Back In The Saddle, Under the Gun


Congress returns with a long to-do list, including spending bills. Congress has 16 working days to either agree on  spending levels for government agencies through the coming fiscal year or approve a temporary funding bill. House Democrats, who have passed nearly all their spending bills, would extend the September 30 deadline to just before Thanksgiving. Senate Republicans, who have passed no spending bills of their own, have not yet agreed. Adding to the challenge: Lawmakers likely will be distracted by a renewed debate over guns and a battle over President Trump’s decision to shift $3.6 billion from this year’s military construction budget to a southern border wall. Everything old is new again.

Treasury and IRS try for a mulligan on donor disclosure relief. The agencies want to excuse certain political tax-exempt groups from identifying major donors in their annual reports to the IRS. A federal judge rejected  the agencies’ first attempt at guidance because they ignored rules that require public comment. Now, they have re-proposed the same disclosure exemptions, with a notice-and-comment period.   

Own a dog? Pay a doo-doo tax. The city of Zamora, Spain, which has more dogs  than children,  will tax dog owners  9 euros (about $10) annually, starting next year. The city expects to raise the equivalent of roughly $55,000 to $100,000 annually. It says it will use the revenues to build more dog walking areas, pay for clean-up, and distribute bags for canine waste. Diego Bernardo, Zamora’s tax councillor, told Reuters,“Dog owners should contribute to a certain extent to the (city) expenses.”

Tax junk food, not soda, for a better health? A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that raising the price of sugary snacks such as cookies, cakes, and sweets could be more effective at cutting obesity than increasing the price of only sugar sweetened drinks. Researchers estimated  that a 20 percent tax increase on  high-sugar snacks would reduce obesity in the United Kingdom by 2.7 percentage points, twice the impact of a tax on sugar sweetened drinks.  

Maryland offers a student debt tax credit.  Maryland residents who qualify for the credit of  up to $5,000 could use the money to pay down their student debt over two years. In 2019, nearly 9,500 Maryland residents claimed $9 million in Maryland Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credits. The average student debt  in Maryland is $27,000.

Tune in tomorrow— Using Regulation to Combat Recessions. At a TPC event, Yale Law School Professor Yair Listokin will explain how the law can stimulate aggregate demand and complement traditional fiscal and monetary policy during an economic downturn.  A panel of experts will respond to his claim. Register here to watch the live webcast here

Tuesday, September 24: Should wealth be taxed?. Elizabeth Warren proposed a wealth tax and Bernie Sanders suggests it could help pay for Medicare for All. A wealth tax has the potential to reduce inequality, fund assistance to low-income families, or reduce the deficit. But it has largely failed in Europe. Can it work in the United States? Social impact investor Ian Simmons, who backs higher taxes on the wealthy, will be joined by a panel of tax experts  to discuss the levy. Register here for the  TPC event. 

In case you missed them on TaxVox… Are sales tax holidays a good idea? Do Opportunity Zones help those who need help most? Do taxpayers want to itemize deductions? How are Minnesota taxpayers enjoying tax conformity with the federal revenue code? Is the federal tax form really any simpler than before 2017? How good a bet is the Fed making by cutting interest rates?

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

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