Lake Ray Leaves the Door Open to Higher Taxes
Today, Americans for Tax Reform calls on Congressional candidate, State Rep. Lake Ray, to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to his constituents. The Pledge is a written commitment to the voters to oppose higher taxes. It’s time for Ray to prove his commitment to defending taxpayers and standing up to special-interests in Washington, D.C.
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge has been offered to every candidate running for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 220 Congressmen and 48 Senators have signed the Pledge, including Rep. Ander Crenshaw (Fla-04).
Politicians often run for office saying they won't raise taxes, but then quickly turn their backs on the taxpayer. The idea of the Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing. The last thing the taxpayers of Florida need is a career politician open to raising taxes, especially after President Obama saddled them with 20 new or higher taxes through Obamacare, with seven hitting the middle class.
Three of Mr. Ray’s opponents, Sheriff John Rutherford, Hans Tanzler, and Deborah Pueschel have taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and made the promise to the hardworking families of Florida’s fourth district to not raise taxes.
“The voters in Florida have a right to know where a candidate stands on the issues before electing them to Congress. Ray’s refusal to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge puts him outside the mainstream of the Republican Party. Eighty-nine percent of all congressional Republicans have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. He would be one of a small group of Republicans open to raising taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The only reason Ray wouldn't sign the Pledge is if he intends to raise taxes.”
Voters should keep this in mind as they head to the polls in Florida, next Tuesday, August 30.
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Study: Net-Metering Costs Non-Solar Customers $36 Million Annually
A new study released this month examined what, if any, benefits Nevada’s net-metering program produces for the state and residents. The study, conducted at the request of the Nevada Legislative Committee on Energy, focused on the cost-effectiveness of net metering and the impact of the program on ratepayers. The results of the study overwhelmingly showed Nevada’s net metering program amounts to all cost and no benefit for the state and residents.
Nevada has long been a focus point in the debate over net metering. In general, net metering programs require electric utilities to purchase excess electricity generated by customers with rooftop solar installations at the full retail rate, as opposed to wholesale. As a result, solar customers avoid paying many of the fixed costs of the grid that are factored into their monthly bills. As such, these fixed costs are then shifted onto non-solar customers.
As part of the study on Nevada’s net metering program, researchers looked at the impact the program has on Nevada ratepayers. The cost-shifting impact was undeniable. The study found a clear “cost-shift from NEM [solar] customers to non-participating customers for both existing installations and future installations.”
Nevada’s net metering program was shown to “shift approximately $36 million per year” in costs from existing solar customers onto non-solar customers. It was also found that future planned installations would shift an additional $15 million per year in costs onto non-solar customers. Thus non-solar customers are essentially subsidizing a portion of solar customer’s electric bills.
Even more concerning is that the study found the state’s net metering program produces no benefit for the state as whole. Overall, net metering from existing and future planned solar generation systems “increase total energy costs for Nevada.” In fact, the program was even found to have no real benefit from the solar user perspective.
Even when considering the “non-monetized benefits” of renewable generation the net-metering program still has little to no positive impact. Factoring in “externalities and non-monetized health benefits of reduced air emissions from self-generation, does not significantly change the results…for the costs and benefits” of net metering for Nevada overall. The study concludes, “There is no substantial net emissions reduction or additional health benefits attributable to NEM systems.”
Nevada’s net metering program is clearly all cost and no benefit. Not only does the program shift $36 million in costs annually onto non-solar customers, but also increases total energy costs for the state while having no impact on emissions or health.
As such, one can only wonder why Nevada, or any state for that matter, would continue net metering programs that quite literally have no beneficial impact on consumers or the environment, and instead serve only to burden residents and the state with higher energy costs.
Photo credit: Marufish
More from Americans for Tax Reform
ATR Recognizes Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers in Florida’s First Congressional District
Today, Americans for Tax Reform recognizes the candidates in Florida’s First Congressional District who have taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a written commitment to their constituents and the American public to oppose tax hikes.
- Cris Dosev (R)
- Rebekah Bydlak (R)
- James Zumwalt (R)
- State Rep. Matt Gaetz (R)
- State Sen. Greg Evers (R)
Candidates running for office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge requires these candidates to put their rhetoric in writing. It is offered to every candidate for state and federal office and to all incumbents. Nearly 1,400 incumbent elected officials, from state representative to governor to US Senator, have signed the Pledge.
Pledge signers include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady are also pledge signers.
On the state level, approximately 1,000 incumbent state legislators are Pledge signers. Thirteen incumbent governors are pledge signers including Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), and Pat McCrory (R-N.C.).
“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,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.
In the 114th Congress, 48 U.S. Senators and 220 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are pledge signers. That’s about 90 percent of incumbent Republicans in the House and Senate.
“We are ecstatic about their commitment to the taxpayers of Florida. I challenge all candidates for Florida’s 1st Congressional district to make the same commitment to taxpayers by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge today,” continued Norquist.
Florida’s primary will take place on Tuesday, August 30.
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Serious, Pro-Growth Tax Reform Must Contain 100 Percent Immediate Full Business Expensing
Clinton plan fails, retains complex depreciation schedules and offers no income tax rate reduction for anyone
Under the tax code, business owners cannot immediately expense the cost of purchasing equipment against their taxable income. Instead, they have to deduct, or “depreciate,” these costs over several years depending on the asset they purchase, as dictated by complex and arbitrary IRS tables.
These rules create needless complexity, and force business owners to make decisions based on tax, not management reasons. Any serious, pro-growth tax reform plan should eliminate depreciation in favor of 100 percent immediate full business expensing, as both the Donald Trump and House Republican plans call for.
With the existing depreciation schedules, business purchases are treated differently under the tax code, with no clear pattern or common theme. Businesses have two different systems of depreciation and investments can be depreciated over 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 20, 25, 27.5, 30, 35, 39, 40, or 50 years depending on the system used and the asset purchased.
This creates a complex and confusing system for business owners that distorts business decisions, as the House Republican “Better Way” tax reform blueprint explains:
“For each asset, they must determine the period over which the asset may be depreciated or amortized and the method that must be used to determine the annual allowance with respect to the asset. For many assets, the cost must be spread over many years for tax purposes. This means that businesses are taxed today on the earnings they reinvest in growing their operations and can recover the cost of that investment only many years later.”
Not only would 100 percent immediate full business expensing eliminate needless complexity in our tax code, it would also lead to strong economic growth. According to research by the Tax Foundation, full business expensing would result in 5.4 percent higher long-term GDP, would create more than 1 million full time jobs, and would increase after-tax income by 5.3 percent.
There is clear rationale for policymakers to implement a cash flow system that allows businesses to immediately expense their purchases. This would make the tax code consistent and clear, and stop it from picking winners and losers.
Fortunately, plans released by the Donald Trump presidential campaign and by House Republicans led by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) would both allow 100 percent immediate full business expensing.
The Hillary Clinton plan – a collection of tax increases on the American people topping $1 trillion over ten years – retains the old, job-killing regime of Byzantine depreciation schedules. The Clinton plan also calls for a complex capital gains tax hike, a Death Tax hike, and no income tax rate reduction for anyone.
The fact is, keeping the existing system of depreciation hurts economic growth and adds a confusing and unnecessary layer to the tax code. 100 percent immediate full business expensing should be in any serious pro-growth tax plan, Democrat or Republican.
Americans for Tax Reform is tracking all of Hillary’s tax increase proposals at its dedicated website, www.HighTaxHillary.com
Norquist Statement on Clinton Tax Plan
The following statement can be attributed to Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform:
“The small business community is excited about the House GOP and Trump tax reform approach with its rate reduction combined with 100 percent, immediate full business expensing and elimination of the Death Tax. Hillary fails on all counts. She doesn’t do rate reduction. She doesn’t do 100 percent, immediate full business expensing. She doesn’t kill the Death Tax, she hikes it. She doesn’t do the powerful pro-growth approach of Trump and Paul Ryan. Hillary’s collection of tax increases – a $1 trillion net tax increase over ten years -- will make the code even more complex and even more burdensome.”
