Tag Archives: Taxes

WI to Exempt Some Small Retailers from Internet Sales Tax

Not only do I not like the tax increase, I thoroughly dislike that an unelected agency is making these arbitrary decisions instead of the legislature.

The Department of Revenue’s administrative rule to allow the state to begin collecting the sales tax on some online transactions will include an exemption for smaller retailers.

The DOR’s announcement yesterday is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for states to begin collecting the sales tax from online and remote sales involving retailers with no physical presence in their states.

That means retailers must have annual sales of at least $100,000 in Wisconsin or at least 200 transactions before having to collect the sales tax.

The Walker administration told WisPolitics.com on Monday that it planned to begin collecting the tax Oct. 1 and was in the process of notifying retailers.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Monday released a memo projecting the state could collect an additional $90 million in the current fiscal year if it began collecting the tax Oct. 1. It would then bring in an estimated $120 million annually.

Wisconsin politicians should reject tax increase on internet purchases

As you could have read yesterday in the Washington County Daily News, here is my column urging Wisconsin’s Republicans to reject a tax increase.

Thanks to a 1992 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that said that states could only collect a sales tax on businesses with a substantial presence in their state, consumers have been largely exempt from paying sales taxes for purchases made online. Those days may be coming to an end.

Last week the Supreme Court overturned its 1992 ruling. The new legal landscape means that states can now levy a sales tax on internet sales, but they are not required to do so. States like Illinois and California, with their self-inflicted derelict financial situations, are salivating over the opportunity to capture more tax revenue. What should Wisconsin do?

A report last year from the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that the imposition of Wisconsin’s sales tax on online purchases would result in between $123 million and $187 million in annual tax revenue for Wisconsin. The important thing to remember is that this projected tax revenue is not “found” money. It is additional money that would be extracted from the pockets of Wisconsinites by state government. It is not a tax on the online businesses who sell to Wisconsinites. It is a tax increase on Wisconsinites.

That is not to say that imposing a tax increase is necessarily a negative thing. There are some compelling reasons for states to impose a sales tax on internet purchases. The primary reason is for the cause of tax fairness. Wisconsinites pay the sales tax at brick-and-mortar stores without question or debate. The fact that those same Wisconsinites can buy products online without paying the sales tax gives online retailers a material advantage over the brick-and mortar stores. In the name of fairness, government should treat businesses equally regardless of their mode of delivering products.

The problem with that argument is that the unequal treatment of businesses is a consequence of a policy decision. The sales tax is not imposed on the businesses. The businesses are merely tasked as an agent of government to collect the tax. The consumers are paying the tax. The implementation of the sales tax whereby consumers must pay it at a physical retailer but are exempt from paying it at an online retailer is fair. Every consumer — the people actually paying the tax — is being treated equally in this regard.

It must also be acknowledged that the different sales tax treatment of brickand- mortar purchases and online purchases is an extremely small driver of the societal trend toward online purchases. The infinite selection, ease of browsing, competitive prices, easy shipping and the ability for consumers to sit on their couches in their skivvies while they shop are far more powerful disruptive forces than the sales tax. Furthermore, even as online purchases have soared in the past two decades, they still only represent about 10 percent of all retail purchases in America.

Given that the ruling by the court is still fresh, Wisconsin’s political leaders are still pondering the consequences and possibility of imposing the tax increase. Some of them are lusting after the money with an eye to spend it on their priorities. Gov. Scott Walker and other Republican leaders are floating the idea of imposing a new sales tax on internet purchases, but using it to offset state income taxes in accordance with a law that Republicans passed in 2013.

Such a use of new sales tax revenue would be laudable. By using sales tax revenue to offset income taxes, it would keep Wisconsin’s total tax burden static, but shift some of that burden to the broader population of retail consumers and off of the shoulders of income earners.

History tells us, however, that raising one tax to offset another never works over the long term. While Walker and legislative Republicans may set up such a tax offset initially, over time there will be different politicians with different priorities. Inevitably, some future politicians will begin to carve out a percentage of online sales tax revenue for some spending “priority” or “crisis.” Then that percentage will increase over time until the notion of a tax offset is all but forgotten except by crotchety curmudgeons who write columns.

Wisconsin’s Republican leaders should resist the temptation to tax online purchases and make sure the whole nation knows that Wisconsin is the place to live if you want to continue to make tax-free online purchases. The best tax is the one that is never imposed.

