New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Post-July 4th Appropriations Update

As Congress returns to work this week, it's time to take a look at the status of various appropriations bills. 

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Obama Seeks to Eliminate Tax Benefits for Multinational Corporations

The Obama Administration continues to look for ways to find tax revenue and as a result, several significant tax breaks for multinational companies may be on the chopping block.  During the Bush and Clinton Administrations, it became easier for controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) to conduct financial transactions between offshore subsidiaries at much-lower effective tax rates (or in some cases, tax-free).  If Obama gets his wish, these tax breaks will not be renewed at the end of 2010 and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates will result in an increase of $31-86.5 billion in tax revenue from 2011-2019.

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IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman Not Really Grilled by Subcommittee

Congressional Hearing

Yesterday morning, I attended a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing to listen to Douglas H. Shulman, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), provide testimony on the funds Congress will supply to his agency this upcoming fiscal year. I had hoped that subcommittee members would question Shulman over the deteriorating quality of the agency's audits over the past few years – especially those performed on corporations and wealthy individuals – and the insufficient level of services provided to those who claim the overly complicated Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Despite the absence of any of these inquires, there were two interesting exchanges during the hearing.

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IRS to Receive More Funding in Some Critical Areas

1040 Form

I wanted to follow up on Matt's blog post from last week about how regulatory agencies fared in President Obama's FY 2010 budget proposal. As Matt pointed out, the administration is making major investments in some agencies while shortchanging others. One of the agencies Matt didn't cover was the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is a microcosm of the larger trend Matt was pointing out.

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Changes to PART Referenced in Obama Budget

President Obama released more details of his FY 2010 budget request last week and I've been spending some time flipping through it today. I didn't have to flip far to find some encouraging news about how the new administration will tackle performance assessment over the next four years and what they plan to do with the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). Front and center on page 9 in the most important volume in the budget release - the Analytical Perspectives - is a section called "Building a High-Performing Government." This gives the first details about administration plans to replace PART with a new performance system the administration refers to as a "performance improvement and analysis framework."

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How Do Regulatory Agencies Fare in Obama’s Budget?

President Obama’s FY 2010 budget proposal, released yesterday, makes major investments in a few agencies critical to protecting the public but shortchanges others. Let’s dive in.

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Obama Proposes Cutting 121 Federal Programs

Treasury Department

Yesterday, the Obama administration unveiled details of its $3.5 trillion federal budget for FY 2010. The plan includes cutting or scaling back 121 federally funded programs, thereby eliminating $17 billion in government spending. Administration officials recognize that the proposed savings represent less than one half of one percent of all spending, but emphasize that the cuts are an important first step towards President Obama's goal of drastically reducing inefficient budget expenditures.

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Things Are Tough All Over (Or at Least for the Richest 5%)

Over at the Cato Institute blog, Cato @ Liberty, Chris Edwards tells us that a new CBO report shows that the federal tax code is progressive. CBO data indicate that the highest quintile of income earners paid the highest effective federal tax rate (25.8%), and as one moves down the quintiles, effective federal income tax rates decline.

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CBO Monthly Budget Review: March, 2009

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its monthly budget review this morning that estimates a deficit of $953 billion for the first half of FY 2009. This is a whopping $640 billion more than for the same period in FY 2008.

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The Budget Process and You: An In-Depth Guide

As the FY 2010 budget cycle gets underway, casual readers and even some familiar with the budget process may find themselves looking for more detailed information on the budget process to better understand what's going on in Congress with respect to budgetmaking. Fortunately, for novices and budget aficionados alike, the House Rules Committee has posted myriad CRS reports on not only the budget process, but on the legislative process in general.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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