January 23, 2015
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This article originally appeard in The Daily Caller on January 13, 2015
The November midterm elections are in the rearview mirror and 2015 has begun with a bang, with battles on Capitol Hill taking shape on a variety of agenda items. The new Republican Senate and the emboldened Republican House have a great deal of issues on the table to be dealt with this year, but one in particular could be a major victory for taxpayers: Internet taxes. Last year was mainly filled with good news for taxpayers on the Internet tax front, but the victories were temporary, reinforcing the need for permanent solutions to ensure stability for millions of American taxpayers, consumers, and businesses that use the Internet on a regular basis. The moratorium on Internet access taxes continues to be a temporary barrier between Internet users and a flood of new taxes. The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) of 1998 was the first real protection for Internet users against taxes for accessing broadband services, created with the goal of ensuring innovation and commerce through a vibrant Internet.
January 19, 2015
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On Tuesday night, the President will be giving his sixth State of the Union address to Congress and the country. After you get past all the pomp and circumstance of his arrival on Capitol Hill and shaking the hands of members of Congress, President Obama will launch into his policy agenda for the next year. The speech will not only be a preview for next year, but also be a peek into what his priorities will be and how he intends to deal with the new Republican majority in the Senate and increased Republican majority in the House. There will be opportunities for the President to reach out to the Congress to pass much-needed reform, but there will also be differences. Besides listening for buzzwords like “investment” which really means more spending, TPA will be listening very intently to the whole speech, but there will be a few issues that taxpayers should especially be listening for when President Obama speaks to the nation tomorrow night.
December 2, 2014
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The latest example of President Obama’s reliance on rhetoric over substance was in full view earlier last month after Republicans reclaimed control of the Senate in the midterm elections. The President tried to use language to soften up the American electorate by speaking to the fact that, unlike the last six years, he has plans for Democrats and Republicans to work together during his last two years in office. He focused on two issues—tax reform and infrastructure improvement—precisely because they are the only pressing issues around which there is broad agreement that changes must be enacted. But, the President has fallen short on a solution for both tax reform and infrastructure by tying the two issues together. He noted, “Traditionally both parties have been for creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure — our roads, bridges, ports, waterways…I think we can hone in on a way to pay for it, through tax reform that closes loopholes and makes it more attractive for companies to create jobs here in the United States.” His comments went on to suggest that he favors closing the gaps in the in the Highway Trust Fund with revenues from a corporate tax holiday. A corporate tax holiday, or repatriation, would allow companies to bring profits made overseas back to the United States at a reduced tax rate. This gimmick would serve to plug a temporary hole but fix none of the underlying structural issues with our tax code. With both Republicans and Democrats seemingly willing to work together, an opportunity like tax reform should not be so limited in scope.
December 1, 2014
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Today is “Cyber Monday,” the busiest online shopping day of the season. And, with millions of Americans grabbing as many deals as they can from their favorite websites, there’s no better time to remind elected officials that the time is now to permanently extend the moratorium on internet access taxes; and to tell lawmakers that an Internet sales tax has no place in an ever-expanding online economy. The total tally for online shopping won’t be know for a few days, but Cyber Monday will certainly bring in a great deal of online sales to many businesses. Lawmakers should look at last year’s numbers as their guide as to why the Internet should remain free of taxes. According to data obtained shortly after last year’s Cyber Monday (December 2, 2013) online sales totaled more than $2 billion and shoppers were going online to buy with more than just a computer, according to USA Today.
November 20, 2014
(Will Rinehart is the Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at American Action Forum, this post originally appeared on the AAF website Wednesday, November 18, 2014) Under proposed changes currently being circulated by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Wheeler the E-rate program is set to expand nearly 123 percent from 2008 levels. The program, which provides funds to schools and libraries for telecommunications services, has been the target of reform for years due to its onerous requirements. Instead of streamlining the process and ensuring that the neediest schools receive assistance, the new plan merely expands the program without the overdue reforms. E-rate is the name given to the one part of the Universal Service Fund (USF). The fund was set up in the wake of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and now has four major programs to promote access to various telecommunications services: a program for rural and high-cost areas; low income consumers; rural health care facilities; and schools and libraries. As consumers have moved away from landline telephone services and adopted wireless phones and broadband connections, the fund has come under financial pressures. Funding caps were set on E-rate at $2.25 billion in 1997, but was not indexed for inflation until late 2010. Since then, inflation adjustments have shifted the cap to $2.4 billion. Although the Chairman claims that 60 percent of “$1.5 billion cap increase represents simply a ‘catch up’ of the lost inflation adjustment from 1997 to 2010,” the cap didn’t become an issue until 2010 because the fund never reached the threshold.» Read More
November 10, 2014
National Governors Association 2014 Winter Meeting
Stephen Adkins is a research fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. Which governors do best at protecting taxpayers’ money and controlling state spending? That’s the questions answered by the Cato Institute’s 12th biennial “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.” Residents of North Carolina, Kansas, Maine, and Indiana are in good hands, according to the report card. The study finds that, while some state executives responded to widespread upticks in state revenues by lowering tax burdens on their constituents, others, predictably, have decided to go on spending sprees. » Read More
October 20, 2014
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The evolution of the cellular phone has come a long way, so much so that what consumers use their phones for has become a crucial part of how many of us go about our daily lives. Unfortunately with that innovation and advancement in technology that has taken us from the flip phones of yesterday to the smartphones of today, comes a heavy tax burden from federal and state government. Regardless of what state someone resides in, they’re paying excessive taxes for something that has become commonplace in their life. On October 8, the Tax Foundation released a study that examines wireless tax rates for each of the fifty states. Joseph Henchman of The Tax Foundation and Economist Scott Mackey, authors of Wireless Taxation in the United States 2014, give plenty of information to sift through in this report.
UN Health Conference Bans Media Day After Kicking Out Public and Then Passes Massive Global Tobacco Tax in SecretDrew Johnson on
October 14, 2014
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Drew Johnson is a Senior Fellow with The Taxpayers Protection Alliance
After booting the public from its meetings on Monday, the World Health Organization’s tobacco control convention ramped up its assault on transparency on Tuesday when the press was also banned from the Moscow conference. Shortly after the media was removed from the convention, the United Nations’ health agency secretly passed the world’s first ever global tax – an outrageous scheme requiring nearly 180 countries to apply a minimum tax on tobacco products. All indications were that the global tobacco tax would not pass until Thursday or Friday, if at all. Without the public and the media there to watch, delegates ratified the tax almost immediately. When I, and a handful of other accredited journalists, showed up for a Tuesday morning press briefing, we were told that the briefing was cancelled and the press was no longer allowed to attend any convention events at all. The rest of the convention, which cost world taxpayers nearly $20 million, will now take place in secret, behind closed doors. It’s a chilling and disturbing attack on the freedom of the press – especially given the impact decisions made at the convention will have on people throughout the world.
October 13, 2014
A version of this op-ed ran in The Washington Times
A tobacco reduction conference hosted by the World Health Organization, the United Nation’s public health agency, took a hostile and alarming turn on Monday when the public was kicked out of the meeting. The tyrannical attack on the principles of transparency and accountability took place when delegates from more than 175 countries who are part of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a UN global anti-tobacco treaty, agreed unanimously to boot spectators. Delegates then voted to ban the public from the Moscow conference center where the event is taking place for the duration of the week-long meeting.» Read More
October 10, 2014
Beginning next week in Moscow, the World Health Organization’s COP6 (the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties) will be held in Moscow, Russian Federation from October 13-18. There are many issues that will be on the agenda for this international event, but there are some issues in particular that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will be keeping a close watch on to see what develops out of the meeting. One issue in particular is taxation, as there are those who may be seeking to introduce new taxes or have a ‘harmonizing’ of tax rates beyond sovereign borders. Keeping that in mind, TPA signed onto an International Coalition Letter expressing direct opposition to any of those types of proposals that may come from the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
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Click 'read more' below to read the full letter
October 8, 2014
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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
States are constantly looking for ways to get more money from taxpayers, and no matter how many times a tax increase fails to generate the desired result, we see this tactic repeated over and over again. Unfortunately, now comes yet another disappointment from a state legislature looking to fix problems with budget shortfalls. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania recently moved in a bipartisan manner to increase cigarette taxes by $2 with the approval of the state’s Republican Governor. The move comes under the heading of aiding a troubled education sector in Philadelphia. While there’s nothing wrong with improving education standards for children in areas where the improvement is needed, the way in which those reforms are achieved can become problematic. The tax increase the Governor signed is designed to fund the school district to help Philadelphia public schools but the negative impact that tax increases can have may end up putting the state in real jeopardy of falling short in terms of fulfilling their commitment to the schools and students in that district. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been a vocal critic of this type of tax increase and there is reason to show why it can actually do more harm than good on multiple levels.
