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New Report Finds IRS Failing to Protect Confidential Tax Information

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, 2:30 PM PERMALINK


A new report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released yesterday found that the IRS has been failing to safeguard federal tax information, drawn mostly from the tax returns of Americans everywhere.

The IRS provides confidential information to over 280 federal, state and local agencies and has responsibility for oversight over the safe use of the information. But according to the report “The IRS’s Internal Revenue Manual does not require the performance of on-site validation of an agency’s ability to protect (federal tax information) prior to its release to the agency”. Instead, the IRS will examine the ability to protect federal tax information after it has given away confidential information.
 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the IRS does not set any guidelines for an agency’s background investigation policy as a requirement of accessing information.
 

Federal tax information provided to other agencies must remain confidential by federal law. But apparently it doesn’t matter to the IRS if another agency has a sufficient background investigative policy or even if any investigations occur.

Of 15 agencies surveyed that receive federal tax information, the report found that none of them conducted sufficient background checks on employees handling the data. Just one agency conducted national background investigations, four fingerprint employees and only one checks the sex offender registry, while almost half of the agencies hire convicted criminals.
           

The IRS has said it will now develop appropriate background checks and will use a risk-based assessment before approving the release of federal tax information to other agencies. But given this is not the first time that the IRS has failed to provide adequate protection to sensitive information, taxpayers should continue to be concerned about the security of their personal information.

Photo Credit: 
John Morgan

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Samuel Clemmons

It gets worse. IRS citizen information is stored in Iraq, Yemen, China, Kosovo

http://bancdelasteroideb612.wo...


Marketplace Fairness Act Would Cripple Small Businesses

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, 9:30 AM PERMALINK


The Marketplace Fairness Act is being billed by its supporters as a common-sense proposal that would level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar retailers by taking away online retailers’ exemption from sales tax. Currently, sales tax is only applied to online purchases when a customer buys something from a business that has a location within the customer’s state. What sounds noble, or at least harmless, at first glance begins to sound more like foxes volunteering to guard the hen house when you look at how the MFA would play out in practice, and when you examine who’s supporting it and who isn’t.

Not only would the complexity of complying with the MFA be a massive burden on businesses (the tax would be based on where the customer lives, so a popular online retailer could realistically find themselves paying sales tax to all 50 states, navigating all the unique tax jurisdictions with unique rules of each state.). The cost of compliance would cripple a startup or small niche business. According to Freedomworks Policy Analyst Julie Borowski’s article on Rare; “It would be overly complicated for online businesses to pay sales taxes on goods shipped across state lines. There are nearly 10,000 different sales tax jurisdictions in the United States. The number of tax jurisdictions varies widely by state—New Jersey has only two while Texas has over 1,500 different sales tax jurisdictions.

To add extra confusion, some jurisdictions charge different rates based on the type of item being sold. For example, eight states fully or partially exempt clothing from sales taxes. Some exceptions do apply. In Pennsylvania, there are no sales taxes on clothes except for formal wear, bathing suits, fur coats, and accessories such as jewelry or purses.”

The True Simplification of Taxation (TruST) coalition finds in their recent study; “Mid-market online and catalog retailers ($5-50 million in annual sales) will spend $80,000 to $290,000 in setup and integration costs for the so-called “free software” promised by advocates of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA). And every year, these retailers will also spend $57,000-$260,000 on maintenance, updates, audits and service fees charged by software providers.”

When you look at the hundreds of thousands of dollars annual compliance would cost, it’s easy to see why online-only giants like Amazon, and other big businesses like Best Buy and Home Depot, who do a significant amount of online business would support the MFA despite the burden it stands to be. These businesses can afford to comply with the MFA, and would even get the extra benefit of seeing their smaller competitors hurt or driven out of business by the immense cost of this tax.

