The Taxman Blog

Jun 21, 2017
Good News or Bad News? IRS Budget Cuts On The Horizon

Less chance of the IRS coming to knock on your door? Sounds like a good thing, right?

President Trump has proposed a $239-million cut to the Internal Revenue Service’s budget. This could mean, among other things, reduced personnel for performing enforcement functions such as auditing taxpayers. This seems like cause for celebration to many. On the other hand, is reduced government funding good for all of us? Some things to consider:

  • The IRS is a top producer for the government, bringing in $300 for every $1 it spends, points out the DC Report. With the current administration’s stated goal to run the government in a more “businesslike” fashion, this seems like a counterproductive move–Reporter Vic Simon calls it “as un-businesslike as you can get” to cut down resources that contribute to revenue.
  • A decrease in enforcement might result in fewer audits of law-abiding taxpayers, but it will also result in less collection of tax legitimately owed, funds the government needs to fight the increasing deficit, and it will increase the burden on those who do pay their taxes.
  • It’s a safe bet that one of the first things to go will be taxpayer services. The IRS is already severely understaffed, with a decrease in personnel of “almost 30% over the last number of years,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the LA Times.  “While taxpayers waited an average of 10.8 minutes when they called the IRS seven years ago, that wait had grown to nearly 17 minutes in 2014,” TIME says. Alan Rappeport of the New York Times adds, “Last year, it took nearly 20 minutes to navigate a maze of automation and hold times to reach someone.” Sound familiar?
  • Security might also become an issue. With cyber-threats on the rise, the IRS needs the resources to keep taxpayers’ information protected, points out Rappeport.

Perhaps some taxpayers can breathe easier, knowing that their filing errors or accidental over-deductions are unlikely to be examined closely anytime soon. However, a major budget cut to the IRS will have consequences that reach far beyond a little tax fudging.

What do you think? Is this good news or bad news? Feel free to let me know what you think, and of course, reach out to me anytime if you need help making sure that the IRS’ eye won’t fall on you!

 

Jun 6, 2017
Seattle Soda Tax Approved
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Did your summer just get a little less refreshing? If you’re a soda sipper, that may be the case. On June 5, the Seattle City Council approved a tax on soda, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages (though diet drinks get a pass). The tax will take effect in early July at a rate of 1.75 cents per ounce, which will add approximately $1.18 to the cost of a 2-liter bottle of soda, says the Seattle Times. The vote passed 7-to-1 and will be the eighth such tax to pass in the U.S., after cities including San Francisco, Boulder, and Philadelphia. A similar proposal was rejected in Santa Fe, New Mexico, last month.

Proponents of the tax included “public health advocates and community groups,” according to CBS News. “They say it would cut down on the consumption of sugary drinks that have little nutritional value and are linked to obesity, diabetes and other health problems.”

Businesses and labor groups were against the measure, citing the negative impact on small business and jobs. “Other critics called it regressive, saying it would affect low-income consumers the most,” reports CBS.

Revenue from the tax is intended to go toward “programs that promote access to healthy food and help address education disparities between white and minority students.”

If your beverages of choice are sports drinks, sweetened iced teas, or fruit drinks, you also have price increases in your future–those are also included in the products to be taxed.

Taxman.cc, inc dba Howard Choder, Solving Tax Problems