Breaking: Top IRS official to plead the Fifth
There’s another twist in the ongoing scandal revolving around Internal Revenue Service staff improperly screening for conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status.
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS who was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight committee tomorrow, will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions.
From a letter her lawyer sent to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course.”
Stay tuned to the ever-evolving IRS mess at Politics Now.
Photo: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg
Shakespeare: Profiteer and tax dodger?
British researchers are now claiming that the most famous of all playwrights, William Shakespeare, was repeatedly fined for illegally hoarding grain so that he could hike up the prices during food shortages and even threatened jail for avoiding taxes.
From the report from researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales:
“By combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. His profits — minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion — meant he had a working life of just 24 years.”
$60,000 of taxpayer funds at work
The video above, made by the Internal Revenue Service in 2010, has stirred up Congressional condemnation. Aired during a training a leadership conference three years ago, the video resurfaced last week, prompting the IRS to apologize and assert that such a ridiculous expenditure won’t happen again.
But at least it’s better than “Star Trek: Nemesis.”
From the IRS apology:
“The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars. There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources.”
A tale of two California tax plans: In a state where the GOP has all but disappeared from decision-making, this is what constitutes a debate today — two leading liberals arguing over how best to raise taxes.
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to reporters about his tax initiative on March 20. Molly Munger, right, is pursuing a rival initiative for the November ballot seeking to raise taxes. credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Pres
Strong majority backs Jerry Brown’s tax-hike initiative: 64% of those surveyed said they supported the measure that the governor hopes to place on the November ballot. It would hike the sales tax and levies on upper incomes to help raise money for schools and balance the state’s budget.
Joining the battle over California taxes, a group of billionaires and political insiders say they will place a $10-billion tax increase on the November 2012 ballot.
The Think Long Committee, which includes Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, former governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad, says its proposal would provide $5 billion more for public schools every year and billions for public universities and local governments.
Although the group has prepared a report outlining its proposals, it has not taken the preliminary steps needed to place the ideas before voters. Members have not filed any potential initiatives with the state attorney general’s office or created a campaign committee to finance such an effort. A spokesman for Think Long said those moves would come in the next couple of weeks.
The group’s plan is based on a reshuffling of California’s tax system. It would lower the state’s personal income and sales tax rates and create a new levy of more than 5% on services that are not currently taxed, such as legal work or accounting.
Think Long spokesman Nathan Gardels said members want to “maintain California’s progressive tax system.” Under their proposal, families earning up to $45,000 a year would pay no state income tax, while those making up to $95,000 annually would pay 2%. This would lower some taxpayers’ obligations significantly.
The group also wants to double the current exemption for homeowners and renters on their state income tax and eliminate most other California income tax credits.
test reblogged from inothernews
“Buffett Rule” a bust in California: The state’s over-reliance on taxing the rich has been a disaster during bad times, says political columnist George Skelton.
“The real people who don’t get taxed enough in California are the middle-income folks,” says Steve Levy, director of the left-leaning Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.
To make the tax system less volatile, he says, “that’s where you’d have to go. You’d have to get it from the people making $50,000 $100,000. And I’m not unalterably opposed to that.”
But Levy rejects the notion that the low- and middle-wage earners don’t pay a lot already. Other taxes — especially the sales tax — are regressive and hit the poor the hardest, he says.
This is a really, really interesting read, no matter your political inclination (or maybe even because of it). What do you think?
Photo: Billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett’s rule is that he shouldn’t be paying a lower income tax rate than his secretary or any middle-class taxpayer.
Photo credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg