Michael Mirsky

Study Suggests Tobacco Heating Products Reduce Risk of Lung Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021, 2:17 PM PERMALINK

A new study found a significant reduction in indicators of potential harm over six months for smokers switching to exclusive use of tobacco heating products compared with continuing to smoke cigarettes. This research, published in the journal of Internal and Emergency Medicine, represents the first ever long-term study showing sustained reduction in exposure to certain toxicants and indicators of potential harm in smokers switching completely to tobacco heating products. The results of the study unequivocally demonstrated the harm reduction benefits of tobacco heating products.

To test the effects of tobacco heating products, researchers conducted a randomized clinical study carried out at four sites across the UK. Participants included smokers aged 23 to 55 in good general health who either did or did not want to quit. What makes this design so unique is that it tested the risk reduction potential of tobacco heating products when used in a real world setting rather than in a controlled setting. Amazingly, the researchers found that, for most biomarkers measured, the reductions seen in people using tobacco heating products were similar to those in participants who stopped smoking completely.

These findings come on the heels of previous scientific studies which have shown that e-cigarettes are an effective way to get people to quit the deadly habit of smoking. According to the latest analysis from Public Health England, vaping has a positive association with successfully quitting smoking. They found that, in 2017 alone, 50,000 people used vaping products to stop smoking. Coupling their propensity for smoking cessation with the fact that vaping is 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco, it is hard to imagine why lawmakers oppose giving people access to these potentially life-saving products. 

Bolstering the arguments of those who want to reduce barriers to vaping products, this study provides essential data in the fight against vaping misinformation. The main findings of the study can be read below, while the full study is available here

Key Findings: 

  • Tobacco heating products were associated with a significant reduction in a biomarker for lung cancer risk

  • Participants who used tobacco heating products saw improvement in their HDL cholesterol. This is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Those who used tobacco heating products saw improvements in key indicators of lung health

These findings underscore the need for policies around vaping to be guided by science, not misinformation. Countries should look to Japan as a shining example of what can be accomplished with tobacco heating products. In Japan cigarette sales have decreased by 43% over the past five years, the greatest decrease in recorded history. This drastic reduction in cigarette use is a direct result of tobacco heating products. 

This new research represents an important step toward fully understanding the public health benefits of vaping products. Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England recently stressed: "For anyone who smokes, particularly those who have already tried other methods, we strongly recommend they try vaping and stop smoking."

Lawmakers need to focus on helping smokers to quit their deadly habit, rather than pushing to restrict access to products that have the potential to save lives.

Photo Credit: Girl holding tobacco heating system device with tobacco stick by Marco Verch Professional Photography licensed under CC BY 2.0


Reconciliation Bill Gives Special Tax Handout to Big Media

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Michael Mirsky, John Kartch on Tuesday, November 16th, 2021, 4:10 PM PERMALINK

On page 1,957 of the reconciliation bill, Democrats have included a $1.67 billion special tax handout to media companies, under the guise of helping "local" journalists. In reality the provision is a product of the DC lobbying swamp and will benefit large media corporations.

Companies of any size are eligible for the tax credit. Broadcast, print, and digital companies all qualify. Each company is allowed to claim the tax credit for up to 1,500 of their employees. How many humble village newspapers do you know that employ 1,500 people?

The Associated Press recently reported that the Gannett corporation -- publisher of USA Today -- could get as much as $127.5 million:

Should the tax break become law, Gannett, one of the nation’s largest remaining newspaper chains, could gain as much as $127.5 million over five years.

Gannett has a market capitalization of $780 million. Its 2020 revenue was $3.4 billion. The company this year boasted of its "improved operating trends and financial position." It has significant overseas assets -- at least 120 media brands in the United Kingdom -- and its CEO is compensated handsomely. The company brags that it "runs the largest media-owned events business in the country."

When the AP asked Gannett for comment, a spokesperson said the tax handout would be a "good shot in the arm." No doubt.

Gannett flagship publication USA Today editorialized against the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, legislation that provided a median income family of four with a $2,000 annual tax cut. But the USA Today editorial board said TCJA was "grossly unfair" and criticized it as "a political document that rewards certain Republican constituencies." Oh.

Interestingly, when the AP reporters asked an AP spokesperson whether or not their own company would benefit, the AP declined to comment.

This provision would provide a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of wages up to $12,500 per quarter per employee for the first four calendar quarters and a 30 percent credit for each calendar quarter thereafter.

Media organizations covering the reconciliation bill have an obligation to disclose whether or not they stand to benefit from the bill.

 

Photo Credit: Patrick Neil licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0


IRS Has 4,600 Guns and Five Million Rounds of Ammo: Will Dem Bill Grow Arsenal?

