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Taxes & Budget

Coverage of the national budget and your taxes.

In this Nov. 17, 2015, file photo, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks during an event at the University of Richmond School of Law in Richmond, Va. (Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Supreme Court halts Puerto Rico from attempting to restructure debts at utilities

By Tom Howell Jr. - The Washington Times

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down Puerto Rico's attempt to restructure debts at its insolvent public utilities, meaning the island territory must wait for Congress to rescue it from its swirling fiscal crisis. Published June 13, 2016

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Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan said previous estimates of the nation's deficit were too low. U.S. debt has climbed to $19.3 trillion during President Obama's term, up from $10.6 trillion when he took office in 2009. (Associated Press)

Budget deficit nearly doubles during Obama years

- The Washington Times

The White House predicted Friday that the federal government's budget deficit for the current fiscal year will hit $600 billion, an increase of $162 billion over last year's and a final sour note on President Obama's watch.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Treasury cooked up excuse for Obamacare payments, GOP report says

- The Washington Times

The Obama administration ignored its own advice and forged ahead with Obamacare payments to insurers without permission from Congress, House Republicans said Thursday in a scathing report that says the White House dismissed the Constitution's separation of powers and swiped $7 billion from taxpayers.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

House to take first vote to censure IRS chief

- The Washington Times

The House Oversight Committee will vote this week on a resolution censuring IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his handling of the tea party targeting scandal, panel Chairman Jason Chaffetz announced Monday.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

IRS computer hack was worse than agency admitted

- The Washington Times

The IRS's computer hack was worse than previously admitted, and the tax agency failed to alert thousands of people that their information was stolen, and didn't give credit monitoring assistance to nearly 80,000 others who were targeted, an inspector general said Wednesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. faces reporters at Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this May 24, 2016, file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Paul Ryan emphasizes work, flexibility in anti-poverty plan

- The Washington Times

House Republicans unveiled a plan Tuesday to attack poverty "at its roots" by rewarding work, improving school programs and tailoring benefits to individual needs, although questions about presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump threatened to overshadow their plans once more.

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016 file photo, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The IRS says the agency's commissioner won't appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, May 24, 2106,  examining whether he deserves to be impeached. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

IRS chief John Koskinen says he's never spoken to Lois Lerner

- The Washington Times

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has declined to testify in his own defense at a congressional hearing Tuesday, but insisted in a statement that his bungling of a subpoena doesn't rise to the level of "treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors" needed for him to be impeached.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Earnest discussed the Zika virus, the Syrian city of Palmyra, and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

White House calls waste study 'pathetic'

- The Washington Times

The outrage over federal money being spent to study penis bee stings doesn't extend to the White House, where President Obama's spokesman said Wednesday the government should be opening its pocketbook wider.

Donald Trump breaks with Republicans on raising taxes, minimum wage

- The Washington Times

Just days before Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan meet to bridge differences and unify the Republican Party, the billionaire businessman again broke GOP economic orthodoxy and one of his most prominent and earliest supporters said she would work to oust Mr. Ryan from his post.

In this file photo taken Feb. 10, 2016, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

White House rejects bills to reform IRS

- The Washington Times

The White House is opposing four Republican-sponsored bills to crack down on Internal Revenue Service operations, measures that the House plans to vote on this week.

President Barack Obama waves as he waits with first lady Michelle Obama for the arrival of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Obamas paid effective tax rate of 18.7 percent in 2015

- The Washington Times

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama paid more than $81,000 in taxes last year on reported adjusted gross income of $436,065, for an effective tax rate of 18.7 percent, according to tax returns released Friday afternoon by the White House.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., joined by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., left, and other GOP leaders, meets with reporters following a closed-door caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this Wednesday, April 13, 2016, file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ** FILE **

House GOP agrees: Puerto Rico bill isn't a 'bailout'

- The Washington Times

Congress' bill to rescue Puerto Rico from its debt crisis is not a bailout, House Republicans agreed Friday, but conservatives are still coming to grips with provisions that appear to rewrite the rules from under the island's creditors.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen insisted that his agency was secure even after a Government Accountability Office report pointed out holes in the IRS' cybersecurity. (Associated Press)

IRS still vulnerable to hackers: GAO

- The Washington Times

The IRS's computers remain vulnerable to hackers, the government's top auditor said Monday, saying changes were still needed months after the agency suffered a breach that saw hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' most sensitive information stolen.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington on July 28, 2014. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

HHS awards $94 million to combat opioid crisis

- The Washington Times

The Obama administration awarded $94 million in Obamacare money Friday to health centers on the front lines of the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, one day after Democrats complained that a Senate-passed bill to combat the crisis lacked necessary funding.

President Obama meets with members of his economic team in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 4, 2016. Obama spoke about U.S. employers adding 242,000 workers in February, driving another solid month for the resilient American job market. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

H&R Block: Customers paying twice as much to satisfy Obamacare penalty

- The Washington Times

Halfway through tax season, uninsured filers are paying more than twice as much as they did last year to satisfy Obamacare's penalty for lacking coverage, H&R Block said Tuesday, in an analysis that says other customers still cannot match their incomes to IRS subsidies they got on the law's exchanges.

In yet another effort to frame his legacy, President Obama and his aides are hoping to convince Americans retroactively about the merits of the oft-derided $836 billion economic recovery act of 2009. (Associated Press)

Obama tries to convince skeptical public that stimulus sparked economic recovery

- The Washington Times

In yet another effort to frame his legacy, the president and his aides are hoping to convince Americans retroactively about the merits of the oft-derided $836 billion economic recovery act of 2009. While avoiding words such as "debt," they are pointing to cutting the unemployment rate in half, reducing the number of home foreclosures and helping the U.S. auto industry recover.

In this July 17, 2012, file photo, Marlboro cigarettes are displayed in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Maryland Democrats at odds on tobacco taxes direction

- The Washington Times

Democratic lawmakers are at odds over tobacco policy -- with some pushing to increase taxes on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, and others trying to reduce taxes for premium cigars. Both bills face uphill battles to win over lawmakers.

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In this Oct. 20, 2014, file photo, Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan answers questions during an interview with The Associated Press in Baltimore. Gov.-elect Hogan says he remains committed to pursuing tax relief in his first year as governor, despite a projected budget shortfall of more than a half a billion dollars. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A bad tax law puts the government in the preaching business

Flawed and cumbersome tax laws afflict taxpayers everywhere, but few are as irksome, as silly and as constitutionally dangerous as Maryland's "stormwater remediation fee," also known as "the rain tax," including whatever penumbras and emanations that followed. Gov.-elect Larry Hogan, a Republican, vowed during his campaign to free taxpayers from the overreaching state law that claims to protect the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways from polluted runoff, flooding and erosion. Together with others, he argues persuasively that it amounts to little more than a weather levy, with accompanying clouds.

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Lame-duck Congress may lay golden eggs for crony capitalists

The lame-duck Congress that will meet after the Nov. 4 election could lay a few golden eggs that will hatch into a new flock of crony capitalist ducklings. The gold would actually come from taxpayers. The politically well-connected are especially eager about an $18 billion giveaway to wind farms, a tax credit that benefits mostly millionaires and billionaires.

DUBAY: How to make a promising tax reform even better

Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida recently laid out their vision of tax reform. They are right to push for reform. Our burdensome tax code is one of the major obstacles holding the economy back from reaching its potential. In the process, it is denying countless American families the opportunities they deserve.