Entries in Tax (5)


Christmas Tree ‘Tax’ Now Delayed ‘Indefinitely’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The controversial proposed 15-cent tax on Christmas trees has now been scrapped. The fee, which was originally set to take effect earlier this month, was intended to fund an ad campaign to promote fresh-cut Christmas trees over their fake-tree alternatives.

But within hours of the Department of Agriculture final rule being published in the Federal Register, cries of “bah humbug” inundated the Internet, the airwaves, and the House floor, causing the Department of Agriculture to temporarily delay implementation of the fee.

That temporary stay was extended “indefinitely” on Thursday.

“Due to recent events, the regulations are stayed in order to provide all interested persons, including the Christmas tree industry and the general public, an opportunity to become more familiar with the program,” the department wrote in Thursday’s Federal Register.

According to the register, the rule is “stayed indefinitely” until the department can better “explain how a research and promotion program is a producer driven program to support American farmers.”

The National Christmas Tree Association strongly supported the fee, which it requested in 2009 and said “is designed to benefit the industry” similar to how the “Got Milk?” campaign benefits the dairy industry and the “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” advertisements promote the livestock industry.

The association said the fee “is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree.”

But conservatives, such as Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., attacked the Obama Administration for imposing the surcharge on Christmas trees, a tax that DeMint said was “the single stupidest tax of all time.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


LaHood Urges Congress to End FAA Shut Down

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged lawmakers Thursday to end the Federal Aviation Administration shut down, saying now is not the time to be furloughing federal workers or losing critical airline tax revenue.

The FAA shut down for the first time in history after Congress failed to pass a bill last week to continue its funding. Since then, nearly 4,000 employees have been furloughed and as many as 70,000 construction workers are out of work.

“Congress needs to pass a clean bill so our 4,000 FAA employees who are without a paycheck since last Saturday can come back to work,” LaHood told reporters at the White House briefing Thursday.

“For all of my friends on Capitol Hill who give speeches every day about jobs, the importance of jobs, putting people to work, this is not the time to be laying off 70,000 construction workers.”

LaHood said he believes unresolved labor and air service issues could be worked out over the next 30 days and he called on Congress to pass a clean extension of the FAA bill, which they have done 20 times in the past.

“Don't hold hostage common, ordinary citizens who want to work, who want to do construction jobs, who make their living doing that, and our FAA employees,” he said, while reiterating that flying is still completely safe.  

The Secretary also chastised airlines for continuing to charge customers a federal tax on tickets and pocketing the money for themselves. “They're collecting this money and it's going to their bottom line.  And I think that is not right, and I simply think it's not fair for them to do that… And I’ve made that known to them,” he said.

Asked if there is a chance that customers could get a refund, LaHood said “we’re trying to figure that out.”

The standoff, which is costing roughly $200 million a week in lost airline tax revenue, amounts to “real money to the Treasury,” LaHood noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


High Income Earners, Business Owners More Likely to Face Audits

Ryan McVay/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- Most taxpayers are very unlikely to face an audit.  In fact, just over one percent of them were audited last year.

But high income earners and people with businesses can face a different fate, since they are at a higher risk of being questioned when it comes to their tax returns.

"The simpler your return, the less likely it is that you will be audited," advises Mary Beth Franklin with Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.  "The red flags tend to be people who have small businesses or sideline businesses if you file what you call a Schedule C for business expenses."

Failing to report all sources of income could also make an audit more likely.

"The best way to avoid it is making certain that you are reporting all of your income," says tax accountant Janice Hayman.

Should one be audited, it can turn out to be very expensive and time consuming.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fiji Water Closes Fiji Facility

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Fiji Water has announced it will be closing its facility in Fiji due to an increase in taxes.

The company made the announcement on Monday, saying that the government’s new 15-cent-per-liter tax was untenable, and as a result the company has no other choice but to close the facility. The Fiji government will impose the tax on bottled water locations where more than 3.5 million liters are extracted per month. Fiji Water falls in that category. Currently, the company pays one-third of one percent tax per liter of water.

Fiji Water issued the following statement: “We are saddened that we have been forced to make a business decision that will result in hardship to hundreds of Fijians who will now be without work.”

The company says as a result, it will be forced to cancel several large construction projects in Fiji and will have to cancel all ongoing purchases from local suppliers.

Company officials say the government’s action sends the message that the country is unstable and is becoming a risky place in which to invest.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


European Union Up in Arms over U.S. Travel Tax

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BERLIN) -- Spiegel Online reports the United States is charging a new fee to overseas visitors entering the country.  Accordingly, members of the European Parliament and other officials of the European Union have grown angry, saying the charge does not coincide with U.S.-EU agreements.  One official even commented that it is "bizarre to introduce a tax to promote tourism."  The actual fee is being introduced under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  Also according to Spiegel Online, the $14 fee is broken down as follows: $4 for ESTA administrative costs and $10 for U.S. efforts to promote the U.S. as a tourism destination.  Essentially, foreign travelers to the U.S. would be forced to pay for the advertising meant to encourage them to travel to the U.S.  The U.S. officially announced the addition of the travel tax in early August, and plan for the fee to take effect in September.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio