Sarah Feldpausch

IRS “Courtesy Disconnects” Cause Tax Day Rage

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, 2:05 PM PERMALINK

Enraged taxpayers racing to beat the filing deadline took to Twitter to express their frustration after patiently waiting on hold with the IRS help line, only to be suddenly hung up on by the agency.

“The IRS phone line is literally impossible to get through to talk to a human. When it comes down to one or two options both get me hung up on,” said one aspiring filer.

 “@IRS install more lines..hold for over an hour..and get hung up on..nice. Now, I get to start my HOLD PROCESS all over again..#NOTHAPPY,” said another. 

 

The IRS uses “courtesy disconnects” to hang up on callers when wait times are long. Yes, you read that correctly: “Courtesy Disconnects” is the official term used by the agency.

In 2015, the IRS not-so-courteously disconnected 8.8 million taxpayers, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate.

The problem continued into 2016, even at the beginning of filing season:

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438,000 New York Families Face Tax Hike Under Hillary’s College Plan

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016, 10:28 AM PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton’s proposed “New College Compact” is estimated by her campaign to cost $350 billion over ten years. According to the Clinton campaign, every cent of the $350 billion will come from tax increases on the American people. A review of the proposal by Americans for Tax Reform shows that as many as 438,000 New York households will be stuck with a higher tax bill.

The $350 billion tax hike over ten years comes in the form of a 28 percent cap on itemized deductions. The Clinton spending plan reduces the income tax deductibility of countless deductions including charitable donations, high medical bills, mortgage interest, and state and local taxes for Iowa families in the 33-percent, 35-percent, or 39.6 -percent brackets, limiting their value to just 28 percent.

According to IRS Statistics of Income Data for 2013 (the most recent year available), this Hillary tax hike will hit about 438,000 New York households, based on the number of families who earned over $200,000 and itemized their deductions.

The proposal in effect would create a new Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).

"By capping itemized deductions -- which already phase out based on income -- Clinton will complicate the tax code and bring back the AMT for millions of families,"said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "The original AMT targeted 155 individuals but grew to target 40 million families. Hillary's new idea is the old AMT that starts as a $350 billion tax hike and will certainly grow.”

This is not the only tax hike Clinton has proposed. When the campaign launched, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon warned of upcoming “revenue enhancements” – and the campaign has not disappointed its left wing followers. Clinton has already proposed over $1 trillion in tax increases.

For more information, visit www.HighTaxHillary.com

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Hillary Threatens the Future of Independent Contractors

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016, 12:26 PM PERMALINK

A Hillary Clinton presidency would destroy the future of innovation and freedom of independent contractors that grow the economy.

CNBC’s Squawk Box hosted Grover Norquist to discuss the sharing economy, trade, and U.S. competitiveness. Hillary Clinton’s political incentive for “cracking down” on the sharing economy is directly related to control her desire to force union membership. But if the independent contractor laws remain intact, Clinton will have less power to stifle economic efficiency.

The election will have enormous influence on the future of independent contractors. Grover notes Hillary’s problem with the sharing economy:

“This next election is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the sharing economy, on Uber, and Airbnb because the unions don’t like for you to be your own boss. Then you can’t be forced to pay union dues.”

Grover also says that threats against regulating the sharing economy relate to U.S. growth and development:

“We need many Ubers in many industries to give us more flexibility in the entire economy so we can out-compete the rest of the world.”

                           

These anti-competitive efforts of Hillary Clinton will be a barrier to new businesses and worker freedom.

 

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Regulatory Burdens Should be Capped, Tracked and Disclosed

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016, 4:58 PM PERMALINK

Federal regulations are often used in disguise to increase revenue and burden U.S. businesses.  Americans for Tax Reform recently signed a coalition letter to members of Congress urging support for implementing a regulatory cost budget to track these federal regulations.

Recognizing the need for reform, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) included a section on regulatory reform with his resolution for the fiscal year 2017 budget. This resolution involves better reporting, more accountability, and better cost reduction requirements when applying federal regulations.

The letter notes, “regulations and their costs should be capped, tracked and disclosed annually.”

The full letter is below and can be found here.

March 30, 2016

Dear Members of Congress,

The undersigned organizations call on Congress to implement a regulatory cost budget to address federal regulations, which frequently have the effect of tax increases. Like federal spending, regulations and their costs should be capped, tracked and disclosed annually.

