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Export-Import Bank Places Huge Burden on Taxpayers (and more...)

Posted by Zoe Crain on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014, 1:52 PM PERMALINK

Kevin Mooney of the Daily Signal wrote an article detailing the massive financial burden the Export-Import Bank places on American taxpayers. He spoke with Americans for Tax Reform federal affairs manager Chris Prandoni.

Data compiled by the Western Energy Alliance shows federal leasing for oil and gas exploration on land has dried up as well. The end result of the Obama administration's energy policies at home and abroad is a "lose-lose" for taxpayers, Chris Prandoni, director of energy and environment policy at Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Signal. Prandoni says: 

"While President Obama's EPA was writing regulations that forced 300 American coal-fired power plants to close down, his Export-Import Bank conceded the importance of coal by financing overseas coal development. This lose-lose for the American taxpayer is particularly painful: Our electricity rates will increase as we pay countries to burn what we no longer can.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an op-ed written by Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and director of state affairs Patrick Gleason regarding the conservative fight against excessive shared economy regulation. 

Now, despite the Democrats' urban dominance, cities may soon be up for grabs. That's because the party's refusal in most cases to embrace the innovative technology and disruptive businesses that have greatly improved city life presents a challenge to Democrats- and an opportunity for Republicans. 

Democrats face a tough choice. A big part of their base is the unions now facing off against such disruptive innovations as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and charter schools. Do Democrats support the regulations pushed by taxi and other unions that help to protect the status quo but can also stifle competition? Or do they embrace innovative technologies and businesses that expand transportation options, create jobs and are increasingly welcomed by another key Democratic constituency: urban dwellers, particularly young urban dwellers?

Americans for Tax Reform international programs manager Lorenzo Montanari wrote an op-ed for Breitbart highlighting how new cigarette packaging regulations have failed in Australia and should be prevented in Ireland and the United Kingdom. 

The stated purpose of plain packaging is that once you take away tobacco companies' branding, people will be less inclined to buy their products. The results thus far appear to be the opposite. More than a year after Australia enacted the policy, studies by London Economics and renowned professors at the Universities of Zurich and Saarland (Switzerland and Germany) concluded it's not deterring adults nor adolescents from smoking. 

In fact, according to the tobacco industry's sales volume data, cigarette sales increased by 59 million sticks in Australia during the first year of plain packaging, offsetting a four year downward trend. The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores even reports that its members' sales grew by 5.4 percent. 

Jason Pye of United Liberty interviewed Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, who described free market reform opportunities at the state level: 

"We're opportunistic right now. Nothing is moving at the federal-level because you have gridlock between a Democratic president and a Republican House, and neither is going to let the other team do anything either useful or evil," said Norquist. "But in the 50 states, there are 24 states with united Republican control, so there's the opportunity there to do pension reform, tax cuts, [and] concealed carry. In the 13 blue states, there they're raising taxes rather than fix the pension system."

Bob Adelmann of the New American detailed the success of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's tax cuts. 

A close look at what is happening in the Kansas City metro area is revealing: From May 2011 through May 2011 (June numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics won't be published until July 18), almost three-fourths of job growth took place in Kansas City, Kansas. What's even more impressive, however, is that Kansas City, Kansas has one-fourth the population of Kansas City, Missouri: 145,000 compared to 476,000. As Will Upton modestly concluded in his blog at Americans for Tax Reform, "It is arguable that the 2012 spike [in employment on the Kansas side of town] was caused by businesses anticipating a better tax climate in Kansas after the 2012 tax cuts."

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Russ Walker

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The Return of the King: A King’s Ransom

Posted by Michael Smith on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014, 12:39 PM PERMALINK

The NBA’s prodigal son LeBron James is going home, announcing on Friday that he is taking his talents back to Cleveland.

The Cavaliers have signed on James with a 2-year deal worth $42.2 million; the going rate for the best player in basketball.

James, a four-time league MVP, has spent the last four seasons in Miami. In those four years, James and the Heat have played in four NBA championships, giving the King his first two rings. With the new contract, there is no doubt that Cavilers’ owner Dan Gilbert paid a king’s ransom to bring LeBron back home.

Four years ago, LeBron made ‘The Decision’ to leave his home state of Ohio for the warmer weather in South Beach to the dismay of Caviler fans. Hometown-hero turned villain is making his triumphant return as LeBron’s “relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball.”

Surprisingly, James has never been the highest paid player on his team, but that doesn’t mean the King has ever been strapped for cash since entering the league as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. According to Forbes, LeBron has amassed over $450 million during his NBA career. The Star’s new contract will keep him in Cleveland through 2016 and will pay him handsomely for his basketball prowess. Last year, ATR calculated the highest paid athletes for 2013 after-taxes. LeBron was the second highest-paid, with earnings of $37,885,150 and federal income tax liability of a whopping $18,659,850.

