Policy lessons from the Beatles

The Beatles are hailed as icons of the Sixties counter-culture.  But in a lot of ways they were quite conservative.  Economics columnist Neil Irwin looks at their song lyrics and how they handled their money, drawing out what we can learn from the Beatles about taxes, retirement, and change. [Read more...]

Tax breaks that have expired as of Jan. 1

Fifty-five tax breaks have expired with the new year.  Some are clearly special-interest perks.  Others are time-honored staples, such as companies getting to deduct Research & Development expenses and tax incentives for wind power and energy-efficient appliances.  Others amount to broad-based tax increases. [Read more...]

Court throws out pastors’ housing allowance tax break

Pastors and other church workers have long been able to take part of their compensation as an untaxed housing allowance, resulting in substantial tax savings.  But a federal court has ruled in a suit brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation that the tax break for clergy is unconstitutional.

The ruling has been stayed, pending appeal, but if it stands, pastors and their families will take a significant hit in their income. [Read more...]

IRS recognizes same-sex marriages

When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, social conservatives consoled themselves by saying that the action did not mandate gay marriage across the board.  That remains a decision for each state.  But it does mean that the Federal Government now recognizes gay marriage.  That was made clear when the IRS and the Treasury Department announced that same-sex marriages, no matter what state they were performed in, will qualify for all marriage deductions and other tax benefits that husbands and wives receive. [Read more...]

Taxation without representation

Just what school children need:  more internet!  President Obama has a new signature program in the works.  “ConnectEd” will provide high-speed internet access to schools, with its multi-billion dollar cost funded by new fees on cell phones.  And the beauty of it, according to the administration, is that it can all be done–including the funding–apart from Congress.  All it will take is approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Wouldn’t this constitute taxation without representation? [Read more...]

Taxing calories

In yet another example of using taxes to control people’s behavior, it is now being proposed (not by lawmakers so far) to battle obesity by taxing food based on its number of calories. [Read more...]


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