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, November 16th, 2021, 3:10 PM PERMALINK

The IRS has stockpiled 4,600 guns and five million rounds of ammunition as of Jan. 1, 2019 according to a report from OpenTheBooks published in 2020. With Democrats calling for $80 billion in additional funding and the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents, how much will this arsenal grow?

The Democrats' push to increase the size and power of the IRS has significant criminal justice and basic due process ramifications.

An OpenTheBooks report titled The Militarization of U.S. Executive Agencies shows that, even without the proposed $80 billion increase in funding, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) is already heavily armed at the expense of the American taxpayer. How much larger will this unchecked arsenal get if the agency gets more funding?

The current 4,600-gun stockpile includes 3,282 pistols, 621 shotguns, 539 rifles, 15 fully automatic firearms, and four revolvers.

According to the Government Accountability Office the ammunition breakdown is as follows:

  • Pistol and revolver rounds: 3,151,500

  • Rifle rounds: 1,472,050

  • Shotgun rounds: 367,750

  • Fully automatic firearm rounds: 56,000

When OpenTheBooks asked for an accounting of the IRS gun locker, the agency responded, “We don’t have one [an inventory], but could create one for you, if important.”

There are seven reasons to be concerned about the IRS having more power, more money, and more guns:

1. IRS FAILS TO ENSURE ARMED AGENTS RECEIVE REQUIRED FIREARMS TRAINING

In order to carry or use an IRS-owned weapon, agents must: engage in handgun firing training at least once each quarter, shoot at least the minimum of 75 percentage points on the firearms qualifying test using the issued handgun during two nonconsecutive quarters, participate in biannual firearms building entry exercises, participate in an annual briefing on firearms safety and security policies and CI’s directives and procedures regarding the safe handling and storage of firearms, and participate in a briefing each quarter regarding the policy of discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle. 

CI’s National Criminal Investigation Training Academy (NCITA) is responsible for implementing the formalized firearms training and qualification program nationwide. This includes developing the firearm qualification requirements they are expected to meet and the training special agents will undergo. Despite these requirements, CI agents have regularly failed to stay up to date on training or report incidents, endangering the taxpayers they are supposed to protect. 

According to reports from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the IRS has repeatedly failed to ensure that procedures relating to firearms are properly followed:

"there is no national-level review of firearms training records to ensure that all special agents meet the qualification requirements.”

Special agents are required to surrender their weapons when they fail to participate in this training, however this often does not happen.

As noted by the Inspector General:

"However, there is currently little consequence for special agents who fail to meet the training requirements listed on the checklist."

The Inspector General noted the IRS failed to secure the firearms of those who did not meet their requirements:

“controls did not ensure that CI personnel properly secured firearms when special agents failed to meet the biannual standard qualification requirement. CI was only able to provide evidence that firearms were surrendered in nine of the 27 instances when special agents did not qualify. The Criminal Investigation Management Information System was only updated to reflect the custody change in four of those nine instances.”

The Inspector General noted that the IRS lapses torpedo its ability to effectively try cases:

"Court decisions in the past have held law enforcement entities liable because their law enforcement agents did not have training that reflected the environment that they would likely encounter, such as training involving moving targets and low-light conditions. Other court decisions underscored the importance of properly documenting firearms training. One decision dismissed the claims against a law enforcement entity that maintained thorough records that showed the law enforcement personnel had been trained. Another decision upheld a jury’s conclusion that undocumented police training did not constitute adequate training."

The IRS failure to conduct proper internal oversight of its weapons could have grave consequences for the public. As noted by the Inspector General:

"If there is insufficient oversight, special agents in possession of firearms who are not properly trained and qualified could endanger other special agents and the public."

2. IRS AGENTS ACCIDENTALLY FIRE THEIR WEAPONS MORE OFTEN THAN THEY INTENTIONALLY FIRE THEM

A TIGTA report found that special agents at the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) accidentally fired their weapons more often than they intentionally fired them: 

“According to documentation provided by all 26 CI field offices, the NCITA, and the TIGTA OI, there were a total of eight firearm discharges classified as intentional use of force incidents and 11 discharges classified as accidental during FYs 2009 through 2011.”

3. THE IRS CONCEALS DETAILS OF ACCIDENTAL GUN DISCHARGES

The agency's lackadaisical approach to firearm safety has led to easily preventable accidents. The Inspector General cryptically references IRS accidental discharges that caused "property damage or personal injury":

“In three of the four accidental discharges that were not reported, the accidental discharges may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.”