When considering the tax implications of LeBron’s contract, it is important to note if James selects the tax-friendly state of Florida as his residency, or if he claims his 30,000 sq. ft. mansion in Akron as his home. Assuming that LeBron is an Ohio resident, below are his estimated tax liabilities on his new contract:

Est. Federal Tax Burden

Est. State Tax Burden

Est. City Tax Burden

Total Tax Liability







The Federal Income Tax Burden listed above is comprised of the 39.6 percent tax bracket and 3.8 percent Medicare Tax. For illustrative purposes, the marginal combined tax rate of 56.1 percent (which includes Federal, State, Medicare, and Local tax rates) is applied only to his contract salary and does not take into account his bonuses, endorsement, and other sources of viable income.

Over the life of the contract, LeBron will lose over half of his earnings to federal, state, and local taxes. At twenty-nine years-old, LeBron is entering the prime of his career in his quest to bring a championship to Cleveland. In the meantime, Uncle Sam is happy to collect on the King’s earnings.  

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New Poll: Internet Sales Tax Widely Unpopular in Virginia; Will Gas Tax Go Up?

Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, July 11th, 2014, 3:04 PM PERMALINK

A new poll released by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the R Street Institute found that Virginia voters overwhelmingly oppose federal legislation that would expand state sales taxes to the Internet. The law that some large retailers are pushing alongside many state governments is called the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) and would require businesses without a physical presence in a state to enforce state sales tax laws everywhere in the nation that they do business. 

In Virginia, 59% of poll respondents said that they oppose the Marketplace Fairness Act, compared to 33% of voters who said they favor it. Even self-identified liberals oppose the law by a 47 to 46 point margin. Republicans oppose the bill 67% to 28% and Independents oppose it 56% to 36%. Voters are even more opposed to the concept of empowering out of state retailers to collect taxes on Virginia online consumers, by a 68% to 26% margin. 

The Marketplace Fairness Act has little chance of passing Congress this year but that hasn't stopped some from pushing for the bill, in an effort to generate revenue for the state. The 2013 transportation package, which amounted to a $5.9 billion tax increase on Virginians included a provision that counted on passage of MFA at the federal level, as a way of generating money for state coffers. If and when MFA fails to pass by year's end, the state gas tax will automatically increase from 3.5% to 5.1%, amounting to a $1.2 billion tax hike over 5 years. 

Conservative activists would be wise to focus on repealing this provision of House Bill 2313 (the transportation package) instead of urging members of Congress like Representative Bob Goodlatte to support MFA. 

"This most recent poll confirms what many of us have been saying for more than a year; subjecting small businesses and online consumers to billions of dollars in higher taxes and compliance costs is a widely unpopular idea, especially in Virginia," said ATR state affairs manager Paul Blair. 

"Last year's transportation package included a trigger to grab more money from consumers if the Marketplace Fairness Act failed and now state lawmakers have until the end of the year to figure out how to stop the gas tax from going up. Without legislative action in Richmond, motorists throughout the commonwealth will all see even higher gas prices at the beginning of next year. 

If I was a Republican running for re-election in next year's legislative races and had previously supported the transportation package and online tax schemes like MFA, I'd be worried about a primary challenge from the right."

To learn more about the Marketplace Fairness Act and our fight against taxing the internet, visit http://www.digitalliberty.net/.

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Bill Jensen

Do tell me what if any benfit a out of State business owner get for being the tax collecter for all the other States they do not live? Perhape they think this is going to give use a warm fuzz feeling.

Keith Yockey

lol. Budget shortfalls are a sign that States have a SPENDING problem, not a revenue problem. They have laws on the books now to collect Use Tax, yet don't even bother to advertise or inform the public to their 80 year old law.
Fact is, Sales Tax revenue has gone UP over the last 5 years, not down, and the estimates quoted by NCSL are based on false data. NCSL fails to tell you that the BigBox.coms (and Amazon in VA) collect Sales Tax now, and that the projected number of $233M is actually $39M for Virginia. Typical of Lawmakers, they would spend the $233M before the collections were made, and have an additional deficit when relying on false data.
If B&Ms want to 'level the playing field' then they too should sell online, and enjoy the 'webrooming' Smartphone shopping that drove $1.2T of sales in B&Ms last year. In addition, if MFA passes, they too can enjoy filing monthly Sales Tax returns to 45 or more States.

James Richard Spriggs

No Sten, you are wrong. Regardless of what the authors of the tax pretend, the sales tax is in fact a tax on the sellers. Just ask yourself, who is punished if the tax is not paid? That is who is paying the tax. An Internet sales tax would be a clear example of taxation without representation.

The Ted Kennedy Death Tax Loophole

Posted by Alexander Bobroske on Friday, July 11th, 2014, 12:36 PM PERMALINK

Forbes recently reviewed how the billion dollar Kennedy family actively avoids the death tax by their cunning use of various accounting gimmicks and family trusts.

The Kennedy hypocrisy is astounding given the average American can’t afford such pricey lawyers and investors to protect their savings. Small business owners and farmers could lose 40% of their life savings by the death tax, on top of additional taxes, crippling their ability to pass on the American Dream to their children and grandchildren.

Despite living large as the very type of family he claimed should be taxed more, the late Senator Ted Kennedy cried out, “The tax system is stacked against the average taxpayer.” He was absolutely right; Ted Kennedy’s votes in the Senate did safeguard a tax system stacked against Americans.