Americans for Tax Reform has documented all of Hillary’s proposed tax increases at its dedicated website, www.HighTaxHillary.com
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Hefty IRS Tax Bill Awaits Home-Bound Victorious Olympic Medalists
The Olympics are over and the 558 members of Team USA are headed home having won 121 medals. Tallying 46 gold, 37 silver, and 38 bronze medals, Team USA athletes could owe the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars in “victory” taxes.
As Olympians set foot back in the U.S., now is the time to pass much needed legislation that will exempt these athletes from being taxed. In March 2016, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced a bill (S. 2650) to stop the IRS from taxing Team USA medalists. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on July 12, but the House has yet to pass a bill. Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee will mark up a bill come September, sponsored by Congressman Bob Dold (R-Ill.) and Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).
Kevin Brady (R-Texas), House Ways and Means Chairman, has highlighted the importance of passing Congressman Farenthold and Dold’s bill:
"It seems like a small thing, but when America’s Olympians and Paralympians bring home the gold, our nation should congratulate them — not send the IRS to claim a share of their medal."
U.S. Olympic athletes receive a monetary award for winning a medal. This award is considered regular income, and is therefore subject to taxation. The U.S. Olympic Committee rewards its medalists with $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.
Taxes on these awards are as high as $9,900 per gold medal, $5,940 per silver medal, and $3,960 per bronze medal. These are the maximum possible tax amounts, and vary widely based on an individual’s tax brackets, circumstances, and available deductions. Still, the athletes must reckon their medal winnings with the IRS code, a headache they can do without.
Maximum Prize Tax
Americans who wish to express their support for the House bill can do so through the petition here or sign below:
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Obamacare Insurers Fleeing Exchanges and Hiking Premiums
Insurers operating on Obamacare exchanges have requested an average premium hike of 24 percent across the country, according to independent analyst Charles Gaba. Even as they request higher premiums, many insurers have announced plans to flee exchanges or reduce their involvement, leaving enrollees with fewer options and more expensive insurance.
Insurers’ requests for larger increases should not be surprising. Even with billions in subsidies, Obamacare’s failure to attract enough enrollees has caused an insurer exodus. In a 2016 fact sheet, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that as of March 31, only 11.1 million consumers had planned on staying in Obamacare marketplaces. HHS on the other hand projected that the marketplace would have a lower enrollment at the end of the year—only 10 million. Yet, these numbers are only half of what the CBO had originally projected, which was 24 million.
As enrollment numbers have failed to materialize, Obamacare insurers have not received the revenue that they had expected. This has led to two outcomes – higher premiums and fewer insurers operating on exchanges.
Large insurers have recently been revising their initial rate requests. In Tennessee, Cigna and Humana revised their rates up more than 20 percent. Cigna requested a 46 percent average increase, up from 23 percent, and Humana asked for a 44 percent increase, up from 29 percent.
So far, only 5 states have approved rate increases—Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These 5 states have an average approved rate increase of 17 percent. While they only make up about 6.1% of the population, Gaba notes that the rate will undoubtedly fluctuate as larger states’ rates are accounted for.
One reason insurers are struggling to operate on exchanges is that they are failing to enroll enough young enrollees. Insurers need 40% of enrollees to be in the 18-34 age range in order to offset the costs of those who are older and typically rack up the insurance bill. However only 28% of exchange participants are in the golden 18-34 range, leaving insurers with a risk pool that is unsustainable.
Due to insurmountable losses, the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth, will be pulling out of 26 of the 34 exchanges it participated in last year. Following United’s footsteps, Aetna announced yesterday that it would pull out of all but 4 states and remain in only 242 counties.
The exodus of insurers from Obamacare exchanges is not self-contained – it is leading to higher costs and more unaffordable insurance. The significant increases in rate requests is just another indicator that Obamacare is failing, but the larger than expected requests are showing that it is failing faster than expected.
More from Americans for Tax Reform
California “Bullet Train” is a Taxpayer Train Wreck
When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. California taxpayers were conned into voting for a $9.95 billion “bullet train” boondoggle that has been on the verge of failure since its inception. The purported goal of the train is to transport travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in under three hours, which allured a slim majority of Californians to vote in favor of the project in 2008.
