POLITICO's Morning Tax, presented by Intuit Tax and Financial Center: Take note, Republicans — Is Tr

By Brian Faler and Colin Wilhelm | 04/14/2017 10:03 AM EDT
With help from Aaron Lorenzo and Kaitlyn Burton REPUBLICANS, BEWARE: A new poll out today shows most Americans believe corporations and the wealthy don't pay enough in taxes. Sixty-two percent said they are bothered "a lot" by the sense that corporations don't pay their fair share, the Pew Research Center survey shows. Sixty percent say the rich don't pay enough. Of course, Republicans' tax reform plans would slash the taxes paid by the well-to-do and big companies. A smaller share of Americans reported concern with the code's complexity, with 43 percent saying that bothered them "a lot." Twenty-seven percent said they were irked by how much they personally pay in taxes, and 20 percent said they were bothered "a lot" by a belief that the poor don't pay enough. Not surprisingly, there were some big partisan splits within those numbers. Democrats are much more likely to take issue with corporations' tax burdens (75 percent vs. 44 percent) with a similar split on taxes paid by the rich. Republicans are more likely to complain about how much they personally pay (35 percent vs. 21 percent), the survey found. Also worth noting: 42 percent said they believe the tax system is "very fair" or "moderately fair." TRUMP TAKING TOO LONG ON TAX REFORM? There are growing complaints that the administration is taking too long to develop its new plan to overhaul the tax code. "What is their product?" asked Larry Kudlow, who helped develop the Trump campaign's tax plan, which is now being rewritten. "It doesn't make any sense to me," he told POLITICO's Alex Isenstadt and Madeline Conway. "I'm not giving up hope. But it's looking very shaky." Veteran tax lobbyist Ken Kies issued a similar warning. "First-term presidents have a window of opportunity to do big things, but it doesn't stay open forever," Kies told Quartz. He noted that George W. Bush pushed through his first-year tax cuts by June and Ronald Reagan had his in hand by August 1981. IT'S FRIDAY! Bernie will be back next week. Send him your tips! He's at bbecker@politico.com. The rest of us can be found at bfaler@politico.com, teckert@politico.com, alorenzo@politico.com, cwilhelm@politico.com. We're also Twittering at @berniebecker3, @tobyeckert, @brian_faler, @colinwilhelm, @AaronELorenzo, @POLITICOPro and @Morning_Tax. WHO HAS TRUMP'S EAR? The Washington Post looked at the rise of National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and the consternation that's causing some conservatives. "From a pure political perspective, I do not know if the White House appreciates how Gary Cohn is a liability with the Republican and conservative base, as well as the Republican Congress," strategist Sam Nunberg told the Post. POLITICO's Josh Dawsey and Ben White reported on the corporate chieftains advising President Donald Trump, and this tidbit also caught our eye: "Several of the executives said Trump and his aides had closely read their briefing papers, and they were far more impressed with the president than with Speaker Paul Ryan, who seemed to ramble on tax policy. One person familiar with their meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was brief, and he 'basically just told us that the border adjustment tax was dead.'" TAX SEASON - THE BIG MYSTERY THIS TAX SEASON ... is why are tax returns down? Many are scratching their heads at IRS figures showing the number of filings so far this year is off by 3.6 percent. That may not sound like a lot but it translates to almost 4 million fewer returns than the same time last year, and the decline comes even as the unemployment rate has improved (4.5 percent last month vs. 5 percent) so more people should have income on which to owe taxes. There are a number of theories floating around about what may be going on. The numbers might reflect improved efforts to fight fraud. Some wonder if people are feeling emboldened by Trump to thumb their noses at the tax man. Or maybe people are just procrastinating more than usual, and there will soon be a big spike in filings? No one really knows, and the IRS hasn't commented publicly. - Why April 15 anyway? Tax historian Joseph Thorndike looks at why Tax Day usually falls on the 15th, and why it used to be March 15 (and, before that, March 1). This year, of course, Tax Day is April 18, as The Associated Press reminds us. - Scientific American says Tax Day should be earlier in the year: "The shorter the deadline, the more motivated people are to meet it." - Speaking of deadlines: About 1 million people are still due refunds from 2013 - and they only have until Tuesday to file to collect them, the IRS says. After that, they become property of Uncle Sam. ** A message from Intuit Tax and Financial Center: Today, more than half of all children will spend time in a non-traditional family structure, making tax season difficult. Simplifying the convoluted and confusing definitions of dependent would enable average taxpayers to more easily understand their eligibility for deductions and credits. More: bit.ly/2pdq6Av ** SPEAKING OF THE IRS: A court has ordered the IRS to release documents in a suit brought by a group called True the Vote over the agency's handling of conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status, our Colin Wilhelm reports. "After four years of obstruction, TTV will finally be able to find out how the IRS targeting scheme was put together," said an attorney for the group. STATE NEWS - PAYING TAXES IN DETROIT IS OPTIONAL? Bloomberg News looks at Detroit's efforts to turn around its abysmal tax-compliance record. Nearly half of taxpayers failed to submit their 2014 returns by the following year, the wire service says, and the city has experimented with different ways to prod people to pay. It turns out threats work better than appeals to their civic duty. NEW JERSEY'S ARBITRARY TAX CODE: "Marshmallows are taxed; marshmallow fluff is not. Baby shampoo is taxed; baby wipes are not. Even clothing, famously tax-free in New Jersey, isn't straightforward: soccer cleats are taxed; tennis shoes are not." the Asbury Park Press reports. INTERNATIONAL UPDATE - VATS HAVE FRAUD PROBLEMS TOO: The European Commission will propose major changes to Europe's VAT rules to crack down on fraudsters, Bloomberg BNA reports. A big problem: "missing trader fraud," where "merchants collect VAT and then disappear." - Germany approves first subsidy-free wind park, The Associated Press reports. - Taxes are too damn high, economists tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Bloomberg News. - Sweden slashed the tax rate on electricity by 97 percent in a bid to attract data-center business, Quartz reports. QUICK LINKS: - The National Retail Federation has a new anti-border adjustment tax ad. - A pair of House tax writers have introduced legislation to promote employee equity in S corporations. - HUD Secretary Ben Carson praises the low-income housing tax credit. - Why are tax forms so poorly designed? - Tax Foundation on how much states rely on property taxes. - Slate's Jordan Weissman on Trump's Fox Business interview. DID YOU KNOW? The White House was also once known as the "President's Palace." ** A message from Intuit Tax and Financial Center: For much of our history, Americans lived in family units consisting of two parents, married to each other, with one or more dependent children all living together under the same roof. Today, a lot has changed, including the makeup of the typical American family. In fact, more than half of all children today will spend some time growing up in a non-traditional family structure, making tax season difficult. At Intuit, we have long advocated for tax simplification. The tax code should be simple enough so average taxpayers can easily understand their eligibility for deductions and credits. This sort of simplification would empower taxpayers to better understand these tax benefits, reduce improper payments, and promote financial literacy for millions of Americans. Learn more: bit.ly/2pdq6Av ** To view online:
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