On top of the unfair cost and complexity of the Marketplace Fairness Act is the issue it raises about tax jurisdiction. Why should any state be allowed to collect taxes from businesses in other states? What right does the government of New York have to take money from an Arizona business? As ATR’s Katie McAuliffe explains, the MFA sets a disturbing precedent for states to tax people who aren’t even their constituents;

“Their ultimate goal is to export their tax and regulatory burden to Americans who have no recourse at the ballot box. A politician’s dream come true.”

Photo Credit: 
Adam Fagen

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DavidPaul

The complexity and consequence of the Marketplace Fairness Act is explained clearly and quickly in a series of video shorts by the eMainStreet Alliance. (Frankly, if the legislation wasn't burdensome, they wouldn't offer (well, mandate) free software to help w/ the complexity. Unforunately the software won't work if not fed the correct data by businesses who may not know how to or are unable to do so.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?...


Georgia Voters To Decide Whether to Cap State Income Tax Rates

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Posted by Will Upton on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, 5:00 AM PERMALINK


On November 4, Georgia voters will decide whether to adopt Amendment A: “To prohibit an increase in the state income tax rate in effect January 1, 2015 (Senate Resolution 415).” The ballot measure is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would cap the state income tax at the effective rate on January 1, 2015. This would mean that the state legislature would be constitutionally prohibited from increasing the state income tax rate any higher. The measure reads: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?” 

If passed, the Constitution of Georgia would be amended with the addition of Paragraph IV in Section 3 of Article VII reading: “Paragraph IV. Increase in state income tax rate prohibited. The General Assembly shall not increase the maximum marginal rate of the state income tax above that in effect on January 1, 2015.” This would have the effect of enacting a supermajority requirement to increase income taxes in Georgia as the state constitution would need to be again amended to do so.

David Shafer, the President Pro Tem of the Georgia State Senate and sponsor of the referendum, said of the effort to cap the state income tax: “It makes it clear that our income tax rate is not going up. It helps increase our competitiveness by pointing out to businesses making expansion decisions that while other states could increase their rates tomorrow our rates are constitutionally capped.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution quoted Jeffrey Dorfman, a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia, in support of Amendment A: “It’s the credibility thing: If businesses feel like they can trust you, then they’re more likely to create jobs in your community. So this cap signals to businesses, we promise we’re not going to become New York or California or Illinois. We’re going to stay a good place to do business.”

Photo Credit: 
Simon Cunningham/LendingMemo

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Jack_Kennedy

obama sons won't like having their welfare capped ............ they be needing their increased welfare


More Evidence that EPA’s Clean Power Plan is Economically Irresponsible

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014, 5:17 PM PERMALINK


NERA Economic consulting released a report yesterday expounding on what we already knew would be the devastating effects of the Clean Power Plan on both industry and individuals nationwide. The report highlights a number of reasons why the harm caused by the EPA’s proposed regulation would far outweigh the benefits.

While reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere by less than .5%, reducing sea level rise by the thickness of a few sheets of paper, and reducing the global average temperature by about 2/100ths of one degree, NERA expects the Clean Power Plan to increase electricity prices in 43 states by double digit percentages (some up to 20%), alongside the $41 billion per year the regulation will already cost both consumers and businesses. The proposal will lose us an estimated 45,000 megawatts of coal-based energy and stands to close down several coal plants, directly costing the livelihoods of their employees.

A huge segment of our population is elderly, and of that segment, a staggering percentage lives on less than $30,000 annually. Young adults are moving in with their parents at an alarming rate due to financial difficulties, and untold numbers of young families already have to choose between paying the light bill or eating. Americans can’t afford to let the EPA play at reducing emissions at the cost of further crippling our economy and putting such a heavy burden on the many among us who already struggle to afford the energy they need to live.

Photo Credit: 
Dan Lurle

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Corporate Inversion Regs: Is the Cure Worse Than the Disease?

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Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014, 3:04 PM PERMALINK


Fallout continues to happen from the Treasury Department's September regulation announcement on corporate inversions.  It's now becoming increasingly clear that this regulation can be added to the list of jobs-killing initiatives from the Obama Administration.  It joins a Hall of Shame which includes Obamacare, EPA regulations, Dodd-Frank, and many others.

