Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

IRS overpaid $100B in earned income credit from ‘03-’11

by Matt Rosenberg April 29th, 2012

An audit report from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General For Tax Administration says the Internal Revenue Service has overpaid U.S. taxpayers between $99 billion and $119 billion in earned income tax credit (EITC) payments, or allowances, from fiscal year 2003 through fiscal 2011. The 2011 estimate was $13.7 billion to $16.7 billion. The EITC is a tax benefit for low- and moderate-income workers. The Treasury audit notes the EITC overpayment estimates actually come from the IRS itself.

UW, WA researchers: tobacco-prevention ROI more than 5-1

by Matt Rosenberg March 30th, 2012

Washington state has gotten a good bang for its buck on tobacco-prevention spending, at a rate of more than five dollars in benefits for every dollar spent, according to a recent analysis published in the American Journal of Public Health by a team including researchers from the University of Washington and the Washington state Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. Tobacco control efforts in Washington state consist of three key approaches: price hikes (through tax increases on tobacco products); policies (such as enforcement of an indoor public smoking ban, and now a spread of local measures banning smoking in government-controlled outdoor properties); and programs (such as prevention education, particularly aimed at children and teens).

At least $5.73 saved for every dollar spent
The state spent almost $259.7 million on all forms of tobacco prevention from 2000 through 2009 and the researchers say they conservatively calculate the savings at $1.5 billion, for a return-on-investment (ROI) ratio of $5.73 saved for every dollar spent. The $1.5 billion in savings came in the form of almost 36,000 hospitalizations avoided for diseases found in peer-reviewed scientific literature to be significantly linked to smoking, such as heart disease, strokes, respiratory disease and cancer.

Seattle Community College teachers urge board to buy ethically; cut ties with Bank of America, Georgia Pacific

by Matt Rosenberg February 9th, 2012

The meeting this afternoon of the Seattle Community College District Board of Trustees will be preceded by a study session in which officials will begin to publicly mull a request from the teachers union to adopt a socially-responsible purchasing policy and cut ties with two major SCCD vendors reviled by many Seattle progressives.

A local unit of the American Federation of Teachers which represents SCCD instructors is pressuring the board to adopt a “socially responsible purchasing policy” that among other things would sever current business ties with the Bank of America and the Georgia Pacific paper company owned by the prominent national conservative political funders the Koch brothers. The district operates three community colleges in Seattle – North, South, and Central, and a satellite program at the Seattle Vocational institute.

$2.2 million in U.S. tax refunds due Washington residents

by Administrator December 5th, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service announced today that 2,087 Washington state taxpayers are due a total of $2.2 million in refunds for their 2010 federal taxes, which could not be delivered because of wrong mailing addresses. If you think you may be in that group, you can use the IRS tool, Where’s My Refund? to check, and update your contact information so you can receive a refund owed. A telephone version of the service is at 1-800-829-1954.

State of Washington spending up 57 percent from 1999-2011

by Matt Rosenberg November 29th, 2011

House Bill 2127 is the focus of the Washington State Legislature’s special session which began Monday amidst noisy protests and the urgent strains of Barry McGuire’s 1965 anti-war anthem, “Eve of Destruction” blaring loudly from a big tent on the Capitol lawn in Olympia, to the smiles of passers-by.

Introduced by Rep. Ross Hunter at the request of Gov. Christine Gregoire, HB 2127 would revise the current 2011-2013 state budget downward by almost $2 billion, leaving a $600 million surplus. Reductions in budgeted spending are detailed in the bill for a range of social service, education and other programs. Concerns about those reductions in planned spending brought crowds of protestors to Olympia Monday, chanting, among other things, “no cuts.”

Protestors march along north side of Capitol Nov. 28 in Olympia/Matt Rosenberg

Their concerns are real. Among a long list of reductions in planned spending, HB 2127 calls for $216 million less than originally budgeted this biennium in special ed funding (pp. 151-152); $163 million less than planned for education “local effort assistance” (p. 155); $404 million less for education “general apportionment” spending (p. 131); and $616 million less in planned spending by the state’s health care authority (p. 74).

