Samantha Capriotti

ATR Supports Trump Administration's Schedule B Reform

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Monday, September 16th, 2019, 10:30 AM PERMALINK

The Trump Administration has proposed a rule to streamline the nonprofit filing process and prevent future administrations from targeting organizations by leaking sensitive information.  Under this proposal, many nonprofits including 501(c)(4)s, 501(c)(5)s, and 501(c)(6)s would no longer be required to submit a Schedule B form to the IRS.

The IRS has no need for the donor information and can enforce tax laws without it.  On top of having no use for it, the IRS has inappropriately used the information. In 2014, the IRS had to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 after disclosing their donors to an oppositional organization who published it. 

Further, according to a 2016 study by the Government Accountability Office, the IRS has disproportionately targeted organizations based on religious, educational, and political views, specifically Tea Party groups.

Today, tax exempt organizations must disclose the name, address, and amount donated for each donation above $5,000. Schedule B forms are submitted to the IRS, redacted of names and addresses, and then the redacted version is made public. Under the proposed rule, “Guidance Under Section 6033 Regarding the Reporting Requirements of Exempt Organizations,” only 501(c)(3)s and 527s would still have to file the Form 990, Schedule B, but all non-profits would need to present the information upon IRS request.

The information that is public will not change under the proposed rule, though money and time will be saved on both sides by eliminating this tedious process.  In fact, The Institute for Free Speech estimates that nonprofits would save about  $63 million if Schedule B were repealed. 

Critics have falsely stated that the rule will allow for illegal foreign transactions.  However, there are already measures in place to track these transactions, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will admit to funneling illegal money on the form.  Even if the IRS did suspect laws were being broken, it has no authority to share the information it collects with the FCC and the DOJ, the two agencies with the ability to enforce campaign finance laws.

The proposed rule would hold the IRS more accountable and protect free speech of donors and those working for non-profits.  American citizens have the right to associate with and donate to organizations freely and privately.  If a Schedule B is leaked, the IRS can and has faced legal consequences.  In 2014, the IRS had to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 after disclosing their donors to an oppositional organization who published it. 

The proposed rule, “Guidance Under Section 6033 Regarding the Reporting Requirements of Exempt Organizations” will be open for comments until December 9.  ATR urges support for Schedule B reform to eliminate the unnecessary time and effort of the process, while protecting privacy and free speech.

Photo Credit: Flickr - Martin Haesemeyer

House Democrats Fail to Release a Budget

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Monday, April 8th, 2019, 12:35 PM PERMALINK

House Democrats are already shirking their responsibilities and have failed to release a Fiscal Year 2020 budget. 

Instead of releasing a budget, Democrats plan to vote on legislation which does nothing but increase spending. The House has indicated that the bill was brought to the House on April 2nd and will be considered this week. ATR urges members of Congress to vote against this impractical proposal. The legislation, H.R. 2021, the Investing for the People Act, increases defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps by $350 billion within the next two years. 

The Investing for the People Act increases non-discretionary defense spending to $646 billion and defense spending to $680 billion by Fiscal Year 2021. Within the first year alone, this is a 5.7 percent increase for non-defense discretionary spending and a 2.6 percent increase for defense spending, yet Democrats have no plan to pay for this increased spending. 

Congress has a constitutional responsibility to make decisions over federal spending and one of the main ways lawmakers do this is by releasing and voting on a budget that outlines priorities and sets a vision for future years. 

Instead of doing so, Democrats are evidently more concerned about pushing through unrealistic proposals that explode the deficit and dramatically expand the size of government, such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for all.  In fact, the Green New Deal is projected to cost between $51 and $93 trillion and Medicare for all is estimated to cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years. These proposals will inevitably require major tax hikes to implement.   

In contrast, Senate Republicans released a Fiscal Year 2020 Budget on March 22nd. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, released his Chairman’s Mark Senate Budget Resolution which calls for deficit reduction, dynamic scoring, reduced spending, and permanent enforcement of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  

The Republican proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal will lower non-interest mandatory spending by $551 billion and the deficit by $538 billion.  It establishes guidelines so that by 2024 the deficit will constitute 2.9 percent of GDP, 0.6 percent lower than the historical average.  The resolution offers the improvement of existing, and creation of new, restrictions Congress could use to oversee the budget.  It also creates a surgical point of order to target avoidance of appropriations processes and records.  

In addition, this Senate Republican budget builds on the success of tax reform by making key provisions permanent. 

Already, the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has grown the economy.  GDP grew by 3.1 percent between Q4 of 2018 and Q4 of 2019 and over 5.1 million new jobs have been created since 2017.  Nominal wages have grown 3.4 percent in the past year, and the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low in September.    

