Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 29, 2015

Posts in "Taxes"

August 19, 2015

Warner Looking to Support Gig Economy Workers

gig economy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. — Sen. Mark Warner continued his quest Tuesday to rewrite the social contract with those who occupy the ever-expanding “gig economy.”

With the proliferation of sharing businesses like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, more and more people are finding ways to earn extra income. But many are compelled to do it out of necessity and are left with nothing to fall back on if and when things go south. Full story

June 18, 2015

Rand Paul Wants Internal GOP Debate Over Taxes

Paul toured Independence Hall on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul proposed a flat tax Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In unveiling his proposal to slash taxes to a single 14.5 percent marginal rate, Sen. Rand Paul wants a debate over whether the GOP should only seek to simplify the tax code.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, the Kentucky Republican said the plan he outlined in an opinion piece published in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal should encourage a debate about the amount of money the federal government should take in from tax receipts, upending the existing systems of taxes and tariffs along the way.

Full story

April 16, 2015

What ‘Abolish the IRS’ Really Means

Lee, left, and Rubio, talked about the 'Abolish the IRS' pitch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lee, left, and Rubio, have an ‘Abolish the IRS’ pitch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Abolish the IRS” is a popular Republican refrain, getting time on the campaign trail and promotion from the Republican National Committee. But don’t take the catch phrase literally.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Floridian who aims to be the party standard-bearer in the 2016 presidential contest, effectively conceded Wednesday there’s a bit of hyperbole involved.

Rubio’s partner on a tax code overhaul proposal, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said what conservatives really want is a significantly simpler tax code that would dial back the kind of power the IRS has accumulated.

Full story

March 4, 2015

Rubio, Lee Unveil Tax Code Overhaul, Welcome Critics

Lee and Rubio prepare to hold a news conference on their tax plan rollout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lee and Rubio prepare to hold a news conference on their tax plan rollout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Say this much about Sen. Marco Rubio: He’s not afraid to put ideas on the table.

The Florida Republican joined Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to present an outline for overhauling the tax code Wednesday morning that — scored statically and in a vacuum — would be sure to reduce the government’s revenue by tens of billions of dollars and eliminate or restrict a slew of popular tax credits and deductions.

But, the pair is floating a white paper and welcoming the critics, even if it would expose them to criticism in future political endeavors. Both Lee and Rubio have Senate seats that are up for re-election in 2016, and Rubio appears to be laying the groundwork for a White House bid.

Full story

February 10, 2015

Packwood Returns to Talk Taxes, Not Scandal (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:17 p.m. | The Finance Committee was in a mood to reminisce Tuesday morning about the good old days, when Sen. Bob Packwood played a key role in negotiating a bipartisan overhaul of the tax code.

The Oregon Republican was back Tuesday at the committee he once chaired to testify about that bipartisan success, where lawmakers in both parties worked with President Ronald Reagan on the 1986 tax deal. Packwood’s successor, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, was on the dais as the ranking member of the Finance panel, having held the gavel last Congress with Democrats in charge.

Full story

January 6, 2015

Senators Cheer ‘President Hatch’

Orrin Hatch

Hatch is a Utah Republican. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The start of the 114th Congress brings a pair of new roles for the senior-most Senate Republican: president pro tem and chairman of the Finance Committee.

Shortly after the Senate convened Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, was elected president pro tem, the Constitutional post that puts in line for the presidency behind the vice president and the speaker. The position comes with a security detail and an ornate office on the first floor of the Capitol, vacated by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.

“You get a beautiful office. I left it in perfect condition with one exception: I cleaned out the liquor cabinet. … I knew you wouldn’t need that,” Leahy joked at a Tuesday afternoon reception for Hatch, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Full story

December 16, 2014

Tax Extenders Vote a Bipartisan Affair

Wyden was one of a bipartisan group opposing the tax extenders package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wyden was one of a bipartisan group opposing the tax extenders package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The final vote on the $41.6 billion tax extenders package was, like the cromnibus last week, a very bipartisan affair.

Handing out mostly corporate tax breaks and adding to the debt to do it has proven to be a popular thing for Congress. Democrats including President Barack Obama spent the better part of 2013 trying to get Republicans to agree to more revenue as part of a budget deal, but are now signing on to deficit expansion for the sake of tax breaks that will expire, again, in two weeks.

