RUBIO: Federal government used to target political opponents

Rubio: “But the message is clear, and that is: ‘If we don’t like what you are saying or what you are doing, then we are going to use the apparatus of government to intimidate you and make you very uncomfortable.’ That is the story of the IRS, that is the story of the Justice Department via the AP issue, and that is the story with Benghazi.”

Excerpts from Interview with FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly

Senator Marco Rubio

May 14, 2013

Senator Marco Rubio: “I don’t know if the President did though. We don’t have evidence of that. I can tell you that what has become clearly apparent is a culture throughout the federal government, not just the IRS, but the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. We have seen that now in three different incidents that basically use the government as an instrument of political activity to target your political opponents, to make life difficult for the people that are saying things that you don’t like, to make life difficult for whistle blowers that are saying things about the State Department that you don’t like, and I believe that all that comes from the top of any organization. So, I think that is where the questions are increasingly leading, and it is embarrassing for the country. These are things you typically see in the third world, from un-established republics and other places. You don’t see that here, and I think that is what is really troubling about the recent string of events.”

Rubio: “Right, so we have to be careful about that, but let me just say this. I don’t think that kind of environment can flourish unless there is created a space or an environment where it is encouraged. So, this is what we do know. We do know that donors to Mitt Romney and the Republican causes last year where targeted by Obama’s campaign apparatus, and the gentleman in Idaho that was targeted in his operation. We know others that complained about it. So, it is a general culture of the willingness to use the instruments of government to put what you consider to be your political opponents in a bad position, and you’ve seen that now on issue after issue. You have a whistle blower last week saying that in Benghazi that they felt threatened for their job. You have the AP now being targeted in a widespread effort to find out information about them, and you have this incident with the IRS.”

Rubio: “If this was just targeted at the leaks, that is a valid law enforcement endeavor. The problem is this is so widespread. If you look at what the request was and how widespread it was, what it basically feels like, and you’re seeing people in the press saying that. By the way, the curiosity in all this is how the press wanted to ignore Benghazi. They wanted to ignore all this other stuff. But when it touches them, now this thing is ‘the next Watergate.’ But back to the point about the AP, the request was so widespread; it wasn’t targeted. It was so widespread, it was like a fishing expedition.”

Rubio: “But the message is clear, and that is: ‘If we don’t like what you are saying or what you are doing, then we are going to use the apparatus of government to intimidate you and make you very uncomfortable.’ That is the story of the IRS, that is the story of the Justice Department via the AP issue, and that is the story with Benghazi.”

Rubio: “We did a hearing and Secretary Clinton came before us and answered questions and obviously as more information comes out, what she said at that hearing will have to be compared to what the facts are that are being uncovered, and I hope that they match up. And if they don’t, then obviously, there will be consequences for that. But look here is the bottom line: there are two separate issues to look at in Benghazi. One is were the talking points manipulated for political purposes? And number two, should we even have been there to begin with, in Benghazi, after a steady stream of intelligence reporting that told the State Department that it is a very dangerous environment to have been there? They should have closed it down, and if they were going to keep Benghazi open, they should have had an adequate security and an adequate plan to rescue those people, and they did not.”

Full Interview: http://youtu.be/aJ_CT7YmmE4

Florida Rep. Buchanan: “Heads Need to Roll” at the IRS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, and the only member of the Florida delegation on the House Ways and Means Committee, today called on acting-IRS commissioner Steven Miller to immediately fire Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official who oversaw the intentional targeting of individuals because of their politics and criticism of the government.

“Heads need to roll today,” said Buchanan, Florida’s only member of the Ways & Means Committee which oversees the IRS. “Ms. Lois Lerner knew about this gross abuse of power as early as 2011 but continues to plead ignorance to this day. We don’t want apologies we want answers and accountability — and we can start by firing the person responsible for this gross abuse of power.”

On Friday, Lerner told reporters that she first learned of the IRS targeting of political groups from media reports. However, a draft report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration confirms that Ms. Lerner was made aware that such political targeting had occurred on June 29, 2011. Ms. Lerner also tried to pin the blame on low-level workers. The Inspector General’s report confirms that senior IRS officials in Washington were made aware of the misconduct as early as August 2011.

“Our founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they knew their government was targeting individuals based on their political beliefs and criticism of the government,” said Buchanan. “The American people need to know they can be critical of their government without fear of retribution.”

