Fiscal Cliff

Environment, energy programs survive fiscal cliff vote NRDC

Do not change tax treatment of municipal bonds, APPA, others tell Obama, Boehner APPAnews

As lawmakers race to negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, some experts say one tax increase should be on the table: a gas tax hike. Currently at 18.4 cents a gallon, the federal gas tax is used primarily to build and repair roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. The tax raises about $32 billion a year. But that’s not enough. The government hands out about $50 billion a year to states and towns to help with road costs. The difference comes out of general funds or has to be borrowed. Meanwhile, the gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993. “Establishing a sustainable resource base for transportation needs to be part of any grand bargain,” said Emil Frankel, a former transportation expert in the George W. Bush administration and now director of transportation policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “In the short run, raising the gas tax is the best way to do that.”

China’s economy, the red-hot growth engine that propelled global energy demand to dizzying heights over the last decade, is slowing down “faster than anyone forecast,” and could help keep global oil prices from soaring in a supply disruption.

That according to Edward Morse, Global Head of Commodity Research with Citi Group Global Markets. Speaking to the Department of Energy/National Association of State Energy Officials Winter Fuels Outlook Conference Oct. 10 in Washington, DC, Morse said China’s speedy reduction in import demand, along with the economic woes of the Eurozone, could have a significant leavening effect on world oil prices. Keep reading →

For most people the issue of corporate taxation is both intriguing and offputting in equal measure. The complex and often contradictory nature of the enormous US tax code allows for a combination of passion and boredom that extends to almost no other region of policy.

That is part of what has made attacking the US tax code in an effort to simplify it or make it reflect policy goals so challenging; companies with tax lawyers on call can take advantage of seemingly innocuous or even beneficial tax policy, only to be accused later of corruptly using ‘loopholes’ or ‘subsidies’ to run their businesses. At the same time, financiers and corporations build otherwise unsustainable business models around the tax code rather than at the intersection of supply and demand, in turn warping the very markets they intend to serve. Keep reading →