February 12, 2013
For the first time since Election Day, President Obama is on the defensive. That's because on March 1, automatic spending cuts ("sequestration") go into effect - $1.2 trillion over 10 years, half from domestic (discretionary) programs, half from defense. The idea had been proposed and promoted by the White House during the July 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations. The political calculation was that such draconian defense cuts would drive the GOP to offer concessions. It backfired.
February 8, 2013 |
HARRISBURG - Tax or no tax? That was the parlor game playing out in some corners of the Capitol on Wednesday, one day after Gov. Corbett outlined his plan for raising nearly $2 billion to pay for long-overdue transportation projects. In his budget address, Corbett asked the General Assembly to begin a five-year phaseout of what he called "an artificial and outdated cap" on the tax paid by oil and gas companies on the wholesale price of gasoline. With the specter of the "no tax" pledge signed by Corbett and two dozen state lawmakers hanging over the debate, the governor was emphatic: "This is not a new tax, nor am I proposing to increase the rate of the existing tax. " Others were equally unequivocal that lifting the cap - which analysts say will likely mean a nickel-a-gallon increase at the pumps annually over five years - constituted a tax hike.
January 15, 2013 |
The Philadelphia delegation in the state House of Representatives plans to unveil a package of four bills Tuesday that would give the city new authority to assess, collect and provide relief from property taxes. The bills are designed to ease the city's anticipated switch this spring to a new property tax system based on the market value of property. The new system - billed as a measurably fair replacement for one rife with inaccurate data and prone to political manipulation - will nonetheless have a seismic impact on the tax landscape.
December 3, 2012
JUST WHEN WE had finally managed to avoid thinking about the giant headache of overhauling the city's property-tax system, Pew's Philadelphia Initiative issued a report last week that dragged us back to reality. As you may recall, City Council and the Nutter administration spent months earlier this year not passing Actual Value Initiative. AVI would reassess every property in the city and start taxing that property at its full value. Council debated the issue as much as it could in the absence of the actual reassessment numbers, which the Nutter administration had promised and then didn't deliver on. So on the brink of a fix that has been in the making for at least a decade, AVI was tabled.
November 26, 2012 |
For a generation, it has been Republican orthodoxy: No tax hikes. Period. And, if they knew what was good for them, GOP candidates for Congress, governor, or president, would as a matter of course publicly sign conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist's pledge to eschew any tax increase, even by closing loopholes or tweaking the code. Norquist, the enforcer of the true faith, stores the signed pledges in a vault in the Washington offices of his advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, and he has often threatened primary challenges for those who break their word.
September 27, 2012
By Robert Maranto President Obama gave a great speech accepting the Democratic Party nomination speech for reelection, so good I could vote for him. And then I thought of my 8-year-old daughter. I thought about her future. I promised her that I would vote against almost all federal incumbents, so on Nov. 6 I'll vote against both Obama and my perfectly decent Republican U.S. House member. Here's why. Each April more than 16,000 Americans are assaulted by loved ones driven to temporary insanity by our maddeningly complex tax code.
September 18, 2012
T HE DAILY NEWS People's Editorial Board is a group of nine citizens who meet every month to discuss and weigh in on the big issues facing the city. ( philly.com/philly/blogs/ peb ) This month, the board tackled business tax reform . We, the People's Editorial Board, were shocked to learn that if you are a local small business, you could be more heavily taxed by the city of Philadelphia than big out-of-state companies. We should amend that: Many of us were shocked, but some of us, who actually own and operate small businesses in the city, were not completely surprised, since we have been paying those taxes for a while.
September 9, 2012 |
Although the real estate market is showing signs of stabilizing, the housing industry has lobbied both political parties to ensure that they are committed to a full recovery. And, as they have for almost a century, the Republican and Democratic platforms for 2012 include housing-policy statements. Over the years, the planks in these party platforms have been as specific or as vague as the political climate warranted. In 1992, for example, as the country struggled with a recession and a housing downturn, President George H.W. Bush, seeking a second term, proposed a tax credit for first-time buyers of new homes, though the legislation never became law. Bush's Democratic opponent, Bill Clinton, promised to expand the homeownership rate by cutting costs, making financing easier, and removing barriers to low- and moderate-income buyers.
August 12, 2012
Just imagine it - taxing an American athlete's gold medal! Why, it's almost like taxing Mom, apple pie, home ownership, and monogamy. Sure, a hard-bitten pragmatist might point out that moms, apple pies, home ownership, and monogamy are frequently if not usually subject to taxes in the United States. But apparently no amount of pragmatism is getting in the way of the drive to pass a tax break for our Olympic medalists. Last month, the group Americans for Tax Reform pointed out that Olympic medals and their accompanying cash honoraria - $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, $10,000 for bronze - can (like most other forms of income)
July 6, 2012 |
Philadelphia City Council members took a pass this year on Mayor Nutter's politically risky plan to tear down a broken property-tax system and start over, but they pledged - in writing, no less - to install his Actual Value Initiative (AVI) next year. Absolutely. For sure. You can count on it. Right? "I have serious doubts AVI will ever be enacted," said City Controller Alan Butkovitz. "Look at what just happened. When City Council got to the precipice and saw all the consequences, they recoiled.