Chet Beiler Signs Written Committment to Oppose Higher Taxes

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, 3:56 PM PERMALINK


Chet Beiler (R-PA), candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American People. The Pledge is a written commitment to the citizens of the 16th Congressional District and to the American people to oppose higher taxes. Beiler is running to replace Rep. Joe Pitts, who is retiring at the end of his term.

Beiler is a small businessman, who started the company Amish Country Gazebos and has become one of the nation’s leading makers of custom gazebos. In addition, Mr. Beiler has created several small businesses that have employed hundreds of people across Lancaster County for the past 30 years.

“The American people are tired of the tax-and-spend policies coming from Washington and they are looking for solutions that create jobs, cut government spending, and get the economy going again. Signing the Pledge is the first step in that process.”

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.

“We are ecstatic about Beiler’s commitment to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. I challenge all candidates for Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District to make the same commitment to taxpayers by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge today,” continued Norquist.

Chet Beiler will compete in the Pennsylvania Congressional Primary on April 26th.

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More Internet Users are Switching Completely to Mobile Internet Service

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Posted by Cecelia Mitchell on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, 3:51 PM PERMALINK


Smart phones are changing the way Americans access the Internet. Results from the U.S. Census’ Bureau’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement show that more Americans are using mobile Internet service instead of a wired broadband Internet connection.

In 2015, only 75% of Americans used wired technology for home high speed Internet. This is a sizable drop from 2013 when 82% of households used broadband. The drop in broadband use could be connected to the rise of mobile phone use for internet service. In 2015, 20% of households relied completely on mobile Internet Service, which is double the amount from in 2013.

The use of broadband or mobile Internet service varies across demographics. In 2015, 29% of online households with an income below $25,000 only used mobile Internet service and 15% of households with incomes of $100,000 or more made the switch to mobile only. The number of mobile only users doubled steadily for all income groups, demonstrating how mobile Internet use is completely taking over the market. If the amount of mobile only use doubled so much in only two years, then this trend will likely continue to increase as smartphone technology continues to develop.

In her testimony before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, ATR’s Federal Affairs Manager and Executive Director of Digital Liberty Katie McAuliffe, also explained the increase use of mobile only Internet service. McAuliffe stated that the reason many Internet users do not have broadband access at home is not because of the costs of the service, but because their smartphones provide all the Internet service they need.

As smartphone technology continues to advance and provide users with increasing services, more and more Americans may make the switch to using mobile data only for their Internet service needs. 

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Norquist Applauds the Continuing App Evolution

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, 2:18 PM PERMALINK


Today, Comcast announced the launch of its new ap that can replace the need for a cable box.  The app is currently available on Roku and Samsung Internet TVs, and is available to manufacturers and developers building any number of devices to show content on a television screen.  

The Federal Communications Commission is currently proposing rules that would require cable companies maintain the cable box, even if it could be replaced by an app. 

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

"The FCC is trying to mandate old and outdated technology. Comcast has solved the problem that the FCC has decided to continue."  

Once again free market forces move faster than government.  The Federal Communications Commission is just now proposing rules that would require cable companies maintain the clunky cable box.  

This new development should clear some space on the FCC's calendar.  Now they can go back to working on getting more spectrum to the market for all of our tech devices.  That would be a real net benefit for consumers, and actually within the FCC"s job description.

 

 

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IRS “Courtesy Disconnects” Cause Tax Day Rage

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, 2:05 PM PERMALINK


Enraged taxpayers racing to beat the filing deadline took to Twitter to express their frustration after patiently waiting on hold with the IRS help line, only to be suddenly hung up on by the agency.

“The IRS phone line is literally impossible to get through to talk to a human. When it comes down to one or two options both get me hung up on,” said one aspiring filer.

 “@IRS install more lines..hold for over an hour..and get hung up on..nice. Now, I get to start my HOLD PROCESS all over again..#NOTHAPPY,” said another. 

 

The IRS uses “courtesy disconnects” to hang up on callers when wait times are long. Yes, you read that correctly: “Courtesy Disconnects” is the official term used by the agency.

In 2015, the IRS not-so-courteously disconnected 8.8 million taxpayers, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate.

