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Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Obama Oil Tax, ACA Sign-Ups, College Endowments

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Feb 9th 2016
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Oil lobby head: Obama tax plan part of an ‘extremist' agenda
A top oil and gas industry official on Monday slammed President Obama's plan to assess a $10 tax on barrels of oil to pay for green transportation infrastructure improvements, wrote Devin Henry of The Hill. Calling it an “unprecedented proposal” that would hit consumers' pocketbooks, Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, came out swinging against the idea, which will be part of the final federal budget Obama proposes as president on Tuesday. “It appears that the administration's last year is dedicated to furthering an extremist agenda at the very real expense of the middle class and low-income families, through tax hikes on energy and a barrage of unnecessary and duplicative regulations that are catering to the well-funded radical whims of ‘leave it in the ground' activists,” he said. The White House said Obama will propose the tax as a way to raise funds for a $32.4 billion annual push to green the transportation sector.

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Obamacare gets extra sign-up period to clear tax issues
Peter Sullivan of The Hill wrote that the Obama administration is setting up a new Obamacare sign-up period for people who failed to file 2014 tax returns. Jan. 31 was the deadline for most people to sign up, but this new period will provide another chance until March 31 for certain people who might have missed out on coverage because of confusion about new Affordable Care Act requirements regarding taxes and health insurance. People who received tax credits under the law to help them afford insurance in 2014 were required to file a 2014 tax return in order to make sure they received the right amount of credit. If people failed to file a tax return, they became ineligible for further tax credits starting in 2016. Without the tax credits, many people would find coverage unaffordable and would be likely to forgo coverage altogether. This new period gives them a chance to sign up, with tax credits, if they go back and file their return for 2014.

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John Kasich: I'm open to even lower tax rate
GOP presidential hopeful John Kasich said he is open to lowering the corporate tax rate below the 25 percent level he has previously put forward, wrote Tom DiChristopher of CNBC. The Ohio governor has said he aims to balance the budget in eight years through a combination of tax and regulatory reform, and changes to the way government administers funding. “The agenda within the first 100 days, you're going to need to have a seat belt to stay up with it,” he said on Monday, a day before New Hampshire voters cast ballots in the nation's first primary. “It's regulatory reform, because regulations kill business, particularly small business, if they're just mindless.” In addition to lowering tax rates, Kasich said he would also make it easier for US companies to bring profits home and allow them to write off investments in capital goods, such as plant equipment.

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Rich schools queried by US lawmakers on endowment spending
With many of the largest US college endowments at record values, two congressional committees that determine tax policy jointly opened an inquiry about how the wealthiest schools manage and spend those funds, wrote Janet Lorin of Bloomberg. The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee sent letters late Monday by email to 56 private schools with assets of more than $1 billion, citing their “numerous tax preferences,” and adding weight to the federal scrutiny of college endowments. Congress is evaluating the value of federal policies that permit tax-free investment earnings for schools and tax deductions for donors. One proposal recommends that schools spend more on tuition relief as the cost of college skyrockets. Schools that received the letter ranged from Amherst College in Massachusetts to Yeshiva University in New York, and included the eight members of the Ivy League.

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New SEC rule proposals aimed at ETFs may chase investors into ETNs
New proposals from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) aimed at reducing risks in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) may end up being the best thing that ever happened to rival exchange-traded notes (ETNs), wrote Eric Balchunas of Bloomberg. ETFs holding some $225 billion worth of assets are likely to violate the new rules suggested by the SEC and could ironically spark a mass migration of investors into riskier products. Both proposals are “tweaks” to the Investment Company Act of 1940 and would apply to open-end investment companies, which includes mutual funds and ETFs. The first rule proposal attempts to address liquidity concerns by requiring that no more than 15 percent of a fund's holdings take longer than seven days to liquidate without moving the market. The other proposal attempts to address derivatives usage by limiting the leverage in 40 Act funds to 150 percent. That puts a majority of the two-times and three-times levered ETFs in violation.

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Quick Links:

  • DHG can't give you everyday jeans, but is offering meditation, standing desks (Going Concern)
  • Are vendors hyping complexity of FASB's standards to generate business? (Bloomberg BNA)
  • Obama's oil tax is running on empty (Bloomberg View)
  • Obama wants a $10 tax on oil. Here's why economists agree (Washington Post)
  • Bernie Sanders' tax plan would test an economic hypothesis (New York Times)
  • Don't tax the Internet (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Denver Broncos players will owe California thousands in income taxes (Denver Post)
  • Arizona panel OKs tax credit for concealed carry permit (Associated Press)
  • Putin's new Internet czar wants Apple and Google to pay more taxes (Bloomberg)
  • Italy's crackdown on tax evasion deals another blow to Swiss banks (Wall Street Journal)
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