Wisconsin politicians consider tax increase on internet purchases

In my column this wee in the Washington County Daily News, I take a deeper dive into the issue of a potential sales tax on internet sales following the decision by the Supreme Court last week. Here’s a snippet, but pick up a copy of the Washington County Daily News to read the whole thing!

That is not to say that imposing a tax increase is necessarily a negative thing. There are some compelling reasons for states to impose a sales tax on internet purchases. The primary reason is for the cause of tax fairness. Wisconsinites pay the sales tax at brick-and-mortar stores without question or debate. The fact that those same Wisconsinites can buy products online without paying the sales tax gives online retailers a material advantage over the brick-and mortar stores. In the name of fairness, government should treat businesses equally regardless of their mode of delivering products.

Wisconsin Ponders Internet Sales Tax

Times’re a changin’.

Wisconsin could generate as much as $187 million in new tax revenue annually if it extends its sales tax to online retailers based in other states — enough to give about $84,000 to every Wisconsin school or make permanent this year’s one-time $100-per-child tax credit and back-to-school sales tax holiday.

However, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers have already signaled that additional funds from such taxation should be used for a different purpose: automatic reductions in state income tax rates.

[…]

On Thursday the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling, which did not split along ideological lines, overturned the 1992 decision and said states can tax internet sales.

The ruling doesn’t mean such a sales tax will begin immediately in Wisconsin as it will in many other states that have laws where the court decision automatically triggers a sales tax collection for online sales.

Walker’s office, the state Department of Revenue and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau are still reviewing the decision and declined to comment before completing the review.

So it’s unclear if new legislation is needed or whether the Walker administration can collect the tax from out-of-state companies through regulatory changes.

Walker and the Legislature enacted a law in 2013 requiring income tax rate cuts corresponding to any potential online sales tax revenue collections “as a result of any federal law to expand the state’s authority to require out-of-state retailers” to collect the tax. But that law doesn’t refer to U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

I agree with the decision of the Supreme Court. Whether or not a state can tax inline purchases should be up to the state. But then each state must decide if they want to do it or not.

There is not escaping the fact that taxing online purchases is a tax increase imposed on the people in the state who buy stuff online. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing since it spreads the tax burden a little wider and puts online and brick-and-mortar retailers on the same footing when it comes to the sales tax.

If Wisconsin law makers decide to impose a tax on internet purchases to reap the projected $187 million windfall and uses it to increase spending, it would be just another tax increase to fuel more government spending. If they impose the tax for the purposes of being more fair, or whatever, and use the tax revenue to offset other taxes while not increasing spending, I might be okay with that. I don’t trust their discipline to resist just blowing any additional tax revenue – especially in an election year.

Wisconsin Still Needs Broad-Based Tax Relief

Indeed. But we must cut the corresponding spending too.

“(S)ales tax experts and economists widely agree that there is little evidence of increased economic activity as a result of sales tax holidays,” according to a research report released last year by the Tax Foundation, which is currently touring Wisconsin along with the Badger Institute to gather insights from Wisconsin citizens concerned about the state’s tax code.

Applying that rationale here means that Wisconsin would be better off reducing permanently its high marginal income tax rates for all taxpayers, rather than dishing out small, one-time — and, therefore, relatively inconsequential — tax breaks to a limited group.

To be sure, beneficiaries of the child tax rebate and sales tax holiday won’t turn up their noses up at the short-term savings. But once the savings are gone, they’re gone, and the lasting value to the beneficiaries or the Wisconsin economy will be negligible at best.

If tax rates were already low (or nonexistent, as they are in nine income-tax-free states), targeted breaks might have some appeal. But that is clearly not the case in Wisconsin, whose individual income tax rates rank high in comparison to most of the rest of the country.

One hopes that these short-term tax breaks do not divert attention from the need for broader-based rate reductions. That’s where the focus should be. It is good policy and, as Gov. Walker says, “Good policy is always good politics.”

Special Meeting to Spend Money Tonight

I’m not sure why the West Bend School Board has to do all of these things with special meetings and not as a part of their regular order, but here it is:

May 7, 2018 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend School Board will hold a special meeting at 5:15 p.m. tonight, to approve spending $35,000 on a community-wide survey regarding Jackson Elementary School and the West Bend High Schools.