Buchanan issued a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday demanding a full accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for the IRS’s gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust. The Ways & Means Committee will hold its first hearing on Friday to further investigate the matter.

Congressman Buchanan sent the letter below to Treasury Secretary Lew:

May 13, 2013

The Honorable Jacob Lew
Secretary of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew,

I share the outrage of millions of Americans at confirmed reports that the Internal Revenue Service has gone out of its way to intentionally target individuals and organizations whose politics are at odds with the Administration. The American people demand and deserve a full-accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for this gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust.

On March 22, 2012, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee which oversees the IRS, we heard then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman clearly state that the IRS did not engage in the practices of which it is now accused saying “there is absolutely no targeting.” Yet, less than a year earlier, Commissioner Shulman’s own deputy, Lois Lerner, was made aware that such malpractice had indeed occurred. It became evident that groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names were extremely vulnerable to auditing harassment. Even nonprofit organizations that sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution were unfairly singled out for scrutiny.

The nation’s trust in government was betrayed by this unconscionable behavior.

On behalf of my constituents, your immediate response is not only warranted but essential to clearing up a matter that would have our founding fathers rolling in their graves.

Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan
Member of Congress

Rubio introduces legislation to limit powers of IRS

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today filed an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from abusing its powers to violate first amendment rights. Rubio will introduce identical legislation, the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination & Protection Act of 2013, in the Senate tomorrow. The legislation, introduced today in the House by Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), provides for mandatory termination and criminal liability for Internal Revenue Service employees who willfully violate the constitutional rights of a taxpayer. The need for the legislation is demonstrated by current reports of the IRS deliberately targeting conservative organizations, and it expressly states that political speech and political expression are protected rights.

The legislation reads in part, “Whoever being an employee of the Internal Revenue Service, engages, during the performance of that employee’s official duties, in an act or omission described in section 1203(b) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 shall be fined under this 8 title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.’’

“A government organization like the IRS discriminating against political organizations is an outrageous abuse of power, and the American people have every right to demand answers and accountability,” said Rubio. “Those responsible individuals should face all appropriate punishment available under current law, and all organizations and individuals who engage in political speech and expression should be protected against this kind of discriminatory behavior in the future. I commend Congressman Turner for championing this legislation in the House and hope our colleagues will join us in providing protections to deter this kind of governmental abuse from happening again.”

Earlier, Rubio sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to demand the resignation of the current IRS Commissioner. “The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

To view the legislation, click here.

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013

The Honorable Jack Lew 
Secretary 
U.S. Department of the Treasury 
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

Rubio: IRS head must resign

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (pictured above) to demand the resignation of the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner, in light of reports about the agency’s deliberate targeting of conservative organizations.

“[I]t is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership,” said Rubio in a letter to Lew. “I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.”

Rubio also called on Lew to ensure the Treasury Department’s full cooperation with all investigations regarding this scandal now known as “IRSgate”.

“The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013
The Honorable Jack Lew
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

The Ugly Facts About the Internet Sales Tax

The Internet sales tax passed the Senate, but a growing chorus is pointing out that it would hurt many to help the tax man.

The Senate passed the misleadingly named Marketplace Fairness Act last week by a vote of 69-27. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that he is unlikely to support it—and other House Members said they want to take a thorough look at it through the normal committee process.

“Moving this bill where you’ve got 50 different sales tax codes, it’s a mess out there,” Boehner said. “You’re going to make it much more difficult for online retailers to be able to comply.”

For a larger view click on the image

Not only would it charge a new sales tax to many consumers shopping online, but it fails to do what its proponents say—achieve “fairness” for stores.

As Heritage’s Curtis Dubay says:

The MFA is anything but fair, because instead of leveling the playing field, it would tilt it decidedly against online retailers, particularly small ones. Brick-and-mortar stores would still have to collect sales taxes only where they are physically present. Online retailers would have to collect sales taxes from the nearly 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions around the country where their customers live. That is not an equal burden.

For someone running—or thinking about starting—a small online business, trying to deal with tax codes for all of the states that charge sales tax is a huge deterrent.

Yet the Senate rushed this bill through. Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist said the rush itself was one of the reasons the Internet sales tax made it this far.

“It’s only passing the Senate because they took it out of regular order,” he said. “Why did they want to rush it through without amendments? Why did they do that? Because if people looked at it too long, it wouldn’t pass easily.”

