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ATR Supports Bill Appointing Inspector General for Obamacare

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, 5:34 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform is proud to support S. 2430, the "Special Inspector General for Monitoring the ACA (SIGMA) Act of 2014," sponsored by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)

Obamacare is a giant law which spans many government agencies.  Congressional oversight has been stymied by the administration, and taxpayers frankly "don't know what they don't know" about how the government is implementing President Obama's healthcare law.  What has leaked out has been a tale of woe involving broken websites, overpaid contractors, and late Friday afternoon bureaucrat resignations.

S. 2430 would create an inspector general that could knock on doors across the government, from Kathleen Sebelius' Department of Health and Human Services, to the Treasury Department, the Social Security Administration, the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the Veterans' Administration, the Department of Labor, and even the Peace Corps.  No stone would be left unturned.  Reports would start flowing to Congress and taxpayers on a quarterly basis.

This inspector general office would follow in the footsteps of other recent predecessors for Iraq reconstruction, Afghanistan reconstruction, and the TARP bailout.  These inspectors general have recovered billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers, and resulted in prosecutions of hundreds of bad actors.

It's about time taxpayers got to the bottom of how Obamacare is being implemented.  S. 2430 is a necessary step to get there.

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But what is Grover Norquist going to do to pay for the heath care of all the illegal immigrant teens and children and their mommies that are surging here with his support?

Grover and this organization are full of guano. They don't want their beloved corporations to pay taxes. They are fine with you the American Middle Class taxpayer paying taxes for corporations new immigrant workforce. That workforce that will keep their profits high will need you the American tax payer to pay for it.

ATR Supports Anti-Fraud Reforms in EITC

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, 4:00 PM PERMALINK

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low income American families with wage income.  Almost without exception, these households do not have an income tax liability. The EITC, then, is really a check written by the IRS to keep households out of poverty.  It is not income tax relief.

The EITC has a high error rate.  The IRS itself admits that, in 2013 alone, 22 to 26 percent of all EITC payments were made in error.  The erroneous payments totaled between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.  This was spending, right out of the Treasury Department, to people who were never eligible for this money.

Congressman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will this week introduce legislation called the "Earnings Advancement and Recovery Now (EARN) Act."  It makes four essential EITC reforms:

--increase the penalty for those who engage in willful or reckless content with regard to the EITC

​--expand the EITC disallowance period to five years for willful or reckless EITC recipients

--expand the IRS' math error authority to cover EITC claims, and

--expand penalties for erroneous EITC claims

These measures are simple reform tools for an EITC which has completely failed in its mission. No private sector business could tolerate payment errors to a quarter of their payees, but that's exactly what's happening at the IRS with the EITC.  ATR urges all Congressmen to co-sponsor and support this common sense EITC reform package.

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James Richard Spriggs

Instead of imposing penalties on people, some of whom may have made mistakes rather than committing intentional fraud, would it not be better to simply get rid of refundable tax credits? Tax refunds are government spending, not tax cuts. If a tax-payer has made an over-payment, then he should be able to treat that as a tax payment towards his next year's taxes and reduce his withholding or estimated tax payments accordingly. Only if the IRS makes a mistake itself and seizes too much from a tax-payer should the tax-payer be able to get a refund.

NC Newspaper Issues Misguided Call for a Plastic Bag Ban

Posted by Patrick Gleason, Jorge Marin on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014, 4:59 PM PERMALINK

Good intentions on the part of government officials often fail to beget good policy. Plastic Bag bans and taxes are no exception. While no statewide bag ban or tax has been imposed in the U.S., over 190 local bag taxes or outright prohibitions have, with Los Angeles being one of the most recent cities to go after plastic bags (never mind the City of Angels’ $7.7 billion unfunded liability).

This week the Raleigh News & Observer’s editorial board called on the Raleigh city council to impose either a tax or a ban on plastic shopping bags. Raleigh Councilman Bonner Gaylord recently indicated openness to a plastic bag ban or tax in North Carolina’s capital city. Such a proposal is misguided for a host of reasons that have been well-documented in other localities that have imposed such a policy.

Proponents of the plastic bag ban argue that by switching over to cheap reusable bags consumers can cut both costs and help preserve the environment. What they neglect to mention are the risks associated with the same reusable bags and the lack of connection between bag taxes and bans and litter reduction

A study on reusable shopping bags conducted by University of Arizona researchers found “Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half,” posing an obvious health risk to consumers. The problem? Only 3 percent of respondents reported to washing their bags on a regular basis. Giving the documented failure on the part of many to wash reusable bags whose use the New Observer’s proposal would either mandate or incentivize, The News & Observer’s dubious proposal would expose many to a new source of potential bacterial infection.

