Possible criminal charges over ex-IRS official's handling of Tea Party-related groups

Former IRS official Lois Lerner, who managed the agency's controversial handling of Tea Party-related groups, may face possible criminal charges, while a House committee reportedly said they will vote on a resolution tomorrow to hold her in contempt of Congress.

Lauren Victoria Burke/AP/File
Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the the agency's targeting of tea party groups, where she invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself. The House Ways & Means Committee meets today to discuss whether to refer the case to the Justice Department.

Do small businesses have a tax problem? The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing this afternoon on the biggest tax problems faced by small firms. TPC’s Donald Marron and American University’s David Kautter will testify. They’ll be joined by Tim Reynolds of the National Small Business Association, and Rick Endres of The ASCII group, a consortium of small IT firms.

Big political problems: The House GOP v. Lois Lerner. The House Ways & Means Committee will meet privately to mark up a referral to the Justice Department  for possible criminal prosecution of former IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner. And  the House Oversight Committee plans to vote Thursday on a resolution to hold her in contempt of Congress. Lerner managed the controversial IRS review of applications for tax-exempt status by politically-oriented social welfare organizations.

High incomes: Higher taxes. TPC’s Bob Williams offers a heads-up for high earners–especially those in the top 1 percent: Last year’s American Taxpayer Relief Act restored the top tax rate of 39.6 percent, the phaseout for personal exemptions, and a limitation on itemized deductions  for high earners. And the Affordable Care Act raised income taxes on investment income and boosted the Medicare tax for high-income taxpayers. TPC estimates that almost 90 percent of the tax increase will fall on the top 1 percent this year, cutting their after-tax income by nearly 2 percent.

Maryland’s House of Cards: The battle between the state legislature and the popular Netflix streaming video series has ended with a stand-off. The show’s producers threatened to leave the state unless they got $18.5 million in tax subsidies. The state legislature adjourned without passing the bill, but the show can still get about $15 million in subsidies. Will it decamp for more generous climes? A Netflix lobbyist couldn’t possibly comment.

Tax Day and income inequality. Join TPC for a discussion with Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a new book on the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and prospects for economic growth. In a conversation moderated by TPC’s Len Burman, Piketty will be joined by Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute. Register here or tune in to the live webcast on Tuesday, April 15, at noon.

Interested in subscribing to The Daily Deduction, the Tax Policy Center summary of the day’s tax news? Sign-up here for free access. If you’d like to tell us about a new research paper or have any comments about our new feature, write us at dailydeduction@taxpolicycenter.org.

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