Baton Rogue man charged with attempting to illegally look up Trump’s tax returns

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From Politico: Louisiana man charged in attempt to look up Trump’s tax records

A Louisiana man has been charged with using a federal student loan application tool in an unsuccessful attempt to look up then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s tax records.

The man, Jordan Hamlett, is a private investigator, according to the publication, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, which first reported the arrest. The alleged attempt occurred on Sept. 13, in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. Hamlett pleaded not guilty, according to court records.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns because he says he is under IRS audit. Government watchdogs and Democrats have said the information will provide critical information about his business interests and indicate the true value of his wealth.

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Illusory property tax cuts

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From The Texas Tribune:Property tax relief doesn’t equal extra money in your pocket.”

The Texas Legislature is touting a bill — Senate Bill 2 — that would make it easier for property owners to protest big tax increases from cities, counties and special districts.

However, state promises of property tax relief tend to evaporate. Look in your wallet for the $126 in touted average savings you stashed there the last time lawmakers fiddled with property taxes, and the $2,000 boasted average savings you were supposed to get after major school tax reforms in 2006.

Taxpayers did get some relief, whether they felt it or not, from those efforts. But the savings were mostly eaten up by increasing property values and local school property tax increases driven, in large measure, by the Texas Legislature’s cuts in per-student spending on public education.

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Treasury’s Mnuchin would prefer dynamic scoring for GOP tax plan

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From Reuters, Treasury’s Mnuchin concerned about alternate scoring models of Trump tax plan.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers on Thursday that he has some doubts that what are known as alternate scoring models will give enough credit to the potential for economic growth when assessing the impact of the Trump administration’s tax plan.

In late April, the administration put out a one-page overview of its tax reform plans, which would cut taxes for businesses to 15 percent, as well as cutting taxes and simplifying income tax brackets for individuals. Critics questioned how the tax cuts would be offset without driving up the federal deficit.

“What I have said repeatedly is that any plan we put forward we believe should be paid for with economic growth,” Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee. “I am concerned as to whether some of the models will attribute enough growth in dynamic scoring but when we present the details we will present how we think it should be paid for.”

Earlier: Will Trump’s 2-for-1 executive order lead to ‘dynamic scoring’ for regulations?The Hill Continue reading “Treasury’s Mnuchin would prefer dynamic scoring for GOP tax plan” »


How the elimination of state and local tax deductions could impact Texans

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From The Dallas Morning News:How would Texans fare if Trump and House Republicans end state and local tax deduction?

Lone Star State lawmakers fought for years to give their constituents a fair shot at a wallet-fattening break on state and local taxes, eventually securing Texans the right to deduct sales tax from their federal returns just like other states’ residents do for income tax.

But now some of those same politicians want to eliminate the perk, which also covers property tax, for taxpayers in Texas and everywhere else.

Houston-area Rep. Kevin Brady has joined President Donald Trump and other Republicans in taking aim at the state and local deduction, the both revered and reviled chit that would be zeroed in exchange for lower tax rates and a simplification of the tax code.

“Rather than keeping federal tax rates high and giving tax breaks to a few who itemize, we are proposing to lower tax rates for everyone,” said Brady, who leads the House’s powerful tax panel. “So that all taxpayers can get help.”

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Rebranding property tax relief in Texas

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Texas lawmakers are still fighting over property taxes.

Without a state income tax and skimpy state aid, local governments rely heavily on property taxes for things like emergency services.

Property tax relief is a popular campaign item for state lawmakers, so there are a few bills that seek to limit ability of cities to raise property taxes.

In March, Texas’ Senate Finance Committee passed Sen. Paul Bettencourt’s bill that would reduce property taxes in this manner. Specifically, Senate Bill 2 (PDF) would trigger a special ratification election if average residential property taxes are raised more than 4%. This is a significant reduction from the current 8% rollback election limit. Continue reading “Rebranding property tax relief in Texas” »