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2017
April 26, 2017

Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Reckoning for Republican Deficit Hawks

Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts, said the Trump plan appeared to have strong parallels with Reagan’s 1981 cuts. Mr. Thorndike recalled that the Reagan administration soon realized the problem of the red ink it was facing and started looking for new sources of revenue.
April 26, 2017

A majority of Americans find the tax system unfair, Pew study finds

Caroline Bruckner, managing director of American University's Kogod School of Business Tax Policy Center and Joseph Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts, joined MPR News host Kerri Miller for a conversation on tax proposals and public perception of the tax code.
April 18, 2017

What Trump's Taxes Would Not Show About His Finances

But the president's returns — due on Tuesday — might ultimately prove less revealing about Trump's finances than many of his critics suppose, says Lee Sheppard, columnist at Tax Analysts' Tax Notes.
April 18, 2017

Americans' Feelings About Paying Taxes Have Changed. Here's How

“Americans don’t hate paying taxes, they hate other people not paying taxes. Nobody is happy to write a check to the government. It’s painful,” says Joseph Thorndike, Director of the Tax History Project. “But people are by and large willing to write that check as long as they are confident other people are writing similarly painful checks.”
April 17, 2017

A Guide to the Guide to the Republican Better Way Plan

 It is worth noting, however, as Martin Sullivan has done in the pages of Tax Notes, that if the past experience is any guide, the official dynamic revenue estimate that may be eventually produced by the Joint Committee on Taxation is likely to be fairly close to the one offered by the Tax Policy Center.
April 17, 2017

The president always gets audited (and the veep too)

The IRS didn't offer a formal rationale for auditing the president and vice president every year. Part of it may be to make sure the highest officers in the government are adhering to the law, tax historian Joseph Thorndike surmised.
April 14, 2017

Episode 24: The IRS

On this episode, Joe Thorndike, Director of the Tax History Project, walks us through the history and role of the IRS. 
April 13, 2017

The Costa Report

This year Americans will spend over six billion hours of productivity filing their taxes, with each individual spending an average of thirteen hours! Imagine how much further the IRS and government would be if that time were reallocated to additional taxable wages. Senior Tax Policy Counsel, Robert Goulder, joins us today to discuss our biggest misconceptions about taxes and whether the current tax code can be reformed or if Congress would be better off starting with a fresh sheet of paper.
April 12, 2017

Trump’s tax returns will be immediately under audit

Now that he's president, the integrity of the tax system is at stake, said Joseph Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project and an editor for Tax Analysts. "Can we trust the IRS to enforce the law against their boss? Putting it in the baldest terms, that's really the question," he said. "This is an important threshold we're about to cross."
March 30, 2017

A survey of potential GOP border tax compromises

Tax Analysts’ Lee Sheppard has remarked that the DBCFT is economically the same as a border adjusted value-added tax (VAT) plus repeal of the employer-level payroll tax.
March 29, 2017

Even Republicans think the rich aren’t paying their fair share in taxes, but …

Instead, the process of filing income taxes reminds people of the system’s complexity. “The tax form itself reveals that there are a lot of moving parts here — and you don’t get to take advantage of all of them,” says Joe Thorndike, a tax historian at Tax Analysts. “You see these little categories, and it’s logical to think: ‘Why are all these other people getting these special deals?’”
March 27, 2017

The House tax plan won't stop big companies from gaming the system

In a recent article, Marty Sullivan, chief economist at the nonpartisan Tax Analysts, was quoted saying that “the basic, fundamental structure of it seems much more resilient to gaming — by far.”
March 22, 2017

Taxpayer Rights Around the World (Part 1)

A panelist from Tax Analysts stated that “there must be no secret law.” He indicated that more than 90 countries have the equivalent of the United States’ Freedom of Information Act. He also discussed country-by-country (CbC) reporting and the looming question of whether CbC reports should be made public and whether taxpayer names should be redacted.
March 15, 2017

6 Times Presidential Tax Returns Made Us Go Hmmm…

FDR didn’t release his tax returns, but his presidential library later made many of them available. As it turns out, those returns would have caused quite the scandal if they had been released during his presidency, according to tax historian Joseph Thorndike.
March 11, 2017

When it comes to corporate tax reform, the GOP may be on to something. Really.

