Tax Analysts Blog

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
For years now, Washington has been saturated with arguments about stimulus and austerity. Or more precisely, stimulus or austerity, because in Washington, you can't support both. You're either a free-spending liberal or a tight-fisted conservative – no fence sitting allowed. In fact, however, th...
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
If we're lucky, the federal government will shut down two weeks from today. It won't be pretty, and it will be expensive. (As the Congressional Research Service recently pointed out, flicking the lights on and off isn't free.) But a shutdown might actually be good for us. Specifically, it might e...
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The Republican Party has changed a lot over the last half-century, and nowhere is the transformation more obvious than during debt ceiling debates. In recent weeks, GOP leaders have demanded a variety of things in exchange for raising the borrowing cap. Yesterday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor...
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Washington is poised for a big fight over credibility, as Congress debates the appropriate American response to Syrian chemical weapons. Some observers have speculated that the vote will expose important divisions within the GOP, which seems entirely possible. Meanwhile, however, another issue seem...
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Are threats to oppose a debt ceiling increase ever defensible? More specifically, can they ever be justified as a form of leverage—as a tool to force politicians to make difficult but necessary decisions? Republicans seem to think so. Yesterday, the Treasury predicted that the nation would hit the...
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
If you believe Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch, every tax preference is on the table these days. The Senate's "blank slate" approach to tax reform treats all preferences equally, in the sense that all are equally vulnerable. But in fact, some preferences are probably more equal than others. Take the de...
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
If Rep. Rosa DeLauro gets her way, you might see fewer ads for Twinkies, Devil Dogs, and Yodels in the years to come. The Connecticut Democrat recently introduced legislation to close a “loophole” permitting companies to deduct advertising expenses for marketing “unhealthy food products” to chi...
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
What are the prospects for a new federal tax on wealth? Pretty good, if you think surging inequality will trigger a populist revolt. But not so good if you think history has anything to teach us. According to some observers, a wealth tax is just around the corner. "If you'd like to know where Amer...
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Everybody hates tax expenditures – except voters and the politicians who coddle them. This reality makes it hard to curb the cost of these expenditures, especially when they promote good and popular things like home ownership, health insurance, and pensions. But tax expenditures are expensive, and...
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Nice to see that House Republicans are staying true to form. Faced with the prospect of actually governing, they've once again chosen to pander and pose instead. Unfortunately, taxpayers are going to pay the price for this predictability. Earlier today, the House Appropriations Committee released...
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
You have to admire the impulse. Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch don't like the tax system and they want a fresh start. Who can blame them? After all, why should we assume that existing tax incentives are worth keeping? Shifting the burden of proof to those seeking a tax break seems only reasonable. But...
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The IRS scandal, such as it is, has gotten less scandalous in recent days. Revelations that the agency scrutinized exemption applications from liberal as well as conservative groups has deflated some of the more overheated conspiracy theories. And rearguard efforts by conservative activists to keep...
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Does tax reform have to be bipartisan? Not necessarily. Decades ago, when Democrats held all the levers of power, they managed to push through some sweeping reforms without much help from their Republican colleagues. But in the modern era of divided government, tax reform is almost certainly going...
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Enough already: it's time to stop talking about tax reform. Not about necessary and useful changes to the tax code – by all means, let's talk about them. But let's do away with anodyne invocations of “tax reform” as a useful shorthand for this debate. The phrase probably meant something once,...
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Beating up on the IRS is lots of fun, and in recent weeks, it's been a bipartisan pastime. In fact, the agency itself has gotten into the act. "Like so many, the IRS community is shocked and appalled at the use of political labels inside one part of the organization,” acting commissioner Danny We...
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Paul Krugman is not a nice guy, and he's willing to admit it. “I am a big meanie," he wrote recently on his blog. Of course, there's a lot of snark in that confession, but a lot of truth, too. Krugman doesn't suffer fools, gladly or otherwise. But he's also quick to call someone a fool in the f...
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Should we get rid of 501(c)(4)s? Last week, the New York Times put that question to a range of tax experts and got back (predictably) a range of reasonable answers. Most involved some sort of intermediate reform involving the political activities of "social welfare" organizations. One expert, howev...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Seems like only yesterday that Tea Party groups were the villains, not the victims, in stories about nonprofit political activity. Because it was yesterday, or close to it. For the last few days, Washington has been consumed by worry and indignation over an IRS admission that the agency was targeti...
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
On May 19, the federal government will reach its statutory debt limit. To keep the wheels turning, the Treasury will then deploy a variety of “extraordinary measures” that have become really quite ordinary in recent years. At which point – probably in the fall sometime – lawmakers will run up a...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Tax reform has evolved into one of the emptier platitudes of U.S. politics. Politicians support "tax reform" in the same way that they support "a strong national defense," "fiscal responsibility," and "pro-growth economic policies." It's a brave statement in search of a challenge. Is anyone ever ag...