The details of these incidents are -- for some reason -- redacted in the report: 

IRS-CI management is required to be notified when a special agent discharges their weapon. CI must report all accidental discharge incidents externally to the TIGTA OI and internally to the NCITA and the Director of Field Operations. Despite these directives, CI did not always properly disclose accidental discharges:

“we found that four accidental discharges were not properly reported. This included two that were not reported to both to the TIGTA OI and the NCITA, one that was not reported to the TIGTA OI, and one that was not reported internally to the NCITA.”

4. IRS AGENTS DID NOT ALWAYS UNDERGO REMEDIAL TRAINING AFTER DISCHARGES DUE TO AGENT NEGLIGENCE 

Compounding their mistakes, agents did not always provide remedial training when an accidental discharge occurred. Even when they did undergo training, the standards remained wildly inconsistent. The Inspector General found that:

“two of the four use of force coordinators stated that they may require the special agent to participate in some type of remedial training, one stated that the special agent would be counseled, and one stated that there would be no additional training required."

5. THE IRS HAS A HISTORY OF VIOLATING BASIC DUE PROCESS RIGHTS

In a 2017 report, the IRS-CI was shown to have regularly violated taxpayers’ rights and skirted or ignored due process requirements when investigating taxpayers for allegedly violating the existing $10,000 currency transaction reporting requirements.  

TIGTA found that only 8 percent of investigations uncovered violations of tax law. In many cases, IRS-CI had not considered reasonable explanations from those investigated, property owners were not adequately informed of their rights nor informed of seizure of their property, and outcomes in cases lacked consistency, violating the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. 

6. IRS HAS APPALLING EVIDENCE STORAGE HABITS

The IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) was repeatedly found to leave critical evidence sitting around in break rooms, hallways and stacked outside cubicles, according to a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). In addition, the report found that CI offices did not maintain an Evidence Access Control Log to record access to areas where evidence is stored:

During our walkthroughs at the CI offices, we observed that some sites had evidence placed in hallways, stacked outside cubicles, and in break rooms.  In addition, seven of the nine offices did not keep grand jury material in a separate, secure area.  The grand jury material was intermingled with non-grand jury evidence and other case file information.

The agency's careless approach to evidence storage has grave ramifications, as noted by the Inspector General:

In order for a seized item to be admissible as evidence, it is necessary to prove that the item is in the same condition as when it was seized.  If evidence is not stored properly, evidence may have been inappropriately disclosed, lost, tampered with, or stolen.  In addition, the chain of custody could be called into question, which could result in the item being deemed inadmissible in court.

The report suggests the IRS is an outlier in terms of its sloppy handling of evidence, compared to other federal law enforcement agencies:

In addition, we interviewed representatives from two other Federal law enforcement agencies to gain an understanding of how they maintained their chain of custody.  It was apparent from these interviews that both Federal agencies have an extensive chain of custody process.  For example, each agency limits access to the locked evidence room, which is maintained by an evidence custodian.  If evidence needs to be removed from the room, an agent must gain access through the evidence custodian and a record of that access is maintained.  This process helps ensure that evidence does not become lost or misplaced and helps keep the chain of custody from being broken.

Each IRS-CI special agent has the authority to investigate, inquire, and receive information. Of the investigative techniques available to agents, one of the most frequently used is the authority to conduct searches and issue search and seizure warrants.

The Federal Government is responsible for properly maintaining the chain of custody for any seized items. CI agents must be able to prove it is the same item that was seized and that the item is in the same condition as when it was seized in order for that seized item to be admissible as evidence.

Grand jury-related evidence must be kept separate from other non-grand jury evidence. Despite these clear directives, the CI has routinely ignored protocol, violating the rights of the taxpayers they are supposed to protect. 

7. IRS HAS CONDUCTED MANY ARMED RAIDS ON INNOCENT AMERICANS

In the late 1990s, the IRS came under scrutiny for the harsh tactics it used to enforce the tax code. With tens of billion in new funding, it is not hard to see how these abuses could return. 

A 1998 article by Washington Post noted many small business owners were harassed by the IRS, only for the agency to find no evidence of wrongdoing:

“An Oklahoma tax-return preparer, a Texas oilman and a Virginia restaurateur told lawmakers how raiding parties of armed agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division barged into their homes or offices, frightened their employees and families -- and ultimately came up empty-handed."

“Two of the men said they later found that former employees had precipitated the raids, and that the IRS had done little or no checking on their informants' credibility. The third witness said he never could determine why he was targeted.”

One man described over a dozen armed IRS officials raiding his offices, seizing business documents, and harassing clients and employees: 

“Richard Gardner, whose company prepares 4,500 to 6,000 tax returns each year, said that one morning in 1995, he was called out of a meeting. He found 15 IRS agents and a half-dozen U.S. marshals in his lobby, "all armed and wearing those jackets that say in bright letters IRS' or U.S. Marshal' on the back."