Because of these and myriad other problems, the Ryan and Brady proposal needs lots more study and debate — it shouldn’t be rushed through to meet artificial political deadlines. But by the same token, it deserves serious consideration. “I’m very intrigued by it, particularly the economic benefits,” said Martin Sullivan, the respected columnist and chief economist at Tax Notes. “There are concerns with it, no question. But the reason we are still talking about it is that there is no obvious alternative.”
February 17, 2017

Reforming ain’t easy

It’ll probably still be a while before there’s any legislative text from House Republicans on tax reform, but even some GOP tax writers are already starting to make the case for exemptions. One potential carveout: allowing small businesses to continue to deduct interest expenses, Tax Notes’ Dylan Moroses reports.
February 15, 2017

Mr. Retail heads to Washington

Still, Joe Thorndike, a tax historian for Tax Analysts, said the threat of Democrats regaining at least one congressional chamber in the coming years might make Trump more apt to release his returns on his own. “The fact that this power exists changes the debate,” he told Morning Tax. Thorndike added that Brady was right to say the tax code provision, 6103, that would allow for the release of Trump’s returns is at least partly aimed at ensuring taxpayer privacy. But he also scoffed at the idea that Democrats were subverting its intent with their latest moves. “It’s hard to say this is inconsistent with the spirit of 6103 when it’s in 6103,” he said.
February 10, 2017

Awaiting phenomenal

Even so, Marty Sullivan of Tax Analysts said there’s little doubt the House blueprint would be an improvement from the current set-up. “I do not doubt that lawyers will figure out ways to game this system. But the basic, fundamental structure of it seems much more resilient to gaming — by far.”
February 10, 2017

Haven our cake and eating it

In a recent interview with Tax Analysts, Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, was asked how concerned he was that the UK will end up going the tax haven route following withdrawal from the EU.
February 2, 2017

A fight is coming over the border adjustment tax

The concept of a stronger dollar offsetting the effects of price changes induced by border adjustment is something "non-economists should not be expected to grasp intuitively," wrote Martin Sullivan, chief economist for Tax Analysts, which publishes tax policy news and analysis.
February 2, 2017

A fight is coming over the border adjustment tax

The tax's two main Republican proponents, House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, get high marks for pushing the envelope. But Jeremy Scott, editor in chief of commentary at Tax Analysts, thinks it may be time to put the idea aside for now. "If House Republicans were serious about enacting a completely different form of corporate taxation in 2017, they should have been holding hearings and drafting language in 2016," he wrote. "Ryan and his supporters did neither."
January 31, 2017

White House Petition To Release Trump's Tax Returns Closes In On A Half Million Signatures

You can read more on historical presidential candidate returns, including those from 2016 (Trump excepted) as part of the Tax Analyst's Tax History Project here.
January 30, 2017

Mnuchin’s day in Finance

Tax Analysts’ Marty Sullivan reads the tea leaves, and finds that a Mnuchin-led Treasury Department might find reason to like border adjustments.
January 26, 2017

Presidential tax returns: It started with Nixon. Will it end with Trump?

The audits won't end anytime soon. Presidents have been automatically audited for some time, said Joe Thorndike, a historian with Tax Analysts and director of the Tax History Project.
January 23, 2017

Trump right to question GOP tax plan

Economist Martin Sullivan, has reported, however, that “probably a majority of commentators have argued [the House Republican border adjustment plan]… violates WTO rules.” We've had experience in the past with tax reform measures that needed to be repealed because of their non-compliance with WTO rules.
January 11, 2017

FactChecking Trump’s Press Conference

Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the Tax Analysts’ Tax History Project, wrote in a May 12 blog post on taxnotes.com that “[r]eturns can shed light on the way a candidate lives his life. It can tell us about charitable giving as well as personal borrowing and investment activity. Returns can also illuminate the complicated business arrangements that often provide the bulk of a candidate’s income, especially for a real estate mogul like Trump.” And the returns “tell us a lot about how candidates conduct themselves in the gray areas of the tax law,” Thorndike wrote.
January 10, 2017

Let’s talk tax reform

Over at Tax Analysts, Marty Sullivan maintains that the House GOP plan isn’t a VAT. But he also says that the border adjustment framework would distort trade, something its advocates believe wouldn’t be the case. “Because the appreciation of the dollar should exactly offset border tax adjustments on exports and imports, a U.S. VAT would have no effect on the balance of trade,” Sullivan writes. “But a destination-based cash flow tax like that described in the House Republican blueprint does subsidize exports and penalize imports.”
January 9, 2017

Ways & Means Looking at Retirement ‘Reforms’?

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) told Tax Analysts that the working groups would not be like the ones organized by former Ways & Means Chair Dave Camp, adding that, “these are informal, inside the committee, [and] just for education so we can reach a consensus” and share it with the committee. No white papers or formal reports would be published by the groups, he said.