October 1, 2014
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Last week the Obama Administration acted unilaterally, again, proposing new restrictions through the Treasury Department aimed at halting the growing trend of tax inversions by U.S.-based companies. President Obama has been one of the loudest critics of the practice of inversions, but he is one of the main reasons why we have seen such an uptick in inversions over the last few years. Inversions occur when “an American company reincorporates for tax purposes in a tax-friendlier country such as the U.K. or Ireland, typically while maintaining much of their operations in the U.S.A.” Just a little over a week ago, the Treasury Department announced new rules and regulations regarding tax inversions by companies headquartered in the United States. Actions taken by the Treasury Department to change the current inversion rules include various measures designed to make inversions more difficult to complete.
September 25, 2014
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This article orginally appeared on Pennlive.com on September 18, 2014
The U.S. economy has gained real steam in recent months. Last quarter, the groos domestic product grew at a very solid 4 percent. And, the most recent jobs report shows that the job market added nearly 210,000 positions in July. The energy industry is a major contributor to this revival. American oil and natural gas businesses are in the midst of an unprecedented blossoming. In fact, the United States recently surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the number one energy producer in the world. Federal lawmakers need to be wary of undermining this success. Destructive policies can stifle energy industry expansion and choke off the creation of new employment opportunities and general economic growth.
September 24, 2014
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On Monday, the Obama Administration and the United States Treasury Department took executive action towards the practice of tax inversions. Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams released the following statement today in reaction to the move by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
“The Obama Administration has once again shown that they don’t understand the real problems of tax policy in the United States, and more specifically the corporate tax. The executive action announced by Secretary Lew on Monday aimed at punishing companies who engage in tax inversions is not only the wrong move for the private sector, but it continues the willful ignorance of the federal government to fix our corporate tax structure. It’s been more than two years since the United States surpassed Japan in reaching the highest effective corporate tax rate in the world, and in those two years we’ve seen nothing but demonizing of the private sector from the Obama Administration and their allies in Congress. There should not be new rules and regulations that will make it more difficult for companies to compete in the global economy. There should be drastic reform of the corporate tax rate to reduce the cost of doing business in America so that jobs can be created and companies can be rewarded for their innovation. If President Obama is serious about keeping U.S. businesses in the U.S., he should support comprehensive tax reform, and specifically call for an immediate reduction in the corporate tax rate. TPA will continue to press for bipartisan, bicameral action from Congress on reducing the corporate tax, and in turn fixing the real problem that is plaguing business.”
September 22, 2014
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(Stephen Adkins is a research fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.) In July President Obama noted that, “I don’t care if it’s legal, it’s wrong. It sticks you for the tab to make up for what they’re stashing offshore.” This was said to a crowd of supporters at a Los Angeles area technical college. After defending the record of his administration, emphasizing the challenges posed by the financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession, Obama then turned his attention to the growing phenomenon of tax inversion (American businesses engaging in cross-border mergers in order to escape heavy corporate tax rates here at home). In a July 24th speech Obama declared that, “stopping companies from renouncing their citizenship just to get out of paying their fair share of taxes is something that cannot wait.” While being careful to refer to this practice as “tax avoidance” (not to be confused with its illegal cousin “tax evasion”), Obama railed against so-called “corporate deserters,” whining that American businesses require a renewed “economic patriotism.” In other words, American businesses’ primary responsibility is not, as one might think, to maximize shareholder value, but instead to stay put and let the Internal Revenue Service bleed them dry. And that, is somehow patriotic.