“They seized his client records, computers, personal papers and other files, he said, and held them for two years while the IRS investigation continued. Gardner was able to buy new computers and continue in business, but the damage to his business was extensive. He said IRS agents went to clients and demanded they wear hidden microphones when meeting with Gardner; they hauled his wife before a grand jury; and his employees were told they would be able to buy his business cheaply because he would be out of business soon.”

These were not isolated cases. A 1998 article by the New York Times described “military style raids” by IRS agents against taxpayers who were accused of nonviolent behavior. 

The Senate Finance Committee held a series of IRS oversight hearings in 1998. Among many witnesses to abuses carried out by armed IRS agents, a Virginia restaurant owner testified the following on April 29, 1998:

"Armed agents, accompanied by drug-sniffing dogs, stormed my restaurants during breakfast, ordered patrons out of the restaurant, and began interrogating my employees.

The IRS impounded my records, my cash registers, and my computers."

"When the raid occurred at my home, the front door was torn from the hinges, my dogs were impounded, along with my safe and 12 years of my personal income tax returns and supporting documents."

"While my restaurant and my home were being raided by armed agents of the Internal Revenue Service, a raid was also being conducted on the home of my manager. In that raid, my manager was pulled at gunpoint from the shower and forcibly restrained while he attempted to call an attorney. His teen-aged son was knocked to the floor.

His daughter, 14 years old at the time, had several friends over for a slumber party the night before. These young girls had to get dressed under the watchful eye of male agents, despite the presence of female agents. The IRS agent stood in the doorway to the bedroom, gun drawn, refusing these young girls even a semblance of privacy. We were never charged with any crimes."

Giving more money, power and guns to an agency with a terrible firearms safety record and a terrible due process record is alarming to law-abiding Americans.

Photo Credit: "A man fires a SIG Sauer P239 at an outdoor shooting range in Nevada." by Noah Wulf licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Up in Smoke: New Study Highlights Perils of Banning Flavored E-Cigarettes

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Michael Mirsky on Monday, November 15th, 2021, 2:25 PM PERMALINK

A new study highlights how restricting access to flavored nicotine vaping products would lead a significant number of vapers to switch back to smoking. The well-respected Addictive Behaviors Journal recently published a study examining the level of support and predictive behavioral responses to a hypothetical ban on non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes among regular adult vapers. Most notably, the study found that, if a flavor ban were to be instituted, 17.1% of vapers would stop vaping and smoke instead. 

Despite the laudable goal of improving the health of adolescents, little if any evidence is available to suggest that banning non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes would prevent young people from vaping. Additionally, restricting access to flavors has repercussions for adult vapers. The researchers noted that such restrictions could interfere with harm reduction potential for those who wish to use e-cigarettes as a cessation aid, or completely switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.

There is, however, evidence of the failures of implementing a flavor ban. In San Francisco, a ban on flavored tobacco products coincided with a sharp rise in cigarette smoking rates among youths, more than doubling the odds of young people engaging in the deadly habit. This should concern parents and lawmakers alike as e-cigarettes have been shown to be at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Use of e-cigarettes among young adults, which should be discouraged, is clearly preferable to cigarette use. 

These distressing findings are an important reminder of the consequences of uninformed vaping policies. Lawmakers who seek to implement restrictive measures on e-cigarettes would be wise to heed the advice of the scientific community. The main findings of the study can be read below, while the full study is available here

Key Findings:

  • A ban on flavored e-cigarettes would cause 17.1% of vapers to switch back to traditional cigarettes. With 13 million vapers in the United States, this could result in 2,223,000 Americans switching from vaping to the more harmful alternatives. 

  • If a ban on flavored e-cigarettes were to be implemented, 28.3% of users “would find a way to get banned flavors,” meaning they would turn to the unsafe black market alternatives.  

  • Emphasizing the importance of vaping products as a form of smoking cessation, the researchers also found that 80% of vapers opposed banning non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes, with support being especially high among ex-smokers who have already completely switched to vaping.

Lawmakers across the country are struggling to find evidence to justify the unnecessary restrictions that have been placed on these potentially life-saving products. Recent data has shown that teenagers are not drawn to vapes because of flavors, with only 5% of underage vapers saying it was the flavors that attracted them. Additionally, academic studies have found that teenage non-smokers “willingness to try plain versus flavored varieties did not differ”. 

Previous studies have also noted that an arbitrary ban on flavored e-cigarettes would be especially detrimental to adults who are trying to quit their deadly smoking habit. One such study, published in the prestigious Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal, found that smokers who use flavored vapes to quit are 43% more likely to succeed than someone using an unflavored or tobacco-flavored vape. 

This new research represents an important step toward fully understanding the public health benefits of vaping products. Politicians need to follow the science on vaping and encourage smokers to quit cigarette use, rather than push to restrict access to products that have proven critical in getting people to quit.

Photo Credit: "Blow vape clouds" by Sarah Johnson licensed under CC BY 2.0


Dem Bill Gives Special Tax Handout to Media Companies with Up to 1,500 "Local Journalists"

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by John Kartch, Michael Mirsky on Thursday, November 4th, 2021, 3:20 PM PERMALINK

TAKE ACTION: Reject Democrats Reckless Tax-and-Spend Bill 

The reconciliation bill working its way through the U.S. House calls on the American taxpayer to subsidize Democrats' media allies. The bill provides a special tax cut for the media under the guise of helping "local journalists" but eligible media companies will receive the funds for up to 1,500 reporters per company.

This provision would provide a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of wages up to $12,500 per quarter per employee for the first four calendar quarters and a 30 percent credit for each calendar quarter thereafter.

On page 1,957 of the 2000+page bill, section 138516 would create a tax credit for news organizations, including newspapers and broadcasters such as radio and television:

“The number of local news journalists which may be taken into account under subsection (a) with respect to any eligible local news journalist employer for any calendar quarter shall not exceed 1,500.”

The Poynter Institute today bragged that the tax handout would benefit "broadcasters, public and commercial" in addition to newspapers.

It appears that both NPR and PBS will be eligible to receive this special tax handout. The bill specifically mentions that the credit is not to be applied to “the Government of the United States, the government of any State or political subdivision thereof, or any agency or instrumentality of any of the foregoing”; however there is an exception for public broadcasting entities as defined in the Communication Act of 1934. These public broadcasting entities are defined as:

“the Corporation, any licensee or permittee of a public broadcast station, or any nonprofit institution engaged primarily in the production, acquisition, distribution, or dissemination of educational and cultural television or radio programs.”

The progressive group ProPublica, which is trafficking in the stolen personal IRS files of thousands of Americans seems to be eligible as well. The bill disqualifies 501(c) (4) groups but allows 501(c)(3) groups such as ProPublica -- to be eligible.

Perhaps not coincidentally, while congressional Democrats push for tax increases, ProPublica publishes stolen private tax information and laments the "lavish lifestyles" of disfavored, "rich" Americans.

The bill also appears to be a big-media power play against small, one-person local outfits.  The bill specifically excludes journalists who do not have "media liability insurance." This could be a cost barrier for many individuals seeking to truly cover local events in their community.

Several large, legacy daily newspapers, tv and radio broadcasting companies also appear eligible for the tax handout. Any newspaper eligible to receive these funds now needs to disclose this fact while editorializing in favor the Democrats' reconciliation bill.

Photo Credit: "Journalist with pipe" by C.A.D.Schjelderup licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Poll: 7 in 10 Dems Oppose Taxing Unrealized Gains

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Michael Mirsky on Wednesday, October 27th, 2021, 3:00 PM PERMALINK

Seven out of ten Democrats oppose taxing unrealized gains, according to the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the issue.

The poll and study by Professor Zachary D. Liscow of Yale University Law School and Edward G. Fox of the University of Michigan Law School is titled The Psychology of Taxing Capital Income: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on the Realization Rule

Across all demographic groups, Americans strongly oppose taxing unrealized gains:

69% of respondents identifying as Democrats are opposed to taxing unrealized gains.

76% of respondents identifying as independents are opposed to taxing unrealized gains.

Overall, Americans oppose taxing unrealized gains by a 3 - 1 ratio, 75% - 25%.

President Biden and congressional Democrats led by Sen. Ron Wyden hope to impose a tax on unrealized capital gains. This "mark to market" regime would force Americans to pay taxes every year on the paper gain in value of assets.

The study involved 5,000 respondents. The researchers found:

Respondents strongly prefer to wait to tax gains on publicly-traded stocks until sale versus taxing unsold gains each year: 75% to 25%. Though this opposition is strongest among those who are wealthier or own stocks, all demographic groups oppose taxing unsold gains by large marginsThis opposition persists and is often strengthened when looking across a variety of other assets and policy framings.

The study notes:

There is significant concern that unsold gains are not yet real in a sense. As shown in Table 4, the word most distinctively associated with opponents is “actual”—as in, taxpayers have not “actually” received income “yet.” Likewise, they note that the stock has not yet yielded “cash,” or anything in the taxpayer’s “hand.”