The Washington County Insider has a lot of background information and financial information.

I’ll remind the gentle reader that this is part of a predictable liberal playbook to con the taxpayers into passing a referendum. The school board is about to spend, and has already spent, tens of thousands of dollars hiring sham companies whose sole purpose is to get school referenda passed. In this case, the district doesn’t even have a superintendent. This is all on the school board.

Walker Proposes Tax Incentives to Other Paper Companies

Wouldn’t it be easier, at this point, to just lower taxes for everyone?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday suggested the state could extend its tax break offer to paper companies besides Kimberly-Clark if the opportunity to prevent job losses is “significant.”

Walker on Monday proposed increasing the tax breaks available to paper company Kimberly-Clark in an effort to prevent the company from shuttering two plants located in Neenah and Fox Crossing, resulting in the loss of 610 jobs from the Fox Valley region.

Under Walker’s proposal, the company could receive a tax incentive of 17 percent of its payroll — up from the 7 percent available under current law. The plan is modeled after the tax breaks offered to Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn, which will receive more than $3 billion in incentives from the state as it builds a plant in southeastern Wisconsin.

Americans see immediate impact from tax reform

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

Even the most optimistic of supporters of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” President Trump signed into law just before Christmas did not anticipate the immediate and substantial impact it would have in the lives of so many low income and middle class Americans. American businesses are racing to announce their plans for their tax savings and over two million Americans are already going to receive a substantial bonus thanks to tax reform.

There were two major thrusts of the Republican tax reform plan, but they rested on the same principle. That principle is that the quickest path to economic growth and prosperity for individual Americans is to allow them to keep more of their own money and spend it where they choose. This principle runs contrary to the totalitarian notion that has been popular in the past several years that a group of central planners should collect Americans’ wealth through forced taxation and redistribute it back into the economy as they see fit.

The first thrust of the tax reform plan was a reform of individual taxes to allow Americans to send less money to Washington. Individual tax rates were lowered, the standard deduction was raised, the Obamacare individual mandate was repealed, the child tax credit was increased and other changes were made to the tax laws with the goal of lowering the overall tax burden for most taxpayers.

The effect of these changes has yet to be seen. Americans are likely to see more take home pay beginning in February as the IRS adjusts withholding schedules to take less money out for the federal government. Some of the benefits of this part of the tax reform law will not be seen until 2019 when Americans file their federal taxes. As 2018 progresses, millions and millions of Americans will have a little more money in their pockets to spend on their priorities — not the priorities of politicians in Washington.

The second major thrust of the Republican tax reform plan was to lower taxes on American businesses. Corporate taxes have been lowered from the confiscatory maximum of 35 percent to a more average 21 percent. The new law also lowered taxes for other business entities like sole proprietorships and partnerships. The new law made modifications to how businesses depreciate capital investments and changed the United States to a territorial tax system to make it easier for businesses to move their foreign earnings back to our shores.

While many of the tax savings for businesses will also not be realized for a while, businesses are already announcing their plans to invest the savings in their employees, infrastructure and elsewhere. Americans for Tax Reform has been keeping a tally of the announcements. Here are a few examples:

 Aflac is increasing its 401(k) match from 50 percent to 100 percent and kicking $500 into every employee’s 401(k);

 U.S. Bancorp is giving a $1,000 bonus to 60,000 employees, raising their base wage to $15 an hour and is giving $150 million to charities;

 Southwest Airlines is giving a $1,000 bonus to all of its 55,000 employees and $5 million additional charitable donations;

 PNC is giving $1,000 bonuses to 47,500 employees, kicking in $1,500 to each employee’s pension accounts, raising their base wage to $15 an hour and giving $200 million to charities

 Nationwide Insurance is giving a $1,000 bonus to 29,000 employees and increasing 401(k) matching contributions for 33,000 employees;

 Fiat Chrysler is giving a $2,000 bonus to 60,000 employees and investing $1 billion in a factory in Michigan — creating 2,500 new jobs;

 Waste Management Inc. is giving $2,000 bonuses to 34,000 employees The list goes on and on. The reasons are quite simple. Businesses operate in a competitive environment and need to invest their profits into their employees and infrastructure in order to remain competitive. And contrary to the demonizing rhetoric of Democrats, most businesses are run by decent people who do want to improve the world around them.