The problem continued into 2016, even at the beginning of filing season:

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Jose Rodriguez

It would be a 'courtesy' if they hung up as soon as you called, knowing how many calls were already waiting. Otherwise they're wasting OUR time.


Claudia Tenney Signs Written Commitment to Oppose Higher Taxes

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, 1:44 PM PERMALINK


Claudia Tenney (R-NY), candidate for Congress in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American People. The Pledge is a written commitment to the constituents of the 22nd Congressional District and the American people to oppose higher taxes. Tenney is running to replace Rep. Richard Hanna, who is retiring at the end of his current term.

Tenney currently serves as the State Assemblywoman for the 101st District of New York. As a state legislator, she has been consistently ranked as one of the most conservative members of the State Assembly. In addition to her work as a legislator, Ms. Tenney is also an attorney and small business owner.

“The American people are tired of the tax-and-spend policies coming from Washington and they are looking for solutions that create jobs, cut government spending, and get the economy going again. Signing the Pledge is the first step in that process.”

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.

“We are ecstatic about Tenney's commitment to the taxpayers of New York. I challenge all candidates for New York’s 22nd Congressional district to make the same commitment to taxpayers by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge today,” continued Norquist.

Claudia Tenney joins Steven Wells and George Phillips as the three Republican candidates in the New York 22nd District to sign the pledge. The primary is set for 6/28. 

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PROMESA Contains No Bailout, No “Super Chapter 9”

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016, 5:00 PM PERMALINK


There has been a lot of misinformation floating around on legislation to address Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. Despite reports to the contrary, H.R. 4900, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) introduced by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) contains no bailout and does not retroactively grant the island super chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Why Does Congress Need to Act?

First, some question why this is a Congressional problem. After all, Puerto Rico got itself in this mess, why should Washington have to get them out of it?

For one, Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million residents are U.S. citizens and as a territory of the United States, Congress has constitutional authority over the island.

If nothing is done the situation will get worse for all stakeholders. Over the next year, Puerto Rico must make $3.5 billion in debt payments that is has no way of paying. As early as next month, 11 government entities will begin defaulting one by one. Because it is unclear which debt is first in line, the ensuing lawsuits will result in chaos. Not only will Puerto Rico lose out, but creditors will lose out because they will not be paid what they are owed.

The alternative is the House bill which creates a strong oversight board to manage Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. The Oversight Board is clearly the better outcome – it will maximize creditor recovery because they will get little or nothing from Puerto Rico if the island has defaulted.

While it would be preferable to see this legislation contain more pro-growth provisions in it, the control board has the authority to get Puerto Rico’s finances under control and implement many suitable reforms.

A majority of the control board is appointed from lists provided by the Senate Majority Leader or the House Speaker, so there should be no concerns that the oversight board will choose tax hikes over pro-growth reforms.

The Legislation Does Not Provide for a Taxpayer Funded Bailout

PROMESA contains no federal bailout and does not leave taxpayers on the hook. Despite accusations that this taxpayers and savers are bailing out Puerto Rico, the legislation has zero federal budgetary impact.

In fact, even expenses for setting up and operating the Oversight Board will come from Puerto Rico, not federal taxpayers. Any suggestions that this legislation contains a bailout are completely false.

The Legislation Does Not Contain Retroactive “Super Chapter 9” Bankruptcy

PROMESA does not grant Puerto Rico retroactive chapter 9 bankruptcy and it does not create a precedent that states will be able to seek forced restructuring.

The Oversight Board has the authority to mediate voluntary restructuring between stakeholders, and if (and only if) this breaks down, the board has the authority to facilitate court supervised restructuring. This is NOT chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Any suggestion that this legislation will create a precedent for the states is false because this bill places the relevant provisions within the section of federal law that relates to U.S. territories.

 

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Rob

I get nervous when I see discussion of negotiation among so called "stakeholders," rather than discussion about owners and secured parties. "Stakeholder" is a word invented by collectivists to give third parties owner-like proprietary interests in property and assets which they don't own. Only owners and secured parties should have any involvement in deciding what happens to secured assets and how these debts are repaid. Puerto Rico has been badly damaged by the effects of US imposed socialism and overregulation, and its only hope is to privatize assets owned by the Puerto Rican government and government owned authorities, and independence to escape the detrimental effects of US over-regulation and protectionism (such as the Jones Act, which makes it absurdly expensive for Puerto Rico to trade with the U.S., and which hobbles Puerto Rican industry to advantage US merchant seamen and crony shipbuilders in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Virginia).