The House is going to consider the bill through the normal committee channels, giving Members more time to review it and ask questions.

This also allows time for more facts to enter the debate and misconceptions to be exposed. Share this with your friends and family to spread the word.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Rubio: IRS targeting of Conservative groups is reprehensible, must be investigated

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding today’s admission by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it has deliberately targeted conservative groups:

“The IRS’s political targeting of select groups based on their political leanings is reprehensible, and it should trouble every American to know that a federal government agency could abuse its power so outrageously.  We need immediate congressional hearings to investigate these actions and determine who needs to be held accountable.  This is deplorable behavior by the IRS that threatens the very essence of our democracy and the First Amendment rights under our Constitution.”

One of 300 letters sent from the IRS was to the Waco Tea Party.

The IRS letter states, “We need more information before we can complete our consideration of your application for. exemption.  Please provide the information requested on the enclosed Information Request by the response due date shown above. Your response must be signed by an authorized person or an officer whose name is listed on your application.  Also, the information you submit should be accompanied by the following declaration: Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this information, including accompanying documents, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, tile information contains all the relevant facts relating to the request for the information, and such facts are true, correct, and complete.” The Information Request demands in part the following:

1. Please provide copies of your current web pages, including your blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.

2. Provide copies of the pages of your social networking sites.

10. List the community events, including rallies, you organized or took part in in the past, or plan to organize or participate in during the current election cycle. What are the dates on which they took place or will take place?

a. Describe the purpose of the event, and the issues that it addressed.

b. Provide copies of any materials disseminated to participants in the event.

c. If you permitted a candidate qua candidate to address the participants in any event, explain in detail.

20. Apart from your responses to the preceding,estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle,in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates,for public office.

The IRS letter concludes with:

If we don’t hear from you by the response due date shown above,we will assume you no longer want us to consider your application for exemption and will close your case. As a result,the Internal Revenue Service will treat you as a taxable entity. If we receive the information after the response due date, we may ask you to send us a new application.

From the letter it appears that the IRS was seeking information beyond its role and responsibility.

Rubio: Internet Sales Tax is a money grab by tax-hungry states

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding this evening’s vote on the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, which would force businesses that sell products and services online to collect sales taxes from consumers in other states where these businesses have no physical representation:

“The Internet sales tax is a terrible idea that will crush small businesses with the new burden of having to collect taxes from their out-of-state consumers. The Internet sales tax is nothing more than a money grab by tax-hungry state and local governments that are desperate for more revenue because they refuse to cut spending.

“As far as job-killing taxes go, the Internet sales tax is the worst kind because, rather than only take the hard-earned money of small businesses, it imposes more complications and burdens for businesses to comply with.

“To illustrate how bad an idea this Internet sales tax is, if it ever becomes law, it will force businesses in Florida to collect sales taxes imposed by over 9,000 jurisdictions throughout the U.S. That means companies will be forced to spend more time and money figuring all of this out and making sure they send the right amount to each state and municipality where their consumers reside. The more companies are burdened with new mandates like this, the less time and money they have to grow their businesses and create new jobs.”

The cost of amnesty

A new study by the Heritage Foundation on the cost of amnesty will reveal the following:

The immigration debate is about to get a lot more concrete.

Lawmakers need to be honest about the cost of their proposed immigration plans—and a new study due out today from The Heritage Foundation calculates the cost to taxpayers of granting amnesty to unlawful immigrants.

Yesterday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Heritage President Jim DeMint said:

The study you’ll see from Heritage this week presents the staggering costs of another amnesty in our country and the detrimental effects, long-term, that that will have. There’s no reason we can’t begin to fix our immigration system so that we won’t make this problem worse. But the bill that’s being presented is unfair to those who came here legally; it’ll cost Americans trillions of dollars; it’ll make our unlawful immigration system worse.

Watch Jim DeMint talk about the cost of amnesty on “This Week”

DeMint previewed the study, conducted by Heritage senior research fellow in domestic policy Robert Rector, who studied the cost of amnesty under a similar proposal in 2007. DeMint said:

The way that we calculated the cost, and I read the study over the weekend, I don’t think anyone can argue with it. If you consider all the factors related to the amnesty—and believe me, this is comprehensive, that it will have a negative long-term impact on our gross domestic product. We just want Congress for once to count the cost of a bill. They are notorious for underestimating the cost and not understanding the consequences.

