Washington state’s carbon tax bill dies in Legislature

Latest News Washington state's carbon tax bill dies in Legislature By PHUONG LE Associated Press LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story March 01, 2018 04:09 PM SEATTLE Another ambitious effort to pass a carbon tax in Washington state has faltered as both Gov. Jay Inslee and the bill's prime sponsor said Thursday that there weren't enough votes to pass the measure out of the state Senate. Washington would have been the first U.S. state to impose a straight tax on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels like gasoline and electricity and the legislation has been closely watched nationally. But Inslee told The Associated Press Thursday they were still "one or two votes shy" of passing it out of the Democrat-controlled Senate. The bill also needed to clear the House, also controlled by Democrats, before the short 60-day legislative session ends March 8. "I would consider this a sea change in the climate fight. It's come a long way from where we've been. We've basically shown that carbon policy is within reach," said the Democratic governor. He noted the bill cleared key policy and fiscal committees — advancing farther than previous measures — but didn't have the votes to bring it to a floor vote. Never miss a local story. Sign up today for unlimited digital access to our website, apps, the digital newspaper and more. SUBSCRIBE NOW "On the arc of history, we're not quite far along enough on the arc," Inslee said. "That day will come but it wasn't quite here yet." The bill's sponsor Sen. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, said in coming years, "we're going to see a price on carbon in this state." Washington state has been on the forefront of policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. A coalition of environmental, tribal and other groups have vowed to bring a carbon initiative to the ballot in November should the Legislature fail to act. Barry Rabe, a professor at the Continue Reading

What’s a tax break for car racing doing in the budget deal?

0 View Comments WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut package just two months ago. Turns out it wasn't enough. Wedged into the new mammoth Senate spending deal is a pack of tax breaks for homeowners and electric car owners — as well as goodies for motor speedways. There's also tax relief for people and businesses affected by the California wildfires and the hurricanes that devastated Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Owners of racehorses will get a break, too. The new tax benefits didn't make it into the Republican-backed tax overhaul enacted in December, which had to land under a $1.5 trillion limit in order to pass the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes. Now, with fresh bipartisan legislation allowing the shattering of tight caps on defense and domestic programs, lawmakers have found room for dozens more tax breaks. The provisions for the disaster-struck areas and the extensions of benefits for homeowners and energy savers are popular with lawmakers from both parties and may have helped sweeten the deal for Democrats, all of whom rejected the GOP tax plan. Most of the proposed tax breaks are not new, but extend expired provisions through the end of this year. Among the proposed extensions of tax benefits for homeowners: the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums and the exclusion from income of some forgiven debts on mortgages. The deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses for higher education also is extended, subject to certain caps. Tax credits are extended for investments homeowners make to improve energy efficiency, such as solar panels, windows, skylights, water heaters and heat pumps. The $1,000 to $2,000 credit for building or selling new energy-efficient homes is extended. The $4,000 to $40,000 credit for purchases of new hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles is extended, as is the credit for 10 percent of the amount paid for new two-wheeled plug-in electric cars. Electric car Continue Reading

CEOs of Target, ADM offer differing views on U.S. border tax at hearing

By Ginger Gibson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chief executive officers of two major American companies - retailer Target Corp and agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland Co - offered opposing views in a hearing before U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday on a proposed border adjustment tax. Target CEO Brian Cornell has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Republican-backed border adjustment tax and testified alongside Juan Luciano, president and CEO of ADM, who spoke in favor of the proposal. The border tax would imposes a tax on imports while providing a credit for exports and has been proposed by House Republicans as part of a larger tax code overhaul. Target is a big importer of goods, while ADM exports. House Speaker Paul Ryan argues the proposed border tax, which is estimated to garner $1 trillion, will not affect prices and will allow rate cuts for businesses while not creating deficits, but retailers warn that it could raise consumer prices as much as 15 percent. Cornell and Luciano took staunchly different positions on the tax. "Under the new border adjustment tax, American families – your constituents – would pay more so many multinational corporations can pay even less," Cornell told the committee. Luciano, on the other hand, argued that the tax would make American companies more competitive. "A competitive tax code will help us continue providing American-made food and feed to our customers in the United States and abroad in the face of robust and, from a tax perspective, ever strengthening competition from abroad," he said. The outlook for passage of the border tax - which drew staunch opposition from retailers - remains perilous, especially as key Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump have refused to endorse it. Several Republican members of the committee expressed concerns about the tax during the hearing that stretched more than three hours, including Republican Representative Jim Renacci who argued the proposal could Continue Reading

