Trump’s Tax Returns, More Whistle-blowing, And Taxing Executive Comp And Lobbying


Treasury’s Acting Inspector General will review agency efforts to protect President Trump’s tax returns. The review centers on whether the Treasury acted improperly when it refused to release Trump’s tax returns in response to a  House Ways & Means Committee request. The move follows a separate whistleblower complaint that a Treasury Department official attempted to interfere with the IRS’ mandatory audit of the tax returns of Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), a separate office, declined to comment on whether it has opened an inquiry into the whistleblower’s complaint.

Elizabeth Warren would tax lobbying. The presidential candidate would  tax companies on their lobbying expenses. The levy would start at 35 percent on annual advocacy costs between $500,000 and $1 million, rising to 75 percent on spending over $5 million. Warren would use the revenue to fund a new federal Office of the Public Advocate. Critics say such a tax would violate constitutional protections for free speech. 

Bernie Sanders would tax firms with big pay gaps.  Sanders, one of Warren’s chief rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, would raise corporate tax rates by 0.5 percentage points for firms where the highest-paid executive made 50-times median worker pay, gradually increasing to 5 percentage points where the gap is 500 times. The tax increase would apply to all businesses with at least $100 million in annual revenue. TPC’s Howard Gleckman says that, like past attempts to use the tax code to reduce executive comp, this one is unlikely to succeed. 

Senate Democrats ask the IRS to consider stripping the NRA’s tax-exempt status. The Senate Finance Committee’s top Democrat Ron Wyden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer argue that the gun lobbying group did not act as a social welfare organization in the months before the 2016 election and instead profited from its activities. 

In case you missed them on TPC’s TaxVox… Megan Randall explains why California might want to try cooperating with local governments instead of banning them from offering tax incentives for economic development. Noah Zwiefel analyzes  2018 congressional voting patterns in districts where many residents were hurt by the TCJA’s cap on state and local tax deductions. The Tax Hound suggests an alternative to a ban on vaping products: A high excise tax.

October 17 at TPC: Cryptocurrency and Tax Administration. TPC and  H&R Block will host a discussion of tax implications for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. How are tax authorities responding to new technologies designed to circumvent regulation? Are these responses adequate? IRS chief counsel Michael Desmond and a panel of experts will discuss evolving federal and state policy issues. The event will be webcast live here on Thursday, October 17, from 9:30 to 11:30 am. You can register to attend  here

IRS/TPC Research Conference Call for Papers, due December 2.  The 10th Annual IRS/TPC Research Conference on Tax Administration will take place on June 18, 2020. Proposals for papers are due on December 2, 2019. Subjects include measuring and influencing taxpayer compliance, estimating costs of compliance, tax complexity, improving tax administration, and understanding the nature and behavior of  taxpayers. More information on the call for papers and submitting a proposal is here.

Congress is not in session, so the Daily Deduction will publish only on Monday this week. The Daily Deduction will return to its regular schedule on October 15.

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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