Half of Americans Say Their Tax Payments Are Too High, Poll Shows

Half of Americans say their federal taxes are too high, a slight uptick from the previous average of 45 percent over the past three years, according to a poll released on Thursday.

Less than two weeks from the deadline to file federal taxes, the Gallup poll found 50 percent found them too high, while 44 percent said they were just about right, and 4 percent said their tax payments were too low.

The survey also asked respondents whether they thought the amount they paid was fair: 55 percent agreed and 43 percent disagreed.

The poll showed the number of Americans who think their income taxes are too high began to fall after former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Post.

Court Upholds Gov. Newsom’s Use of Emergency Powers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s use of emergency powers to make far-reaching policies during the pandemic was upheld Wednesday by state appellate judges who rejected a lower court finding that the Democrat had done too much unilaterally.

Three judges from the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled unanimously that the prior judge “erred in interpreting the Emergency Services Act to prohibit the Governor from issuing quasi-legislative orders in an emergency.”

“We conclude the issuance of such orders did not constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power,” Presiding Justice Vance Raye wrote in ruling on a lawsuit brought by Republican state legislators.

The court already had stayed the earlier ruling by Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman that Newsom unconstitutionally usurped the Legislature’s power. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

Oversight Board Upholds Facebook’s Ban of Trump

Facebook-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers on Wednesday upheld the social network’s ban of former President Donald J. Trump, ending any immediate return by Mr. Trump to mainstream social media and renewing a debate about tech power over online speech.

Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as a quasi-court over the company’s content decisions, ruled the social network was right to bar Mr. Trump after the insurrection in Washington in January, saying he “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.”The panel said that ongoing risk “justified” the move.

But the board also kicked the case back to Facebook and its top executives. It said that an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate” because it was not a penalty defined in Facebook’s policies and that the company should apply a standard punishment, such as a time-bound suspension or a permanent ban. The board gave Facebook six months to make a final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Times.

Biden’s Proposed Capital Gains Tax Rate Would be Highest for Many in a Century

The Biden administration is proposing to tax long-term capital gains at ordinary income rates for high earners, which will bring the top federal rate to highs not seen since the 1920s. Taxing capital gains at a lower tax rate than ordinary income is partly a feature of savings-consumption neutral taxation.

The highest capital gains tax rates in history date to the 1920s, when capital gains income was subject to a maximum rate of 77 percent. Those high rates were reduced starting in 1922 due to concerns about decreasing capital gains tax revenues, and going forward, long-term capital gains have mostly been taxed at lower rates than ordinary income.

Biden’s proposal would reverse that—raising the top rate on capital gains up to 43.4 percent when including the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). While not as high as the rates seen in the 1910s and 1920s, a 43.4 percent top rate would be the highest in modern times. (Of note, some taxpayers experienced a top rate of 49.875 percent in 1978 due to other tax interactions.) …

Click here to read the full article from the Tax Foundation.

San Francisco Set To Approve Reparations Task Force

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is slated to approve a 15-member African American Reparations Advisory Committee on Tuesday, which would make the city the first of its size to take such a concrete step to explore what reparations could look like for its Black residents.

Over the next two years, the committee plans to explore possible financial compensation and other recommendations for the descendants of enslaved people. It would examine how slavery, segregation, redlining, predatory financial practices, and other social and political ills contributed to the mistreatment and subsequent wealth gap and other disparities affecting Black people in the city.

In January 2020, District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton announced legislation calling for reparations for Black people whose ancestors were enslaved and those who were discriminated against under Jim Crow laws enacted at the state and local levels to enforce segregation. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Biden’s Plan To Have IRS Audits Target The Wealthy

President Biden has a straightforward idea to help pay for his massive infrastructure and economic reform package: Give the Internal Revenue Service more money to collect the taxes the government is owed.

On Wednesday, Biden proposed giving the IRS $80 billion and more authority over the next 10 years to crack down on tax evasion, especially by wealthier Americans and corporations.

The revenue recouped would be the largest source of funds for his $4-trillion infrastructure and jobs plan to help the economy recover from the effects of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Why is this a big deal? Doesn’t the IRS already do audits?

Not as much in recent years. You’d be surprised. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Dozens of Arrests in EDD Jobless Fraud Cases

A California task force formed five months ago to investigate fraudulent unemployment claims involving incarcerated people said that there have so far been 68 arrests and that it has opened 1,641 other inquiries.

The report last week by the statewide task force comes after local prosecutors warned that potentially tens of thousands of fraudulent claims have been filed involving people in prison and jail that could total $2 billion.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in November that he was asking state officials to form a task force with federal prosecutors and county district attorneys who had already begun investigating improper claims filed in the names of people behind bars, including those on death row.

The Newsom administration released an update on its investigations April 26, shortly after Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber reported there were sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot an effort to recall the governor. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Newsom Recall Helps Orange County Republicans

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

Heading into the 2020 election, Orange County Republicans had about 2,000 volunteers helping to knock on doors and make phone calls for GOP candidates.

Today, party chair Fred Whitaker says his party is on the verge of tripling that army, and that some 6,000 people have contacted the local GOP asking how they can help.

In terms of political engagement, 2021 should be an off year. Instead, the effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has been a shot in the arm for the Republican Party of Orange County, which clawed back two House seats in November but has otherwise been losing ground for years as the county has become more diverse, more Democratic, and less supportive of Donald Trump-brand Republicanism.

GOP leaders believe the energy that’s boosting the Newsom recall effort will extend though next year and help Republicans hold or win back House, state and local seats in the 2022 midterms. …

Click here to read the full article from the OC Register.

Who’s Driving the Newsom Recall?

From the L.A. Times:

Recall backers have gathered more than 1.6 million valid voter signatures, enough to place a proposed ouster of Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot. For the second time in California’s history, voters will decide if a sitting governor should be removed before a regularly scheduled election.

A Times analysis of data released by Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber shows where support was the strongest. Though petitions were signed all across the state, the highest concentrations of signatures were found in the rural northeast, areas with low coronavirus case counts and where voters heavily favored former President Trump.

The Times analysis studied the 1,626,042 voter signatures verified by local election officials and reported Monday by the secretary of state’s office. Not included are about 400,575 signatures that officials rejected.

Though the threshold to trigger the recall has already been passed, roughly 149,571 signatures still must be processed and have not yet been analyzed. Before the recall can be certified by Weber, triggering action by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis to call an election within 60 to 80 days, voters who signed the petitions will be given time to withdraw their signatures and state officials will determine the cost to conduct the election, steps that could take up to three months to complete. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Amid Pandemic, Companies Gave Big Amounts to Newsom’s Causes

From the L.A. Times:

Facebook, Google and Blue Shield of California are among the companies that contributed $226 million to government causes on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s behalf last year, an unprecedented level of spending that is raising alarms about the influence large corporations are amassing in Sacramento.

State records reviewed by The Times show that so-called “behested payments” surged in 2020 compared with the year prior, when companies gifted $12.1 million on Newsom’s behalf. The governor’s haul last year during the COVID-19 pandemic was six times as much as that reported by the preceding governor, Jerry Brown, during his final eight years in office combined.

With no limit on how much money can be donated by organizations or individuals at the behest of the governor, millions of dollars flowed in to prop up public services during the pandemic and fund Newsom’s favored programs, including an effort to address homelessness and a public safety campaign promoting the importance of wearing masks. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.