House Oversight Committee Details Case for Removal of IRS Commissioner

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, July 27th, 2015, 6:00 PM PERMALINK


House Oversight Republicans, led by Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) today called for President Obama to remove IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Under Koskinen’s leadership, the agency has continually stonewalled the investigation into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal. Years after the scandal first broke, the agency has done its utmost to bury the truth. Taxpayers deserve a transparent and responsive government, but under Commissioner Koskinen the IRS has displayed unprecedented unaccountability.

Chairman Chaffetz vowed to explore all options to remove Commissioner Koskinen including impeachment and holding him in contempt of Congress. As Chaffetz notes, the agency under Koskinen’s leadership has failed time and time again to comply with Congressional investigators:

“Mr. Koskinen failed in his duty to preserve and produce documentation to this Committee. The IRS failed to comply with a congressional subpoena. The IRS further failed by making false statements to Congress. We will pursue all constitutional remedies at our disposal, including potential contempt proceedings or perhaps impeachment of Commissioner Koskinen.”

A recent Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report found that the IRS destroyed 422 backup tapes that investigators believe contained emails to and from Lois Lerner. Further, TIGTA disclosed that there was “potential criminal activity” in the deletion of these emails. This revelation directly conflicted with previous comments Koskinen made under oath that emails could not be recovered.

See also: How Exactly Did Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive Receive “scoring on the top platter”?

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Brookings Institution, https://www.flickr.com/photos/96739999@N05/

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Good & Bad Tax Proposals Being Considered in North Carolina

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Posted by Nathaniel Rome on Monday, July 27th, 2015, 4:24 PM PERMALINK


Having recently appointed budget conference committee, North Carolina legislators continue negotiations to resolve differences between the House and Senate state budgets. Among major unresolved issues are a number of proposed tax changes. There are a number of positive changes being considered by lawmakers, such as cuts to personal income, corporate income, and franchise taxes. However, some changes have been proposed that represent bad tax policy and would cause the state to take a step back after the tremendously successful 2013 tax reform act.
 
Today, Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to North Carolina legislators assessing the various tax proposals being considered:
 
Dear Members of the North Carolina General Assembly,
 
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across North Carolina, I write today to encourage you to keep North Carolina taxpayers in mind as you work through budget negotiations. In recent weeks, some proposals have been put forth that would build upon the successful 2013 tax reform plan, while some would move in the wrong direction and harm taxpayers.
 
One proposal that, if passed, would result in bad tax policy is the proposal to apply the state sales tax to advertising. Approval of this tax change would be a serious mistake. It is a principle of sound tax policy that business to business transactions should not be taxed. Applying the state sales tax to advertising would result in tax pyramiding and higher costs passed down to North Carolinians. North Carolina businesses would also be faced with onerous compliance costs.
 
Currently, no state applies the sales tax to advertising, and for good reason. One state, Florida, tried to impose an advertising tax and it was an unmitigated disaster. Because of Florida’s experiment with taxing advertising the state lost 100 million in advertising revenue to neighboring states. Advertising purchases plummeted 12 percent in Florida, while rising 3 percent nationally during that same time. As such, Florida legislators repealed that misguided tax six months later.
 
While applying the sales tax to advertising is a proposal that should be rejected, several proposals have been put forth in budget negotiations that would build upon the successful 2013 tax reform package. Commendable proposals that would allow your constituents to keep more of their hard-earned income include reducing the income tax rate from 5.75 to 5.5 percent and raising the standard deduction to $18,500, which would save North Carolinians $3.1 billion over the next five years. Other proposals that would greatly benefit North Carolina employers and the state economy include the proposal to ensure the corporate tax rate falls to 3 percent and changing corporate tax apportionment to a “single-sales factor” formula, which would incentivize in-state investment and job creation. Legislators have also smartly proposed cutting the franchise tax on capital stock and tangible property.
 
Since 2013, North Carolina has been a national model for pro-growth tax reform. This year, the Tar Heel State has an opportunity to continue making itself more attractive to employers, investment, and new residents. Moving forward, Americans for Tax Reform will be working to educate your constituents on the tax proposals being considered in Raleigh and how their representatives and senators vote on these important matters. If you have any questions or if ATR can be of assistance, please contact Patrick Gleason, ATR’s director of state affairs at 202-785-0266.
 