As shown by the study, taxing unrealized gains cuts deeply against Americans’ sense of fairness and common sense.

As even noted by the progressive Tax Policy Center, this tax regime "won't work" and is "ripe for abuse."

Americans for Tax Reform has also identified ten problems with taxing unrealized gains.

 

Photo Credit: Ahmad Ardity licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)


Tax Policy Center: Tax on Unrealized Gains "Ripe for Abuse" and "Won't Work"

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, October 26th, 2021, 1:08 PM PERMALINK

Not only do Americans overwhelmingly oppose the concept of taxing unrealized gains, the nation's top progressive tax policy group says the idea pushed by Dem Senator Ron Wyden "won't work."

The Tax Policy Center says that the plan "raises many practical problems" and "won't work" and is "ripe for abuse."

On Nov. 21, 2019 Tax Policy Center senior fellow Howard Gleckman wrote:

“Last Friday, The Tax Policy Center sponsored a morning-long program on market-to-market taxation of capital gains. After three hours, I came away convinced that annually taxing unrealized investment profits during an investor’s lifetime is not practical… The concept is theoretically appealing but raises many practical problems. While in principle it could work for publicly traded securities and other investments with easily determined market values, many assets don’t fit that bill.”

That same day, Gleckman wrote on Twitter:

A mark-to-market #capitalgains #tax won't work.

On Oct. 21, 2021 Gleckman wrote on Twitter:

Skeptical on the politics and administrability of mark-to-market.

On Sept. 27, 2021 Tax Policy Center senior fellow Steve Rosenthal wrote on Twitter:

"Mark-to-market securities of billionaires? Sounds attractive, but it's hard. Are gains on their securities ordinary or capital? Does it matter whether the securities are sold before year-end or marked at year-end? Are losses ordinary or capital?”

On Oct. 22, 2021 Rosenthal wrote on Twitter:

A mark-to-market loss is a deemed, not actual, sale. No transaction costs. And the taxpayer makes up the valuation. Ripe for abuse.

The proposal to tax unrealized gains is deeply unpopular with the American public. According to a survey experiment conducted in May of 2021, Americans strongly oppose taxing unsold gains across all demographics.

In their paper, The Psychology of Taxing Capital Income: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on the Realization Rule, the researchers found:

"Respondents strongly prefer to wait to tax gains on publicly-traded stocks until sale versus taxing unsold gains each year: 75% to 25%. Though this opposition is strongest among those who are wealthier or own stocks, all demographic groups oppose taxing unsold gains by large margins. This opposition persists and is often strengthened when looking across a variety of other assets and policy framings."

The study also found that 69% of Democrats oppose taxing unrealized gains.

Progressive tax groups and the American people strongly agree, taxing unrealized capital gains is unfair and impractical. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Dem Corporate Tax Hike Will Drive Utility Bills Even Higher

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by John Kartch, Michael Mirsky on Friday, October 15th, 2021, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

Dem Corporate Tax Hike Will Drive Utility Bills Even Higher

If Democrats raise the federal corporate income tax rate to 26.5%, Americans will get hit with higher utility bills as the country tries to recover from the pandemic. This comes at a time when utility bills are already rising significantly because of skyrocketing energy prices. 

Democrats want to take the current federal rate of 21% and raise it to 26.5%. This will stick Americans with an average federal-state corporate tax rate of 31.3%higher than communist China's 25% and higher than the European average of 19%

Customers directly bear the cost of corporate income taxes imposed on utility companies.

Investor-owned electric, gas, and water companies must get their billing rates approved by the respective state utility commissions. The commissions are required by law to build the cost of taxes into the utility rates. 

When the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, utilities worked with state officials to pass along the tax savings to customers.

After completing a 50-state review of utility commission documents and local news sources, Americans for Tax Reform compiled 300 examples of utilities passing tax savings along to customers.

So if Democrats now raise the tax rate, they will have to explain why they just raised utility bills.

You can view the 50 state lists below, and a full national compilation here.

The TCJA savings come in the form of a rate reduction, a bill credit, or a reduction to an existing or planned rate increase.

ATR has also compiled a 90-second nationwide utility savings video from local news reports which may be viewed here.

According to a report published in the trade publication Utility Dive, customers nationwide were to receive a $90 billion utility benefit from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Estimates derived from 2017 annual SEC 10-K filings indicate that the 14-percentage-point reduction in the corporate tax rate enacted under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) resulted in investor-owned utilities establishing significant regulatory liability balances, totaling approximately $90 billion to be refunded back to customers.

If Democrats now impose a corporate income tax rate increase, they will have to reckon with constituents and local news coverage noting utility bills are going up.