Heritage’s Jason Richwine, the senior policy analyst in empirical studies, says the new report will be a “resounding rebuttal to the claim from amnesty supporters that a long waiting period between the initial amnesty and citizenship will eliminate any major costs to taxpayers.”

This window of ineligibility for many government services has led supporters to argue that an amnesty will not be costly. There are two problems with this argument. First, households headed by illegal immigrants today consume some government services and pay far less in taxes….The second problem with the view that amnesty would not be costly because of the waiting period is rather obvious: After the waiting period is over, lifetime costs will be substantial.

To make sure that costs are counted accurately, Richwine says, “The estimates for the final period in our research will be calculated beginning 14 years after the initial amnesty, which is the point at which recipients could become naturalized citizens.”

Heritage’s cost analysis is unique. DeMint dismissed the idea that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) could be trusted with calculating the bill’s costs, because it is bound by the way that Congress asks it to add the numbers. He said:

CBO said Obamacare wouldn’t cost us anything—they’re basically puppets of the Congress and the assumptions that they put in the bill. Heritage is the only organization that has done an analysis of the cost. Unlawful immigrants make up about 2 percent of our GDP, and they consume most of that. If you consider all the factors of amnesty and unlawful immigration, the cost will be in the trillions of dollars over the lifetime of these unlawful immigrants.

DeMint said that Members of Congress must read the Gang of Eight immigration proposal to make sure they know what is on the table.

“I think if people read the bill, that it will be blocked,” he said. “Because once you get into it, just like Obamacare, it is not the way it’s being advertised.”

To read the full study click here.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Florida’s Internet sales tax

According to NOLO, the online legal encyclopedia, “The Internet takes tax-free shopping to a new level. In fact, no-tax shopping has become a prime lure of online retailers looking to hook consumers on click-and-charge buying. Despite what you sometimes hear, however, some Internet sales are subject to sales tax, and even when a site doesn’t collect sales tax, consumers are technically responsible for remitting any unpaid sales tax on online purchases directly to their state.”

For information on the Internet sales tax laws for each state, see NOLO’s Internet Sales Tax: A 50-State Guide to State Laws.

NOLO states, “The current default rule throughout the United States is that you must collect sales tax on Internet sales to customers in those states where your business has a “physical presence.” The physical-presence rule is based on a 1992 United States Supreme Court decisionQuill Corp. v. North Dakota, that addressed the obligations of mail-order businesses to collect sales tax on out-of-state sales. The decision has been extended to include online retailers.”

NOLO reports in its column “Florida Internet Sales Tax“, “A more specific statement of what counts as physical presence under Florida law can be found among the various definitions of “dealer” (meaning a person or entity required to pay sales tax) in Section 212.06 of Florida’s sales and use tax law. More particularly, a ‘dealer’ under this law includes ‘any person . . . who maintains or has within [Florida], directly or by a subsidiary, an office, distributing house, salesroom, or house, warehouse, or other place of business’.”

Senator Nancy Detert, R-FL District 28.

Senator Nancy Detert, Florida District 28, introduced SB 0316: Taxes. SB 0316 states:

Taxes; Reducing the tax rate applied to the sale of communications services; reducing the tax rate applied to retail sales of direct-to-home satellite services; revising the term “mail order sale” to specifically include sales of tangible personal property ordered through the Internet; providing that certain persons who make mail order sales and who have a nexus with this state are subject to this state’s power to levy and collect the sales and use tax when they engage in certain enumerated activities, etc.

NOLO notes that in 2012:

“The Florida legislature recently considered amending the state’s legal definition of a mail-order sale so that Internet “dealers” who do not have a physical presence in the state would nonetheless have to pay Florida sales tax. Laws of this sort have been considered in various forms in various states. They are sometimes referred to as “Amazon laws.”

[ … ]

More particularly, earlier this year the Florida legislature considered amending the state’s sales and use tax law to require out-of-state “dealers” without a physical presence in Florida, but with so-called “click-through” arrangements with persons in Florida, to nonetheless collect sales tax. Such a dealer would need to collect sales tax from Florida customers if that dealer:

  • had an agreement with one or more Florida residents to direct potential buyers to the dealer via a website link
  • compensated the Florida residents for directing potential buyers to the online dealer, and
  • the dealer’s “cumulative gross receipts” from such directed sales to Florida customers exceeded $10,000 within the preceding 12 months

However, the proposed legislation was never enacted. It remains unclear whether similar legislation will be re-introduced in the future.