The need for reform is urgent. The government’s cost burden imposed on American families and businesses extends well beyond taxes, deficits, and borrowing. The country spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually on red tape. That’s a big drain on the economy, entrepreneurship and job creation. And it’s not just regulated businesses that pay. Just as firms pass on tax costs, firms also pass on regulatory compliance costs. It’s a burden that hasn’t gone unnoticed, as a Pew Research Center poll revealed.

The current rulemaking process is broken. The executive branch can and does go around Congress and the states on matters such as healthcare, retirement, labor policy, education policy— and not solely by issuing normal regulations. The Obama administration in particular has escalated the use of agency guidance documents, memoranda, bulletins, manuals, circulars and other proclamations.

The current reporting and accountability by federal agencies is abysmal. Agencies impose costs and proclaim benefits with little meaningful constraint. Cost-benefit analysis at the agency level amounts to mere self-reporting and accompanies only a fraction of rules. So lawmakers don’t know much about the size and scope of the problem.

Congress should act now to require better reporting, more accountability, and better cost reduction. Specifically, Congress should pass a budget that includes the regulatory budget put forward by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the new House Budget Resolution for fiscal year 2017. The chairman’s budget is remarkable for including a section on “Policy on Federal Regulatory Budgeting and Reform.”

The resolution calls for critical reforms:

•             Promote economic growth, job creation, higher wages, and increased investment by eliminating unnecessary red tape and streamlining, simplifying and lowering the costs of Federal regulations; the adoption of least-cost regulatory alternatives to meet the objectives of Federal regulatory statutes;

•             Protect the poor and lower-income households from the regressive effects of excessive regulation; and workers against the unnecessary elimination of jobs and loss or reduction of wages;

•             Require an annual, congressional regulatory budget that establishes annual costs of regulations and allocates these costs amongst Federal regulatory agencies;

•             Secure Congressional approval of all new major regulations before the regulations can become effective, ensuring that Congress can better prevent the imposition of unsound costly new regulations;

•             Analyze all new major regulations on at least a decennial basis, to ensure that regulations operate as intended and impose no more costs than necessary;

•             Mandate transparency and opportunities for hearings on disputed issues in high-cost major rulemaking;

•             Eliminate the abuse of guidance to evade legal requirements applicable to the development and promulgation of new regulations.

Note that the idea of a regulatory budget is not new. Former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) proposed legislation in 1979 to cap compliance costs and establish an annual regulatory budget. More recently, Sen Mike Lee (R-Utah) put forward a “Regulatory Cost Assessment Act” and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) a “National Regulatory Budget.”

With the recognition of the regulatory hidden tax alongside the budgetary one, we urge Congress to seize this unique opportunity to assert control over the regulatory state and enact significant reforms.

 

Sincerely,

Competitive Enterprise Institute

American Commitment

Americans for Tax Reform

Campaign for Liberty

Center for Individual Freedom

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

Citizens Against Government Waste

FreedomWorks

Frontiers of Freedom

Log Cabin Republicans

Main Street Growth Project

National Taxpayers Union

R Street Institute

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Taxpayers Protection Alliance 

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Six Years on Obamacare Has Failed to Deliver

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016, 2:32 PM PERMALINK

Six years ago, President Obama signed Obamacare into law. Since then, Obamacare has placed politics above patients and failed time and time again to protect the health and wellbeing of Americans. Here are six of Obamacare’s most alarming failures:  

  1. Obamacare Illegally Diverted Billions to Reinsurance Slush Fund

The Obamacare reinsurance program was one of three programs (together with risk corridors and risk adjustment) created to hide the true costs of coverage on the exchange and prop up insurers by redistributing funds from different groups to Obamacare exchanges. In the case of reinsurance, this took the form of a $44 assessment on each individual with private health insurance.

For 2015 Obamacare reinsurance, the administration will pay out $6 billion raised from a fee on private health insurance and an additional $1.7 billion that under federal law belongs to the Treasury department. The decision by the Obama administration directly violates section 1341 of Obamacare which explicitly states, “…money shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used for the [reinsurance] program established under this section.”

As Doug Badger of the Galen Institute explains, Obamacare reinsurance for 2014 was supposed to raise $12 billion, but fell $2 billion short. To deal with this shortfall, the administration simply decided not to pay Treasury what it was owed.

  1. Sky Rocketing Premium Increases Have Left the American People with Higher Healthcare Bill

Obamacare’s individual mandate forces Americans to buy increasingly unaffordable health insurance or pay a tax. With insurance premiums (and also deductibles) increasing at such a rapid rate, many in the middle class are faced with higher and higher bills when visiting their doctor or a hospital.

