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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: SEC is About to Lose Another Commissioner

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May 13th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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Overseas action fuels US tax deals
Bernie Becker of The Hill wrote that the corporate community is increasingly sounding the warning to Congress: Europe is coming after us on taxes. With tax reform talks stumbling in Washington, the fear for corporate titans is that other countries are already implementing a global set of recommendations, known as the Base Erosion and Profit Sharing project, meant to crack down on offshore tax avoidance. Lobbyists and corporate advocates who have been pushing to overhaul the US tax code for years insist that could pave the way for the worst possible outcome: multinational companies being forced to fork over more in taxes, but the United States not getting the revenue. As former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) put it last week, “the bottom line is that change is coming – if not here at home, then it is certainly coming from overseas.”

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SEC’s Gallagher to resign as commissioner after four years
Daniel Gallagher is resigning his post as a Republican member of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after four years, a time marked by partisan battles over the regulatory response to the 2008 financial crisis, wrote Dave Michaels and Robert Schmidt of Bloomberg. The White House will now need to replace him as well as Luis Aguilar, the Democratic commissioner whose term expires next month. A securities lawyer and ex-agency staff member, Gallagher has been a critic of many of the rules required by the Dodd-Frank Act. Known for his forceful dissents and speeches, he frequently rapped the Federal Reserve for trying to impose its oversight on firms traditionally regulated by the SEC. Gallagher, who joined the commission in 2011, also pushed to make it easier for small companies to raise capital and advocated for the agency to undertake a major review of the rules governing stock exchanges.

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Talk of Ryan-Obama tax deal roils Republican-business alliance
Richard Rubin of Bloomberg wrote that small business groups, which have been among the Republicans’ loyal backers, are warning their friends in Congress against cutting a deal with President Obama on lowering corporate taxes. These groups tend to skew their political giving toward Republican candidates and committees. Small business leaders object to any deal that would help big companies by cutting the corporate tax rate without lowering the individual income tax rates that apply to millions of small businesses across the country. That’s exactly the kind of deal that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have been considering. They’re looking for a bipartisan agreement on lowering the corporate tax rate, curtailing targeted breaks, and revamping how the United States taxes multinational companies. Small businesses and others outside the corporate income tax would receive help with targeted breaks but not a rate cut.

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Gas tax hike safe politically, analysis says
Almost all state lawmakers who have voted to raise gas taxes in states that increased their own fuel levies in recent years have been re-elected, according to an analysis that was released on Tuesday by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), wrote Keith Laing of The Hill. Ninety-five percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats who voted to raise gas taxes in their states in 2013 and 2014 were re-elected in last fall’s election, according to the analysis. The road builders group said the results show lawmakers in Congress could vote to raise the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax without facing any political repercussions. “If legislators are honest with their constituents and clearly explain why a gas tax increase is necessary and important and what benefits their constituents will derive from it, they have little reason to fear the ballot box over a gas tax vote,” ARTBA President Pete Ruane said. Lawmakers are currently facing a May 31 deadline for the expiration of federal transportation funding.

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California Assembly panel rejects proposed soft-drink tax
A legislative panel on Tuesday rejected a California soda tax, the latest loss for public-health advocates seeking to cut down sugar consumption, the Associated Press reported. The Assembly Health Committee voted 10-6 against AB1357, which needed an additional four votes to advance. The legislation would have added an extra 2-cents-an-ounce charge for sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda and certain fruit and energy drinks, to pay for public-health programs. The bill’s author, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), can reintroduce the bill if he is able to get additional support. He faces opposition from fellow Democrats who say taxes hurt poor people and may not improve public health. Voters in Berkeley, California, approved the nation’s first local soda tax last November.

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