While the coercive utopians on the News & Observer editorial board consider limiting consumer choice for the benefit of our surroundings, there is actually very little evidence that plastic ban or tax would actually reduce litter, which is the stated goal of the proposal.

After San Francisco issued its own plastic bag ban, the first city in the country to do so, the amount of bag litter as a share of all trash actually increased according to a city-wide litter audit from 20 to 24 percent. Ireland, a model of plastic bag taxing, provides one of the more glaring examples of failure to mitigate plastic bag use. While it seems like there was some negligible improvement in the amount of plastic litter, plastic bag consumption actually went up by 20 percent as households switched to heavier plastic bags to use around their homes. Meanwhile paper bag litter increased by an astounding 400%.

The thing is, the single use plastic bags that the News & Observer claims to be a scourge to the city (with no supporting evidence) are anything but single use. Plastic shopping bags are not just used to carry around groceries; most people reuse them for all sorts of activities, such as lining bins, cleaning up after the family pet and transporting lunch and gym clothes. By making it more difficult to procure these little industrial marvels, Raleigh might simply be making their city less accommodating to low income families rather than more friendly to seagulls and fishes.

The fact is that a bag tax would disproportionately harm low and middle income Raleigh families, yet the News & Observer’s proposal has been met with silence by groups like Blue NC and legislative Democrats, who fashion themselves and defenders of the downtrodden.

For these reasons, the Raleigh City Council would be wise to discard the News & Observer’s advice. Even California Democrats, who usually love such stupid and onerous policies, weren’t so foolish.

Photo Credit: Sergio Pani

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Grover Norquist Appears on C-SPAN Washington Journal

Posted by Zoe Crain on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014, 12:06 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist appeared on C-SPAN Washington Journal, hosted by Pedro Echevarria, where he discussed a number of topics, including the continued impact of failed economic policies under President Obama. An excerpt of his comments is below.

If Obama’s economy had grown at Reagan’s pace, since the bottom of the recession, there’d be 10 million more Americans working. The cost of raising taxes, spending- creating new entitlements rather than reforming the ones we have that don’t work as well as we would like them to- is 10 million people out of work today. 10 million Americans don’t have jobs because instead of having lower taxes and less regulations, this administration has had more regulations, more spending, higher taxes, new government programs without reform.

Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, wrote an op-ed in FlashReport detailing the fight of farm workers in California against union bosses and a corrupt labor relations board.

The union’s motivations are clear- a once-powerful force boasting over 50,000 dues paying members, the UFW has lost decertification elections time and time again over the last several decades. Farm workers have decided en masse that the union does little to justify its outrageous dues. Today the UFW claims merely 5,000 members; if they successfully organize Gerawan they will have instantly doubled their membership.  

The Washington Examiner published an editorial featuring the Cost of Government Center’s work surrounding “Cost of Government Day.”

According to the Cost of Government Center (which is part of Americans for Tax Reform), it took the U.S. economy 121 days- roughly the first four months of the year- to produce enough for government to spend at all levels (81 days for federal and 40 days for state and local spending). It took an additional 65 days to produce the resources required to pay for the costs of regulatory compliance at all levels.

Ashley Dobson of Red Alert Politics wrote an article detailing how Cost of Government Day has been pushed later into the calendar year under President Obama.

This was the sixth consecutive year that Cost of Government Day fell in July. Prior to President Barack Obama’s tenure in office, the latest it had fallen was June 27, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

Politico’s Morning Tax Briefing covered a letter sent to Congress by Americans for Tax Reform, along with other conservative organizations, imploring House and Senate committees to avoid short-term fixes in addressing corporate tax reform.

The groups- including the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform and Americans for Prosperity, among others- write in a letter that will be sent to the leadership of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees today that they want to “strongly caution against the urge to take action on short-term fixes aimed at individual symptoms, rather than the entirety of the tax code. We are specifically concerned about proposals that seek to make changes to our tax laws as a means to pay for projects that are totally unrelated to tax reform. Attempts like these are a step in the wrong direction. Their passage will do nothing to help America’s job creators. In fact, it will make it even more difficult to achieve true tax reform.”

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Steve Jurvetson

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House Should Pass Permanent Partial Expensing Tax Relief

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, July 7th, 2014, 3:30 PM PERMALINK

The U.S. House this week will consider H.R. 4718, a bill introduced by Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) to make permanent a tax provision providing for partial expensing of business tangible asset investment.  ATR urges all Congressmen to support and vote for H.R. 4718.