Onward,
Grover G. Norquist
President
Americans for Tax Reform
 
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Jimmy Emerson, https://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/

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Grover Norquist Show: Ending Earmarks and the Ex-Im Bank

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Posted by Emma Boone on Monday, July 27th, 2015, 2:07 PM PERMALINK


Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing anything at all as conservatives proved on June 30 when Congress decided to simply let the Export Import Bank expire. However, conservative activists must remain vigilant as efforts will be made to reauthorize the bank by attaching an amendment to “must pass" bills. The march to phase out Ex-Im is unstoppable. Grover Norquist, president of ATR, tackles the issue of the Ex-Im Bank in his latest podcastTune in to find out how taxpayers can win the fight against Ex-Im Bank and stop the march towards crony capitalism.

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Senate Digs Up Ex-Im Grave In Dead of Night

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Posted by Emma Boone on Monday, July 27th, 2015, 12:30 PM PERMALINK


In an unusual Sunday night session, the Senate voted 67-26 to move forward with the attachment of an amendment to the Highway Trust Fund bill that would reauthorize the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of America, which expired June 30. The undisputed poster child of crony capitalism, Ex-Im is behind numerous taxpayer-funded loans and guarantees given to corporations to fund and insure foreign companies’ purchase of U.S. products. Unsurprisingly, many of these million dollar loans have defaulted or have gone to complete waste, leaving taxpayers in the red.

While supporters of the bank claim the reauthorization of Ex-Im will save jobs, the reality of the matter is that Ex-Im never created jobs in the first place. Supporters also mention that Ex-Im helps small businesses. Wrong again. Ex-Im picks and chooses politically connected corporations to loan billions of dollars to, leaving a measly 2 percent of Ex-Im’s funds going to small businesses.

The language of this amendment, expected to be voted on later today, will extend the charter of the Ex-Im Bank for another four years. The banks lending cap will be lowered to $135 billion, still a large sum of money when taxpayers are asked to foot the bill. The amendment is also sure to mention that Ex-Im loans will now increase the percentage of small businesses they assist to a whopping 25 percent. Interesting, considering the bank already claims they help an impressive 90 percent of small businesses.

It’s predicted that a final vote on this bill will take place on Thursday, the deadline for the Highway Trust Fund’s authorization. With heavy support in the Senate, hope lies in the members of the House to strike down this amendment which so clearly supports corporate welfare and the revival of an outdated relic needed to be put to rest for good. 

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Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/

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Chicago’s “Amusement Services” Tax: A Comical Solution to Serious Overspending

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Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2015, 11:56 AM PERMALINK


In a recent Op-Ed for Townhall, Americans for Tax Reform Associate Tim Wilt exposes the nickel and dime tax policy being employed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The latest in Rahm’s onslaught of tax hikes is the extension of the “amusement services” tax to the digital marketplace. Starting in September Chicago residents will be on the hook for an additional 9 percent tax on services like Netflix, Xbox Live, and Spotify. Fighting to abate a $900 million overspending problem, Mayor Emanuel refuses to make the government reforms and spending cuts necessary, and instead continues to tax the already overburdened citizens.

Wilt reports:

“The new policy is predicted to generate $12 million in revenue, a drop in Chicago’s ocean of debt. But wait, there’s more. Combine that with other creative solutions from the mayor’s office like, the higher tax on parking spaces, the new tax on leased vehicles, and the new tax on personal property lease transactions, and we have a grand total of $62.4 million in new revenue!

Hardly enough to put a dent in the $900 million bill. These new taxes will not solve Chicago’s problems. They will, however, cripple innovation and investment in the city, establish a dangerous gateway for tax discrimination in the digital marketplace, and violate federal law, state law, and Supreme Court precedent.”

Uncertainty abounds with this latest tax hike and many have even questioned the $12 million revenue estimation. The new costs will hit Chicago citizens this September, following a moratorium on the new policy.

 Chicago’s financial situation looks increasingly bleak as it speeds towards a $1 billion short fall in next year’s budget. Expert analysts have indicated that major tax increases will likely be needed to keep the city afloat. Mayor Emanuel has thus far avoided such tax hikes for fear of the political repercussions, but it is becoming ever more certain that his penny pinching policies will fail, and the tab for his administrations rampant overspending will finally come due.

Click here to read the Full Article. 

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Mike Boening Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/memoriesbymike/

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Ex-Im Bank Finances Small Business Ponzi Scheme

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, July 27th, 2015, 11:43 AM PERMALINK


The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) provided millions of dollars in financing to a Miami small business perpetrating a Ponzi scheme, according to a recent report by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The business had already defrauded private lenders out of $8 million in loans and used $2 million in Ex-Im financing to pay off these lenders and continue their scam.