ATR Supports Rep. Roe's and Sen. Isakson's Resolutions Blocking DOL’s Fiduciary Rule

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016, 1:29 PM PERMALINK


This week Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), joined by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), introduced a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to block the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently released “fiduciary” rule. A similar resolution was also introduced this week in the Senate by Sen. Johnny Isakson, (R-Ga.).   

The DOL’s fiduciary rule, finalized April 6th of this year, would limit the ability of IRA advisors to talk with potential investors or to recommend specific investment advice. This in turn will increase compliance costs, inevitably pushing some users out of the world of IRAs and discourage others from using them.

Speaking this week on the rule, Rep. Roe stated:

“It’s crucial Americans have access to the retirement advice they need…Unfortunately, the administration’s misguided rule does just the opposite. The new regulatory scheme will hinder access to retirement advice for low-and-middle-income families and make it harder for small businesses to help their employees plan for retirement.”

It is estimated the fiduciary rule could disqualify up to 7 million IRA holders from investment advice, and potentially reduce the number of IRAs opened annually by between 300,000 and 400,000.

Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can vote on a joint resolution of disapproval to stop, with the full force of the law, a federal agency from implementing a rule or issuing a substantially similar rule without congressional authorization.  

Americans for Tax Reform urges lawmakers to support both of these important resolutions in order to protect low-and-middle income families, small businesses, and employees from increased retirement savings costs and reduced access resulting from the DOL’s fiduciary rule.

 

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Congress Should Pass Legislation to Hold the IRS Accountable to Taxpayers

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016, 1:24 PM PERMALINK


Again and again, the IRS has proven itself to be an agency unwilling or unable to perform its basic duties to taxpayers.

Rather than focusing its resources protecting sensitive taxpayer data or addressing serious control flaws, the IRS has wasted taxpayer funds targeting conservative groups and hiring unqualified outside counsel to perform audits.

Clearly, more needs to be done to hold the IRS accountable. Later this week, Members of Congress will have the opportunity to do just that when they vote on several key pieces of legislation. Members should have no hesitation voting for each of these important bills and protecting taxpayers from IRS abuse. 

Ensuring Integrity Within the IRS Workforce
H.R. 3724, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act, introduced by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) ensures that the IRS cannot rehire employees who were fired for misconduct. Each year, the IRS hires thousands of temporary employees to meet the demands of filing taxes. It is critical that taxpayers can trust agency employees to handle sensitive taxpayer data appropriately.

Holding IRS Employees to a Fair Standard
H.R. 1206, the No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act, introduced by Congressman David Rouzer (R-N.C.) prevents the IRS from hiring additional employees until the Secretary of the Treasury confirms that no current employee of the IRS has a seriously delinquent tax debt. This legislation holds agency employees to a fair standard and ensures that the workforce practices what it preaches. 

Stop Bonuses to IRS Employees
H.R. 4890, legislation introduced by Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Pa) ties IRS bonuses to measurable metrics. Agency employees continue to receive bonuses even as the agency fails to provide basic services to taxpayers. This legislation prohibits bonuses until the agency proves it is putting taxpayers first.

Ensuring Congress Retains Oversight Over the IRS
H.R. 4885, the IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending Act, introduced by Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) ensures Congress retains control over IRS spending. Specifically, the legislation requires any funds the IRS receives from user fees to be deposited into a general fund maintained by the Treasury Department to be used for improving taxpayer services.

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Senate Should Take Up Legislation Protecting Taxpayers from IRS Abuse

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016, 12:00 PM PERMALINK


Under this administration, the IRS has proven its ineptitude time and time again. In light of countless transgressions such as the targeting of conservative groups based on political beliefs, it is clear reforms are badly needed to rein the agency in.

One proposal, S. 2809, introduced this week by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) does just that by strengthening protection of taxpayer rights. The Senate must not delay in passing this important, pro-taxpayer legislation.

