In recent years, internet sales have grown by nearly 15 percent per year, compared to 4 percent per year for brick-and-mortar retail sales. Although e-commerce represents less than 9 percent of total retail sales, this shift in where we shop is eroding states’ sales tax base. Under the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, sellers without a physical presence in a state cannot be required to collect and remit that state’s sales tax. As a result, online sellers have an artificial competitive advantage over local brick-and-mortar sellers, who must collect sales tax from their customers. Congress needs to end this unfair tax advantage.
While discussing middle class and corporate tax cuts, Alex Brill says, “The White House has not outlined a revenue neutral tax plan. That’s for certain.”
In a recent JAMA Pediatrics article on the correlation between e-cigarette use and subsequent cigarette smoking among adolescents and young adults, Dartmouth demographer Samir Soneji and his co-authors find that the probability of cigarette smoking at follow-up is significantly higher among all e-cigarette users than among individuals who never used a nicotine product. Based on this finding, they conclude that “strong e-cigarette regulation” by the federal, state, and local governments are needed to minimize the potential “future population-level burden of tobacco.” This conclusion is unwarranted based on the nature of their results.
Back in 2012, my AEI colleague Alex Brill wrote about the wisdom of combining internet sales taxes with income-tax base broadening. Back then, Congress was considering legislation, the Marketplace Equity Act, that would have permitted states to collect the sales tax they are owed when their residents purchase goods online from out-of-state sellers.
Saturday marks the first birthday of the House GOP’s tax reform blueprint, “A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America.” Happy birthday, Tax Plan. To be honest, little man, when you were born you only got modest attention from those outside your immediate family. It was a busy time for the rest of us. We were watching Donald Trump clear the field of his fellow Republican candidates and were speculating about the likely fiscal agenda of Hillary Clinton.
Tax reform is hot this year, and rightly so. Mending an outdated tax system is an important political and policy objective. I am optimistic that Republican lawmakers will be successful, but no matter the scale or scope of this effort, it will not be the last big tax bill. Because tax reform is a perpetual effort, it is not too early to start considering post-tax-reform tax reform ideas.
Alex Brill discussed the Earned Income Tax Credit: “One of the things I note when I think about the federal income tax with respect to low and moderate income workers in the disparity to which the tax code affects different people within that population differently. That’s always true across the income spectrum but it’s particularly true among low and middle income families and households.”
Conservatives generally agree on the need for policies that promote economic growth and improve the efficiency of the economy. When it comes to clean energy and carbon pollution, conservatives must find pro-growth solutions or risk ceding these areas to others. We can’t simply disengage on these issues, or our nation’s prosperity will suffer. Fortunately, there is momentum among voters to pursue conservative ideas for reducing carbon emissions. This book is intended to be a resource in that endeavor.
“[Alex] Brill said that the good news was that the clinical evidence clearly indicated that e-cigarettes were less risky substitutes for conventional cigarettes.
‘Given that a core objective of the European Commission Tobacco Products Directive is to ensure “a high level of health protection for European citizens”, the proper tax to levy on e-cigarettes should be self-evident: none,’ he wrote.”
As cigarette use decreases, it may be tempting to supplement declining tobacco tax revenues with a tax on e-cigarettes — a relatively new, less risky alternative to traditional cigarettes. Following actions by some European nations, the European Commission is now contemplating the proper tax treatment of e-cigarettes and has just finalised a public consultation on the topic. Taxing e-cigarettes would have a negative effect on nascent, but important, public health gains.
Talk last week about President Trump’s tax reform plan had two themes: The plan is too vague, and it is too costly. In other words, we don’t know what it is, but we know what it costs.
Despite Congress and President Trump needing to fill in many blanks, it is possible to analyze the economic effects of the elements that have been announced. And it is worthwhile to compare these effects to both current law and the more detailed House Republican tax plan.
The New York Times, Runner’s World, and a host of other media outlets recently hyped a new study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases on the benefits of running. The study asserts that running, if performed regularly, leads to 3.2 additional years of life.
“Well, the corporate tax is probably the most distortionary and harmful tax in the whole system. It raises about 10 percent of the revenues that are collected come from the corporate tax. As we just heard, it’s the highest in the — one of the highest in the world. It not only hurts businesses and their profits, but it hurts workers, the people who work at those companies.”
With tax reform hopefully next on the GOP’s agenda, it is important for lawmakers to think about its revenue effects in a sensible way: focus on the long-run budget impact, not the 10-year horizon embedded in congressional rules.
“The fundamental idea is that owners of capital are going to put that capital at risk for an investment, and they’re going to be asking the question, “What rate of return am I going to get on that investment after I pay taxes?” They’re not curious what their pre-tax rate of return is. They’re curious about their after-tax rate of return.”
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