Bush’s Tax Proposal

JebBush_PresidentialCampaignLogo15On Wednesday, Jeb Bush announced his plan for overhauling the US federeal income tax. It’s a mixture of innovative ideas, standard GOP tropes, and wishful thinking, but it’s also the most concrete plan that any of the presidential candidates have put forward. I’m not going to spend a ton of ink on the specifics—I don’t think I can say much more in that respect than the Tax Policy Center did[fn1]—but I want to address a couple things in his proposal.

80,000 Pages

First, Bush argues that, “[a]t 80,000 pages, it’s a tax code only an army of tax accountants and lobbyists could love—because they’ve written it.” And he’s absolutely right—an 80,000-page law would be totally and completely unwieldy.

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Clinton and Long-, Medium-, and Short-Term Capital Gains

clinton logoHalfway through an extensive post on Hillary Clinton’s new tax proposal, announced Friday, I managed to lose the whole thing. Which is fine, I guess, because, while giving a lot of details about her proposal, and about capital gains in general, I wasn’t writing what I find really interesting about it: the fact that it is neither radical nor conceptually new. Continue reading

Jeb! and Tax Returns

JebBush_PresidentialCampaignLogo15This week, Jeb Bush released 33 years of tax returns, going all the way back to 1981. By way of comparison, in 1996, Bob Dole, released 30, and in 2004, John Kerry released 20. And McCain and (Mitt) Romney, when they were the GOP nominees, released just 2. Carter and Reagan released one each, and Humphrey and McGovern didn’t release any.

Which is to say, 33 is a lot of tax returns.

And what can we learn from Bush’s transparency? Continue reading

The IRS Dials Up Its Opacity

irs-logoTax Analysts may be the most important magazine publisher you’ve never heard of. Founded in 1970, it publishes Tax Notes, a weekly compilation of tax news and analysis, and an indispensible read to tax practitioners, policymakers, and academics alike.[fn1]

For those of you not steeped in the world of tax practice and policy, that may not seem like such a big deal. But it is: in addition to reporting the news, Tax Analysts has had a real and significant impact on the public’s relationship to the IRS.  Continue reading

Super Bowl XLIX and (What Else?) Taxes

Super-Bowl-XLIX-PrimaryIt’s my understanding that, if I wanted to capitalize on this weekend’s Super Bowl game and optimize my search engines, I’d do a post about what time the game starts. That, though, doesn’t strike me as an interesting question. (Also, there’s no reason to ask me, when Google will tell you without your having to click a link.)

But the game does raise a couple interesting non-start-time questions, and I thought I’d address two of them here.  Continue reading

Pastors’ Housing, Take 2

ParsonageHarpersLast week, almost a year after a district court in Wisconsin declared the parsonage exemption unconstitutional, the Seventh Circuit has reversed her decision. And thus ends a (brief) chapter in the religious culture wars.

Or not . . . Continue reading

The Venue Formerly Known as Avery Fisher Hall

avery-fisher-hall_v1_460x285You’ve probably heard by now that Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall will soon be known as something other than “Avery Fisher Hall.”

Some background: in 1973, Avery Fisher (a music philanthropist and the founder of Fisher Electronics) donated $10.5 million (about $53 million in 2014 dollars) to the Lincoln Center to renovate the concert hall. In exchange, Lincoln Center agreed that his name would be on the building, programs, tickets, and the like in perpetuity.  Continue reading