Walker to propose sales tax holiday

Wisconsinites just might get a little help with back-to-school shopping next year.During appearances Wednesday in Green Bay and Milwaukee, Gov. Scott Walker will announce a sales tax holiday on school supplies that he will propose in his 2017-'19 budget bill in February. The proposal will need legislative approval, but Assembly Republicans were already set to push for a similar proposal in a separate event earlier scheduled for Wednesday."It's part of the budget proposal he'll introduce in February," said Tom Evenson, the governor's spokesman. "It will outline a sales tax holiday for families for back-to-school items."Among the eligible items are school supplies, including computers, as well as clothing. Evenson said the governor will provide more details.Walker will make the announcement at Shopko Stores Operating Co. LLC in Green Bay in the morning and Kohl's Corp.  in Menomonee Falls in the afternoon.The idea has been percolating for several years in Madison. A proposal from GOP lawmakers last legislative session would have waived the state sales tax on:• Clothing if the item is under $75• Computers under $2,000• School supplies if the item is under $75That proposal would have decreased state tax revenues by $13.2 million a year and local government tax revenues by $952,000 a year. That would amount to a cut of just one-quarter of 1% of the $5.06 billion in sales tax revenues last year.Approved in 1961, the Wisconsin sales tax now stands at 5% of applicable purchases. Another 62 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin impose 0.5% sales tax in addition, with some other local districts such as those for stadiums adding an additional amount.Walker is proposing his sales tax holiday on the same day that Assembly GOP lawmakers are unveiling their own agenda for the fall campaigns and for next year’s legislative session. As a veteran politician, the governor knows that announcing his proposal on the Continue Reading

Obama may delay planned Christmas vacation in Hawaii to sign tax bill from Washington

President Obama was planning to kick back with some golf and fun in the sun in Hawaii this weekend, but instead he might be stuck in Washington watching Congress duke it out.Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that if Congress does not finish its lame-duck session by Friday, Obama won't hit the road for his planned Christmas holiday Kailua, a city near Honolulu. "I think the President is hopeful to spend a little time with family and friends in Hawaii, but if Congress is here, the President will be here," Gibbs said.Congress was scheduled to finish its session this week, but lawmakers have a full plate of legislation to pass, including the President's controversial tax bill that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts, another that would repeal the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy and a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia.Obama could handle his presidential business in Hawaii – he signed last year's stimulus bill while on vacation in Denver – but Gibbs comments suggested that the President wants to settle all accounts before heading west."I think the President will be in Washington and in the White House for as long as Congress is in session this year," Gibbs said.Gibbs also playfully jabbed at reporters in the White House press corps, who would also end up stuck in Washington if Obama stays. "I think you've got a few extra days to pull together those Christmas presents that you put off buying," he said. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New Yorkers rip Bloomberg on crash tax, say he’s ‘bleeding the middle class’ dry

