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Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Cadillac Tax, GOP Tax Mavens, H&R Block vs. Trump

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Sep 4th 2015
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New West Hartford contract allows ‘Cadillac Tax' reopening
The board of education of West Hartford, Connecticut, adopted a new four-year contract for some of its school workers with an increasingly popular twist to deal with the coming excise tax on generous healthcare plans, wrote Maxwell Murphy of CFO Journal. The pact covers about 200 employees, more than half of whom work with special education students, and boosts wages while shifting more healthcare costs to the workers, the Hartford Courantreported on Wednesday. The agreement also includes a clause that allows the board to reopen the contract for negotiations if its health plans impinge on the so-called “Cadillac tax” under the Affordable Care Act. Companies and municipalities alike are taking measures to ensure they avoid the tax, which amounts to 40 percent tax on the amount by which health-plan costs exceed $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families. The sums include premiums paid by both employers and employees.

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Republicans tap their own tax mavens for 2016
When it comes to tax policy, Republican presidential candidates have a holy grail: tax cuts that pay for themselves by unleashing economic growth, wrote Richard Rubin of Bloomberg. In 2012, the dominant voice when it came to judging candidates' proposals – from Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan to Rick Perry's flat tax – was the Tax Policy Center (TPC), a Washington nonprofit jointly backed by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. In the past three years, donors have pumped millions into the Tax Foundation, a think tank whose analyses tend to be kinder to Republican proposals than those used by the TPC, which doesn't assume tax cuts can boost growth. The Tax Foundation allows candidates access to its model before they release their plans, so they can refine their proposals. “They can test-drive it, so to speak, and work out all the bugs before they go live,” says Scott Hodge, the foundation's president.

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H&R Block CEO to Trump: We're not against a simpler tax code
H&R Block Inc. finds itself an unlikely target of Donald Trump's rhetorical wrath, as the GOP presidential frontrunner repeatedly insists he'd like to simplify the federal tax code so radically that the tax-preparation firm would be run out of business, wrote Michael Santoli of Yahoo Finance. Inherent in Trump's position is the idea that H&R Block and its peers are important beneficiaries of numbing tax-code complexity, and therefore opponents of simplification. Bill Cobb, CEO of H&R Block, denies this. “We don't have a vested interest in making [taxes] complicated,” he said. “I think the core issue is that Congress has established social programs that will be administered through the tax code, including child care credits, dependent care credits, the Affordable Care Act, [and] education credits. Congress doesn't have any good way to administer these programs except the once-a-year tax return. So when we say, ‘We love complexity,' well, we have to train on all this because we have to do an accurate tax return.”

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Quick Links

  • Trump seeks 90% tax cut at New York golf club (USA Today)
  • The flat tax and two other policies that separate Ben Carson and Donald Trump (MarketWatch)
  • Why individual tax revenues will grow even if Congress doesn't raise taxes (TaxVox)
  • 5 ways to cut your Social Security tax bill (CNBC)
  • Ireland seen losing Apple tax skirmish, triggering legal battle (Bloomberg)
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