Under tax law, most business expenses (wages, rents, etc.) can be deducted as costs against business income. Companies pay taxes on whatever profit is left.  One big exception is when businesses invest in essential assets like computers and machinery.  These assets are subject to long, muti-year deductions called "depreciation."  A computer, for example, takes five years to fully deduct from business taxable income.

Under ideal tax policy, all business expenses--from wages to computers to paper clips--would be immediately deducted in full in the year of purchase.

For many years, the tax code has had a temporary provision which allows companies to deduct much of the cost of these asset purchases in the year they are made.  H.R. 4719 would permanently allow a company to deduct half the cost of a new investment, meaning only the other half would be subject to long and complex depreciation rules.

Congress has a long history of support for this concept, so it makes sense to have it become permanent tax law on the way to full business expensing of all purchases. 

--In 2002, Congress created a 30 percent partial expensing rule for asset purchases made through 2005

--In 2003, Congress raised this partial expensing level to 50 percent

--In 2004, Congress broadened the scope of what was covered under partial expensing

--In 2010, Congress created a 100 percent (i.e., full expensing) tax relief provision for 2010 and 2011, reduced to a 50 percent partial expensing for 2012 and 2013

--Unless Congress moves soon, there will be no partial expensing at all in the 2014 tax year.

There is a long history of Congress supporting partial expensing.  For long-run planning purposes, however, businesses need to know that tax law won't keep changing on them.  That's why it's so important to have the certainty that H.R. 4718 brings.  

Business investment is ultimately what creates new business capital, and with it new jobs.  If Congress wants to create an environment for job creators to thrive, passing permanent partial expensing is the best jobs package possible.


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Yes... Grover is all for corporations paying less tax while he supports massive poor illegal immigration to the US. You the middle class taxpayer can't avoid the cost of Grover's illegal immigration.

Hey Grover... can we deduct the cost of illegal immigration on our federal state local income tax returns? They are a tremendous expense!


How about a flat tax and getting rid of the tens of thousands of code...

Make it easy to pay taxes

Threats to Uber and Lyft Present Opportunity for Republicans

Posted by Zoe Crain on Monday, July 7th, 2014, 1:16 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform federal affairs manager Katie McAuliffe authored an op-ed in the Bakersfield Californian encouraging support for The Email Privacy Act.

Though Americans’ online communications are currently vulnerable to government snooping, there is pending legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives that could remedy the gaping hole that exists in our privacy rights. The Email Privacy Act would extend protections to Americans’ private communications stored in the cloud. This legislation, led by Reps. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., and Jared Polis D-Colo., has garnered broad, bipartisan support from more than half of the members in the House. This is legislation new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy could help move forward to ensure Americans’ private communications stored online are protected. Moreover, there is clear momentum for protecting Americans’ data with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that Fourth Amendment protections extend to cell phones.

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and director of state affairs Patrick Gleason co-wrote an op-ed in Reuters detailing the opportunity for Republicans in fighting against regulatory threats to ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Politically, this presents an opportunity for Republicans to make a comeback in cities. By championing the often disruptive share-economy businesses, defending them against the status quo and focusing their political campaigns on these issues, the GOP can show it is the party that embraces companies that improve the quality of life in cities. 

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Alfredo Mendez

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Hey guys,

Need a ride? Here’s a $25 credit for you to try Lyft - it's like a cab, but costs less. To get the $25, just download the mobile app for iPhone/Android and type in “FREELYFTD” in the payments section of the app. If you’re in a pioneer city, you’ll get free rides on top of the $25!

To order a ride, tap “Request Lyft” and your driver will pick you up in minutes to get you where you need to go

Feel free to share it with friends & family!

Michigan Takes Steps to Revive Manufacturing

Posted by Jorge Marin on Saturday, July 5th, 2014, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

 Michigan has been a state in decline for a long time. Thanks to decades of unbroken big-government politics, a state which once claimed to be “The Arsenal of Democracy” now resembles a boneyard of industry. Fortunately, the state is taking steps to change course and pass legislation aimed at stimulating business instead of punishing it. One such change, Proposition 1 will be put to a popular vote on August 5 ballot.

Proposition 1 would eliminate Michigan’s antiquated Personal Property Tax (PPT) and provide much needed tax relief to Michigan’s entrepreneurs and job creators. The PPT levies a tax on each piece of equipment bought by a busniness and continues to charge a fee every year the equipment in operation. This has the effect of dis-incentivizing business expansion as owners think twice about adding an extra tax burden.  According to Detroit News, surrounding states have already eliminated their own PPT’s. Michigan should repeal this ungainly tax to make itself more attractive to business investment and expansion.