Financial experts at the time were shocked at the size and scope of the regulations.  Reuters went so far as to report that $12.3 billion in shareholder wealth was wiped out by the announcement of the regulations alone.  How much more will each of us lose from our 401(k) plans and IRAs once this regulation actually goes into effect?

The surprise was warranted, since up until that point the Obama Administration and Treasury had been downplaying what could be done in this area absent Congressional action.  Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that Treasury "did not have the authority."  President Obama remarked that "we can't solve the entire problem administratively."  Most definitively, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said "we've done, I think, all we can within the statute."

This reckless and extreme regulation has had serious consequences for U.S. companies and jobs. Since the announcement, a half-dozen international business deals have been scuttled.  What does that mean?  It means that the international profits of these companies--which have already faced taxation abroad--will continue to encounter double taxation from the IRS should the companies dare to bring that money back to the United States.

That's untenable.  Predictably, action has shifted from corporate inversions to outright foreign takeovers of American companies.  Even former Bill Clinton economic advisor Laura Tyson has said of this phenomenon, "the proposed anti-inversion measures would also make it more likely that U.S. companies are the target, rather than the acquirer, in cross-border M&A deals."

So great.  Rather than letting U.S. companies simply pay tax on their foreign earnings once and only once, the Obama Administration would rather these companies be gobbled up entirely by their foreign competitors.  What's going to happen to all the jobs at those companies then?  They will quite literally be shipped overseas.

The real solution here is to simply end the double taxation of overseas corporate earnings.  Let companies pay taxes over there, and then be done with it.  That would make them more likely to bring earnings back to the United States, since they won't face a double taxation situation.

Until we solve our broken tax system, especially with regard to large multinational U.S. companies, the type of clown show we're seeing on corporate inversions is doomed to continue.

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WhoBeen

Informative to say the least but only to people like me... I'm willing to bet that over 98% of the voting public have no idea what this article says or that it even exists!


Illinois Democrats Continue Push for "Millionaire" Tax on November Ballot

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Posted by Will Upton on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014, 5:00 AM PERMALINK


Mike Madigan, the Democrat Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and Governor Pat Quinn continue their push for higher taxes via the Advisory Question: “Millionaire Tax Increase for Education Question.” In Illinois, Advisory Questions can be placed on the ballot to gauge public opinion on potential legislation – although the ballot result is non-binding. In this specific case, voters are being asked whether they would support the legislature enacting an additional three percent tax on income greater than $1 million for the purpose of granting school districts additional revenue. This past legislative session, a “Millionaire” Tax bill failed to gain the necessary votes in the Illinois legislature.

The ballot question reads, “Should the Illinois Constitution be amended to require that each school district receive additional revenue, based on their number of students, from an additional 3% tax on income greater than one million dollars?”

The Advisory Question comes on the heels of a hotly contested legislative session where a similar legislative measure was narrowly defeated – two other massive tax increases were also defeated. State spending interests are pushing the Question as a means of putting increased pressure on the legislature to enact the constitutional amendment during the 2015 legislative session.

When Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan pushed the ballot measure back in May, the Illinois Policy Institute noted: “Illinois’ message to job-creators is increasingly clear: the state’s political leadership wants to punish you for achieving success. At a time when Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida and Texas are welcoming new entrants from over-taxed states with open arms, Madigan is doubling down on economic failure and destruction to feed Springfield’s insatiable appetite for a larger share of your wealth and capital.”

“After years of having a stranglehold on Illinois politics, Speaker Mike Madigan is looking desperate as he tries again to push his failing tax and spend agenda,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “After failing to garner the votes for a Millionaire Tax, a Progressive Income Tax, and an extension of the 2011 income tax hike during the legislative session, Illinois Democrats have thrown up this last ditch effort to continue pushing Illinois down the road to serfdom.”