Congressional Democrats have failed to release a budget, while Republicans have released one that sets standards for the next five years.  Simply spend more will not solve an ever-deepening deficit, stop unnecessary spending, or benefit American tax payers.  

Photo Credit: Flickr

2020 Candidates on the Death Tax

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019, 1:36 PM PERMALINK

For decades, Democrats have been lockstep in their support for the government’s right to tax a dead individual’s estate. Several 2020 Democrat presidential candidates have already proposed increases in the death tax limit, and the campaign is only getting started.   

Under current tax law, the death tax is 40 percent. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed nearly doubling the tax to 77 percent in his new Estate Tax Plan, returning the death tax to levels unseen since the 1970s.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, Senator Sanders is not alone in his monomaniacal desire to raise taxes, as other 2020 Democrats have proposed similar increases. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.) is advocating for a progressive death tax system, with the highest rate allowing the government to confiscate 75 percent of a dead individual’s estate.  Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is proposing a death tax rate of 65 percent, raising the death tax back to 2009 levels.     

On top of the increased death tax, Warren has proposed a wealth tax and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) of New York has suggested a 70 percent marginal tax rate on income over $10 million.

By stark contrast, Republicans, including President Donald Trump, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), and Representative Jason Smith (R-Mo.), are working hard to repeal death tax. In fact, Republicans, have proposed a bill to permanently and completely repeal the death tax, called the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019.  

Repeal of the death tax is good tax policy. The unseemly death tax is levied on assets that have been taxed previously through income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, or the corporate income tax.  Taking an additional 40 percent when an individual dies is double taxation. 

The death tax disproportionately affects lower income land owners and increases incentives to hide assets.  The wealthy can evade the tax through loopholes and armies of lawyers and accountants.  Small, family run businesses, farmers, and ranchers cannot afford to seek out such loopholes, and are hit much harder than the powerful and well-connected. 

Finally, public polling consistently shows that large majorities of the American people support death tax repeal. It is unsurprising but unfortunate that 2020 Democrats are actively subverting the will of the American people by advocating for massive death tax hikes.

For the sake of good policy and their future electoral prospects back in their home states, 2020 Democrats should work with President Trump and Congressional Republicans to kill the death tax once and for all.

Photo Credit: Flickr - GotCredit

New Report Estimates Economic Damage from Tariffs

Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Friday, February 15th, 2019, 11:48 AM PERMALINK

President Trump has taken important steps to improve trade deals with foreign nations that allow American workers and businesses to compete. Although he is right to take action to solve these issues, raising tariffs and setting quotas places a burden on Americans. Protectionist policies are hurting the economy, causing job loss and negating the gains from recent tax reforms, according to a report released by Trade Partnership Worldwide.

New U.S. tariffs, in combination with China’s failure to respect intellectual property rights and rule of law, have trigged a trade war between the two nations.  As of November 2018, tariffs affected $255 billion worth of imports, while foreign tariffs affected $124 billion of American exports.  In response, China has threatened to increase their tariffs, potentially impacting an additional $290 billion in exports.

The administration's Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs have been similarly harmful to global trade and have opened the door to retaliatory tariffs.  Mexico, Canada, Turkey, the EU, and Russia have responded with increased tariffs, causing a decrease of American exports by 36.7 percent.   

According to the study, the threatened tariffs, which include Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum,  25 percent tariffs on China, and tariffs on automobiles could result in annual GDP loss of 1.04 percent, costing a family of four $2,389 per year, and costing the U.S. 2.2 million jobs. 

This trade action is clearly harming American businesses - Harley Davidson announced they will be relocating some of their production overseas, claiming the only way they can sustain sales is avoiding EU tariffs. This is not an isolated case – trade barriers lead to increased cost to the producer and consumer, which means less buyers, and in turn, layoffs. 

Free trade is vital for America’s economy and employment.  International trade directly impacts more than 20 percent of all jobs in America, totaling close to 41 million.  Historically, tariffs have failed America, prolonging the Great Depression and declining trade.  Since World War II, the United States has decreased trade barriers with bipartisan support and success.  This has paid enormous dividends domestically and abroad.  The United States must continue this trend. 

Tariffs’ negative effects, such as unemployment and declined trade and spending, far outweigh the temporary benefits.  While President Trump is right to fight for American jobs and businesses, these protectionist policies risk undercutting all the good his administration has achieved for the economy thus far.  America should lower its tariffs, and abandon any plans to implement more, to protect U.S. workers and the economy.