Usually, these tax breaks — which range from the R&D tax break to breaks for NASCAR, racehorse owners and wind farms — are touted as incentives — and indeed some senators called them that Tuesday. But it’s hard to retroactively incentivize anything — a point made on the Senate floor by outgoing Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who voted no and said the tax bill didn’t even have the shelf life of a carton of eggs. Full story

December 9, 2014

Reid Outlines Endgame, Again Warns of Weekend Work (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As final preparations seemed to be underway to pass the “cromnibus” funding most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year — and avoid a shutdown — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one more warning about the session extending past Thursday.

“The federal government’s going to run out of money in two days. There’s no reason the government should shut down, and we’re ready to pass a yearlong spending bill to take care of this,” the Nevada Democrat said. “There’s still factions within the Republican party who want extreme measures. You’ve all heard them, just like I have.”

“For the extremists within the Republican Party … there’s always a reason to take a poke at the president. If it’s not one thing, it’s some other thing. The American people certainly shouldn’t be facing another government shutdown, but I guess that’s what we’re facing,” Reid said, noting that almost 100 riders had been at play in the process of crafting the catch-all spending bill. Full story

December 2, 2014

Mark Prater, the GOP’s Tax Policy ‘Kingmaker,’ Is Hunting for a Deal

Prater speaks with Roll Call in the Finance Committee's hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Prater speaks with CQ Roll Call in the Finance Committee’s hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It may seem ironic that one of the most powerful staffers on big money issues on Capitol Hill has passed up a far more lucrative career on K Street.

But Mark Prater, the Senate Finance Committee’s top Republican tax lawyer, shrugs and gives a wry chuckle when asked why he never cashed out.

“I love this job. It’s a great job … [with] great people,” the self-effacing Prater said in an interview. “It’s a big privilege.”

And while he’s given up the potential for a big payday, he’s gained something else: The chance to do a major rewrite of the tax law, which hasn’t been accomplished since 1986.

“Let’s put it this way, when it comes to tax policy on anything the Finance Committee does, he is the real kingmaker,” said former Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. Full story

November 18, 2014

Cruz: Obama is No ‘Monarch,’ Pushes Short-Term Government Funding (Video)

( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz  is in favor of a short-term approach to funding the government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz doesn’t know if his effort to push off the debate on funding the government into next year will prove successful, but the Texas Republican is sure making an effort.

“Time will tell,” Cruz said when asked if he thought momentum was building behind using a short-term stopgap spending measure next month. “I think a long-term omnibus or CR makes no sense. It hands over the decision-making authority of Congress to the president. I think what makes sense is a simple short-term CR to get out of the lame duck and into early next year.”

Cruz said the Republican wave was a referendum on the expected executive actions on immigration policy by Obama.

Full story

October 16, 2014

Durbin Hopes Tide Turning Against Corporate Inversions

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., is hoping the tide is turning against corporate inversions — a practice aimed at minimizing U.S. taxes by merging with overseas firms.

After taking to the Senate floor to shame Chicago-based pharmaceutical company AbbVie into changing it’s plans to merge with an Irish firm, Durbin welcomed news of AbbVie’s waffling.

“I’m encouraged by reports that AbbVie will reconsider its decision to move its tax address out of the United States,” Durbin said in a release.

AbbVie’s initial decision to merge was spurred by a provision in the tax code — known as a corporate inversion — that permits companies to join with foreign, and often times smaller, firms. The resulting new companies then base themselves abroad, where taxes can be lower than in the U.S., and thereby avoid paying taxes that U.S.-based firms would have to pay. Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 10:01 a.m.
Taxes

October 7, 2014

IRS Warns Senate Tax Refunds Could Be Delayed

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wyden says the IRS has warned him refunds could be delayed if Congress doesn’t act quickly on tax extenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s another reason to be displeased with congressional gridlock.

IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen is warning Congress that passing tax legislation reviving expired tax breaks — known as tax extenders — in December or later could delay refunds for millions. And if the legislation is passed retroactively in 2015, it could force millions to file amended tax returns, he warned in letters to top lawmakers. He urged them to pass the legislation by the end of November.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., seized on the letter Tuesday to push for swift passage of his two-year tax package known as the EXPIRE Act.

