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United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO)

Saturday April 26 marks World Intellectual Property (IP) Day.  Protecting intellectual property is an important mission of the federal government.  In fact, the Founding Fathers thought protecting intellectual property was important enough to include it in the Constitution.  IP plays an important role in daily commerce, not just in the United States, but also around the entire globe. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) supports IP, and has focused recently on two particular aspects, one dealing on the domestic side and another that lies overseas. The common factor that makes these issues of IP so important is how they impact taxpayers and economic activity and why IP is something that should be on the radar for everyone not just this week, but all year round. First, let’s take a look here in the US and in particular in Washington D.C. at what is happening regarding intellectual property. Right now, there is a debate that has been lingering in Congress regarding patent reform and more specifically how to combat ‘patent trolls’. Just a few weeks ago, TPA welcomed Tim Lee from the Center for Individual Freedom to discuss in detail why the issue of ‘patent trolls’ was something that was worthy of attention on the ‘Taxpayer Watch’ podcast. Lee emphasized that the real focus is on the litigation and how to reform the current rules that have been established within patent litigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently crafting a bill that may indeed attack the problems that the current patent litigation system contains. On the TPA podcast, Mr. Lee laid out that the rules seem to leave little responsibility on those bringing litigation forward, and that the reforms that are needed should ensure that both plaintiffs and defendants are operating on a level playing field in the judicial system with respect to patent litigation. This is a major sticking point in the negotiations within the Senate Judiciary Committee right now, and it is part of the reason that the bill has yet to move into markup phase.



04-21-2014 at 07:31 am - Joe Jansen - Posted in: Budget, Congress, Congress Watch, House, Joe Jansen, Spending, Spending Cuts, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment

A couple weeks ago the House of Representatives passed the Baseline Reform Act.  It then proceeded to consider the budget resolution for fiscal year 2015 and illustrate precisely why enactment of the Baseline Reform Act is necessary.  Annual budget forecasts are guided by a series of assumptions set forth in the law.  One of the assumptions is that spending on discretionary programs automatically will increase by the amount of inflation from year to year.  This means that from the very beginning of the process, the federal budget assumes increased spending.  It also changes the language that Members of Congress use when discussing the budget.  Members take credit for spending “reductions” when budgets actually increase and opponents of lower spending claim programs are being cut or gutted even though their funding is actually increasing.  The Baseline Reform Act ends the assumption of increased spending and forces Congress to determine spending amounts on each program based on merit and need, not inflation.When one listens to a budget debate, there is rarely clarity.  The exact same document either “cuts non-defense discretionary spending by $791 billion . . . slashes education funding” and “decimates the safety net programs” or, it actually “grows the federal budget by 3.5% annually.”  And, while it’s growing the budget by 3.5% annually, it is also cutting total funding by $5.1 trillion.  Confused yet?



04-18-2014 at 06:28 am - David Williams - Posted in: Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Taxes, Spending, David Williams, Congress, Bailout, Automobiles, General Motors (GM) - 0 Comment

Every Tax Day is a painful reminder of how all levels of government waste taxpayer dollars. News coverage of an April 15th press event with new General Motors CEO Mary Barra (read here and watch here) is a harsh reminder of the $10 billion taxpayers lost in the federal government bailout of “Government Motors.”  And now, the ongoing troubles with their safety recall of 1.6 millions vehicles and the lack of answers made available at a series of Congressional hearings only add insult to injury. There was much debate when the government bailed out GM back in 2009 and taxpayers were promised a return on the nearly $50 billion investment.  However, in late December 2013 the U.S. Treasury Department announced it had sold back its remaining shares of GM stock - at a loss of $10 billion.  As reported by USA Today, the now-departed CEO Dan Akerson said at the time that he did not think the automaker should repay the $10 billion. So $10 billion later, taxpayers also started the New Year to news that GM was recalling 1.6 million vehicles due to a safety issue that is connected to 13 deaths and another 31 injuries. We then learn that the company knew about the safety default and sat on it for nearly a decade.



04-17-2014 at 08:14 am - Ryan Ellis - Posted in: Americans for Tax Reform, Congress, Internal Revenue Service, Obamacare, Ryan Ellis, Taxes, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment
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(Ryan Ellis is the Tax Policy Director of Americans for Tax Reform, this post originally appeared on the
ATR website Wednesday, April 16, 2014) There has been the usual tax day-related glut of articles from liberal publications urging a federal takeover of the tax preparation business.  As always, the ultra-left wing blog Pro Publica took the lead, followed predictably by outlets such as SlateVox, and Tax Analysts, as well as respectable news outlets like Bloomberg View and Yahoo!. The basic argument is always the same: the IRS has all this information on you anyway, so wouldn't it just be easier and better if they simply prepared your taxes for you?  Wouldn't that be better than having to pay some rent-seeking middleman?  This flawed line of thinking fools many a reporter this time of year, but it's refuted pretty easily once you scratch beneath the surface.