At a high of nearly 50% rate increase, Minnesota’s market premium tops the chart. Minnesota is followed by Alaska with a 39.6% increase- Oregon and Tennessee trail closely with 37.1% and 36.3%, respectively. Of the 50 states, enrollees in 34 states saw a top increase in premiums of 20% or more. The premium percentage increases from private insurance companies are broken down by state, proving that Obama’s claim that “healthcare inflation has slowed…” is clearly false.

  1. Billions Wasted on Failed State Exchanges

To date, recovery of the billions in wasted state exchange funds has been near non-existent, despite failed exchanges in Oregon, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Nevada costing taxpayers $733 million. In fact, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, these four states have returned ZERO dollars to the federal government, and state exchanges collectively have so far returned just $1 million.

Of all state exchange failures, the most alarming story is undoubtedly Cover Oregon. An uncovered email confirmed the accusations that the $305 million exchange was run by partisan political advisors focused solely on then-Governor John Kitzhaber’s 2014 reelection.

But the waste doesn’t end there, as “working” state exchanges including VermontMinnesota, Maryland, and Massachusetts have each misused as much as hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds.

In a letter addressed to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Obamacare chief Andy Slavitt said the federal government will “recover its fair portion” of funds in the event a failed Obamacare state exchange reaches a settlement with contractors.

Given that the federal government funded the overwhelming majority of state exchange projects with $5.5 billion in taxpayer funds, “fair portion” should be close to 100 percent.

  1. Obamacare Exchanges Failed to Detect Counterfeit Documents

Obamacare exchanges are failing to verify key enrollment information, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). This report comes from a long line finding that controls on federal and state Obamacare exchanges are abysmal.

As part of its review, GAO tested application and enrollment controls on the federal exchange of two state exchanges (California and Kentucky). Ten fictitious applicants were created to test whether verification steps including validating an applicant’s Social Security number, verifying citizenship, and verifying household income were completed properly.

In order to test these controls, GAO’s test applications provided fraudulent documentation. As the report notes, all ten applications remained enrolled on Obamacare even though fraudulent or insufficient documentation was provided.

As a result, each applicant received the Obamacare premium tax credit and cost-sharing reduction subsidies, without being properly verified. The ten applicants received a total of $2,300 in tax credits per month.

  1. Obamacare Website Launched Despite Security Official’s Warnings

The federal Healthcare.gov Obamacare website launched in 2013 without authorization to operate and against the judgment of security agency officials.  This left millions of Americans that enrolled on Heathcare.gov vulnerable to possible fraudulent activity – risks that continue to this day for the more than 6.5 million federal enrollees. Although the Obama administration knew about the security risks, the site was launched.

In the months following, the site’s failures prompted the Obama Administration to contract various groups in an attempt to remedy the quality assurance issues of Healthcare.gov. Despite spending a further $2.14 billion in taxpayer dollars, they failed to fix some of the most serious security concerns.

Two years later, and after persistent and detailed warnings were directed to administration officials, Healthcare.gov was hacked by an outside source – proving the continued insecurity of the site.

  1. Obamacare’s Public Health Slush Fund Wasting Billions of Dollars

Currently, two billion dollars is given each year in perpetuity to an Obamacare slush fund known as the Prevention and Public Health fund. The Department of Health and Human Services is then free to spend these funds as they see fit, without any Congressional oversight.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to the slush fund being used by the Administration as a tool to push blatantly partisan, politicized policies.

Most alarmingly, a 2012 Inspector general alert raised concerns that these payments equated to taxpayer funded lobbying, while former Democrat Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) expressed concern that hundreds of millions sent to the fund have been diverted to encourage individuals to sign-up for Obamacare.


IRS Discrimination: Still No Justice

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Monday, March 21st, 2016, 2:23 PM PERMALINK

The Capital Research Center recently released a report on the IRS non-profit conservative targeting scandal. The IRS Attacks the Tea Party highlights Lois Lerner’s corrupt behavior. Current agency chief John Koskinen’s aid in covering the targeting scandal has only furthered the agency from accountability.

The report reminds us of the scandal:

“Before examining the role that those left-wing nonprofits played in the saga, some background is necessary. In the lead up to the 2012 election, many conservative organizations and Tea Party groups that had sought tax-exempt status from the IRS were frozen in limbo, unable to participate fully in election season because they were wasting away on an IRS waiting list specifically created to stymie right-leaning groups hostile to President Obama’s radical left-wing agenda.”

