The new year is here, and 2017 has the potential to dramatically alter the tax policy climate in both the United States and Europe. Most obviously, the incoming Trump administration and its Republican allies in Congress would love to remake the U.S. tax code by repealing Obamacare (which has many important tax components) and passing a tax reform package that lowers rates and alters how business income is treated. In Europe, the populist wave personified by Brexit and Donald Trump could sweep away governments in France (most likely), Italy, and Germany (least likely).
Tax Analysts Blog
Come January 20, a lot of Americans will miss some of the people in the current administration who have made our government run during the last eight years. I am among them. But unlike the millions who are lamenting the imminent departure of President Obama, my eyes will be trained on the building next door – the one with the statue of Alexander Hamilton on the south portico – the Treasury Department.
If you listen to the lobbyists, tax reform is always just around the corner. For years, Beltway mavens have been especially vocal about the urgency – and even the inevitability – of corporate reform. With some $2.6 trillion in corporate earnings “trapped,” “stranded,” “stashed,” or simply held overseas, the status quo has long seemed untenable.
Does Donald Trump secretly covet a VAT? This is a reasonable question, judging from Trump’s Twitter activity and other public statements. On multiple occasions the president-elect has asserted that other countries’ VAT regimes function as a trade barrier that favors our foreign competitors and punishes U.S. businesses that export into overseas markets.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi bet his political future on a somewhat convoluted constitutional referendum that was designed to make it much easier for his center-left coalition to govern without majority support from voters. He bet big, and he lost big, because Italians rejected the constitutional changes proposed by the prime minister, who promptly announced his resignation. The outcome is both a major victory for democracy and a sharp setback for the EU and possibly the eurozone.
You hear it so often it’s become commonplace: There’s never been a president like Donald Trump. In any number of ways, that truism is undeniably true. But in some respects, there are precedents for a President Trump, or at least for some Trumpian policies, including his still vague “borrow to build” plan for infrastructure.
OK – I admit it. I hold a bias in favor of law enforcement, particularly when it comes to taxes. Thirty years of litigating civil tax cases for the U.S. Department of Justice, and seeing the myriad ways that taxpayers use to avoid paying what they owe, will do that to a person. While abuse of the tax laws cuts across most income levels and demographics, I found that the wealthiest people often came up with the most “creative” explanations for why they didn’t follow the tax laws.
President-elect Donald Trump's 100-day agenda is starting to take shape. While a lot is still not known (including a number of key Cabinet appointees), Vice President-elect Mike Pence laid out four priorities over the weekend. "Repealing Obamacare will be the first priority in a session that will be characterized by tax reform, rebuilding the military, infrastructure, ending illegal immigration, and that’s where we’re focused," Pence told Face the Nation.
Before the elections, pollsters were confident that the United States faced another four years of divided government. Virtually every prognosticator in the country predicted that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but face at least a GOP-controlled House. They were all wrong. Far from being pushed into a media-predicted civil war, Republicans won a complete victory on November 8, with Donald Trump winning the White House while Republicans maintained control over both chambers of Congress. This opens the door to at least two years of frenzied legislative activity, particularly on tax reform.
Suppose a country’s leaders asked citizens to vote on how to achieve a complex policy goal -- for example, how to make the country’s tax system fairer, or how to reform the immigration system or entitlement programs. And because it is difficult to incorporate nuance into this kind of question, suppose the leaders were able to draft a ballot referendum that posed a binary choice: yes or no, up or down. And then, just for good measure, suppose the leaders told the public that they would honor the results of the referendum.