Click 'read more' below to see the top seven reasons the IRS should not prepare your taxes for you



04-16-2014 at 07:34 am - David Williams - Posted in: David Williams, Government Accountability Office, Spending, Spending Cuts, Taxes, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment

Tax Day and the pain of filing and paying taxes has come and gone.  When Congress returns back to work next week (yes, they’re on another break) they will have quite a bit of work to do to do to ensure that next year’s Tax Day isn’t as painful.  Congress and the President have found numerous ways to spend tax dollars, it is now time to find ways to cut spending.  The good news is that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its fourth consecutive report on duplicative spending and cost saving recommendations that could save taxpayers billions of dollars. The report details 64 new actions to address concerns in 26 areas. The 2014 report notes that over the past four years, 123 actions have been addressed, 172 actions have been partially addressed, and 75 actions have not been addressed.Taxpayers should be both disappointed and also encouraged by the findings in the report.

Click 'read more' below to see highlights of potential savings from the GAO report.



angry wife
Find out what 'angry wives' have to do with taxpayer waste!


Taxpayers will reach the dreaded April 15th deadline to file their taxes tomorrow, so the Taxpayers Protection Alliance presents a new web video titled Top 10 Taxpayer Flops, Follies and Fiascos of 2014. This year’s list includes a National Institutes of Health study that says wives should calm down; a taxpayer-subsidized reality show for the Army; and the United States Postal Service paying a “futurist” named Faith Popcorn to give stamp advice.



Click Here to the see the video


04-11-2014 at 08:06 am - Michi Iljazi - Posted in: Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Taxes, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. John Thune, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Michi Iljazi, Internet tax, Congress - 0 Comment

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April 15th is fast approaching and TPA has been showcasing some of the worst examples of government waste over the last year with our Top 10 Taxpayer Flops, Follies, and Fisacos of video 2014 (watch here). There is another important issue that taxpayers need to be concerned about, Internet taxes, and specifically Internet access taxes. In 2013, TPA was excited to see the bipartisan Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act introduced in the House by Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D – Calif.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).  A bipartisan Senate version was introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). This issue is uniquely important because of the impact it has to everyone who uses the Internet.  With tax day approaching and millions of taxpayers filing their taxes online, Internet access taxes could be a double whammy on an already weary taxpayer. With the moratorium set to expire in November of this year, there is no excuse for any taxpayer to be taxed simply for filing their taxes online. With that in mind, and recognizing the continued and increasing importance the Internet plays in everybody’s daily lives, TPA joined with nearly 30 other groups in signing a letter urging strong support for both the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086) and the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (S. 1431), noting that “By establishing tax policies that will help keep access to the Internet affordable and Internet commerce free from multiple and discriminatory taxation, more and more citizens of all economic levels will be able to participate in today’s digital economy.”  The letter is bi-partisan, the support on Capitol Hill is bi-partisan, therefore this should be easy for Congress to pass immediately.

Click 'read more' below to read the full letter



angry wife
Find out what 'angry wives' have to do with taxpayer waste!


As taxpayers approach the dreaded April 15th deadline to file their taxes, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance presents a new web video titled Top 10 Taxpayer Flops, Follies and Fiascos of 2014. This year’s list includes a National Institutes of Health study that says wives should calm down; a taxpayer-subsidized reality show for the Army; and the United States Postal Service paying a “futurist” named Faith Popcorn to give stamp advice.



Click Here to the see the video


04-08-2014 at 03:32 pm - Michi Iljazi - Posted in: Congress, David Williams, Michi Iljazi, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Telecommunications - 0 Comment
Earlier this year, a deal between Time Warner and Comcast was announced that would provide for the two companies to join, the transaction has been a great deal of discussion not just in the television industry, but also amongst lawmakers in Washington, DC. As for any deal of this signifigance, there will be review and oversight by Congressional Committees with the proper jurisdiction. TPA understands that a process must play out for this type of transaction, but there must also be an allowance of commercial enterprises to conduct themselves as they see fit within full cooperation of legal guidelines and standards already in place. With that in mind, TPA joined with Americans for Tax Reform, American Commitment, Center for Individual Freedom, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Digital Liberty, Discovery Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, Institute for Policy Innovation, and National Taxpayers Union in sending these letters to Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate Judiciary committees expressing the view that this deal represents an opportunity for consumers to benefit, and there should be no reason for not allowing the free market to operate. 

Click 'read more' below to see the text of the letters


04-08-2014 at 06:59 am - Michi Iljazi - Posted in: Congress, Congressional compensation, Michi Iljazi, Rep. Jim Moran, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment

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There is a great deal of ridiculous legislation and spending that comes from the United States Congress on a regular basis, but there can also be ridiculous statements made by our elected officials and last week we had a real gem. Representative Jim Moran (D-Va.) is apparently spending his final months in Congress saying outrageous things and ignoring the facts, when you consider what he said about congressional compensation. Talking to Roll Call, Moran spoke about congressional pay while a bill appropriating salaries for members of Congress was being marked up. Moran’s comments reflect a clear distinction between the bubble that entrenched politicians live in, as opposed to the real world of working families who are struggling daily to make mortgage payments and keep the electricity on in their homes. In a 2013 report titled, “Money Well Spent? The Facts and Figures of Congressional Compensation,” the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) exposed congressional pay and benefits for what they really are, bloated and out of touch with reality.



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