With Democratic control over the House, Senate, and Presidency for the first time since 2011, President Biden has been ambitious in his efforts to reinvigorate the economy, signing into law a $1.9 trillion economic aid package with plans to increase access to affordable housing and a $3 trillion investment in infrastructure. To finance their legislative agenda, Democrats have several initiatives which would mostly raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans such as Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax or increasing the maximum income tax rate back to 39.6%, as it was while President Bush was in office.
As the president and the Republican Party inch closer to finalizing their proposed tax overhaul, one major proposed change is the repeal of the estate tax. The estate tax is a tax on an individual’s right to transfer property upon his or her death, usually to the individual’s surviving relatives or heirs. Currently, estates are taxed at a rate of 40% after the first 5.5 million. While the tax itself only impacts the wealthiest 0.2% of Americans, the inclusion or repeal of the tax in the Republican tax bill will affect Americans of all income brackets.
The IRS suspended its Automatic Substitute for Return (ASFR) Program for lack of resources, Tax Analysts and others report. The ASFR program has long provided an avenue for the IRS to assess taxes on delinquent filers after requests to file returns were ignored by having its computer system automatically calculate the tax due based on Forms 1099 and other information reports that had been filed with the IRS. The IRS could then assess the taxes and attempt to collect based on these substitute returns. However, since deductions were ignored, the tax amounts tended to be inflated, sometimes incredibly so, and significant IRS time was required to respond to contested assessments and collection efforts that were sometimes highly unrealistic.
After failing to arrive at a consensus on healthcare reform, the Republican party recently passed a blueprint which marked their shift in focus to something less contentious: the American tax code. If the Republicans are successful, compliance with tax regulation in the United States may soon change. An aspect of the code likely to be reformed is how asset appreciation is taxed.
After Hurricane Irma’s dissipation on September 15, 2017, the residents of Florida can now begin to assess the damage caused by the strongest hurricane making landfall since Katrina in 2005. According to early estimates, Irma has caused over 62 billion dollars in damage. However, amongst the destruction there is a silver lining; the damage caused was significantly limited by building regulations that went into effect in 2002. Homes and buildings that would have otherwise been destroyed by Hurricane Irma were able to survive, and suffered only minor damage.