We know that Senator Detert did introduce this legislation during the 2013 session.

Final Words from NOLO:

The issue of whether to require online retailers to collect sales tax in a state where they have no physical presence has been a matter of ongoing debate. At this time, however, Florida has not enacted any law that would require such retailers to collect sales tax from Florida customers.

In Florida, the physical-presence rule continues to apply for Internet retailers. However, because the issue remains contentious, you should consider checking in periodically with the Florida Department of Revenue to see if the rules have changed. Also, for more general information on taxes on Internet sales, see Nolo’s article Sales Tax on the Internet.

Tax Collector answers questions about taxes in Florida

Barbara Ford-Coates

April is National Tax Burden Month. WDW – Florida has asked a tax collector to answer some questions about taxes in Florida. We want to thank Barbara Ford-Coates, Florida Tax Collector serving Sarasota County, for providing answers to our tax questions. Since property taxes comprise the largest dollar amount collected, the below answers from Barbara Ford-Coates address those taxes.

1. What kind of role do you play in shaping or implementing Florida’s tax policy?

The Florida Legislature has the primary responsibility for the state’s tax policy. The Tax Collector’s role is to advise the State on the most efficient way to implement the final law. [E.G.  Florida Tax Collectors recently worked to give taxpayers the option of receiving their tax bill(s) electronically.]

2. What are some of the most common misconceptions citizens have about Florida state taxes?  What are some of the most common mistakes you see citizens make when filing their tax returns?

One misconception we hear about relates to the time period. Since Florida taxes are collected in arrears, taxpayers sometimes believe they are paying the following year’s taxes. As an example, the 2012 tax bills were mailed around November 1st of 2012 and were payable through March of 2013.   A taxpayer who paid the bill in March of 2013 may have thought they were paying the 2013, rather than 2012 tax bill. The most common mistake we see is sending the wrong amount.

3.  How do incentives work? Credits? Sales tax holidays? Do you think these help Florida?

Tax collectors have no involvement in incentives, credits or sales tax holidays.

4.  How can we make Florida’s tax code simpler and more citizen-friendly? What changes would you suggest?

I think the concept of a locally elected official (Tax Collector, Property Appraiser etc.) working to implement State tax laws provides the best opportunity for citizen-friendly administration.  As an elected official, I have both a duty to the state and the taxpayer. As such, I must always work to make paying taxes as simple and easy as possible for the taxpayer.  In that role I can and do advise the state how to improve the process.

5.  Is your agency doing all it can to collect the taxes it is owed?  What is the consequence for not paying Florida taxes on time?

Within a year of receiving the property tax roll from the Property Appraiser and the non-ad valorem districts, we collect over 99.5% of the roll. Of the remaining unpaid taxes, we continue our focused efforts (selling tax certificates, field visits) to collect the rest.

Failure to pay real estate taxes on time results in additional costs to the taxpayer. If the taxes remain unpaid two years after the date of delinquency, the taxpayer is at risk of losing their property. Delinquent real estate taxes are primarily collected through the sale of tax certificates (tax liens) to investors who pay the tax in exchange for having a lien on the property. Unpaid tangible taxes also result in additional penalties and interest to the taxpayer.  Delinquencies are collected through a variety of enforcement efforts that include the issuance of warrants, field visits, contacts by phone, email and correspondence, and the sale and seizure of assets.

The state agency that deals most with Florida taxes is the Department of Revenue.

WDW- Florida provided James McAdams, Director Property Tax Oversight, these same questions. Director McAdams provided this reply, “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in your article about tax administration. Since the Department of Revenue does not play a role in the development of tax policy your invitation would be more properly directed to members or staff of the Florida Legislature.”

A copy of this column has been sent to Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Cabinet and all Florida legislators.

Tax Day 2013: America waking up with a case of an in the red Monday

The following is courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

Americans are waking up today to the worst “case of the Mondays” they’ll have all year: It’s Tax Day.

Most Americans dread Tax Day, and for good reasons. Beyond the huge tab Americans pay to the government, the tax code is so complex that it’s difficult to figure out what we owe to the IRS. This is a pain for taxpayers and a huge drain on the economy.