As tens of millions of Americans see their wages increase, receive bonuses, and spend less on taxes thanks to the Republican’s tax reform law, they will invest that money into their own lives in a billion different ways. Some will spend a little more on their kids. Some will think about starting a business. Some will give a bit more to charity. Some will buy ammo. Some will blow it on lottery tickets and booze. The point is, however, that individual Americans will be making their own choices to benefit their own lives.

And come November, I suspect that many Americans will remember that not a single Democrat voted to allow Americans to keep more of their own money.

 

High Tax States Reacting to Federal Tax Reform

Heh.

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — In New Jersey and California, top Democratic officials want to let people make charitable contributions to the state instead of paying certain taxes. In Connecticut and New York, officials are exploring a switch from income taxes to new ones on payroll. A few governors have even called for tax cuts.

[…]

In high-tax states, officials have been focused on protecting taxpayers from the impact of a new $10,000 cap on deductions for paying state and local taxes. In California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, more than one-third of tax filers claim the state and local tax deduction on federal taxes; the average deduction in each state is over $15,000.

California state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate, introduced legislation this week that would allow people to make charitable donations to the state instead of paying income taxes. That would allow them to claim a charitable deduction on federal taxes.

[…]

Another Democrat, New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, announced a similar plan on Friday but said local governments also could implement it and apply it to property taxes.

If they drop income and property taxes and go to a voluntary donation system, then I’m all for it. It will be a great experiment to see how much money the people in those states really believe that they should be handing over to their state and local governments. If it is a “donation” that is required by law, then it’s just a tax by another name. Somehow, I don’t think these state elected leaders really want to make taxes voluntary. They know what would happen as well as I do.

“Typical family of four”

Heh.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration on Wednesday calculated that the typical family of four in Wisconsin will get a $2,508 tax cut under the Republican tax overhaul signed into law last week.

The analysis drew criticism from Democrats and others who said Walker’s Department of Revenue cherry-picked the most favorable numbers to cast the tax cut in the best light possible.

Walker’s analysis looked only at the impact on a typical family of four with two children eligible for an expanded child-care tax credit. He did not offer any numbers showing the impact on other families with more or fewer qualifying children, or on single filers or couples with no children.

Apparently Democrats think that the definition of a “typical family of four” should be expanded to include single people, families with a different number of kids, and and childless couples.

Letters to the Editor

This post is for my fellow Benders. The rest of y’all can talk amongst yourselves for a few minutes…

There are two really good and interesting letters to the editor in the Washington County Daily News today. The first is from Jim Geldreich, the Chairman of the Washington County Republican Party, who takes one of the local liberal columnists to task for his tired pro-tax rhetoric. Geldreich begins:

The most overused mantra of Democrats and liberal columnists is “tax breaks for the wealthy.”. We’ve heard this timeworn and uninspiring allegation since the GW Bush tax cuts of 2002. When an effective, fact-based argument cannot be put forth against Republican tax cuts, we’re told they’re “tax breaks for the wealthy” and nothing more. Therefore I’m not surprised this was the overriding theme of the majority of the last two columns by Daily News writer Al Rudnitzki. Instead of using his bi-monthly column space to educate the readers on the tax plan, he chose to demagogue the issue calling it the “Trump Tax Scam” and to take cheap shots at the Republican Party and its leadership.

Go read the whole thing.

The second letter is from Therese Sizer, who is a former West Bend School Board Member. Sizer resigned after the board passed a policy regarding board members and nepotism (as an aside, I thought her resignation was unnecessary under the policy, but she clearly thought differently). Sizer has some insightful commentary on the culture around the West Bend School Board that keeps driving good people, like the former superintendent, away. She concludes:

Let’s vow to look beyond social media gossip as our news source. Let us demand that media reports be fair, unbiased and well researched. Finally, let’s consider that real issues only find real answers through collaboration and respect. Local government is about transparency and accountability. But those can’t be just words used to whip each other. They must mean something about community spirit, collaboration and responsibility. I respectfully disagree with recently published opinions that encourage us to support one group of school board members over another. Partisanship and bullying have no place in a board room.

Go read that whole letter too.

Boeing to Invest in Employees and Charities with Tax Savings

More!

Shortly after Republicans officially passed their new tax plan, Boeing made an announcement stating that it will invest $300 million in employee-related and charitable causes.