The business, run by three family members defrauded private lenders out of millions of dollars by creating fictitious invoices for the sale of merchandise that never occurred. As the report notes, when private lenders started to get suspicious and refused to provide new loans, the small business went to Ex-Im:

“After the Miami lenders refused to extend further credit, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly created false invoices and shipping documents to obtain a loan guaranteed by the Ex-Im Bank.”

The conspirators used Ex-Im financing to continue their Ponzi scheme by paying back private creditors and pocketing whatever was left:

“Rather than acquiring, selling and shipping American-manufactured goods as required for Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed loans, the defendants allegedly used the loan proceeds to extend the fraudulent scheme by paying off other lenders, and split the remaining funds among themselves and other co-conspirators.”

The Ex-Im Bank Inspector General’s office is currently prosecuting the family, with assistance from the FBI and the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a first for the Ex-Im Bank. Since 2009, the bank has been tied to fraud and corruption in alarmingly frequent fashion culminating in 85 criminal indictments, 48 criminal judgments, and a quarter billion in fines, restitution, and forfeiture from investigations into Ex-Im.

Outrageous stories of waste and fraud have become all too common with the Ex-Im Bank and as a result, Congress decided to let its charter expire last month. But now, supporters of the bank have tied reauthorization to must-pass highway funding. Despite the objection of many members, the US Senate is this week expected to reauthorize the bank.

Key “reforms” in the reauthorization amendment include lifting the floor on required small business loans from 20 percent of the bank’s operations to 25 percent. But given the lax oversight that allowed the Miami business to use Ex-Im to continue its Ponzi scheme, it is unlikely that these changes to Ex-Im will do anything but put taxpayer dollars further at risk.

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GotCredit, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jakerust/

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Hillary Proposes History’s Most Complicated Cap Gains Tax Regime

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Posted by Ryan Ellis on Friday, July 24th, 2015, 1:20 PM PERMALINK


Hillary Clinton today proposed the most complex and Byzantine capital gains tax rate regime in history. And it won't even fix the perceived problem she purports to address.

Under the Clinton plan, there would be six – yes, six -- capital gains tax rates for those whose total taxable income puts them in the top 39.6 percent bracket.

The six brackets would differ based on how long the taxpayer held the sold asset:

Less than two years: 43.4 percent

Two to three years: 39.8 percent

Three to four years: 35.8 percent

Four to five years: 31.8 percent

Five to six years: 27.8 percent

More than six years: 23.8 percent

The top rate today is 23.8 percent for assets held longer than a year, which is an unusual number due to the sum of the 20 percent statutory capital gains rate plus the 3.8 percentage point surtax from Obamacare.

Clinton's plan is a hash of decimal point tax rates for the same reason. Expressed differently, the rates are 39.6, 36, 32, 28, 24, and 20, plus the 3.8 percentage point surtax on all those rates.

But that's not all. For taxpayers not in the 39.6 percent bracket, we already have a graduated capital gains structure on assets held longer than a year. For taxpayers in this range, the rates could be 0, 15, 18.8, 20, or 23.8 percent.

How many tax rates does Hillary Clinton think we need on capital gains? By my count, her plan actually creates 10 different tax rates on capital gains, not counting those gains taxed as ordinary income due to their shorter duration of ownership.

By anyone's definition that's really stupid tax policy. It will only serve to distort capital markets as investors will buy and sell not based on rational market signals, but on exogenous, arbitrary tax holding period considerations.

Additionally, this unnecessary complication of capital gains taxation would not solve the purported public policy goal--getting corporations to invest more for the long term than for the next quarterly earnings report.

If Hillary's people knew the first thing about corporate finance or stocks, they would know that corporations don't care how long their shareholders hold onto their stock. Corporations don't make investment decisions with that in mind, at all. They make investment decisions based on what they think will maximize shareholder value.

Hillary's plan is akin to shoring up the durability of your roof by painting your garage blue. It all has to do with housing, kind of, but the solution doesn't speak to the problem.

If this is the level of seriousness we're going to get from Hillary's campaign, it's going to be a long election season.

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Hillary’s Capital Gains Tax Flip Flop

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, July 24th, 2015, 7:30 AM PERMALINK


Hillary Clinton will today call for a hike in the top capital gains tax rate. This proposal marks a major departure from a promise she made in 2008 stating she would not raise the capital gains tax higher than 20 percent. 

