June 2, 2016 |
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is launching a pilot program to intensify its examination of sales and use tax returns, the agency said Tuesday. The new unit in Harrisburg will conduct what the revenue department called "remote examinations" of business activities by comparing information reported to the state with other sources, such as the IRS, other state agencies, and third parties. If discrepencies are found, the department will send letters asking for an explanation, it said.
May 27, 2016
SOMETHING must be done to cut the tangled mess of knots that has paralyzed state government over spending and taxation. Everyone knows how bad it has been, with Gov. Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature entangled in ceaseless rounds of proposals and counterproposals. It stymied passage of a state budget last year, resulting in real pain for local governments and school districts that depend on a steady flow of state subsidies. The governor, at least, is making soothing noises about budget negotiations this year, but there is no reason to think real progress will be made.
May 20, 2016 |
MAJOR RESISTANCE in the seven other countries proposing or adopting taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks has come from the beverage industry. However, it's only in the United States where a prominent progressive voice such as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has offered strident opposition. In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, France and Mexico, progressives have promoted these taxes. The beverage industry and the few progressives who align with it call these taxes "regressive," warning that they that hurt the poor.
May 10, 2016
ISSUE | SODA TAX Countering columnist's critique of levy The Kenney administration would like to address several points in Joel Naroff's column about the proposed 3-cents-an-ounce sugary-beverage tax ("Pre-K quandary," May 1): The Department of Revenue looked at 13 studies of the effect of increased price on demand, or elasticity; the range was from -.8 to -1.21, so we decided on the average, -1 (a 1 percent price increase would result in a 1 percent drop in demand). Council members and reporters have been briefed on this methodology.
April 15, 2016 |
The city's commission on universal pre-K voted Wednesday to support a 3-cents-an-ounce tax on sugary drinks to fund education for 3- and 4-year-olds, as part of a final report due to the mayor Friday. The vote serves as an endorsement of the very tax Mayor Kenney has proposed for the same purpose. While the vote was expected - some commission members were appointed by Kenney, and most are advocates of early childhood education - it was not easy or unanimous. The three-hour meeting included spirited, and at times tense, debate over whether it was the commission's role to recommend a sole funding stream.
March 14, 2016
ISSUE | SODA TAX Don't choke on higher prices - go to Jersey Mayor Kenney is proposing to tax distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages at 3 cents per ounce. If the full amount is passed along to consumers, the tax on a 12-pack of soda would be a whopping $4.32. Grocery shopping in Philadelphia is about to get really expensive. For Philadelphians worried about their grocery bills going up: New Jersey is open for business. We're only a short drive away, and you can buy your favorite beverages here for half the cost.
February 10, 2016
By Ev Ehrlich Should there be a sales tax on Internet access? Since 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) has prohibited state and local government taxation of Internet access. And in an effort to protect consumers and business owners alike, Congress is considering making ITFA permanent. But, as usual, there are problems. Access to the Internet is an American necessity. Without it, children can't keep up with schoolwork, families can't keep in touch with loved ones, and businesses both large and small can't compete.
December 18, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - In a gambit that will either resolve Pennsylvania's budget stalemate or dash hopes for a compromise deal, House Republican leaders on Wednesday put a 24-hour deadline on a new push to support the $30.8 billion spending plan touted by Gov. Wolf and the Senate. Emerging from a closed-door meeting with Wolf, lawmakers said a vote on a tax plan - the budget's central pillar - could come Thursday. If it passes, a final budget package could land on Wolf's desk by the weekend. Left unspecified was which taxes legislators will be asked to impose or raise - a key factor in determining if the plan has the votes to pass.
December 4, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - The questions varied. The answers - such as they were - rarely did. How close is a final agreement? "We have to be close. We were working through this past weekend and we'll continue to work. . . . We need a budget soon. " Why won't it be finished this week? "We need a budget soon. . . . All of us, it's fair to say, are working as hard as we can to make this happen as quickly as possible. " What are the sticking points? "I'm not sure there's any sticking point.
November 30, 2015
ISSUE | PA. BUDGET STALEMATE Time for a mediator Because there appears to be no discernible process working in the Pennsylvania budget negotiations, I sent a letter on Nov. 23 to Gov. Wolf, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody urging them to use a mediator. Given that negotiations have extended over the past five months and continue today, the assistance of a mediator is warranted. That does not mean I am unappreciative of the negotiators' time and effort.