 

Photo Credit: WBEZ

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Rednecksrule

Yes you care about millionaire taxes Norquist-- BUT let's have a tens of millions of illegals amnesty. Middle class tax payers have to pay for illegals you slimy toad. I dont' hear a word out of you concerning the most recent surges of poverty to the US that MIDDLE CLASS taxpayers already are carrying. You know you jagoff.. to pay for schools. Come to Fairfax county, home to tens of thousands of the recent surge and look at the cost of schooling. So I am not going to cry for millionaires to pay taxes when you want to foist millions of illegals onto me..


MFA/MITFA Could Impact Up to 3.5 Million Retailers

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Posted by Matthew Bruno on Monday, October 20th, 2014, 3:48 PM PERMALINK


TaxCloud, a certified service provider (CSP), estimated that 350,000 to 3.5 million retailers could be affected by the implementation of the Marketplace Fairness Act/MITFA. An Internet sales tax mandate would place a burden on millions of retailers across the country that would force them to change their tax policy for the worse.

MFA seeks to force one state’s sales tax upon another based on the concept that the Internet has grown to the point of allowing such transactions to be made easily. However, this mandate would ultimately allow certain states to impose their tax policies on customers buying products in other states. With the potential for 3.5 million retailers to have to alter their decision making, MFA/MITFA is yet another intrusive tax that would harm the growth of both the economy and online retail.

This estimate is far above the number of businesses that one might expect to be ensnared by MFA/MITFA. This just goes to show the unwelcome and obstructive nature of such a federal tax mandate.

Photo Credit: 
http://taxcredits.net/

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sunsetally

First, proponents say MFA does not burden business which would not contend with Bellas Hess/Quill.
Then, they say it is burdensome, so a ('free') mandated software is required!
Which is it??
https://www.youtube.com/watch?...


Pres. Obama Tries to Rally Support for Maryland Democrats, Taxpayers Flee

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Posted by Will Upton on Monday, October 20th, 2014, 2:11 PM PERMALINK


This past Sunday, President Obama rallied support for embattled Democrat gubernatorial candidate and current Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. While the President spoke, rally goers seemed to lose interest with some getting up and leaving. Reuters reported on Sunday: “President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.”

The flight of rally goers from President Obama and Lt. Gov. Brown’s event is a fitting metaphor for the flight of taxpayers and businesses from the Chesapeake Bay State over the past 8 years of tax hikes and crushing regulations imposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

Since defeating Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich in 2006, O’Malley and Brown have enacted 40 tax hikes that will cost Maryland taxpayers $20 billion by 2018 according to Change Maryland. Between 2007 and 2010, IRS data shows that nearly 31,000 residents have left the state. According to Gbenga Ajilore, writing in the Washington Post, of the 31,000 residents leaving the state, “…nearly 11,500 individuals in taxpayer households, went to Virginia. The net loss to Maryland — and Virginia’s gain — is $390 million in annual incomes. A surprising close second in attracting former Marylanders is North Carolina. Combined, that amounts to almost $700 million in annual incomes streaming down the Interstate 95 corridor.” North Carolina enacted major tax reform in 2013, making the state an even more attractive destination for refugees from high tax states like Maryland.

Much like the disgruntled rally goers on Sunday, Maryland’s millionaires fled the state after a 2008 law was signed by Gov. O’Malley enacting a new; higher rate for incomes over a million dollars. The result? Roughly a third of the state’s millionaires left. The Wall Street Journal notes: “One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.”

Besides individual taxpayers fleeing the state, the radical tax and spend policies of O’Malley and Brown has caused a flight of businesses as well – resulting in thousands of jobs relocating outside of Maryland. Just one week ago, the Bechtel Corporation announced it would be moving a large chunk of jobs from Maryland to Virginia. Besides Bechtel, Maryland has seen operations from Northrop Grumman, Hilton Worldwide, SAIC, Volkswagen North America, Coventry, Constellation Energy, and Black & Decker either fold or leave the state. Change Maryland notes: “Since 2007… 6500 small businesses have left or shut down, the second-highest in the region, and just three Fortune 500 companies remain in the state. This is a sharp contrast to 24 large corporate headquarters in Virginia and 23 in Pennsylvania.”

