Tax Analysts Blog

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
I shudder every time I see a state government use the tax law as an incentive for a business to do or not do something. I shudder a lot. States provide these incentives so businesses can create jobs, make investments, locate here, locate there, use specific energy sources, etc., etc. There are thou...
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council enacted an unusual excise tax on guns and ammunition. I say unusual because attempts to regulate firearms through taxation are usually taken up by the federal or state governments. The Seattle council passed a measure that imposes a $25 tax on firearms a...
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
What one word comes to mind when you hear "due process"? It should be fairness. We inherently know what's right and wrong. We know when someone is being treated unfairly. And the Constitution reflects those beliefs. We think it is wrong to beat a confession out of someone. We think it is wrong to d...
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Here in the dog days of August, it seems fitting to write about beer. I know some of you don't drink it, but in the immortal words of country music star Billy Currington, beer is good. In Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne says, "I think a man working outdoors feels more like a man if he can have...
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
In the state of Washington, the irrepressible conservative political activist Tim Eyman is leading yet another antitax fight. Eyman's Initiative 1366, on the November ballot, could slash state tax revenue by $8 billion over the next six years. The initiative would reduce the state's 6.5-cent sales...
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Over the past few years, I've offered advice to both liberal and conservative politicians on tax policy. One of my pearls of wisdom is that both the left and the right should at least try to adhere to the concepts of sound tax policy. Both parties ignore and violate the principles of good tax poli...
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Exporting tax burdens is a long-revered political tactic. The goal is to get people from outside your state to pay taxes that benefit your constituents. Your residents and businesses get the goodies -- roads, police, healthcare -- while others pay the freight. Whoever invented this concept is a pol...
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Good tax policy advocates have looked aghast at recent developments in Kansas, Louisiana, and Maine. Whatever your view on the appropriate size and role of government, there are right and wrong ways to pay for public services. Ideally, people will determine the level of government they want and pay...
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a GOP presidential candidate, released his tax plan last week. As expected, some commentators piled on criticism. Howard Gleckman of the Urban Institute said Paul was trying to use the tax proposal to “fundamentally restructure the federal government as we know it.” Bob McI...
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
It won't be confused with the storming of the Bastille or the proletariat assault on the Winter Palace. But recent events in Connecticut suggest corporate America is taking to the streets in response to proposed dramatic tax increases. In a rare exhibition of public lobbying, three corporate giants...
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Liberals take great pleasure in bashing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R). They call him nasty names on social media. I have never believed name-calling was a particularly effective debate tool. Yet, the age of electronic communication seems to have turned everyone into an 8-year-old. And Brownback, mo...
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Something surprisingly good happened recently in the little city of Shakopee, Minnesota (population 37,000). Amazon was talking about building a distribution center there. Shakopee political leaders were so excited about the prospects of Amazon creating 1,000 full-time jobs and making a substantial...
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The Supreme Court kept state tax folks busy last week by deciding Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne. By far the most interesting and entertaining part of the decision was Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent. He colorfully called the dormant commerce clause, upon which the majority hangs...
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
In Rhode Island, Rep. Joseph Shekarchi (D) is doing the bidding of big corporations once again. For the third year in a row, he has introduced a bill that would provide tax credits to "job creators." This time Shekarchi has allies in Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D)....
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Theoretically at least, the proposal in Alabama to adopt a flat income tax is a great idea. The proposal -- called the Simplified Flat Tax Act of 2015 -- would amend the constitution and create a flat income tax for individuals and corporations. It is stalled at the moment, but it is worthy of seri...
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
The Tax Foundation recently released a report detailing the state corporate tax rates around the country. The highest statutory rate is in Iowa at 12 percent. Others in the top 10 are Pennsylvania (9.99 percent), Minnesota (9.8 percent), Alaska (9.4 percent), the District of Columbia (9.4 percent),...
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Immigration is one of the great polarizing issues in American politics. It is the issue that riles my conservative friends the most. They oppose anything that smacks of amnesty, open borders, or more people entering the country illegally. They argue that those people are prone to committing crimes,...
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Taxing booze doesn't get much attention in the United States. Recently, a legislator from a very low-alcohol-tax state asked me why the nation doesn't tax alcohol more heavily. I will note that this legislator is looking for revenue and not dreaming of idyllic tax policies. Here is my take on state...
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
There is a theory that says the tax laws should be used to do one thing -- raise revenue to pay for public services. Taxes should not be used to engineer society, promote social agendas, foster economic development, or help anyone in particular. This theory has merit. Adherence would lead to less c...
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Several people have asked me recently where the blame lies for the 30-year proliferation of tax incentives. Some folks blame greedy corporations for trying to take advantage of interstate competition. Others blame the pirates at economic development consulting firms (and I include big law and accou...