Watcher: October 18th, 2004

Federal Budget

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Senate Pushes Through Corporate Tax Bill Over Holiday Weekend

The Senate commemorated the Columbus holiday Oct. 11 by holding a special session to pass the corporate tax bill, also known as the FSC/ETI bill. The previous week the House had passed the bill, which was designed to remove certain corporate tax subsidies on exports which had been ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization two years ago. The new tax breaks hit the nation at a time when corporate tax revenue has dropped to a historic low -- and the federal deficit has climbed to an all-time high. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported the FY 2004 federal deficit hit a record $413 billion.

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The Numbers on FSC/ETI

Yesterday, the Joint Committee on Taxation released an updated score on the "chairman's mark" of the FSC/ETI bill. (See

Overall, the score raises $238 million in revenue, although there are several gimmicks which are used to keep the costs down (see

  • The repeal of the exclusion of ETI will cost $57.7 billion.
  • Under title VIII, there are revenue provisions to close loopholes and raise some fees, which raise a total of $81.7 billion

The revenue enhancements from the repeal of the ETI regime and the loophole closings thus total $139.4 billion. (Note that this total would come close to paying for the $146 billion price tag of the "middle class" tax cut.)

Rather than using this money to finance cuts in other areas of the tax code or pay off the debt, the bill gives over $139 billion in additional tax cuts primarily to businesses.

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Watcher: October 4th, 2004

Federal Budget

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Congress Spends $146 Billion To Extend Certain Tax Cuts Without Offsets

Congress voted to extend so-called "middle-class" tax reductions last week, and chose not to offset any of the cost of the $146 billion measure. In addition, the bill also includes $13 billion in tax cuts for businesses. When factoring in the additional interest costs, the bill will increase the deficit by over $200 billion.

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Large Corporations May Receive More Tax Breaks

The House and Senate continue to move forward on a substantial corporate tax bill. The Foreign Sales Corporation and Extraterritorial Income Exclusion (FSC/ETI) bill is designed to remove certain corporate tax subsidies that were ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. Repealing the subsidies would increase federal revenue by approximately $50 billion over the next 10 years. (The bill is currently in conference. See a summary of the differences between the House and Senate version.)

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Congress Votes to Extend Bush's Tax Cuts

The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly on the evening of September 23 to extend three tax cuts amounting to $146 billion total, with $13 billion set aside for a variety of business tax breaks. Because the costs of the tax cuts are not offset at all, many believe that they will end up hurting the middle class in the long run.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report highlighting how the "middle class" tax cuts will likely end up making the middle class net losers, once the cost of paying for the tax cuts is considered. The report can be read here.

The legisltation, which was passed 92-3 in the Senate and 339-65 in the House, extends the $1,000 per-child tax credit and tax breaks for married couples, and prevents the 10 percent income tax bracket from being applied to smaller amounts of earned income. The legislation also extends alternative minimum tax relief for one year.

Click here to read a Washington Post article with further details on the new tax legislation.

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CTJ and ITEP Release Important New Report

On September 22nd, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released an important report highlighting the taxes paid - or not paid - by many of the county's largest companies.

The report can be downloaded here.


Eighty two of America's largest and most profitable corporations paid no federal income tax in at least one year during the first three years of the George W. Bush administration. This is one of the many troubling findings of this major new report on corporate tax avoidance.

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Deficit Hits All-time High, Many Corporations Don't Pay Fair Share

Washington, DC, Sept. 22, 2004--The result of recent tax policy choices is that the 2004 deficit has reached an all-time high of $422 billion dollars. The Congressional Budget Office reported this month that only 11% of the FY 2004 deficit was due to cyclical factors, while 89% of the deficit was result of federal policy decisions. Not only is the current deficit the highest it has ever been in dollar terms, but in a recent analysis, OMB Watch Staff Economist John Irons projected that the deficit will reach $5.5 trillion over the next ten years. In addition, a new study released today by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) finds that many of the country’s biggest corporations are not paying their fair share of federal income taxes.

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CBO Updates Budget Estimates: Massive Deficits to Grow

The Congressional Budget Office today released its semi-annual update on the nation's budget situation. The report confirms massive deficits for the current year and beyond. In addition, the report shows that deficits will not be "cut in half" in the next five years, as projected by the Bush administration.

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