The Other Side of the Parsonage Tax Exemption

Peter Reilly, a CPA and tax policy expert, makes a very good point in discussing the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s so-far successful lawsuit against the parsonage tax exemption. It turns out that while this benefit helps ministers a lot, there are other provisions in the tax code that hurt them enormously and without justification.
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American Atheists Challenges IRS Religious Preferences

The Freedom From Religion Foundation won a very important lawsuit this week against the parsonage tax exemption for churches, with their argument being that because it applies only to Christian churches, it is a special benefit for churches and thus unconstitutional. American Atheists has a similar suit going on another case of disparate treatment, the lower reporting requirements for churches under section 501(c) of the IRS code. Kimberly Winston writes about that case at Religion News Service.
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Soros, Communists and the Robin Hood Tax

Aaron Klein, one of the truly unhinged voices that the Worldnetdaily is constantly promoting, has a hysterically overblown article about the Robin Hood Tax. Of course, it’s all about George Soros and COMMUNISTS! The commies are coming, the commies are coming! This is not a repeat from 1981. Or 1951.
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More Big Companies Paying No Taxes

USA Today has a report on the companies on the S&P 500, more than 10% of which paid no federal taxes.

A surprising number of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500, 57, have found ways to pay effective tax rates of zero, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ…

The news comes months after after the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that companies in 2010 reported an average effective tax rate of 12.6%, well below the 35% federal corporate tax rate.

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Awaiting Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is set for Feb. 2, 2014, a mere five days before the temporary raising of the debt ceiling will expire and a little over two weeks after the continuing budget resolution will expire. This may not be mere coincidence, as it is pretty likely that we will be in the same situation then that we’ve been in for the last two weeks. Russ Douthat, a relatively reasonable conservative, hopes that the House Republicans have learned their lesson and that cooler heads will prevail:
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Ornstein’s Futile Suggestion for Ending the Standoff

Norm Ornstein is a very, very smart man, one of the smartest policy wonks in Washington. But I’m afraid his suggestion for a way out of the budget and debt ceiling impasse, as reasonable as it may seem to reasonable people, is destined for failure even if President Obama were to offer it.
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Can Obama Unilaterally Lift the Debt Ceiling?

With the government still shut down and the debt ceiling limit about to be reached, some have argued that President Obama could invoke Section 4 of the 14th Amendment and order the Treasury Department to continue borrowing despite the statutory debt limit having been reached. Section 4 says:
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Obamacare, Gold Plans and Demagoguery

If you want an absolutely perfect example of demagoguery, look no further than the wingnut outrage over Congress and their staff getting subsidized access to the Affordable Care Act’s Gold Metal plan. The Worldnetdaily put up half an article linking to the full article at The Hill about this on the regulations issued on this matter.
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Frum on the Republican Kamikaze Plan

With a government shutdown here and the internecine battles in the Republican party reaching a fever pitch, David Frum tries, as so many others have, to be a voice of reason in the GOP. But as he correctly notes, this has little hope of succeeding because the extreme right tail is now wagging the Republican dog.
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House Debt Ceiling Bill: Surrender or the Government Gets It

The House Republicans gave a copy of their proposed legislation for raising the debt ceiling and to call it laughable would be a rather significant understatement. They essentially demand that President Obama give them everything they want on every other issue and throw in a pony too. Ezra Klein’s got it nailed:
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