It's a good thing Ray Khan and a co-worker at Carrier Corp. weren't driving when asked about Mayor Bloomberg's plan to charge for FDNY emergency response to accidents next year - they might have crashed. "The city should be providing that; that's why we pay taxes," Khan groused as a siren wailed. "From Day One, the mayor has been bleeding the middle class. God forbid he should get in an accident and has to call the FDNY." The co-worker, a volunteer fireman in New Jersey, piped up: "He's got billions; he doesn't care...An ambulance ride to him is nothing! It's like change we drop on the street." Starting in July, Bloomberg's "crash tax" will run you $490 if you are injured in an accident, $415 for a vehicle fire, and $365 if FDNY ambulances come and there's no fire or injury. So it's a dollar a day for a year for a fender-bender. City officials say it'll raise $1 million for the city's coffers. What next? Will Bloomberg charge $5,000 for a two-alarm house fire? Maybe he'll charge $29.95 if your cat's stuck in a tree. "It's bad enough if you're injured," said Claudine Pinsky of RG Catering, who just negotiated a tricky K-turn to deliver delicacies to a Coach Leather holiday event. "Now you have to pay just to get to a hospital." Bloomberg has long had it in for people who drive in the city - except for his chauffeur, of course. He makes such a big deal of it every time he's on the subway, it's like T-Pain boasting "Look at Me, I'm On a Boat" on an Andy Samberg digital short. The mayor pushed hard for congestion pricing, and he's increasingly nudging drivers off streets with bike lanes, double-lane parking, and cafe seating. Hey, I live here; I don't like sucking in pollution just so people can blast Bruno Mars and ride in a Toyota 4Runner when they could have taken the train. Still, it seems extreme to charge you for an ambulance if you get sideswiped by people driving in to see the Rockefeller Center tree. Cabbies and truck drivers are just Continue Reading

High-end strip joints such as Manhattan’s Penthouse Executive Club enjoying huge tax breaks

Its bevy of gorgeous lap dancers and luxurious decor have made Manhattan's Penthouse Executive Club one of the city's hottest high-end strip clubs. But until now, few people realized taxpayers have been subsidizing the fantasy sex. Shortly after the club opened on W. 45th St. a few years ago, city officials granted property owner Swingtime LLC a partial property tax exemption, city records show. Under the exemption, known as the Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program, the owners saved more than $37,000 on their tax bill this year alone. And the Penthouse Club is not alone. Starlets Gentleman's Club near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Astoria, Queens, has enjoyed an exemption for years - one worth more than $10,000 in 2010. Up in the Bronx, the Hunts Point Triangle, a bar notorious for a lot more than its bikini-clad dancers, landed an exemption back in 2001. The break was worth more than $12,000 off its taxes this year. The Bronx bar was forced to close down in June after its next-door neighbor, Joe Fratelli, owner of Fratelli's Pizza Cafe, bought the building and evicted the club. "I just don't like that particular kind of business," Fratelli said Thursday. "There was prostitution and drugs going on there." So why are strip clubs getting city tax breaks you and I don't enjoy?That's what a lot of the city's tax assessors want to know. Several assessors told the Daily News they have been frustrated by the rash of property tax exemptions their department has doled out in recent years.When Michael Bloomberg came into office in 2002, about 20% of private property rolls in the entire city had some kind of tax exemption. By last year, that had grown to more than 25%, the city's annual tax reports show.Some of the biggest jumps have come in the commercial incentives program. The number of properties granted such breaks jumped from 4,600 in 2002 to 6,300 last year.When it was first created, the program's goal was to Continue Reading

Tea Party-backed GOP governor hopeful Carl Paladino fighting for $1.4 million tax break

Anti-big government gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is fighting to hold on to a $1.4 million tax break for a company that created only one job and put back into the economy less than it took out. In a last-minute bid to keep that lucrative government subsidy, records show he overstated the worth of the company that got the break by including properties he'd already sold off. The millionaire Buffalo businessman, who last week became his party's candidate for governor, has shaped much of his Tea Party message by railing against government spending and vowing Draconian bureaucratic bloodletting. At the same time, he's received millions of dollars in tax breaks over the years, mostly as payback for investing in distressed properties in and around his native Buffalo, where manufacturing jobs have disappeared and the economy has long been in a free fall. In 2002, one of his companies, J-P Group LLC, won a major tax break from the Empire State Development Corp. by promising to upgrade 16 properties scattered near downtown Buffalo within what was then designated as an Empire Zone. The properties included a doctor's office, a shopping center, several retail shops, a bank and a handful of vacant lots. The program's incentive was to generate jobs and inject investment into a downtrodden area that would, in the end, offset the sales and real estate tax revenue lost. It didn't work out that way. From 2001 through 2007, Paladino's company received $1.47 million in tax breaks, but invested only $1.1 million in payroll and capital improvements. The end result was a net loss of $300,000, defeating the purpose of the program. Also, when the tax break began, J-P Group had one full-time employee. By 2008, that number had grown to two. Last year, facing a collapse of the economy and a growing budget gap, state leaders changed the rules, ordering a review of all such tax subsidies to see if they were worthwhile. As a result, the state reexamined J-PGroup's Continue Reading