If state budget cuts are defined as lowering planned spending increases, there have been steady cuts in recent years. But if cuts are defined as lowering overall spending from one state budget to the next, that has not occurred; just the opposite, in fact. The Washington state web site fiscal.wa.gov summarizes actual state spending in the last six and the current biennia, and the totals show it grew 57 percent percent from 1999-2001 through 2009-2011, from $45 billion to $71 billion. The fiscal.wa.gov site is sponsored and maintained by the state’s Office of Fiscal Management and Washington’s Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program.

If the currently approved 2011-2013 state budget were maintained, through creation of new revenues including a proposed half-cent statewide sales tax voters would need to okay, then the $74 billion tab would represent a 64 percent increase since 1999. Measured from the 2001-2003 biennium, spending through 2009-2011 grew 42 percent, and if the current 2011-2013 budget is restored that would represent a 48 percent increase.

State spending 1999-2001 to 2011-13/fiscal.wa.gov

However, the budgeted $74 billion for 2011-2013 is only four percent more than the $71 billion spent in 2009-2011.

Nailed Lakewood merchant: “it was necessary to cheat on the taxes”

by Matt Rosenberg April 15th, 2011

SUMMARY: State documents released today show that a merchant in the Pierce County, Washington city of Lakewood admitted to cheating the state out of at least $92,543 in sales taxes at his cigarettes and beer store. Seeking leniency after being caught, he claimed in writing to officials that “ït was necessary to cheat on the taxes” to keep his business in operation. He later paid $146,768 to the state to cover the back taxes, penalties and interest. Nonetheless, today in Pierce County Superior Court, the state charged Jong S. Cheon with filing a false or fraudulent tax return, which upon conviction would carry a maximum penalty of up to five years imprisonment or a $10,000 fine, or both. According to state documents, Cheon used two cash registers in his store, Smoke and Beer and More, one for credit and debit cards, and one for cash. Taxes on many of the cash sales, especially for cigarettes, were not reported or conveyed to the state, authorities say.

BACKGROUND: Retailers and service providers in Washington state collect sales taxes, and are required to accurately report their sales totals and turn over their sales tax revenues to the state, which then keeps some and distributes the rest to counties, cities and other local taxing bodies, based on established rates.

Public Data Ferret – Courts archive

The Washington state sales tax rate is 6.5 percent and county and local sales taxes typically add another 2 to 2.5 percent. A state Revenue Department compendium lists the total sales tax rate for each city, by county.

KEY LINKS:

KEY FINDINGS:

  • The Washington Department of Revenue audited a convenience store in Lakewood Pierce, County named Smoke and Beer and More, covering 2006 through first quarter 2009, and found two cash registers were used. One was for credit and debit card purchases, for which sales tax were collected on-site and conveyed to the state as required; the other register was for cash purchases, for which sales tax were collected on-site and often not conveyed to the state. Many of those purchases were of cigarettes.
  • The audit found the store owed at least $92,543 to the state for sales taxes it had collected but not delivered, plus penalties and interest which brought the total amount owed to $146,768.
  • The store’s owner, Jong S. Cheon, appealed the assessment. His written appeal included his statement that, “tobacco shops only make a profit of $0.40 per pack of cigarettes sold. Due to the tough economic times, we did what we had to stay open. We needed to pay bills to remain open, and in order to do that, it was necessary to cheat on the taxes. It doesn’t justify what we did, and we recognize our fault, but we would like to request a reassessment of the fine..”
  • Cheon later paid the full amount after learning criminal charges might be filed against him.
  • Today, the Washington State Attorney General Office filed a complaint against Cheon in Pierce County Superior Court for filing a false or fraudulent tax return. The maximum penalty is five years in a corrections facility or a $10,000 fine, or both.
  • In a statement, Washington Department of Revenue Director Suzanne Delbene said, “These taxes are not the property of the business to be used to pay bills or make a profit. These are trust funds the business collects on behalf of state and local government.”

State: Tukwila Bar Owes $200,000 In Local Gambling Taxes

by Matt Rosenberg March 23rd, 2011

SUMMARY: The White Horse Bar and Grill in Tukwila, Wash. is facing possible suspension or revocation of its two state gambling licenses. The state charges that the establishment has failed to pay more than $200,000 to the City of Tukwila in local gambling taxes, after disregarding a plan negotiated early last year to pay the debt. A hearing has been scheduled before an administrative law judge.