What was in Cruz and Rubio's tax returns?

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio released summaries of their tax returns this weekend. Meanwhile, cyberattacks against taxpayers are on the rise, and what's the deal with the financial transaction tax?

David J. Phillip/AP/File
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, center, speaks as Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left and Ted Cruz, R-Texas look on during a Republican presidential primary debate at The University of Houston in Houston (Feb. 25, 2016).

Two GOP candidates release partial tax returns. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio released summaries of their tax returns over the weekend. Rubio released Form 1040s for tax years 2010 to 2014, when his effective tax rate varied from 9.4 percent to 27.4 percent. Cruz released his 1040s for 2011 to 2014. His effective tax rate ranged between 28.38 percent and 32.22 percent. Neither disclosed any supplemental forms or schedules. Both demanded that Donald Trump release his tax filings.

But he says it will have to wait. Trump says he wants the IRS to complete what he says is an annual audit before he’ll release his returns. While the IRS is mum about Trump’s returns, Commissioner John Koskinen says it’s rare for a taxpayer to be audited every year. “Usually when there’s an audit, and it’s cleared up, if there are no other issues, it’s a number of years, two or three at least, before you hear from us again, unless something in your next return pops up.”

There were more cyberattacks on taxpayer accounts than we thought. The IRS says hackers gained access to as many as 700,000 accounts and tried to break into another 575,000 accounts. Last May, the IRS reported 114,000 accounts had been hacked. In August the number climbed to 330,000 accounts. The criminals targeted the IRS’ “Get Transcript” application which shows tax return information for prior years and does not access the main IRS database.

Everything you wanted to know about the financial transaction tax but were afraid to ask… A new TPC paper originally published in the National Tax Journal traces the history and current practice of the FTT, reviews evidence of its impact on financial markets, and discusses key design issues. Were the US to levy a broad-based FTT at a base rate of 0.34 percent, the FTT would be highly progressive and could raise up to $75 billion in 2017, or about 0.4 percent of GDP. However, an “FTT at the rates being proposed and adopted elsewhere would discourage all trading, not just speculation… It appears as likely to increase market volatility as to curb it…The FTT clearly can most optimistically be considered a second-best solution.”

Did Pfizer make choices that don’t add up? In their new report, Americans for Tax Fairness finds that the Pfizer-Allergan merger allows Pfizer to keep $35 billion in profits offshore, and thus pay no taxes on them. At the same time, a Medicare user in the US pays an average of 12 times as much for the firm’s top-selling drugs as a buyer in Ireland.

On the Hill… The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing tomorrow on the multi-employer pension plan system, and a hearing Thursday on implementation of the Free Trade Agreement.

This article first appeared at TaxVox.

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