According to the federal Taxpayer Advocate in its 2012 report, Americans’ cost of complying with today’s complex tax code totaled $168 billion in 2010. That’s almost as large as the impact of the Obama tax hikes in fiscal year 2013, and twice the size of sequestration this year [see chart].

It takes taxpayers 6.1 billion hours—or 51 hours per household—to complete all the required filings. That’s more than six full eight-hour working days per household!

The compliance burden comes on top of the direct financial cost of $3.5 trillion in federal spending. In 2012, Washington collected $20,000 in taxes for every household in America. But Washington spent nearly $30,000 per household.

TaxDay_403

Americans pay high taxes as it is, and with the 13 tax increases that hit this year, tax revenue is growing beyond its historical average as a share of the economy. But Washington’s deficits continue, because spending keeps going up.

Future Tax Days promise to be even worse because of the tax increases from the fiscal cliff deal and from Obamacare. Taxpayers will start seeing these costs when they do their tax returns next April and in future years.

Too much taxing and spending is bad for the nation. Americans are right to be concerned about how the President and Congress allocate their hard-earned money. As the above infographic shows, 45 percent or almost half of all spending went toward paying for Social Security and health care entitlements. Without reforming these massive and growing programs, Washington will have to borrow increasing amounts of money, piling debt onto younger generations and putting the nation on a dangerous economic course.

Growing government spending threatens current and future taxpayers with higher taxes. Congress should reduce spending and prevent any more tax increases. Congress also needs to reform the tax code so it is less of a burden on the American people.

Tax day is a real drag, but it doesn’t have to be this bad. Learn more at savingthedream.org.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Bring it on! Let’s talk fairness in tax policy (+ video)

April is National Tax Burden Month. As part of the WDW – Florida campaign to educate you, the taxpayer, on issues surrounding the tax debate we provide this column on “tax fairness”.

What does fairness mean when applied to federal, state and local tax policy?

President Obama and those in the Occupy Wall Street movement have focused on “fairness” in federal tax policy. Fairness is a word with many meanings and was used to raise taxes on those making more than $450,000. But what is fair?

Recently AFP Foundation Director of Policy, James Valvo, had the opportunity to sit down with Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute. Dr. Brooks shared his insight and research on the moral argument of fairness, and why economic freedom and earned success is the most “fair” concept of all.

In the video below, Dr. Brooks demonstrates what a powerful impact taxpayers can have in framing the debate on tax fairness.

Dr. Brooks uses a human research test to determine fairness as a counter to the current class-warfare rhetoric.  He argues that based on research Americans believe in a system where hard work is valued and rewarded, and that this message can have a tremendous impact if presented in this “real fairness” light.

Watch the video interview with Dr.  Brooks from AEI:

ABOUT AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY:

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process. AFP is an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state, and federal levels. AFP grassroots activists advocate for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint. To that end, AFP supports:

  • Cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens by fighting proposed tax increases and pointing out evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse.
  • Removing unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship and opportunity by sparking citizen involvement early in the regulatory process in order to reduce red tape.
  • Restoring fairness to our judicial system.

Read more: http://americansforprosperity.org/about/#ixzz2QF1dLBD2

ABOUT AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE:

The American Enterprise Institute is a community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise. AEI pursues these unchanging ideals through independent thinking, open debate, reasoned argument, facts and the highest standards of research and exposition. Without regard for politics or prevailing fashion, we dedicate our work to a more prosperous, safer and more democratic nation and world.

AEI is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare. Founded in 1938, AEI is home to some of America’s most accomplished public policy experts.

Read more: http://www.aei.org/about/

Rubio: Obama’s budget is a blueprint for a recession

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s budget:

“President Obama’s budget is a blueprint for a recession. Filled to the brim with middle class tax hikes and debt spending, the recycled liberal ideas in his budget have failed time and again to create real vibrant economic growth for the American people. Our nation needs a plan that reflects the principles of limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense.

“President Obama’s plan taxes and punishes American success, and it encourages long-term dependency on government. The President already got $600 billion in tax increases from the fiscal cliff deal struck in January, which I opposed. Now he wants over $1 trillion more in taxes on retirement savings, small businesses and job creators who can’t afford to hire because they’re burdened with new costs as they scramble to figure out just what’s in ObamaCare. It will never even come close to balancing our budget in the next ten years, leaving it up to future generations to figure out how to stop Washington from spending more money than it takes in.

