Tax News & Views Unity Task Force Roundup

July 13, 2020

Biden-Sanders 'Unity Task Force' Plan Favors Higher Investment Taxes, Omits Wealth Tax – Mel Schwarz, Eide Bailly. “The Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force has issued 110 pages of legislative and regulatory recommendations, including proposals for tax legislation should Biden be elected President.”

Some specific items highlighted in the article include:

  • Reform the tax code to be more progressive and equitable and reduce barriers for families who qualify to benefit from targeted tax breaks.   A guiding principle across our tax agenda is that the wealthiest Americans can shoulder more of the tax burden.

    • make investors pay the same tax rates as workers
    • bring an end to expensive and unproductive tax loopholes
    • “supply-side” or “trickle down” tax cuts must be rejected
    • Estate taxes should be raised back to the historical norm.
  • Provide immediate, marked relief for working families

    • more generous, refundable tax credits to benefit low- and middle-income families
    • easier and more equitable access to tax provisions that help working families build wealth, such as equalizing tax benefits for retirement contributions
    • provide more accessible tax breaks for homeownership.
  • Provide tax incentives for clean energy infrastructure, efficiency upgrades, process changes, and facility retooling, conditioned on the provision of robust wage and labor requirements


COVID-19 Bill Unlikely to Feature Relief for Traveling Workers – Jad Chamseddine, Tax Notes ($). “Tax obligations for traveling workers are not likely to be standardized in an upcoming coronavirus package, but advocates hope the pandemic has highlighted flaws in tax collection procedures for those forced to work from home.”

“A bipartisan pair of senators wants the package to include a long-term goal of theirs by providing relief for traveling workers, especially those who volunteered in other states during the pandemic. Senate Republican Whip John Thune of South Dakota and fellow Finance Committee member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced the Remote and Mobile Worker Relief Act of 2020 (S. 3995) to streamline tax policy for traveling workers and prevent them from being hit with income tax bills from states where they worked temporarily.”


Retirement Plan Amendments During COVID-19 - Courtney A. Strutt Todd & Jana Luttenegger Weiler, Davis Brown Tax Law Blog. “As employers consider the financial impact of COVID-19, some are considering eliminating employer contributions to 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Notice 2020-52 addresses many employer concerns regarding mid-year amendments to safe harbor contributions to those plans.”

Who’s Excited About Tax Day? The Do-It-Yourself Filers – Laura Saunders, WSJ ($). “Armed with just a calculator, the brave go mano-a-mano with the IRS’s 170-plus forms and instructions.”

IRS Crime Boss Announces Retirement – Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes. “Chief Fort has served in the position of Chief of CI since June 2017. As Chief, Fort is responsible for investigating criminal violations of the tax code and related financial crimes. Fort oversees a worldwide staff of nearly 3,000 CI employees, including approximately 2,100 special agents, who investigate crimes involving tax, money laundering, public corruption, cyber, ID theft, narcotics, and terrorist-financing.” 

Crazy tax deductions: When they don't - and do! – work – Kay Bell, Don’t Mess With Taxes. “Remember that when you do claim anything, be it a commonly accepted tax deduction or one where you're a little aggressive, be sure to have the documentation to back it up if the federal tax collector does eventually raise an eyebrow. When it comes to audits, it's the opposite of our legal system. The IRS presumes you cheated and you have to prove that you most definitely didn't. If you can't, you'll end up owing not just more tax, but also penalties and interest.”

Improved Cost Recovery Is A Wide-Ranging Policy Solution – Erica York, Tax Policy Blog. “Investment comes in a variety of forms—be it private or public investments ranging from rural broadband and 5G to health care infrastructure and innovation. But not all investment is equal in terms of its effects on productivity and economic growth.”

“Amid the discussions for Phase 4 of economic relief legislation, many lawmakers are proposing industry-specific tax policy changes to induce an increase in investment, sometimes on a temporary basis. For example, providing shorter asset lives and bonus depreciation or immediate expensing to medical supply and pharmaceutical companies that move from foreign countries. Other proposals would expand the Research and Development tax credit for new small- and medium-sized businesses and additional activities.”


Digital Taxes, Meet Handbag Tariffs – Daniel Bunn, Tax Policy Blog. “The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced new tariffs in response to the French digital services tax. The tariffs of 25 percent on $1.3 billion worth of trade would not go into effect until January 6, 2021. The tariffs would apply to several make-up products, handbags, and assorted soaps.”

Skeptics Dismiss Trump’s Threat to Revoke Schools’ Exempt Status – Frederic Lee, Tax Notes ($). “Tax and law professionals swiftly dismissed President Trump’s tweet that schools and other academic institutions may lose their tax-exempt status as a consequence of espousing left-wing politics in classrooms instead of educating.”

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