April 30, 2009 |
President Obama's first budget, unveiled with great fanfare two months ago, started out like a plan that Robin Hood would love: He proposed taxing the wealthy to ease the burden on the middle class. But so far, Congress has not rushed to follow his lead. The House and Senate approved a $3.5-trillion federal budget outline Wednesday that embraces, in general terms, Obama's top priorities in healthcare, energy and education.
April 19, 2009 |
It's an ingenious plan, even elegant in a wonky way. To help fund healthcare for the estimated 47 million uninsured Americans, budget chief Peter Orszag has proposed changing how the nation's wealthiest claim income tax deductions. The top federal income tax rate for high earners is 35%, and when they claim deductions for mortgage interest, local taxes or charitable contributions, they can do so at that same 35% rate. A $1,000 contribution to a charity saves $350 in taxes, in other words.
March 27, 2009 |
President Obama wants to take money away from charities. Which is awesome. Only he doesn't go far enough. His proposal, which Republicans and Democrats both hate, would force rich people to deduct only 28% of their charitable donations, instead of 35%. This change would have two obvious disadvantages: It's boring and requires math. A simpler solution would be to eliminate everyone's tax break for donations. Now, I like charities.
March 25, 2009 |
In the face of opposition from Congress, President Obama on Tuesday vigorously defended his proposal to scale back two popular tax breaks by limiting the ability of upper-income taxpayers to deduct home mortgage interest and gifts to charities.
March 14, 2009 |
The Obama administration's budget threatens to cut a benefit many Americans view as practically a right -- the mortgage interest tax deduction -- and powerful real estate interests are fighting back. The move would affect only households earning $250,000 or more, but opponents say it could prolong the housing crisis by slowing already torpid home sales and deal another blow to home values ravaged by the market crash.
February 13, 2009 |
A proposed tax break for new-car buyers has been downsized by Congress. The compromise version of the ginormous economic stimulus bill includes a Senate-approved provision that would allow consumers to claim a federal income tax deduction for sales taxes and excise taxes paid on new vehicles. But the compromise worked out between House and Senate negotiators deletes another provision that senators had approved, which would have made interest on new-vehicle loans deductible as well.
January 25, 2009 |
What's worse than paying taxes? Getting caught in a tax scam. Every year at tax time, fraudsters come up with new variations on scams involving bogus refunds, fake audits and sure-fire methods to avoid paying or even filing taxes. Whatever the method, the basic aim is to separate you from your hard-earned cash. Some may say the Internal Revenue Service has the same goal, but there's a big difference -- if you lose money to a tax scam, you'll still owe your taxes.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 19, 2009 |
President-elect Barack Obama says he is open to new ideas about how to stimulate the economy. I heard him say it on TV. So here's an idea for cranking up cash registers while also helping to bail out California's virtually bankrupt state government. It's not a new idea by any stretch. It's an oldie, but one that makes sense to replay: Simply restore the pre-1986 law that allowed all Americans who itemize on federal income tax forms to deduct their sales taxes.
October 2, 2008 |
Hollywood would get a little unexpected boost from the proposed $700-billion bailout of the nation's financial system. The bill wending its way through Congress would provide tax breaks worth more than $470 million over the next decade for movie and TV producers that shoot in the U.S. That's not a lot of money, given that the average studio movie costs $106.6 million to make and market, but it could keep some low-budget productions -- and jobs -- from going offshore.
June 24, 2008 |
The Internal Revenue Service, citing the drain that high gasoline prices are having on people's finances, said Monday that it was raising the automobile mileage rate that businesses and others can claim as tax deductions. The agency said the optional standard rate to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles would rise to 58.5 cents a mile from 50.5 cents for the final six months of 2008.