Doug Sword

Buffeted by trade winds, soybean farmers seek tax credit renewal
Industry ‘would be wiped out‘ if tariffs on Argentine competitors were lifted, Rep. Kind says

One bright spot in an otherwise dreary outlook for U.S. soybean farmers, caught in the ongoing China trade war crossfire, has been the 1.5 gallons of biodiesel — a cleaner-burning alternative to traditional diesel motor fuel — that each bushel of soybeans yields.

Protected on one side by the EPA’s renewable fuels mandate and by steep import tariffs on the other, some biodiesel producers were able to post profits last year despite the lapse of the industry’s coveted $1 per gallon tax credit for the sale or use of the fuel.

Retirement bill remains stalled amid Republican holds in Senate
Finance Committee chairman says as many as six GOP senators have issues with the bill ‘for different reasons’

A handful of Republican senators are holding up what could be the biggest retirement savings bill in more than a decade.

After sailing through the House on a 417-3 vote May 23 before the weeklong Memorial Day recess, supporters hoped the legislation would garner unanimous consent for quick passage in the Senate the following day. But senatorial holds accumulated and continue to stall the measure.

Sen. Wyden threatens to hold up Treasury nominees over Trump tax returns
Oregon Democrat describes response from department as “wholly unacceptable”

Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden threatened to hold up Treasury Department nominees after receiving an “unresponsive and wholly unacceptable” response to questions he posed about the department’s refusal to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

“If the Treasury Department refuses to answer our questions, I am prepared to again place a hold on department nominees as I did previously when routine requests for information went unanswered,” the Oregon Democrat said in a statement Thursday.

Retirement savings bill seeks small business buy-in
Bipartisan momentum for change comes as retirement crisis looms

The House on Thursday will take up what could be the most significant changes in retirement savings policy in more than a decade.

But the bill’s backers acknowledge it’s just an initial step in addressing what critics call a huge hole in Americans’ nest eggs, at a time when traditional pension plans are increasingly rare and Social Security is facing financial headwinds.

Senate, House start to chip away at ‘kiddie tax’ hike
Increase for low-income children was an unintended consequence of 2017 tax overhaul

Both chambers are moving to reverse tax law changes that unintentionally subjected investment earnings of low-income children to the same tax rates paid by wealthier households.

The House, which under the Constitution must originate revenue bills, plans to act later this week on a broader retirement savings bill that would eliminate the full set of changes to the so-called kiddie tax made by Republicans in the 2017 tax overhaul.

Grassley, Wyden want to end uncertainty over temporary tax breaks
Five task forces charged with coming up with solutions for so-called tax extenders

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley announced the creation of five task forces charged with delving into what to do about 42 myriad tax breaks that continually get turned on and off by Congress, ranging from an incentive to sell cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel for trucks to a deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.

The joint announcement by the Iowa Republican and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the committee’s ranking member, comes 16 and a half months after 26 tax “extenders” expired at the end of 2017. Grassley said the task force is charged with coming up with solutions by the end of June, including whether to consolidate or change certain provisions, make them permanent or allow them to lapse.

Trump’s tax return battle will be fought in court, Mnuchin says
‘We haven’t made a decision but I think you can guess on the way we’re leaning on our subpoena,’ Mnuchin told appropriators

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday he expects the courts will resolve the conflict between the administration and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal over the release of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

“This will go to the third branch of government to be resolved,” Mnuchin said Wednesday during questioning before the Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig subpoenaed over Trump tax returns
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal makes announcement Friday

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal issued subpoenas Friday for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to provide President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

The action takes to the next level a five-week-long dispute between the administration and Neal, D-Mass., who first asked on April 3 for six years of Trump’s personal tax returns, the returns for eight Trump companies and other tax information.

Mnuchin rejects Neal’s request for Trump tax returns
Department ‘not authorized’ to disclose information, Treasury secretary says

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal Monday that the IRS will not hand over President Donald Trump’s tax returns and associated information.

