says it will impose an $80 billion tax increase.

The Clinton campaign has called for at least $1 trillion in higher taxes including a $275 billion tax hike through unspecified “business tax reform.” Her campaign has failed to release specific details on these proposals so the true Clinton net tax hike figure is likely much higher than $1 trillion

Clinton’s refusal to acknowledge and address America’s high business tax rates will ensure that America’s competitiveness problem remains unresolved.

Chart by Strategas Research Partners using Tax Foundation and OECD data

As shown in the chart aboveAmerica’s corporate income tax rate is close to 15 percent higher than the average in the developed world. The tax rate has barely changed since tax reform was passed 30 years ago in 1986.  At the time, we lowered our rate to 39 percent – below the developed average of 44 percent. Since then, other countries have cut their rates aggressively.

31 of the 34 OECD countries have reduced their corporate rates since 2000. Only the U.S. and Chile have higher corporate tax rates than they did in 2000. Our high rate makes it difficult, if not impossible for our businesses to compete with competitors that have much lower rates Canada (26.3 percent), the United Kingdom (20 percent), and Ireland (12.5 percent).

This inaction has resulted in close to 50 American businesses leaving the country through an inversion in the past decade, according to data compiled by Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee. America has also lost an additional $179 billion worth of assets through acquisitions by foreign competitors, according to a report by Ernst and Young.

Clearly there is a need to reduce business taxes, both to reduce the burden on American businesses and to allow them to compete with foreign competitors. Bill Clinton clearly understands this issue, but Hillary Clinton’s plan would only make the tax code more complex and burdensome for American businesses.

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Hillary in 1993: Let's Double the Gun Tax

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Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016, 5:11 PM PERMALINK

Today Americans for Tax Reform released more evidence of Hillary Clinton’s long held desire to impose new and higher gun taxes. 

ATR's HighTaxHillary.com previously exposed her 1993 endorsement of a new 25 percent national retail sales tax on guns.

But unreported since 1993 is Clinton’s support for a doubling of the current federal excise tax on guns. In a closed-door meeting, she told then-Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) that his bill to double the tax was a “great idea."

As reported by the Chicago Tribune on March 19, 1993:

Rep. Mel Reynolds said Thursday that Hillary Rodham Clinton was "very enthusiastic" about his proposal to increase the federal excise tax on guns as a way of raising revenue for health care.

Clinton said "she thought it was a great idea, something she agreed with," the Chicago Democrat reported after a 25-minute meeting with the first lady at his office. 

The article added:

Reynolds proposed legislation last month that would boost the current 10 percent excise tax on handguns and 11 percent tax on all other firearms to 20 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

The bill didn’t go anywhere. But Clinton’s support for a doubling of the gun tax is another disturbing sign of her deep seated hostility to the Second Amendment.

Her disdain is evident in the video footage of her endorsement of a 25 percent national retail sales tax on guns. In sworn congressional testimony, Clinton is seen nodding fiercely as she is asked about it.

Her response: “I am all for that.” 

She added: “I am speaking personally, but I feel very strongly about that.”


In her 2016 primary campaign, Clinton relentlessly attacked Bernie Sanders for his 1990s gun votes, staking out a position to the left of Sanders on gun control. Her own 1993 endorsement of the 25 percent national retail sales tax on guns was widely reported at the time.

From the Associated Press on Oct. 1, 1993:

Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., picked up Mrs. Clinton's support for his idea of slapping stiff taxes on ''purveyors of violence:'' a 25 percent sales tax on guns and $2,500 license fees for gun dealers.

''Speaking personally ... I'm all for that,'' said the first lady. But she stressed she was just speaking for herself.

''Well, let me say that there is no more important personal endorsement in the country today, and I thank you very much,'' said a pleased-as-punch Bradley.

Here’s the Washington Post on Oct. 1, 1993:

"I'm all for it," she declared in a response to a suggestion by Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) that the Congress should impose a 25 percent sales tax on handguns to "tax directly the purveyors of violence."

On Sept. 30, 1993, NBC Nightly News reported the incident as follows:

Others urge a hefty sales tax on guns, and much higher fees for gun dealers. Today, they got a powerful ally.

Ms. HILLARY CLINTON: I'm all for that. I just don't know what else we're going to do to try to figure out how to get some handle on this violence.

The Bill Clinton White House made it clear that Hillary's 25 percent gun tax endorsement was hers and hers alone, as shown by the Oct. 1, 1993 White House press briefing transcript:

Q: "Do you know if the President supports the First Lady's endorsement of an idea yesterday by Senator Bradley that there be a 25 percent tax on the sale of guns in America?"

WH Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers: "Well, as you know, she was expressing her opinion."

Clinton’s gun tax endorsements are especially troubling considering the recent imposition of gun taxes in Seattle, Cook County in Illinois, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory.

Seattle imposes a tax of $25 per gun, as well as an ammunition tax of two or five cents per round. The taxes have already driven gun dealers out of the city. Cook County imposes a $25 per gun tax and a one cent to five cent tax per round of ammunition. The Northern Mariana Islands imposes a $1,000 per gun tax. Yes, one thousand dollars per gun. The governor there says the tax should serve as a “role model” for U.S. states.

“Hillary and the Left are now seeking to tax the Second Amendment out of existence,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "Over the many years, Hillary has endorsed every available effort to limit gun ownership by American citizens through taxes, regulations, and executive orders. One senses a pattern."

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A 25% "tax" on a Constitutional Right. How much will the "tax" be on the First Amendment?

Koskinen's IRS May Still Be Targeting Conservative Groups

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016, 2:11 PM PERMALINK

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to defend himself against impeachment charges following his role in the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.


Koskinen was appointed to lead the IRS after promising to bring transparency and openness to the embattled agency. He has failed.

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,” according to a pair of reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last year.


As GAO notes, certain deficiencies increase the risk of unfair audit selection based on a taxpayer's First Amendment rights. As the report finds:

“The control deficiencies increase the risk of selecting organizations for audit in an unfair manner—for example, based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.”

GAO audited Wage & Investment (W&I) and Small Business/Self-employed (SB/SE) divisions in response to a request from House Ways & Means Committee members led by Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.).

These requests were made in response to IRS targeting conservative groups. This targeting resulted in just one conservative non-profit being granted tax exempt status over a three year period.

As Chairman Brady and Roskam note, selection flaws mean the IRS is failing to apply tax law in a fair and equitable manner. The Ways & Means Committee summarized the findings of each report, as found below:

GAO Report on Small Business/Self Employed Unit

  • GAO found that the IRS does not have strong internal controls and did not have consistent procedures for documenting audit selection decisions, which increases the risk of unfair audit selection.
  • GAO concluded that “the lack of strong control procedures increases the risk that the audit program’s mission of fair and equitable application of the tax laws will not be achieved.”

GAO Report on Wage & Investment Unit

  • Similar to the other business units, GAO found that the Wage & Investment unit did not always document how cases were selected for audit.
  • GAO found that the IRS did not provide support for changes in selection processes and procedures.
  • GAO also found that the IRS does not conduct continuous reviews of its audit selections, and instead only reviews it once a year.
  • GAO concluded that internal controls should be strengthened to “provide greater assurance that W&I is fulfilling its mission to select tax returns with fairness and integrity.”
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