1. U.S. House of Representatives Passes A Bill That Would Make 50% Bonus Depreciation Permanent - Legislation permanently extending 50% bonus depreciation for the year in which certain tangible personal property is first placed in service has passed the House by a vote of 258-160. This sets up a conflict with a temporary extension of this tax break now being considered by the U.S. Senate. Furthermore, President Obama has threatened to veto the permanent extension of bonus depreciation if it somehow makes it through the Senate.
2. Revenue-Neutral Tax Reform Could Harm the U.S. Economy - According to a recently issued report of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), any legislation that attempts to fundamentally reform the Internal Revenue Code on a revenue-neutral basis might harm the U.S. economy. Many in Congress have championed the idea that fundamental income tax reform could benefit the U.S. economy (by lowering marginal income tax rates and broadening the tax base, with no resulting loss of overall governmental tax revenue). However, the CRS Report takes the position that the behavioral responses to changing the Internal Revenue Code cannot be measured solely by marginal rate changes. According to the report, this is because a person’s economic behavior is more influenced by his/her effective tax rate than by the applicable marginal tax bracket.
3. IRS Publishes Regulations Allowing The Use Of Truncated ID Numbers As A Way of Combatting Identity Fraud - On July 14, 2014, the IRS released final rules (T.D. 9675), aimed at mitigating identity theft. These rules allow, but do not require, filers of certain information returns and payee statements to identify the taxpayers shown on the returns/statements by truncated taxpayer identification numbers (TTINs). These rules enable TTINs to be used by filers of certain information returns and payee statements that are furnished to another person as an alternative to disclosing the person's Social Security Number. A TTIN displays only the last four digits of the payee's Social Security Number.
4. Yet Another Computer Crash! - Republican leaders of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee have written a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting answers to questions by the Committee concerning another computer crash. In this case, the computer that crashed was one used by April Sands, an FEC lawyer, who recently left the agency after violating FEC prohibitions on becoming involved in political campaigns. What is interesting about this computer crash is that she may have been communicating with a former IRS employee, Lois Lerner. It may be remembered that Ms. Lerner left the IRS amid a controversy over impermissible scrutiny of Tea Party groups by the division of the IRS headed by Ms. Lerner. A connection between Ms. Sands and Ms. Lerner is possible, since Ms. Lerner had been a top official at the FEC prior to joining the IRS.
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