Comfort, Delay, and Gratitude

Taxes

Court comfort? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sounds like he’s ready to fight the House Ways & Means Committee subpoena for six years of President Trump’s tax returns. He told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee yesterday that he takes “great comfort that there’s a third branch of government to deal with this important issue…” He’s fighting, he says, to prevent the “weaponization of the IRS.”

Tapping the brakes on auto tariffs? Politico reports that Trump may delay tariffs on autos and auto parts, because they could hurt trade talks with China, Japan, and the European Union. Auto tariffs also could scuttle Trump’s efforts to convince Congress to approve his revised NAFTA deal with Mexico and Canada.  The president must make a decision by May 18. 

Thanking our friend, Alice Rivlin. TPC’s Len Burman and Howard Gleckman share their personal memories about the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office, and both describe one of her many legacies: TPC. Says Len, “Alice’s CBO was the model for the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. We decided at the outset that TPC would be strictly nonpartisan and share facts, evidence, and careful analysis in the clearest and most accessible terms we could muster.” Concludes Howard, “that culture of independence and non-partisanship—her culture” is TPC’s culture. “She made Washington, and America, a better place.”

A new CBO director:  House and Senate Budget Committee chairs have picked Phil Swagel, a former top economic adviser to President George W. Bush, to serve as the next director of CBO, according to published reports. Swagel, currently an economics professor at the University of Maryland, would replace Keith Hall, whose four-year term expired in January.  

Sales of sugary drinks sink in Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania researchers have found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks have fallen 38 percent since  the city passed a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on the beverages in  2017. The researchers say the drop would have been steeper but for consumers who left town to buy their soft drinks.  

Connecticut millionaires: Higher taxes, please. A group of wealthy Connecticut residents, called Fair Share Connecticut, wants a top tax rate of 9.99 percent on couples earning more than $5 million-a-year and individuals earning more than $2.5 million. The current top rate is 6.99 percent. The group wants to use the revenue to close the state’s expected $1.55 billion budget deficit. So far, neither Governor Ned Lamont nor GOP lawmakers are taking them up on the offer. 

Extra revenue may mean property tax relief and a rainy day fund deposit in New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy thinks now would be a good time to give more than 1 million taxpayers  a one-time refundable property tax credit worth $250 million.. That’s because this year’s revenue projections have grown to $38.1 billion, leaving New Jersey with an expected $1.14 billion surplus. The state also expects to deposit $317 million into its rainy-day fund—the first contribution in 11 years. The governor still wants a millionaire’s tax, though the legislature continues to resist the plan. .

Lawyers file class-action suit against TurboTax. The lawsuit seeks monetary relief for consumers who paid for filing services when they did not need to. It also seeks to prohibit TurboTax from using the marketing practices that were reported  by ProPublica last month. 

For the latest tax news, subscribe to the Tax Policy Center’s Daily Deduction. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekdays at 8:00 am (Mondays only when Congress is in recess). We welcome tips on new research or other news. Email Renu Zaretsky at dailydeduction@taxpolicycenter.org.

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