The pushers of the plan claimed that the long term price tag would be $33 billion. Eight years later the cost has more than doubled, teetering over $68 billion. The $9.95 billion from taxpayers doesn’t come close to keeping the plan afloat and most investors won’t touch the project.
The California High Speed Rail Authority still claims that the project will not need to be subsidized by the federal government. The authority has told taxpayers that railway profits will be enough to finance the construction once the rail is running but projected ticket prices have already surged $30.
The assembly has passed a bill requiring the rail authority to reveal an in-depth analysis of all railway expenses but it will do little to stop the continual waste of time, money and resources.
An article from Reason Magazine highlighted the failure of this project:
Construction is already over two years behind schedule and the state has still not disclosed how they plan to raise the $53 billion in additional funds to complete the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco track.
This “bullet train” disaster will continue to be a massive burden for taxpayers. California needs to stop spending taxpayer dollars on a project that was never going to work.
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Kraut, you are the laughable one, fast on the put downs, short on the facts. For a third of the cost of HSR, you could buy fleets of 20 737s and their successors and fly passengers for free 20X per day for decades. BTW, I'm a native Californian, born and bred, plan to die here. You?
Laughable. High speed rail will provide another efficient way to of transportation around California besides roads and planes. You are just another short sighted individual and sore loser who cant see past the end of his nose. If you don't like it, leave CA.
The best chance of stopping this bullet train boondoggle and saving taxpayers from a century or more of construction and operating debt totaling over $200 billion in the first 20 years is an initiative to defund the California High-Speed Rail Authority and redirect bonds for the train to critical infrastructure. California is the top in the national list of states with critically decrepit bridges and insufficient water infrastructure, but it wastes money on 18th century solutions when 21st century needs must be met. https://cawater4all.com/
Stealing Money from Travelers: How the DEA Can Search, Seize, and Profit Without a Warrant
An investigation spanning the past several months by USA Today found that the Drug Enforcement Administration consistently searches through American travel records to seize millions of dollars using civil asset forfeiture.
It claims to be looking for drug traffickers, but the agency rarely uses the information found to actually make arrests. According to the USA Today investigation, DEA agents work with Amtrak agents and officers from nearly every major U.S. airliner to seize millions from people carrying large amounts of money. The units seized more than $209 million from over 5,000 people over the past decade, but the DOJ only took 87 federal cases to court to seize cash from travelers.
Assuming these 87 cases were included in the 5,000 number, only 1.7% of all seizures actually get prosecuted in court for drug trafficking. If the DEA is actually “combatting major criminal activity,” then it would actually be arresting and prosecuting these so-called criminals.
The DEA has also built one of the largest wiretapping operations in U.S. history in the suburbs of Los Angeles according to USA Today’s research. These investigators intercepted over 2 million conversations from around 44,000 people, according to federal court records. This operation once accounted for 1/5 of all U.S. wiretaps. Investigators found that DEA agents used these wiretaps to seize drugs and millions of dollars in cash, and they would tip off other investigators from other agencies. DEA agents then instructed the investigators to conduct their own independent searches (aka. parallel construction).
Riverside County’s District Attorney noted that for every 3 wiretaps last year, 1 arrest was made-one of the lowest rates of any jurisdiction in the nation conducting wiretaps.
When the Justice Department found out about this, it expressed fears that “the surveillance issues are unlikely to withstand legal challenges.”
Even the DOJ warned that this practice could be determined illegal, but the DEA continued to illegally watch, search, and seize from American citizens.
The DEA also became close with Amtrak employees and wasted more taxpayer dollars. More USA Today research found that the administration paid an Amtrak employee more than $850,000 since 1996 to serve as a confidential informant for the agency to identify and combat contraband trafficking. This money did nothing, for the information received was always available to the DEA at no extra cost. Another employee also received money ($9,701) for information again freely available to the DEA. The administration’s Inspector General noted that the project not only violated federal regulations but also “substantially wasted government funds.
The Justice Department, in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Administration, must end its ridiculous crusade against the rights of Americans by stopping its illegal search and seizure practice done in the name of civil asset forfeiture. When the inspector generals and district attorneys warn the agency and it continues this process, the department needs to end its vicious, million-dollar tirade against taxpayers.