Ted Kennedy ensured this by voting against raising death tax exemptions in March 2007, against the permanence of the Bush years death tax cuts August 2006, against a repeal of the death tax June 2006 and against extending tax cuts on capital gains and dividends November 2005. The list goes on.

Meanwhile through coolly calculated transactions, Forbes concluded, the Kennedy trust could maintain an un-taxable fortune indefinitely.

For the farmer, the small business owner, and the grandparents of America, there remains hope. Representative Kevin Brady (R-Tex) is pushing for H.R. 2429 to repeal the Death Tax.  ATR encourages all members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation.


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Not much different than Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, who openly advocate higher taxes, but then place their assets in a charitable trust, effectively keeping them and taxes on their income out of the hands of the government entirely.

Clearly, what they're saying is just meaningless lip service, because their actions show us that they don't trust the government and its solutions at all.

No drama no more

Hypocracy from wealth democrats! This is my surprised face!


Yes, and trusts can pay people that work for the trust a considerable amount of money in salary and reimbursement for expenses. People like family members, for example. So it's not exactly like donating to a trust completely divorces a person and his or her family from access to their money.

The point of my comment was in the second paragraph. Both of those guys are advocating for higher taxes, thereby advocating for the government reaching further into our pockets to pay for the policies advocated by the left to which they belong.

Yet, what the government is doing and the policies it supports don't seem to be important enough for either Gates or Buffet to support as well. They're making a very political "do as I say, not as I do" kind of statement, then, when they advocate for higher taxes, and they're also doing what leadership among the left always does - excluding themselves from having to live according to the principles they're trying to push onto the "little people."

Processing Error Leaves 16,000 Minnesotans Without Health Insurance

Posted by Michael Smith on Thursday, July 10th, 2014, 4:10 PM PERMALINK

According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, 16,000 MNsure applicants STILL do not have insurance.

Here we go again.

Despite receiving $155,020,465 in federal funding to build a functioning exchange, the online interface continues to deprive people from receiving much-needed healthcare. The reason 16,000 Minnesotans who applied for Medical Assistance are still without coverage? Simple; state officials never got around to sending out letters informing consumers of problems with their original applications.

“It was a serious error on our part of not being more on top of understating that process, and having the oversight in place,” said Deputy Commissioner Chuck Johnson of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

‘Serious error’ is quite the understatement. The mailing process was supposed to be fully automated, but like many facets of online state-exchanges, they were implemented without properly addressing critical issues.

Back in February, ATR noted that HealthCare.Gov left 22,000 site error appeals untouched. In May, Cost of Government Center reported that over 1 million enrollees received incorrect subsidies. Unfortunately, 16,000 uninsured Minnesotans are the next real-life example of the technical issues that continue to plague the President’s misguided healthcare law. This is problematic on two fronts: if you have an issue with your application you won’t get a response, and, if the state has a problem with your application you won’t be notified.

On Obamacare, “the idea is simple. By enrolling in what we’re calling these marketplaces, you become part of a big group plan,” said the President in the Rose Garden last October. What the President fails to acknowledge is that with a big group plan, come big problems that are anything but ‘simple’.

Obamacare has failed to deliver on its main goal, to provide health coverage. If the President requires citizens to sign up for his law, Americans at least deserve one that actually works.

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Gov. Walker Not Phased by Opponent's Lies

Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, July 10th, 2014, 11:13 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform director of state affairs Patrick Gleason wrote an op-ed in Forbes highlighting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s opponent, Mary Burke, who has been misleading her supporters with falsehoods about Gov. Walker’s tax policy.

Gov. Walker signed $650 million worth of income tax cuts into law in 2013, reducing all rates and consolidating the state personal income tax from five income tax brackets to four. Contrary to what Burke claims, low and middle income Wisconsin households actually saw the greatest relief from Walker’s 2013 tax cuts. The top rate was only reduced by one percent, whereas the bottom three tax brackets were reduced by anywhere from three to five percent.

Mike Godfrey of Tax-News.com wrote an article regarding a coalition letter sent to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, discouraging members from short-term tax reform measures.

The coalition, including such associations as Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute and Americans for Prosperity, pointed out that, “while the clock is running out on the legislative calendar for 2014, with the August recess fast approaching and the midterm elections around the corner,… there’s still not much taxpayers are seeing out of Congress on comprehensive tax reform.

Wall Street Daily ran a piece by Floyd Brown discussing “Cost of Government Day,” an initiative developed by Americans for Tax Reform’s Cost of Government Center.

Now, the Cost of Government Day had never fallen past June 27 before our current president’s tenure. But for the sixth consecutive year, it’s fallen in July.

This time, the official date was July 6, as calculated by Americans for Tax Reform.

In 2014, the government’s share of GDP has climbed over 50%. Our backpacker (the economy) can’t regain his momentum, and he’s struggling to make progress. You’ve probably noticed that the economy has been unable to reach pre-2008 growth levels. Instead, we’re having difficulty growing productivity, employment, corporate earnings and personal income.

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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.

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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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