Repeal of the PPT will go a long way to relieving Michigan’s battered state economy. How Money Walks calculates that from 1992-2011, Michigan has lost about $17.85 billion in Adjusted Gross Income to other states in the nation. Along with all that revenue, 440,000 people have absconded from the Great Lakes State from 1985-2011.

Should Michigan voters pass Prop 1, they would provide a $500,000,000 tax cut to businesses while guaranteeing a steady source of revenue for local municipalities. Since the tax will be phased out until 2023, and certain tax credits eliminated, local governments will have plenty of help adjusting to the new revenue structure. Michigan will once again be a competitive state in one of the nation’s most hurt regions.

With the unprecedented number of taxes passed at the federal level over the last few years, it is heartening to see states taking it upon themselves to act responsibly on behalf of their constituents. Though state budgets are stretched thin throughout the country, there will be no reprieve from the current economic malaise if states don’t implement pro-growth tax measures. Michigan voters should vote YES on Proposition 1 when it comes to a vote on August 5.

Photo Credit: Astrid Westvang

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Happy Fourth of July! BBQ, Fireworks, and Historically High Gas Prices

Posted by Michael Smith on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014, 1:57 PM PERMALINK

On the eve of the Fourth of July, many Americans across the country already have their plans mapped out. Unfortunately, the estimated 41 million people that are expected to travel this holiday weekend are going to be disheartened when they pay big at the pump.

According to AAA Travel, the national average price of gas heading into Independence Day stands at $3.67 per gallon, roughly 20 cents more than last year and the highest mark in the last 6 years for Fourth of July weekend.  With over 41 million Americans planning to travel over 50 miles from their homes this weekend, “AAA does not believe that high gas prices will have a significant impact on the number of people traveling, but it could result in some consumers cutting back on dining, shopping or other trip activities,” wrote AAA’s Heather Hunter.

With rising escalation in Iraq, it is no surprise that the price of crude oil has increased domestically, but that shouldn’t confine Americans to higher gas prices. While the U.S. has seen drastic improvements in energy production through the oil shale boom and advancements in refining methods, the Obama regulatory regime has restricted the nation from reaching its true energy and economic potential.

ATR noted last year that Obama has the ability to affect gas prices by approving the Keystone Pipeline that would potentially deliver 830,000 barrels of oil to Texas and Oklahoma every day, but citing illegitimate environmental concerns, Obama has yet to approve the pipeline. By proposing unnecessary regulations, such as EPA’s Tier III Sulfur Rule which would set new vehicle emission and fuel standards, Obama is subjecting Americans to higher gas prices. Although the rule has not been implemented yet, if the mandates eventually come to fruition, it is the consumers who will pay big. Making matters worse, the President has ordered the EPA to issue stringent regulations that restrict the development of America’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Under the administration’s plan, 85 percent of offshore areas are untapped, eliminating potential job creation and energy production.

Opening up the Keystone Pipeline, eliminating dubious regulations, and authorizing more offshore drilling could be a great start in lowering the price of gasoline for Americans while also creating much needed employment and help establishing American energy ascendance. While Americans will be enjoying the holiday weekend with barbecues, fireworks, and liberty, the Obama administration’s flawed energy policies will be hurting the nation’s economy.  


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Happy Cost of Government Day, America! Workers Toil 186 Days to Pay For The Full Costs of Government

Posted by Emma Raymond, Mattie Duppler on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014, 9:32 AM PERMALINK

In 2014, Cost of Government Day falls on July 6.This day marks the point during the year when the average American has earned enough income to pay for his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government at the federal, state and local levels. While Americans may be celebrating Independence Day on July 4, they are still working to pay for the full cost of government until the end of the weekend.  This will be the sixth consecutive year that COGD will fall in July; prior to President Obama taking office, COGD had never fallen after June 27.

All told, the full costs of government amount to 51 percent of GDP. Workers toil 121 days to pay for government spending alone, and 65 days to pay for regulatory costs. All told, Americans labor 186 days to pay off the full burden of government.

States like Connecticut and New Jersey must work past national COGD in order to pay for the costs of high spending and taxes in their states. The latest state COGD once again occurs in Connecticut, falling on July 26 for 2014. The earliest COGD goes to Louisiana, occurring on June 12 this year.

Reflecting the success of efforts by Republicans in Washington to cut the size of government by capping discretionary spending, the days worked to pay for federal spending decreased since last year. However, federal regulatory costs have increased since 2013. Increased unilateral executive action will only push these costs higher. While Americans worked 65 days to pay for the costs imposed by regulation in 2014, if the regulatory regime grows larger it will almost certainly auger much later Cost of Government Days in the future.