The 50 state lists are below:

ALABAMA

Alabama Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/alabama-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

ALASKA

Alaska Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/alaska-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

ARIZONA

Sinema Warned: A Vote for a Corporate Tax Rate Hike is a Vote for Higher Utility Bills https://www.atr.org/sinema-warned-vote-corporate-tax-rate-hike-vote-higher-utility-bills

ARKANSAS

Arkansas Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/arkansas-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

CALIFORNIA

California Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/california-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

COLORADO

Colorado Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/colorado-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/connecticut-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

DELAWARE

Delaware Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/delaware-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

FLORIDA

Florida Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/florida-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

GEORGIA

Georgia Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/georgia-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

HAWAII

Hawaii Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/hawaii-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

IDAHO

Idaho Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/idaho-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

ILLINOIS

Illinois Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/illinois-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

INDIANA

Indiana Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/indiana-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike 

IOWA 

Iowans Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/iowans-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

KANSAS

Kansas Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/kansas-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

KENTUCKY

Kentucky Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/kentucky-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

LOUISIANA

Louisiana Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/louisiana-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MAINE

Maine Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/maine-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MARYLAND

Maryland Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/maryland-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/massachusetts-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MICHIGAN

Michigan Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/michigan-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MINNESOTA

Minnesotans Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/minnesotans-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/mississippi-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MISSOURI

Missouri Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/missouri-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

MONTANA

Montanans Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/montanans-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NEBRASKA

Nebraska Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/nebraska-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NEVADA

Nevada Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/nevada-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/new-hampshire-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/new-jersey-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NEW MEXICO

New Mexico Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/new-mexico-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NEW YORK

New York Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/new-york-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NORTH CAROLINA 

North Carolina Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/north-carolina-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakotans Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/north-dakotans-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

OHIO

Ohioans Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/ohioans-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/oklahoma-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

OREGON

Oregon Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/oregon-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvanians Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/pennsylvanians-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/rhode-island-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

SOUTH CAROLINA 

South Carolina Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/south-carolina-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/south-dakota-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

TENNESSEE

Tennessee Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/tennessee-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

TEXAS

Texas Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/texas-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

UTAH

Utah Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/utah-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

VERMONT

Vermont Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/vermont-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

VIRGINIA

Virginians Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/virginians-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Washington, D.C. Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/washington-dc-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

WASHINGTON STATE

Washington State Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/washington-state-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate

WEST VIRGINIA

Manchin's Corporate Tax Hike Will Stick West Virginians with Higher Utility Bills https://www.atr.org/west-virginians-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/wisconsin-residents-will-get-stuck-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike

WYOMING

Wyoming Residents Will Get Stuck with Even Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike https://www.atr.org/wyoming-residents-will-get-stuck-even-higher-utility-bills-due-biden-corporate-tax-rate-hike


Manchin's Corporate Tax Hike Will Stick West Virginians with Higher Utility Bills

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by John Kartch, Michael Mirsky on Thursday, September 30th, 2021, 2:00 PM PERMALINK

If Manchin gets his way on a corporate income tax rate increase, he will have to explain why he just increased West Virginians' utility bills

If Sen. Joe Manchin gets his way and hikes the corporate income tax rate, West Virginia households and businesses will get stuck with higher utility bills as the country tries to recover from the pandemic.

According to a document published by Politico today, Manchin wants to raise the federal corporate income tax rate to 25% which would impose a combined federal-state rate of 29.9% on West Virginia businesses.

Manchin would stick his own state's businesses with a higher combined tax rate than China's 25% and the European average of 19%.

The cost of this corporate tax rate hike will be directly built into utility rates.

Electric, gas, and water companies must get their billing rates approved by the respective state utility commissions. When the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, utility companies worked with state officials to pass along the tax savings to customers, including at least three West Virginia utilities.

The savings typically come in the form of a rate reduction, a bill credit, or a reduction to an existing or planned rate increase. 

According to a report published in the trade publication Utility Dive, customers nationwide were to receive a $90 billion utility benefit from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Estimates derived from 2017 annual SEC 10-K filings indicate that the 14-percentage-point reduction in the corporate tax rate enacted under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) resulted in investor-owned utilities establishing significant regulatory liability balances, totaling approximately $90 billion to be refunded back to customers.

Americans for Tax Reform has compiled a 90-second nationwide utility savings video from local news reports which may be viewed here.

If Manchin and the Democrats now impose a corporate income tax rate increase, they will have to reckon with unhappy constituents and local news coverage noting utility bills are going up. A vote for a corporate income tax hike is a vote for higher utility bills as households try to recover from the pandemic.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Impact: Working with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia, Appalachian Power Company, Potomac Edison and West Virginia American Water passed their tax savings along to their customers. 

