The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair last weekempowers states to establish a level playing field for the taxation of goods sold by in-state and out-of-state sellers. The court overturned two precedents, dating back to 1967 and 1992, that imposed an artificial physical presence rule on state sales tax systems.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the US unemployment rate in May 2018 was 3.8%, the lowest since April 2000. During the past 50 years, the US unemployment rate has been this low only 10% of the time.
With only about two weeks left in its 2017–2018 term, the US Supreme Court still has 19 cases left to decide. Decisions are expected on a number of key issues, including partisan and racial gerrymandering, public employee union dues, and the travel ban.
Since its inception in 1942, the deduction for qualified medical expenses has offered a type of federally funded insurance to taxpayers who itemize. By allowing the deduction of out-of-pocket medical spending that exceeds a threshold, the deduction is similar to a high-deductible health plan, under which the federal government subsidizes subsequent spending at one’s marginal tax rate.
The midterm elections are six months away, and candidates are looking for innovative ways to define their campaigns. With an unemployment rate below 4 percent and recent upward revisions to the 2018 economic outlook, Republicans are preparing to campaign on a strong economy and the tax cuts enacted last December that improved US competitiveness and boosted voters’ after-tax incomes.
For more than 50 years, the Supreme Court has prevented states from requiring out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax unless the seller has a physical presence, such as a local store or warehouse, in the state in which the sale occurs. Although the out-of-state sellers’ customers are supposed to remit tax on such sales, very few of them do so. As online retail sales continue to grow, states’ annual revenue loss has been estimated to be as much as $33.9 billion in 2018.
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. deficit is headed to $1 trillion this year, the highest level since 2012. Republicans were furious about the large deficits under President Obama while he sought little to no spending constraint, but recently their focus has been elsewhere. How can we steer the fiscal outlook back toward sanity? As I see it, there are two options.
Republican lawmakers who oppose a carbon tax are usually motivated by a belief that their constituents will get a raw deal. But standard political commentary on carbon taxation focuses on the higher costs for goods such as gasoline and electricity. Looking at who wins and who loses from a revenue-neutral carbon tax — one that also cuts existing taxes on work — yields a very different answer.
Cigarettes are known killers, with nearly one in five deaths each year in the United States attributable to smoking. But there is a chance that U.S. smokers may soon be able to choose a less harmful alternative.
No one disputes that opioid abuse has caused an epidemic in our country, one that costs tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, of dollars per year. Less well known, but of vital importance to policymakers, is how these costs are distributed. Opioid abuse rates and deaths vary considerably from state to state, as do the costs associated with this epidemic. But researchers have generally focused on the economic impact of the crisis in the aggregate, at the US level. In a new analysis, I estimate the cost at the state level and find substantial variation across the country. Here, I offer a preview of my findings, which will be released in full next month.