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Yes and the founder of this organization Grover Norquist supports amnesty for illegal aliens. And thanks to his and his fellow travelers in the Liberal Party, we now have a surge of the poorest illegals Central America can dish up. Do you guys somehow think that this wave of poverty isn't going to need massive amounts of tax payer money thrown at it? Obama just asked for 8 billion. Multiply that by thousands over the course of the amnesty that you and the Democrats are eventually going to serve up.

Ha Grover thinks that waves of immigration are going to save the US economy!! Um Grover, first you have to give them entitlements before they can buy stuff... That means you have to redistribute middle class taxpayers money because Grover's beloved corporations sure aren't gonna be taxed for the cost of illegal immigration and amnesty. If they were, they wouldn't be so for it.

So this organization can take all the baloney about the cost of government and...

Kansas Tax Cuts Are Working

Posted by Will Upton on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014, 9:54 AM PERMALINK

Despite the objections of some – perhaps biased – observers, the Kansas tax cuts appear to be working. Christopher Ingram at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog declared the failure of the Kansas tax cuts based on a single metric – when compared to average US job growth, Kansas job growth has lagged. It should also be of note that Ingram bases part of his criticism off of a Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) study, citing them as a “nonpartisan think tank” – the The New York Times has called CBPP “left-leaning”, The Washington Post has called them “progressive”, and Time Magazine has called them “liberal” as has the National Journal.

To really understand the success of the Kansas tax cuts, one would need to look not at a US aggregate of unemployment data, but at the Kansas-Missouri border where two states share a split metro area and for all-intents-and-purposes a porous boundary.

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics data details a significantly better trend for Kansas as opposed to Missouri following the passage of the first round of tax cuts in 2012. In the year 2012, both Missouri and Kansas saw significant drops in state unemployment rates. Kansas began in January, 2012 with a rate of 6.1% and finished out the year at 5.4%. Missouri began 2012 at 7.5% and finished out the year at 6.7%. However, in 2013 after the 2012 Kansas tax cuts had kicked in, the two states diverged. Kansas continued to reduce their unemployment rate, dropping from 5.5% in January 2013 to 4.9% in December. Missouri, on the other hand, saw their rate fluctuate – beginning the year at 6.5%, then climbing to 7.2% in August of 2013 before finally seeing a drastic drop in December to 5.9% (partially due to holiday hires in the retail sector – note: this applies to Kansas as well). The preliminary rates for 2014 show Kansas holding steady at 4.8% (comparable to nearby Iowa holding steady at 4.3/4.4%, Nebraska at 3.6%, and Colorado around 6%). Missouri, unlike Kansas, has seen their unemployment rate increase – moving from 6% in January of 2014 to 6.6% in May.


  1. An examination of the non-farm employment data provided by the BLS for the Kansas City Metro-Area, specifically, shows a drastic shift of employment growth from the Missouri side to the Kansas side:

The greatest job growth in the Kansas City metro-area has been generated in Kansas, not in Missouri. It is arguable that the 2012 spike was caused by businesses anticipating a better tax climate in Kansas after the 2012 tax cuts.

From a broader regional view, Kansas still remains a relatively high tax state with a top rate of 4.9% – at least until further income tax rate reductions kick in. Colorado, by comparison has a flat rate of 4.63%. Prior to 2013, Kansas was higher – at 6.3% – than Missouri which has a top rate of 6%. Additionally, the current 4.9% rate is relatively on par with Oklahoma which has a top rate of 5.25% - though, again, prior to 2013 the top rate in Kansas was higher.

While the state budget shortfall has made news, there is strong evidence that most of the shortfall can be traced to federal tax policy changes and not state changes – though Josh Barro writing at The New York Times disagrees. CBO data, that I have detailed here, points to a shift in capital gains filings out of 2013 and into the end of 2012 to avoid President Obama’s “Fiscal Cliff” which resulted in an increase in the federal capital gains tax. This left many states – from California to Connecticut – with shortfalls and downward revisions in revenue projections this past tax year. Long story short, other states who have not enacted tax reforms like Kansas are also struggling with the accuracy of their revenue projections this year.

One final note, Kansas is required by law to have a balanced budget, unlike the Federal government. A significant budget surplus this year will alleviate much of the concern with the lower than expected revenue collections. Opponents of tax reform and spending interests want to try and write an early obituary for the Kansas tax reform. Unfortunately for them, the tax cuts are working and will continue to improve the Kansas economy for years to come.

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Most of the job growth in Kansas City is Google Fiber coming to town. Missouri has the same anti government tax policies.