This legislation limits the power of the IRS to abuse audits and investigations in several ways. First, this bill ensures taxpayers have a right to appeal before going to tax court. Second, Sen. Portman’s bill closes several loopholes that allows the IRS to extend the scope of an investigation. Third, this legislation prohibits the IRS from unnecessarily wasting taxpayer funds on outside counsel.

In the past, the IRS has been subject to Congressional scrutiny by Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) over its decision to waste millions in taxpayer funds hiring an elite, white shoe law firm to perform an audit. Despite the firm having zero experience handling taxpayer data or performing an audit, this hiring was deemed wasteful, but not illegal.

Wthe agency continues to run rampant, there has admittedly been some success reining the agency in. Late last year, Congress succeeded in limiting the ability of the IRS to abuse its power through a series of reforms championed by Congressman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.).

Even so, the agency continues to abuse its power and ignore its responsibilities to taxpayers.

For instance, a recent report by the GAO revealed that the agency may still be targeting Americans based on an organization’s religious, educational, or beliefs. A separate report found that the IRS was failing to safeguard sensitive IT taxpayer data despite numerous prior warnings. The report concluded that the agency had a “significant deficiency” over its ability to ensure financial information is not exposed.

Clearly, there are many reforms still needed to hold the agency to account, and Sen. Portman’s legislation is one important step in this direction. The Senate Finance Committee has an opportunity to swiftly approve this important legislation, when it holds a markup on Wednesday to consider separate legislation taking aim at identity theft and tax refund fraud. 

 

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Former Treasury Officials: Regulations Will Not Solve American Competitiveness Problem

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Posted by Alexander Hendre on Monday, April 18th, 2016, 4:00 PM PERMALINK


New regulations aimed at inversions will not solve the underlying American competitiveness problem and may backfire, a bipartisan group of 18 former Treasury officials said today in a letter to Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

Earlier this month, Treasury released new regulations on earnings stripping, the process by which international businesses borrow and allocate debt across subsidiaries and modified thresholds at which a newly inverted company is counted as foreign or domestic under the U.S. tax code for future inversions.

While these new regulations may stop existing proposed inversions, it will do little to fix the problem. Inversions are just one symptom caused by America having the world’s worst tax code. As the letter points out, they will likely have unintended consequences or outright make the problem worse.

For one, new regulations will result in American businesses becoming targeted for foreign acquisition at increased frequency. As a report by Ernst & Young explains, overcomplex and burdensome regulations put U.S. businesses at comparative disadvantage within the global economy and make them an easy target for acquisition. In effect, this new regulation will mean American companies leave the U.S. through foreign acquisitions, rather than inversions.

Perhaps worse still, new regulations will create unneeded uncertainty that puts a damper on foreign investment. Ultimately, American businesses will lose out and have a harder time competing with already advantaged foreign business.

Rather than new regulations, Treasury could better devote its time working with Congress toward a lasting solution that fixes the problems in the U.S. tax code. There are two major tax problems that are causing U.S. businesses to invert or be acquired by foreign competitors.

First, America has a corporate income tax rate far higher than the rest of the developed world, with a combined state and federal average of 39.1 percent. In comparison, the average rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development is just 25 percent.

While other countries have pro-actively reduced their business tax rate to compete in the global economy, the U.S. rate has remained unchanged since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. As a result of this inaction, the U.S. rate remains at a level far above major competitors.

Second, the U.S. retains an outdated worldwide tax system, even as the rest of the developed world has a moved toward a territorial tax system. In 2000, just 14 developed countries had a worldwide system, but the increasingly global economy has meant this number has doubled since then. Today, the US is just one of six OECD countries that retains the worldwide system.

This means that any U.S. business with operations overseas must first pay taxes in the country it earned this income and then pay U.S. taxes when bringing this income back. Needlessly to say, this double taxation leaves American businesses at a substantial disadvantage, because they face higher taxes and a more complex system than their competitors.

As the signers conclude, “current rules regarding corporate inversions don’t need revision.” That’s because the problem is not that there are too many inversions, but that the U.S. tax code is the worst in the world and results in an American competitiveness problem.

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