At a Democrat Primary debate held on April 16, 2008, Clinton said:

“I wouldn’t raise it above the 20% if I raised it at all.”

At the time of her statement, the capital gains tax rate was 15 percent. But since President Obama took office it has been increased by 63 percent, to a 23.8 percent rate. 

"Hillary Clinton is old enough to remember the capital gains tax reductions of 1978, 1981, 1997 and 2003 that spurred investment in new firms, created jobs and increased tax revenues," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "Sadly, Hillary is not wise enough to have learned the simple lesson from those decades: reducing the capital gains tax is part of any pro-growth agenda."

Also today, Clinton will undoubtedly continue her crusade to claim upper earners do not pay their “fair share” of taxes. But official government tax data contradicts her claims. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the top one percent of households already pay 24 percent of all federal taxes and the top 20 percent of households pay almost 69 percent of all federal taxes. The top one percent of households pay an average total tax rate of 29 percent while the middle quintile pays an average total tax rate of just over 11 percent.

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Rep. Ratcliffe and Sen. Cruz Introduce Legislation to Dismantle the CFPB

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015, 3:47 PM PERMALINK


Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced legislation this week to sunset the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  The twin bills, H.R. 3118 in the House and S. 1804 in the Senate would repeal title X of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
 
Representative Ratcliffe explains, "The CFPB’s regulatory zeal has stripped American consumers and businesses of their freedom of choice and has limited their access to capital - all in the name of a 'we know best' attitude from Washington." Senator Cruz adds, "the agency continues to grow in power and magnitude without any accountability to Congress and the people.”
 
By introducing this legislation, Representative Ratcliffe and Senator Cruz are adding to a growing number of those calling attention to the wasteful nature of the CFPB. For instance, the CFPB's new Washington office will cost taxpayers $215 million and feature amenities such as a glass staircase, concession kiosk and a “water wall” ending in a splash pool.  An ironic choice of decor for an agency designed to "empower consumers to take more control over their economic lives."  
 
Such wasteful spending is no new development for the CFPB. In fact just a few years ago Judicial Watch found the Bureau had spent $4,500 to send attorneys to a “banking law fundamentals” class and was dishing out starting salaries as high as $173,000. Judicial Watch also found “a dozen new hires take home more than $225,000 a year, while a student intern was paid $51,620.”
 
The Bureau’s wasteful spending has largely gone unchecked due to an overall lack of oversight and accountability. The CFPB is not required to have their budget approved by Congress, unlike other government agencies.  House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) stated this makes the CFPB "unaccountable to taxpayers and to Congress."  
 
Sadly wasteful spending is not the only problem plaguing the CFPB. Such waste is compounded by the fact that the Bureau imposes debilitating regulations and fees on small businesses. Recently, Americans for Tax Reform shed light on these issues, which are costing American financial institutions $24 billion in final rule costs and $61 million paperwork burden hours.
 
Luckily for American taxpayers, Representative Ratcliffe and Senator Cruz are working to reign in the unchecked and wasteful spending that has come to characterize the CFPB.  

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fishermanswhooper

an echo chamber of lies

annieoakley

This Doddie-Frankenstein 'Law' is rotten to the core and should be trashed altogether. Pretend like it never happened and never bring it up again.


#TBT: Grover and Newt Celebrate the 100th day of Contract with America

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Posted by Caroline Anderegg on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015, 3:45 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform president, Grover Norquist, and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich celebrated the 100th day of the Contract with America.  Going into the 1994 elections no one believed the Republicans had a shot at overthrowing the 40-year Democratic reign in the House. 

Gingrich’s vision to run on the Contract’s ten pillar promise revolutionized the approach to effective governance and proved that, when effectively communicated, voters will choose the candidates that run on free market principles.

The Contract contained commonsense proposals reinforcing ideals of the American Dream including personal responsibility, national security, and economic growth.  Among the ten planks was the Fiscal Responsibility Act.  If passed, the Act would have amended the Constitution to require a balanced budget, but unfortunately the Senate defeated the amendment by one vote. However, the legislation’s commitment to fiscal responsibility helped solidify the Contract’s legacy as a revolutionary approach to transparent governance.

On the 100th day Congress voted on term limits, the final item of the Contract. Though the amendment was rejected, the day was celebrated as Republicans made good on their promise to vote on every piece of legislation in the Contract within the first 100 days.

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