“While the President’s budget attempts to address some of the defense cuts imposed by sequestration, I am concerned that it does nothing to reverse the damaging impact that cuts have already had on our military readiness. America is becoming less capable of projecting power and deterring conflict wherever it arises. For example, despite almost daily evidence of the increasing threat to the United States posed by rogue states with ballistic missiles, the President’s budget cuts spending on missile defense.

“A solid budget proposal – like the one House Republicans submitted last month – would develop American energy projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, fundamentally reform the tax code, eliminate job-crushing regulations, cut wasteful spending, and ensure we have the military needed to keep Americans safe. We need to enact policy that allows for income mobility and empowers economic opportunity. The Obama budget fails to do all of this. On the bright side, after arriving 65 days late, the budget proposal is useless considering the House and Senate have already proposed and passed budget resolutions.”

The Heritage Foundation analyzed President Obama’s budget and published “Five key things to know about President Obama’s budget“:

1. It hikes taxes by $1.1 trillion.

Heritage’s Curtis Dubay says: “There was little doubt that President Obama would propose a huge tax hike in his budget. It is a bit surprising, however, that the total tax increase he proposes is almost double what he claims it to be.”

Dubay explains where all the tax increases come from—including the “Buffett Rule,” capping tax deductions, and hiking the cigarette tax and the death tax.

BudgetGuide_Snippet_V2

See an extended version of this infographic

2. It underfunds defense.

Heritage’s Patrick Louis Knudsen explains that “While boosting domestic spending, the President remains indifferent to national security needs. His proposed defense spending, though somewhat higher than sequestration levels, remains inadequate.” Baker Spring says, “The result is going to be a defense posture that is too small in terms of both personnel and force structure, does not include modern weapons and equipment, and does not provide adequate levels of training and maintenance.”

3. It doubles down on Obamacare.

The Obama budget actually expands parts of Obamacare and even includes new changes to Medicare that create two sneaky new “taxes” on seniors. Obamacare’s “malignant new entitlements—its health insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansions—start in this 2014 budget,” Knudsen reminds us.

With their implementation, the misnamed Affordable Care Act will add a distinctly unaffordable $1.8 trillion in federal spendingthrough 2023. Equally important, Obamacare commandeers the health care sector with a massive program that further distorts the market, intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship, and dismisses personal and religious liberty.

4. It doesn’t balance and never will.

As Knudsen says, “Because the budget never balances—it doesn’t even try—debt remains at dangerously elevated levels.” See how Obama’s non-balancing budget compares to the plansin the House and Senate, as well as Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan.

5. It’s irrelevant.

The President’s budget is more than two months late. The House and Senate have already passed their own budgets, and the next step is for the two chambers to come together to see if they can hash out a budget that both chambers can pass. At this point, why is the President bothering?

Rubio introduces “Refund Act” to empower states to help pay down the national debt

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today introduced the Returned Exclusively For Unpaid National Debt (REFUND) Act. This legislation would allow states to identify and return unwanted federal funds to the federal treasury in order to help pay down the $16.7 trillion national debt. The REFUND Act has 16 original cosponsors in the Senate and a companion bill, H.R.282, has already been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3).

“Excessive spending is fueling our growing debt, yet states have little say in what happens to federal money if they choose not to spend it,” said Rubio. “The REFUND ACT can help end the ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ mentality which encourages states to take debt-financed money from Washington. Instead it will empower them with a way to help slow the steady rise of the national debt.”

“Many state officials and leaders realize the national debt is an increasing burden to our children and grandchildren and want to help stop Washington’s spending spree to help alleviate that burden. The REFUND Act will give states an opportunity to end the practice of spending money we don’t have and serve as an incentive for them to help pay down the debt and re-embark on a path toward economic growth and opportunity.”

The REFUND Act would allow any state to designate federal funds as “unwanted” through a resolution from the state legislature, which would then be allocated towards debt reduction at the Treasury Department. The REFUND Act would require that an annual report be submitted to Congress each year detailing the amount deposited by each state. The REFUND Act has been endorsed by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

Original cosponsors of the REFUND Act are Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Saxby Chambliss, (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jim Risch (R-ID) and David Vitter (R-LA).

The question is will the states put the best interests of the American people first? Or will they keep the money.

Many times state political leaders argue that if we don’t take the money it will go to another state. Now, that excuse could become invalid. Let’s see if this gets passed in a divided Washington, where two thirds of the politicians want more taxes and more spending.