In Indiana, Trump promises ‘revolutionary change’ to tax code

WASHINGTON — President Trump promised Wednesday to bring “revolutionary change” to the federal tax code that will help the middle class — and not the wealthy.“They can call me all they want. It’s not going to help," Trump said of the well-to-do in a speech in Indianapolis. "I'm doing the right thing. And it’s not good for me, believe me.”What would help both the country and his own legacy, Trump said, is when the economy "takes off like a rocket ship" after business taxes are dramatically cut.The tax changes he outlined are the basis for a plan jointly agreed to with Republican congressional leaders. But Congress still has to fill in many important details before bringing to a vote legislation Trump hopes to sign before the end of the year. The missing information will show if the plan lives up to Trump's claims, and how much the tax cuts would add to the deficit."Without sufficient details on how or even if these tax cuts will be fully paid for, this outline is nothing more than a fiscal fantasy," said Maya MacGuineas, head of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.Trump is seeking a much-needed win as he recovers from Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare and the loss of Luther Strange, Trump’s chosen candidate in Tuesday's Alabama Senate primary."This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity," Trump said of the tax plan. "I guess it’s probably something I can say I’m very good at. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time."Trump gave what for him was a controlled speech, staying mostly on topic and avoiding such issues as the Alabama race, the NFL anthem protests, or North Korea.And he refrained from lashing out at specific Republicans for the failure of the GOP health care bill, saying “There were a couple of people that — I won’t say anything.” Read more: How President Trump's tax Continue Reading

CITY’S HIDDEN TAX. Property owners soaked by online fees

MAYOR BLOOMBERG encourages New Yorkers to embrace new technology, but he doesn't mention that it may cost you - even when paying your taxes. New York City property owners are charged a "convenience fee" that runs an average $39 for using a credit card to pay taxes online. Paying property taxes the traditional way, by mail, costs 39 cents, the price of a stamp. Philip Bennett, 49, who lives in Marine Park, Brooklyn, found out the hard way last year, when the city tried to charge him an extra $27 to pay his property tax bill with his credit card online. "I, of course, chose to pay the old-fashioned way - with a check in the mail," Bennett said. "And that's what I'm doing this year, even though it's far less convenient for me and more costly for the city." For credit card payments, the city has a contract with a private vendor, Official Payments Corp., which charges a fee for using a credit card. Property owners with bills $1,000 and higher pay a convenience fee totaling up to 3% of their total tax bill. "When you pay by credit card, the credit card companies charge a fee, and the bigger the payment, the bigger the fee," said Owen Stone, a spokesman for the Finance Department. "For smaller fees - paying traffic tickets, for example - the city absorbs the credit card fee. But paying property taxes by credit card can create hundreds of dollars in fees," Stone said. Last year, the city received 15,524 payments via credit card. Officials estimated the average convenience fee was $39. Property owners can avoid fees by paying their taxes through their mortgage companies, paying in person at one of the city's business centers or paying by mail. Roughly 200,000 homeowners paid in person last year, a number the city hopes to decrease. The city offers two other, much cheaper online-payment options: Property owners can set up an account online with the Finance Department and pay via "electronic fund transfer" free. Property owners can also pay with electronic Continue Reading