The Finance Committee passed the package in April but it stalled on the floor in May after Finance Committee ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, sought to attach a provision repealing the medical device tax, which helps fund the Affordable Care Act.

“It has been over six months since the Finance Committee passed the EXPIRE Act with strong bipartisan support,” Wyden said. “As the 2015 filing season begins to loom large, it is more urgent than ever that Congress moves in a decisive and bipartisan way to renew expired tax provisions that will give taxpayers the certainty they need to plan their finances.”
Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 4:59 p.m.
Taxes

September 15, 2014

Wyden Cites Oregon Wine in Effort to Spark Extenders Action

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oregon wine grapes could go unpressed and it’s Congress’ fault, said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden on Monday.

In a release urging congressional action on a package of expired tax breaks known as tax extenders, the Beaver State Democrat uses the state’s wine industry as an example of why Congress should act.

“For example, because Congress has not renewed increased expensing limits under Section 179, industrious Oregon wine makers will be forced to pay more for a new wine press needed today to expand their business, or they may be forced to choose between new equipment and hiring new employees,” Wyden said. Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 5:02 p.m.
Taxes

September 11, 2014

Senators Push Against Burger King Tax Inversion

A handful of members of the Senate Democratic caucus are calling on the leadership of Burger King to abandon the idea of using inversion for tax purposes as part of the merger with a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain.

“In August you and the Board of Directors of Burger King announced an agreement to purchase Canada-based Tim Hortons and move its corporate address to Canada, which will allow Burger King to avoid paying millions in U.S. taxes. We urge you and Burger King’s Board of Directors to reverse your plans to invert and to weigh the long-term consequences this move, known as a corporate inversion, would have on a company that relies on U.S. taxpayers to profit and thrive,” the senators wrote to Burger King CEO Daniel S. Schwartz.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:24 p.m.
Democrats, Taxes

September 9, 2014

Reid Doubts Senate Will Vote on Inversions in September

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he doesn’t expect the Senate to vote on legislation revamping corporate inversions this month.

“I kind of doubt it,” Reid said when asked if there would be a vote in September. When asked why not, Reid only chuckled as he walked into the chamber after his weekly Tuesday press conference.

The Senate has a packed schedule and only plans to be in session through Sept. 23, the day before the Jewish High Holidays begin.

Congress and the Treasury Department have been exploring ways to stem the growth of inversions, the growing trend of American companies buying foreign competitors, often times smaller businesses, then re-incorporating overseas in order to pay less in U.S. taxes. Forty-seven U.S. corporations have reincorporated overseas through corporate inversions in the past 10 years, far more than during the previous 20 years combined, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Monday in a speech at the Urban Institute that his agency could act soon.

“The Treasury Department is completing an evaluation of what we can do to make these deals less economically appealing, and we plan to make a decision in the very near future,” Lew said in his speech. “Any action we take will have a strong legal and policy basis, but will not be a substitute for meaningful legislation — it can only address part of the economics. Only a change in the law can shut the door, and only tax reform can solve the problems in our tax code that leads to inversions.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he has been in contact with Lew and that he continues to work with ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, on the issue, which he said voters have concerns.

“At community meetings around my state when people would ask about inversions this summer, I said look, if you erode the business tax base, what happens is working families and other businesses have to pick up the freight,” Wyden said.

“What I’m doing is using every single day, and have now for weeks, focused on trying to produce a bipartisan effort,” Wyden added. “We’ve talked about it with Sen. Hatch. Our staffs have been at it day after day now for weeks … and I’m encouraged.”

Wyden said that the environment in the Congress remains highly partisan, which has made it difficult to reach a bipartisan solution to the inversion problem, but not impossible.

“I think it’s important to have a bipartisan stop-gap measure to plug the inversion loophole, and I believe that is consistent to do in line with major tax reform,” Wyden said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to unveil his own proposal next week that is would further limit the amount of interest an inverted corporation can deduct from its taxable income.

In August, three Senate Democrats called on Obama to use executive action to address the issue.

Bridget Bowman and Katy O’Donnell contributed to this report.

 

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