In the current debate over federal taxes, all eyes are focused on what to do about President Bush’s expiring tax cuts for high-income people. Proponents of these tax cuts, mainly but not solely Republicans, argue that letting the cuts expire on time amounts to a tax increase — and, with the economy still very weak, now is not the time to raise taxes on anyone, wealthy or otherwise.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
What do you call parents who work at very low-wage jobs to support their families — say, a single mother raising two children and working at a nursing home, or a construction laborer trying to support his wife and children? Until recently, policymakers have called them welfare-reform success stories: people who have chosen work over welfare. Now, however, there is a risk that it is becoming fashionable to call them “freeloaders” for whom the Internal Revenue is a “sugar daddy” dispensing tax benefits.
The Senate will vote tomorrow on an amendment to small business legislation that would seriously weaken an essential element of the new health reform law — the requirement that individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty — and eliminate preventive care funding aimed at reducing the onset of chronic diseases and improving overall health.
Analysts Mark Zandi, Peter Orszag, and Howard Gleckman have all said sensible things about what would be the best policy for dealing with the expiring Bush tax cuts (which include a panoply of “middle class” tax cuts as well as cuts in marginal tax rates for the richest 2 percent of taxpayers). Unfortunately, their smart policy analysis has been lost in the headlines generated by their actual proposals, which are colored by their political judgment about what might be achievable in today’s fractious (and fractured) Congress.
We issued an analysis this morning of House Minority Leader John Boehner’s proposal to cut funding for discretionary (i.e., annually appropriated) programs other than defense, homeland security, and veterans and to extend all of President Bush’s tax cuts for two years, including those for the wealthiest Americans. Here are the highlights:
Today’s quiz topic is the federal estate tax, which is a tax on property – like cash, real estate, stock, or other assets – that is transferred from deceased persons to their heirs. Lawmakers will have to decide soon whether to make the current temporary repeal of the estate tax permanent or to renew the tax in some form.
Today, we sat down with Chuck Marr, the Center’s Director of Federal Tax Policy, to discuss upcoming Congressional action on the estate tax.
[audio: http://www.cbpp.org/files/09-07-10-estate-tax-final.mp3| titles=Podcast: Next Steps on the Estate Tax]
Chuck, let’s begin with a quick review of what the...