“In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the Committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose, and … the Department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information,” Mnuchin wrote in a letter to Neal.

GOP conservatives sharpen knives for spending fight
House Republicans express concern about paying for $2 trillion infrastructure tab

Conservatives are making a fresh push to spread their message of fiscal discipline after new estimates that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds will soon be depleted, and amid talk of a $2 trillion infrastructure spending package and busting discretionary spending limits.

The House Republican Study Committee released a budget proposal Wednesday that assumes cutting $12.6 trillion in spending over a decade and eliminating the deficit within six years.

Mnuchin misses Trump tax returns deadline; asks for more time
Noncompliance with Democrats’ request could put Treasury secretary in jeopardy, legal experts say

Updated 6:12 p.m. | Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday he will make a determination by May 6 on whether to comply with House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal’s request for six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Neal had set a 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday for the administration to comply with his request. The Treasury Department announced shortly after the deadline that Mnuchin had sent a 10-page response to the Massachusetts Democrat’s request.

Social Security could go broke by 2035, but lawmakers have new ideas to fix it
If policymakers wait too long, solutions to fixing the program may involve politically unpalatable options

There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute — as long as waiting doesn’t make the problem worse.

Therein lies the conundrum facing lawmakers and 2020 presidential candidates when it comes to Social Security, which last year paid out retirement and disability benefits to some 63 million Americans.

Congress might finally help the IRS trade in its old clunkers for newer computers
Updates to the agency’s systems could provide new features and web-based solutions to taxpayers

IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig likes to compare the IRS’ past-their-prime computer systems to an aging car. In the case of this clunker, he puts the repair bill at somewhere between $2.3 billion and $2.7 billion.

That’s the cost of the IRS’ six-year modernization plan, intended to make dealing with the agency more like banking online, a goal it has attempted, and missed, in the past.

Treasury won’t meet deadline to release Trump tax returns
Mnuchin says more time is needed to review lawmakers’ request

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he needed more time to review House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal’s request for six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Mnuchin wrote in a letter Wednesday to Neal, D-Mass., that he would personally supervise the review and that he would consult with the Justice Department. Wednesday was the deadline set by Neal in a request to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig on April 3.

Mnuchin isn’t sure who will decide whether to hand over Trump’s taxes
Mnuchin was quizzed about a request for 6 years of the president’s tax returns at a hearing Tuesday

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he did not know if Treasury’s legal department was reviewing whether he or IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig should be the one to make the decision on whether to hand over President Donald Trump’s tax returns to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal.

Mnuchin was quizzed about his reaction to Neal’s April 3 letter requesting six years of the president’s tax returns at a hearing Tuesday of the House Appropriations Financial Services subcommittee by the panel’s chairman Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat.

Ways and Means chairman asks for Trump’s tax returns
Richard Neal sets a deadline of April 10 for the IRS

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal formally asked the IRS Wednesday for six years of President Trump’s tax returns and set a deadline of April 10 to get the documents.

Signaling a fight ahead, Trump told reporters later he was “not inclined” to comply with Neal’s demand.

Ways and Means considers major changes to retirement savings incentives
Much of the bill, approved by the committee Tuesday, recycles provisions from previous Congresses

The third time may be the charm for a 122-page collection of retirement benefit tweaks that died in the last two Congresses but has become a top priority for House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal.

Much of the bill that the Ways and Means Committee approved Tuesday recycles provisions from previous Congresses. One major change would make it easier for small businesses to band together to offer retirement benefits, while offering tax credits to defray the start-up costs.

The Federal Reserve chairman is in demand amid economic danger signs
The Fed chairman is stepping up the number of group meetings on his dance card, including with House Democrats

It must be nice to get your own personal report on the economy from the head of the world’s largest central bank.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell met with roughly 70 House Republicans at the whip team meeting prior to Monday night votes, where, among other things, he talked about the Fed recently lowering its economic growth projections for 2019 and 2020.