Washington – As House and Senate negotiators of a final tax bill worked to finish the plan Thursday, changes were made that could help Connecticut homeowners and students.

In reconciling differing House and Senate tax bills, GOP leaders agreed to allow homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 in state income tax or local property taxes or a combination of both.

The original House and Senate bills ended the deductibility of taxes paid to state and local governments and capped the property tax deduction at $10,000.

The final bill also would cap the deductibility of interest on new mortgages to those of $750,000, a higher cap than the $500,000 limit in the House-passed bill but lower than the $1 million limit that currently exists.

The elimination and curtailment of these deductions impacts taxpayers in high cost-of-living states like Connecticut more than taxpayers in states where state and property taxes and the cost of homes are lower.

Those living in lower-cost states are likely to benefit more from the tax plan’s near doubling of the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples.

The changes in the deductibility of state and local taxes, property taxes and home mortgage interest were made at the insistence of California and New York Republicans, who were concerned about the impact on their constituents of the elimination of the state and local (SALT) deduction, the cap on the deductibility of property taxes and the cap on the deductibility of interest on large mortgages.

taxRep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote House and Senate leaders earlier this week that “done correctly, tax reform has the potential to restore America’s global competitiveness, generate widespread economic opportunity, unleash untold levels of job creation, and allow families to keep even more of their hard-earned paychecks.”

“Done poorly, a tax bill would pick winners and losers, and unnecessarily punish some taxpayers to the benefit of others,” Issa wrote. “As it’s written today, I fear the bill looks more like the latter than the former.”

Details of the final plan began leaking to reporters late Wednesday. GOP leaders plan to release the final agreement on Friday, and vote on it in the House and Senate early next week.

The final tax plan will allow taxpayers to continue to deduct high out-of-pocket medical expenses, a deduction that had been eliminated in the House bill.

It also will allow graduate students who receive tuition waivers to avoid paying taxes on that benefit. It also restores the deductibility of interest paid on student loans.

The final bill also keeps federal bonds that school systems use to finance construction interest free.

The final bill will keep a new 1.4 percent excise tax on the endowment of a handful of private colleges and universities, including Yale, but it is unclear what the threshold will be. The House plan called for taxing endowments worth at least $250,000 per full-time student, while the Senate doubled the cap.

Negotiators agreed to lower the top tax rate for individuals and families to 37 percent.

Their agreement would cut the top corporate tax rate to 21 percent, which is much lower than the current 35 percent rate but higher than the 20 percent initially sought by GOP leaders.

No Democrat in the House or Senate is expected to vote for the final tax overhaul, which means the GOP cannot lose more than two votes in the Senate.

Democrats say the tax bill is a giveaway to the rich at the expense of working Americans and dispute GOP arguments that it will spur enough new economic activity to make up for the $1.5 trillion it would otherwise add to the deficit.

“The tax bill is a massive, unnecessary give-away to corporations which aren’t asking for it and people who want to hand millions tax-free to their children,” Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, recently tweeted.

Marijuana leafHARTFORD: Even as a mayor who wants to be Governor calls on the state to “oversee” a dysfunctional government, the  Hartford Court of Common Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to make Marijuana legal in the state.

The council is asking Hartord’s legislation delegation to support legalization and presumably to tax Marijuana sales.

Screen shot 2017 12 12 at 11.51.46 AM

HARTFORD: Connecticut is hoping to bring in $85 million with a “voluntary” tax compliance program, Fresh Start for both individuals and business.

“Not only will this program help individuals and businesses get back on track on their tax payments, but it will bring significant revenue back to our state, without raising taxes,” Governor Dannell Malloy said. “This revenue will be especially helpful during this time of budgetary constraint, under which our state has learned to do more with less. I strongly urge all filers that are behind on their payments to take this opportunity to make a fresh start.”

Commissioner Kevin Sullivan said. “The Governor and the legislature created the Fresh Start program to work with taxpayers.”

Once a CT Fresh Start application is accepted, DRS will waive penalties and significantly reduce the interest (50 percent) owed. If requested before applying, DRS may agree to a limited “look back” period.

To participate, taxpayers must complete the online application on the DRS website or at www.makeafreshstartct.com. Questions on the CT Fresh Start program can be directed to DRS by calling 1-877-729-6691.

State Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan

Washington – Connecticut Commissioner of Revenue Services Kevin Sullivan says the House GOP tax bill “could provide some economic stimulus…for states like Connecticut,” but he also said the plan is “fundamentally flawed” and that many in the state would end up owing more in federal income taxes.

“Contrary to all the talk of a ‘middle-income tax cut,’ the plan actually represents a huge windfall to the wealthiest federal taxpayers and is truly regressive,” wrote Sullivan in a Nov. 8 letter to Rep. John Larson, D-1st District.

Sullivan said that in Connecticut, more than 75 percent of the proposed tax cut would go to the top 1 percent, who would pay 8.5 percent less tax, on average.

InformCT Q3 2017CONNECTICUT: A new survey by administered by the quasi-government Connecticut Economic Resource Center [CERC] says that residents are concerned about what would typically be seen as social concerns for Connecticut residents.

The survey headline is “Health, Safety, Students, Security of Vulnerable Populations Should be Top Priorities for State Spending, Residents Say.”

The data was compiled as part of the InformCT Consumer Confidence Survey, for the third quarter 2017. According to the organization “InformCT is a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis, and public outreach to help create fact-based dialogue and action in Connecticut.”

According to the survey healthcare is the number one priority for the allocation of state funds, with 52 percent describing health as very important and another 29 percent indicating it is important.

Screen Shot 2017 11 13 at 11.50.13 AM

Senate tax bill would have big impact on CT homeowners, small businesses

Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, spoke briefly to reporters before a closed-door meeting on their tax reform bill Thursday.

Washington – The Senate decided to go its own way in overhauling the nation’s tax code, and its plan would have a different impact on Connecticut taxpayers than a similar House bill.

The Senate bill would push back for a year President Donald Trump’s top priority of cutting the corporate tax rate from a maximum of 35 percent to 20 percent. Holding off implementation of the new rate would lower the cost of the bill by $100 billion, but it also would delay the GOP’s plans to entice businesses to move offshore operations back to the United States.

The biggest changes affecting individuals in Connecticut is the bill’s elimination of the deductibility of property taxes. The House plan would allow deducting these taxes up to $10,000.