 

“The very fact that Lois Lerner isn’t in prison right now is proof of political interference at the highest levels. Lerner lied to congress, committed, contempt, and engaged in obstruction of justice on a massive scale. Yet nothing happen to her.”

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), noted that the “Obama administration continues to refuse to hold anyone accountable at the IRS." This comes after an interview in which President Obama said that not even “a smidgen of corruption” would be found during the investigation into the IRS scandal.”

The CRC report concludes:

“The Left’s ‘accountability’ actions focus on harassing and intimidating political enemies, disrupting their activities, and forcing them into waste resources dealing with activist’s provocations… They want to shut down, humiliate, and silence those who won’t quietly submit to their policy agenda.”

 

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Three Bernie Proposals: The Taxpayer’s Reaction

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Thursday, March 10th, 2016, 4:38 PM PERMALINK

The Democratic debate last night proved that support for Bernie Sanders’ tax proposals must come from his charm—not an actual analysis. Applauding proceeded his remarks on some of the largest tax increases in American history:

SANDERS: My program, making public colleges and universities tuition free, allowing people with debt to refinance at the lowest possible interest rates is a fairly expensive proposal, about $70 billion a year.

 [APPLAUSE]

The payment plans for Bernie Sanders are on his campaign website under a page entitled, “How Bernie pays for his proposals”.  However, Mr. Sanders will obviously not be paying for these ambitions -- you will. Outlined below are just three of Bernie’s new tax increases on the American people. Analysis of these proposals through examining the simple breakdown of numbers has generated some shocking reactions from the taxpayers. 

College for All: This plan will make public universities tuition-free for every student in America. 

Total cost: $75 billion a year

How it will be paid for: By enforcing a new tax! The creation of the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) imposes a tax rate of 50 basis points on stocks, 15 basis points on bonds, and .5 basis points on derivatives.Embedded in this proposal is the implication of a 50 percent drop in the amount of trading being done:

“For purposes of our calculations, we assume that trading volume does fall by 50 percent in all financial markets.”

This information comes from a 2012 ‘assessment’ that precludes their estimations with:

 “To begin with though, again, we emphasize that our conclusions are not based on anything close to the type of solid foundation in research and evidence that one would normally expect in considering such an important question.”

The taxpayer’s reaction

via GIPHY

Medicare for All Health Care Plan: An attempted single-payer system to guarantee universal healthcare to every American.

Total cost: $1.38 trillion a year

How it will be paid for: 5 new tax burdens! These include:

  •  6.2 percent income-based tax on employers
  •  2.2 percent income-based tax on households
  •  “Progressive income tax rates”
  •  Taxing capital gains and dividends the same as income from work
  •  Increasing the estate tax

 

The taxpayer’s reaction

via GIPHY

Responsible Estate Tax Act (Death Tax): This is a progressive plan to ‘strengthen’ the estate tax structure.

Total cost: $214 billion

How it will be paid for: By increasing the tax rates!

Currently, the estate tax rate is 40% on inheritances over $5 million.

Increases rates to:

  • 45% on estate value between $3.5 million and $10 million
  • 50% on estate value between $10 million and $50 million
  • 55% on estate value in excess of $50 million
     

This plan is widening the tax base and increasing the rates.

The taxpayer’s reaction

via GIPHY


Bringing the U.S. Tax System into the 21st Century will Stop Inversions

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Monday, February 29th, 2016, 4:46 PM PERMALINK

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing last week on the international tax competition in 2016. Various distinguished witnesses revealed severe consequences on small businesses and community structures when a corporation moves overseas. Under the present global tax laws, American businesses are not able to compete in the global economy.

The problems with double taxation and corporate inversions are not confined solely to the federal government and large corporations- the ripple effects are seen in our neighborhoods and communities.  International tax reform is being recognized as a bipartisan effort.

Witnesses and committee members confirmed an ongoing consensus on the obligation for tax reform in America. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) commented on the need to determine the root cause of the detrimental effects of the US tax code.

Michelle Hanlon, a Professor of Accounting at MIT Sloan School of Management and Itai Grinberg, an Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University both suggested a complete reform in the US tax code and not simply addressing the issue of corporate loopholes. Strictly focusing on the concern of these loopholes is distracting to the advancement of reform.

Raymond Wiacek, a partner at Jones Day, held that globalization has accelerated the need for tax reform. The urgency of this issue was recognized from both parties. As Wiacek noted, “One of the reasons we’re behind is that we have a noncompetitive tax system.” Currently, our tax code is out of line with the rest of the world and we are losing jobs because of it.