Of the total amount, one-third will go to workforce development for things like ongoing training and education. Another third will be reserved for “workplace of the future” infrastructure improvements. The last $100 million will be invested in charities within Boeing’s focus areas such as education and support for veterans.

Comcast to Issue Bonuses After Tax Reform

Another!

Citing “the passage of tax reform and the FCC’s action on broadband” (aka the Dec. 14 vote to repeal net neutrality), Comcast chief Brian Roberts announced $1,000 bonuses would go to more than 100,000 front-line and non-executive employees.

My Tax Cut

According to CNN’s calculator. How about you?

taxcut

House Passes Tax Bill

Huzzah, huzzah.

The House of Representatives approved the final version of the first overhaul of the U.S tax code in more than thirty years, handing President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans their most significant legislative victory of 2017.

The bill passed along sharp partisan lines, 227 – 203, with 12 House GOP members opposing the legislation, and no Democrats voting for it.

The Senate is expected to clear the bill later on Tuesday, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding over the vote. The measure then heads to the president’s desk for his signature before the Christmas holiday making good on the Republican party’s promise to enact tax relief by the end of the year.

GOP Reaches Compromise on Tax Bill

So far, so good.

House and Senate Republican leaders have reached an agreement in principle that would lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent beginning in 2018, several people briefed on the plan said, a central component of the $1.5 trillion tax plan they hope to vote into law by next week.

The agreement would also lower the top tax rate for families and individuals from 39.6 percent to at least 37 percent, a change that would deliver a major tax cut for upper-income households.

I thought that the Moore defeat would raise the fear of Senate Republican defections would push the House to just pass the Senate version. I’m pleasantly surprised that not only does it look like the caucus is hanging together, but that what we know of the compromise looks better than expected.

“It makes me infuriated.”

I feel the same way every time the government increases my taxes too.

“I took a risk” to enter graduate school, Tischauser said. “Now they want to take more money out of the measly salary I take home. It makes me infuriated.”

But liberals call me selfish when I want to keep more of the money I earn instead of surrendering it in taxes.

Grad Students Whine About Real World Taxes

Yep.

Li, like other UW-Madison grad students, makes $18,000 per year. But under the bill, different versions of which passed the House and the Senate, she’d be taxed as if she makes roughly $50,000.

This is because her tuition, which is fully funded, would be taxed as if it was additional income under the bill. It’s a policy change that would dramatically affect “what type of person can go to grad school,” according to Don Moynihan, the director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs.

“When you’re a graduate student, you get paid a small amount of money … but you get the benefit that your tuition is paid,” Moynihan said, speaking as part of a panel alongside Li. “[If the provision becomes law], only the fairly wealthy will be able to afford to take this on.”

Li’s story echoes those of many graduate students around the country who have come out in opposition to the controversial tax. Li acknowledged that although her ability to pay for graduate school would be jeopardized under the bill, her classmates who have spouses and families would be even more affected.

Um, no… she won’t be “taxed as if she makes roughly $50,000.” She does make roughly $50,000 and will be taxed accordingly. The fact that over half of her income is paid in the form of tuition relief is immaterial. She is receiving something of value in exchange for her work. That is compensation. Here’s a handy definition:

(a) The term compensation means any form of payment made to an individual for services rendered as an employee for anemployerservices performed as an employee representative; and any separation or subsistence allowance paid under any benefit schedule provided in conformance with title VII of the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 and any termination allowance paid under section 702 of that ActCompensation may be paid as money, a commodity, a service or a privilege.

So what these graduate students are complaining about is the fact that they have been receiving tax-free compensation for years and now it might be taxed like everyone else’s compensation. Boo hoo.

Senate Passes Tax Reform Bill

Good. On to reconciliation.

Presiding over the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence announced the 51-49 vote to applause from Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the only lawmaker to cross party lines, joining the Democrats in opposition. The measure focuses its tax reductions on businesses and higher-earning individuals, gives more modest breaks to others and offers the boldest rewrite of the nation’s tax system since 1986.

McCain Will Support Tax Plan

Great!

(CNN)Sen. John McCain said Thursday he will support Senate Republicans’ tax plan, a major sign of progress for GOP leaders as the party barrels toward a vote on their overhaul of the US tax system by the end of the week.

McCain, who had remained a wild card and had kept his position on the tax bill unclear even from leadership, said that he came to support the legislation because he believed it had gone through committee and would improve the economic outcome of Americans.