When rally goers walked out on President Obama and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown this past Sunday, they showed that Marylanders are increasingly turning their backs on the radical tax and spend policies of the Democrats in Maryland and in Washington, D.C.

 

Photo Credit: Edward Kimmel

 

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ATR's Chris Prandoni on the Most Expensive Regulation in White House History (and more...)

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Posted by Loren Long on Friday, October 17th, 2014, 12:19 PM PERMALINK


 In a Forbes column, ATR staff member Chris Prandoni writes about the possibility of the most expensive regulation in history that could be coming to the White House:

Look out! Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just sent what could be the most expensive regulation ever to the Office of Management and Budget for final review. We don’t know what the ozone rule will look like, but an EPA advisory board is pushing for standards that would, under EPA’s own estimates, cost about $100 billion to comply with every year. Another study by the National Association of Manufacturers estimates the rule could cost $270 billion per year and would put millions of jobs at risk.

Also pointing towards a huge price tag, EPA was ready to issue the ozone rule in 2011 but President Obama delayed the rule fearing the regulation’s cost would hamper his reelection chances. No longer encumbered by the electorate, the ozone rule will likely come at a huge cost. With the EPA already promulgating 9 of the 10 most expensive regulations in history, this sort of activity has become par for the course.

Tim Cavanaugh wrote in a National Review Online article on Mark Warner’s desire to raise taxes:

The equation of “new taxes” with “compromise” — which the paper should really be embarrassed to make after the stunning non-apocalypses of the budget sequester and the partial shutdown of some non-essential government services last year — also elides a point the two campaigns have been arguing over. Though Warner claims Gillespie signed the tax pledge created by Americans For Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, and his campaign even flooded the press room with literature to that effect at Monday’s debate, Grover himself has shot that story down. As Post Virginia reporters Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella point out, “Norquist tweeted late Monday that Gillespie did not sign the pledge: “Gillespie told me he would not sign pledges. He didn’t. He told the people of Virginia he wouldn’t raise their taxes. He won’t. Warner did.’”

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Obama Era Hits New Low

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Posted by Matthew Bruno on Friday, October 17th, 2014, 9:22 AM PERMALINK


An ABC News/Washington Post Poll released Wednesday reveals the lowest support for the Democrat Party in 30 years and the lowest approval for President Obama since he took office. Americans are unhappy with many of his positions, contributing to Obama’s approval rating this week falling to 40%, the lowest of his career. Although Obama is not on the ballot this November (unfortunately), he has said himself that his policies are. A vote for a Democrat is a show of continuing support for Obama’s failed presidency.

With weakening support for Obama’s policies across the board, it is hard to point to any one particular area that most highlights the problems under his leadership. However, Obama’s unpopularity seems to stem from the stagnant recovery. More Americans describe their finances as “not as well off” (30%) instead of “better off” (22%) since Obama became president, with 77 percent of respondents worried about the country’s economic future. With 37% of registered voters naming “the economy and jobs” as the single most important issue in their vote for Congress, the Democrats are in trouble. Almost four times as many Americans now describe the standard of living in the country as getting worse as opposed to getting better (57% vs 16%). Americans see the country on the wrong track, with Obama supervising the train wreck.

As Democrat candidates seek to distance themselves from Obama’s sinking ship, they must worry about the diminishing support for Democrat policies as well. Obama now sees career lows in his handling of:

  • Immigration (29%)
  • International Affairs (37%)
  • Terrorism (42%)
  • The ISIS situation, dropping 15 percentage points in the last two weeks (35%)


Obama’s unsuccessful agenda will be on the ballot this November. With Obama and his Democrat policies at their most unpopular, Americans this election have an opportunity to steer our country back in the right direction.

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Barack Obama

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