Potomac Edison: As noted in this August 24, 2018 Herald-Mail excerpt:

‘More than 85,000 Potomac Edison customers in the Eastern Panhandle should see lower bills in the coming weeks thanks to federal tax reforms adopted in December.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission announced Friday that it approved rate reduction settlements for utility companies totaling almost $85 million annually, starting next month.

Appalachian Power Company: As Noted in a May 30, 2018 MetroNews article excerpt:

Appalachian Power Company saved $235 million dollars from the federal tax cuts and the company is proposing passing the money back to its customers in a variety of ways.

The multi-pronged proposal is in a filing with the state Public Service Commission due Wednesday. The PSC is requiring all utilities to tell it their tax cut savings and what they plan to do with it.

West Virginia Consumer Advocate Jackie Roberts told MetroNews the money clearly belongs to the customers.

“They (the utilities) had taxes in their rates and now the taxes in their rates have significantly decreased—so they shouldn’t be able to keep collecting and keeping those higher taxes in their rates,” Roberts said.

Appalachian Power Company Communications Director Jeri Matheney agrees–the $235 million Appalachian Power will save belongs to its customers.

“It is customer money. What we propose to do is provide a method to keep rates as stable as possible over the longterm and as much as possible eliminate the need for rate increases,” Matheney said.

The Appalachian Power distribution proposal for West Virginia customers includes:

–$131 million to completely offset the company’s fuel and vegetation control program funding request that was part of an April filing with the PSC

–$19 million reduction in the company’s base rate case filed earlier this month (taking the $115 million request down to $96 million)

–$51 million to reduce next year’s fuel recovery cost rate case

–$1 million for a pilot economic development grant program

West Virginia American Water: As noted in this August 21, 2018 Bluefield Daily Telegraph excerpt:

West Virginia American Water Company announced a settlement plan last week which — if approved by the PSC — would result in an average savings of $3.77 a month for water and sewer customers in the state.

“The recent federal tax reform will save our customers an estimated $4.6 million annually, so we are passing these savings on to our customers beginning next month,” Brian Bruce, president of West Virginia American Water.

Conversely, if Manchin and the Democrats raise the corporate tax rate, they will add to the burden faced by working families. And many small businesses operate on tight margins and can't afford higher heating, cooling, gas, and refrigeration costs.

Besides, when Manchin asked West Virginians to send him to Washington, he said:

"I can't look the people in West Virginia in the eye and ask them to pay a penny more until I know we're running this government efficiently."

Back then he also said any tax increases should be avoided during a recession, which is germane to our current attempt to recover from a devastating, once-in-a-century pandemic:

"I don't think during a time of recession you mess with any of the taxes."

What happened, Senator?

 

More from Americans for Tax Reform


Dems Want IRS to Snoop on Your Bank Account: "There would be no meaningful financial privacy for individuals or businesses if this goes through."

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by John Kartch, Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021, 2:19 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist appeared today on Fox Business ­Network’s Mornings with Maria to discuss the Democrats' proposal to drastically expand the size and scope of the IRS. He warned of the Dem plan to give the IRS access to the inflows and outflows of your bank account as well as Paypal, Venmo and CashApp accounts.

The Biden proposal calls for $80 billion in new IRS funding in order to hire 87,000 agents and auditors. Norquist noted the agency has already said it will target small businesses:

Biden says those auditors, the 87,000 roughly new auditors, new hall monitors, are going to go around and only bother rich people, that's what he says. But the IRS says something different and has for months. They intend to ramp up their audits of small businesses, the people who can't afford to have the IRS go after them, they have to say 'okay tell me what you want, keep it, it's less expensive than lawyers, I can't get bankrupted by the IRS harassing me' so they're very easy to shake down and get them to bring in money.

On the privacy of your financial transactions, Norquist noted how this new reporting requirement would effect virtually every American while giving sensitive information to an organization unwilling or unable to safeguard it:

They act as if they've backed off this monitoring your Venmo and PayPal and so on for $600, what they now said is if you move $10,000 in or out of your bank account over the course of a year -- average rent in this country is about $1,000 a month -- so right there if you're paying rent you're under the microscope, they're going to want to look at you.

They want access. There would be no meaningful financial privacy for individuals or businesses if this goes through. The IRS can go and look at your stuff, and once they've decided they want to look at all the transactions what stops them from looking at who it goes to, who did you write the check to, what are you buying, what are you renting. We know the IRS leaks like a sieve and does not punish the people who have handed out the private tax data, only recently, to left-wing groups like ProPublica.

Click here to watch the entire interview.

Photo Credit: By Gage Skidmore licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Pages

×