The witnesses recommend 3 major reforms:

  1. Reducing business tax rates: The disparity between the U.S. and its competitors is wide. The combined state/federal U.S. business tax rate is more than 39 percent. Compared to direct competitors like Canada (26.3 percent), the United Kingdom (20 percent), and Ireland (12.5 percent), the U.S. rate is two or three times higher.
  2. Moving to a territorial tax system: The U.S. is one of a few countries that has a worldwide tax system, which means that if you are an American business, the IRS tries to tax everything you earn regardless of where you earn it. One of the main reasons for inversions is that the U.S. double taxes income earned abroad. Most other countries have a territorial tax system, meaning they tax money earned in their country but welcome the return of money earned abroad tax-free.
  3. Moving to a consumption tax base: Ideally, income should be taxed at the point of consumption thus eliminating most tax exclusions, adjustments, deductions, and credits. While creating an even and efficient tax code that does not distort the final cost of product, the consumption tax is the most economically efficient base that promotes stronger growth. 

 

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Hillary’s Approach to The Second Amendment: A National Sales Tax on Guns

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Thursday, February 25th, 2016, 12:11 PM PERMALINK

C-SPAN Washington Journal hosted ATR President Grover Norquist this week to discuss a number of issues including President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal and tax reform plans from the 2016 presidential candidates.

Focusing in on Hillary Clinton’s proposals, Grover illuminates her support of a 25 percent national sales tax on guns. Clinton was asked by then-Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) if she supported the imposition of a new, 25 percent national sales tax on guns. Clinton emphatically endorsed the tax, stating: "I am all for that."

The implications for this tax would harm millions of firearm and ammunition related jobs across the country. Her decision to support a national sales tax on guns is a clear attempt at gun control through other means.

Grover also illustrated the changing electorate and how it relates to gun ownership as more and more Americans have concealed carry permits:

“…her approach is so old. Underneath the still waters, the country has been changing. It’s a different electorate than when Hillary Clinton started running.”

Click here to watch Grover Norquist speak about Hillary and her take on gun control in the twenty-first century! 

 

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Five Reasons to Impeach IRS Chief John Koskinen

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016, 4:32 PM PERMALINK

Taxpayers deserve a transparent and accountable government. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has shown active neglect to his duties with respect to uncovering the truth in the Lois Lerner conservative targeting scandal. The agency has continually displayed extraordinary lack of responsibility in many capacities.

Koskinen has proved to be incapable of managing taxpayer funds and protecting these individuals from identity theft and fraud. In addition, he has even lied to members of Congress and the American people. Clearly, the agency is in desperate need of reform and new leadership.

Below are five reasons to impeach IRS Commissioner Koskinen:

1.      The agency continually obstructed the investigation into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal. The IRS failed to search five of six possible sources of electronic media for Lois Lerner's emails. The only source they bothered to search -- her hard drive -- was destroyed after a brief search deemed information unrecoverable. As House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) noted, under Koskinen's leadership, the agency has failed time and time again to comply with Congressional investigators.

2.      The agency ignored a preservation order by destroying 422 tapes in the Lerner case. The tapes contained as many as 24,000 Lois Lerner emails and were erased eight months after Congressional investigators requested all emails to and from Lois Lerner.  

See Also: Hillary's 25% Gun Tax Threatens Second Amendment

3.      Koskinen lied to members of Congress in a House Oversight Committee hearing, saying Lois Lerner's email could not be found. In reality, the agency destroyed thousands of emails to cover the targeting scandal. House Oversight Committee Chairman Chaffetz stated:

"Mr. Koskinen failed to testify truthfully. The statements that he made to Congress were false. It is imperative that this committee pursue all constitutional remedies. That may include contempt and it even may include impeachment of Mr. Koskinen."

4.      The agency failed to protect taxpayer data after a report found the IRS failed to screen 2.2 million tax returns for identity theft and fraud. In addition, there have been multiple reports that warned of vulnerability to taxpayer personal information. A 2014 report stated:

"Taxpayers could be exposed to the loss of privacy and to financial loss and damages resulting from identity theft or other financial crimes."

5.      The IRS failed to properly prioritize funding even when there was no budgetary pressure. According to the Annual Report to Congress released by the National Taxpayer Advocate, the IRS has completely failed to get its act together. According to the report:

"The IRS lacks a principled basis for making the difficult resource allocation decisions necessitated by today's tight budget environment."

American taxpayers are left with only one option: 

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