GOP Focuses on Millionaire Tax Breaks

Posted: Dec 17, 2012 7:51 PM
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn has released a breakdown of how much the federal government forgoes in tax revenue due to various credits and deductions that benefit everything from NASCAR owners to gamblers. It's a fairly comprehensive analysis that should get bipartisan support, but one of the categories that Sen. Coburn targets to raise taxes from may be surprising: "the rich."

Coburn highlights $100 billion in tax revenue that could be raised over the next ten years by ending some of these deductions only on millionaire households. Over the 2006-2009 time period, Coburn notes, millionaires deducted over $20 billion in gambling losses, $27 billion in home mortgage interest, and $64 billion in investment property rental. And as a part of the federal government's policy of subsidizing "green energy," millionaires claimed over $12.5 million in electric car credits in 2009 alone.

Willingness to end tax credits and deductions purely for millionaires has been building among GOP politicians in recent days, as Speaker of the House John Boehner recently seemed to accept a possible tax hike for millionaires.

Other highlights from Coburn's report include the fact that the NFL, the NHL, and the PGA are all technically registered with the IRS as "nonprofit organizations;" ending this favorable status for such lucrative sports leagues could generate almost $1 billion in additional tax revenue over ten years.

In President Obama's stimulus legislation, the government now gives up to a $1,500 tax credit for homeowners who install high-efficiency energy improvements to their homes. As Sen. Coburn's report notes:

The U.S. Treasury Investigator General (“IG”) recently exposed structural problems in the administration of this tax credit. The IG’s findings showed the tax credits were wrongly awarded to 262 prisoners and 100 underage individuals younger than 18, 216 of whom were under 14 years old, and at least one of whom was under 3 years old. The IRS was not able to confirm whether the individuals who claimed the credit were qualified at the time their returns were processed. Even more, the IRS also failed to require documentation from a third party showing that an individual did in fact make a qualified purchase. In a sample of 6.8 million people who claimed over $5.8 billion in energy-efficiency tax credits for 2009, the IG found 30 percent of taxpayers had no record of even owning a home.

Ending this energy efficiency tax credit would raise $12 billion over ten years.

Read the report here [pdf], for more on the absurd tax breaks that could be ended - from "renewable energy" tax credits to tax breaks enjoyed by Hollywood.

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