September 17, 2014
Tonight, the House of Representatives passed yet another short-term spending bill to keep the government open, by a vote of 319 to 108. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a statement saying, in part: Tonight, the United States House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11, 2014 and the legislation is on its way to the Senate for likely passage and then to the President for his signature. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is extremely disappointed in this latest half-measure to fund the government that not only ensures continued protection for the crony Export-Import Bank, but also leaves in doubt whether or not taxpayers will be able to be protected from Internet Access taxes in the long-term. TPA has several issues with this continuing resolution but there are a few that stand out. First, the extension of the Export-Import Bank that is included in the CR is a troubling development on a fight that has been taking up a great deal of debate on Capitol Hill over recent months. The extension goes well into 2015, leaving the possibility that a long-term extension for Ex-Im may be in the works. TPA opposes extension of the bank because it is a major enabler of the worst kind of corporate welfare that leaves taxpayers at risk, costs American jobs, and undercuts the very idea of free-market principles in a global economy. Second, the bill includes only a mere five-week extension to the moratorium on Internet Access taxes. The moratorium was originally set to expire on November 1, 2014; now it is slated to expire in early December. This sets up yet another debate on the issue and TPA is very concerned there will be an attempt to couple a permanent extension with passage of an Internet Sales tax. The two issues are separate and should not be handled in a lame duck session of Congress, when politicians are unlikely to be held accountable.
To read the full statement, click 'read more' below » Read More
September 16, 2014
Congress is set for a final week of business and unfortunately we still have yet to see an extension of the Internet Access tax moratorium. What is worse is that a short-term extension into December is in the works, but there are legitimate fears that this minor extension is a precursor to a renewed push to merge a long-term extension of the Internet Access tax moratorium with the harmful Internet Sales Tax, otherwise known as the Marketplace Fairness Act. TPA has continued to voice our opposition for any legislation that puts these together. With that in mind, TPA signed a letter sent by the R Street Institute and cosigned American Commitment, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Center for Individual Freedom, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Digital Liberty, FreedomWorks, The Heartland Institute, Heritage Action for America, Institute for Policy Innovation, Less Government, and National Taxpayers Union urging Congress to oppose S. 2609, the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act. The legislation merges both the issues of Internet Access taxes and Internet Sales tax in an attempt to confuse and disguise bad policy by acting as though both should be resolved at the same time in the same bill.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter » Read More
September 8, 2014
The clock is ticking for taxpayers as there are only slightly more than 53 days left until the moratorium on Internet access taxes expires, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is helping to keep the focus on making sure the moratorium is extended permanently. Congress returns to Washington, D.C. after a more than month-long recess and this issue is something that they must address in the limited working time they have remaining this session. Last week, Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty sent a coalition letter to the hill urging Congress act and imploring the Senate to follow the lead of the House and pass a bill that will extend the moratorium on Internet access taxes. In the letter, TPA, along with many state and national organizations praise the House for passing H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA); and urges the Senate to pass S. 1432, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (ITFFA), sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). TPA hopes the Senate will act soon so that millions of Americans can continue to utilize the web without the threat of added Internet taxes looming over them.
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September 4, 2014
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This article orginally appeared in Townhall.com on August 28, 2014
Most people don't associate the concept of restraint with a federal government that's spending taxpayer dollars at a rate of $7 million a minute and passing so many new regulations that the Code of Federal Regulations is now over 175,000 pages, and growing. But give credit where credit is due. The Feds have shown remarkable restraint and foresight when it comes to not burdening the Internet with unnecessary regulations and taxes. Ever since the Internet emerged as a consumer tool in the early 1990s, politicians and regulators recognized that the technology was developing in ways they couldn't predict. Instead of legislating yesterday’s Internet, they decided to let it evolve with minimal government intrusion into the Internet we have today. Washington has held to this "light touch" approach and the benefits speak for themselves: the web has transformed the way we live, work, and play. America is the undisputed Internet creativity capital of the world with companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter being household names the world over.
August 29, 2014
This week the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), in partnership with Our Generation, released a report detailing the costs of congressional compensation and the sobering figures of how much the taxpayer is paying when it comes to pay, and benefits for elected officials. The report, “Are Members of Congress Overpaid? An Analysis of Congressional Compensation” (which you can read here) shows that in addition to a salary of $174,000 per year, which by itself puts DC representatives among the highest-paid 5 percent of US workers, members of Congress also receive more generous benefits than typical employees, with total congressional compensation including benefits adding up to $286,000 per year. The report also reveals that members of Congress make 3.2 times more than the average full-time American worker. With a $17.7 trillion debt and budget deadlines nearing, there is something to be said about the quality of work being done by Congress in comparison to their compensation. The report details specific attempts made in the past year to scale-back pay for Congress, even as some members say they are “underpaid.” TPA encourages everyone to take a look at the report so that more attention can be brought to this very underreported issue. » Read More