Happy New Tax Year

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

 

The pace of agencies issuing new rules and regulations has hit a record high under President Obama, whose administration’s rules have filled 468,500 pages in the Federal Register.

And, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the president is poised to unleash another 2,375 new rules on American businesses without first giving Congress an up or down vote.

CEI’s Clyde Wayne Crews, vice president for policy, told Secrets Wednesday that of the top six biggest Federal Register page tallies since 2002, the Obama administration owns five. This year, he said, the Federal Register ended up printing 79,066 pages — 78,978 when blank pages are removed. (WE)

In California, 930 new laws will go into effect in 2015.

Five states will see gas tax rates increase: Pennsylvania (9.8), Virginia (5.1), Maryland (2.9), North Carolina (1.0), and Florida (0.3). Gas tax rates will decrease due to declining gas prices in Kentucky (-4.3), West Virginia (-0.9), Vermont -(0.83), Nebraska (-0.8), and New York (-0.6).

In California, “gasoline and diesel producers will be subject to the state’s cap-and-trade system,” according to the San Jose Mercury News “forcing them either to supply lower-carbon fuels — which are more expensive to produce — or to buy pollution permits for the greenhouse gases created when the fuel is burned. In the short term, at least, that will mean higher prices at the pump.”

Employer mandate: After a one-year delay in implementation, on January 1, the ACA “Pay-or-play” requirements go into effect for employers with 100 or more full-time employees (average 30 hours per week). Employers who do not offer health insurance that meets the minimum requirements may be subject to an assessment (read more from the Small Business Administration and the Internal Revenue Service). According to the SBA, “Employers with at least 50 but fewer than 100 full-time or full-time equivalent employees will generally have an additional year, until 2016, before these rules apply.”

Value-based payments for doctors: The Affordable Care Act requires that Medicare include cost and quality data in calculating payments for physicians. This will start in 2015 with a “Value-based Payment Modifier” for physicians in group practices of 100 or more (with practices of 10 or more following in 2016 and all Medicare physicians in 2017.)

But some good news for the “Soak the Rich” crowd:

PARIS (AP) — It was supposed to force millionaires to pay tax rates of up to 75 percent: “Cuba without the sun,” as described by a critic from the banking industry. Socialist President Francois Hollande’s super tax was rejected by a court, rewritten and ultimately netted just a sliver of its projected proceeds. It ends on Wednesday and will not be renewed.

And that critic of the tax? He’s now Hollande’s economy minister, trying mightily to undo the damage to France’s image in international business circles.

The tax of 75 percent on income earned above one million euros ($1.22 million) was promoted in 2012 by the newly-elected Hollande as a symbol of a fairer policy for the middle class, a financial contribution of the wealthiest at a time of economic crisis.

But the government was never able to fully implement the measure. It was overturned by France’s highest court and rewritten as a 50 percent tax paid by employers.

Faced with a stalling economy and rising unemployment, the government reversed course in 2014 with a plan to cut payroll taxes by up to 40 billion euros ($49 billion) by 2017, hoping to boost hiring and attract more investments.

All the while, Prime Minister Manuel Valls kept repeating his new credo: “My government is pro-business”.

Ultimately, while the super tax affected only a small number of taxpayers, it triggered huge protests in business, sporting and artistic communities.

French actor Gerard Depardieu decried it vociferously and took Russian citizenship. Soccer clubs threatened to boycott matches for fear that 114 of their players or coaches would be taxed. The final version of the tax allowed them to minimize the burden.

The announcement of the 75 percent tax had “a very bad psychological effect” in business circles, says Sandra Hazan, a lawyer who heads Dentons Global Tax Group. Even if most of the companies were able to minimize or avoid the tax, “I think it had an extremely devastating impact on the attractiveness of France for foreigners.”

At the time of its proposal, British Prime minister David Cameron ironically proposed to “roll out the red carpet” to French companies willing to avoid the tax.

Economist Thomas Piketty, author of the book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, criticized it as “a millstone around the neck” of the government, asking instead for global reform of tax laws.

Proceeds from the tax are estimated to total 420 million euros ($512 million) for about 1,000 employees in 470 companies, according to the government. By comparison, France’s budget deficit has soared well over 80 billion euros ($97 billion). (townhall)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

 

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