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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Federal Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Taxes: A Description of Current Law

Federal Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Taxes: A Description of Current Law

Date: January 5, 2008
Creator: Luckey, John R.
Description: This report contains an explanation of the major provisions of the federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes. The discussion divides the federal estate tax into three components: the gross estate, deductions from the gross estate, and computation of the tax, including allowable tax credits. The federal estate tax is computed through a series of adjustments and modifications of a tax base known as the "gross estate." Certain allowable deductions reduce the gross estate to the "taxable estate," to which is then added the total of all lifetime taxable gifts made by the decedent. The tax rates are applied and, after reduction for certain allowable credits, the amount of tax owed by the estate is reached.
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An Introduction to the Design of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

An Introduction to the Design of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Date: January 24, 2008
Creator: Jackson, Pamela J.
Description: This report discusses the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which is a federal provision that reduces the income tax liability of taxpayers claiming the credit. These taxpayers are typically investors in real estate development projects that have traded cash for the tax credits to support the production of affordable housing. The credit is intended to lower the financing costs of housing developments so that the rental prices of units can be lower than market rates, and thus, presumably, affordable.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Superfund Taxes or General Revenues: Future Funding Issues for the Superfund Program

Superfund Taxes or General Revenues: Future Funding Issues for the Superfund Program

Date: February 4, 2008
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.; Reisch, Mark & McCarthy, James E.
Description: This report discusses the role of dedicated taxes and other sources of revenue in funding the Hazardous Substance Superfund Trust Fund.
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Estate Tax Legislation in the 110th Congress

Estate Tax Legislation in the 110th Congress

Date: February 14, 2008
Creator: Noto, Nonna A.
Description: This report examines current legislation regarding estate taxes. Under provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA, P.L. 107-16), the estate tax exclusion is scheduled to continue to rise, from $2 million for decedents dying in 2008, to $3.5 million in 2009. The estate tax is repealed for decedents dying in 2010 only.
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Taxes and Offshore Outsourcing

Taxes and Offshore Outsourcing

Date: March 11, 2008
Creator: Marples, Donald J.
Description: This report discusses the impact of taxes on international trade and investment has been debated for decades. Most recently, a variety of bills addressing international taxation have been introduced in the 110th Congress—some would cut taxes for U.S. firms overseas, while others would increase taxes on foreign investment. The debate over taxes and foreign outsourcing has tended to grow more heated during times of domestic economic weakness and high unemployment; questions arise over whether taxes contribute to such weakness by discouraging exports (or encouraging imports) or by encouraging U.S. firms to move abroad. The debate over international taxation has again become prominent as a part of the wider debate over “outsourcing.” With taxes, the debate asks how the current system affects outsourcing, and whether policies designed to limit the phenomenon might be desirable.
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Estate and Gift Taxes: Economic Issues

Estate and Gift Taxes: Economic Issues

Date: March 19, 2008
Creator: Marples, Donald J. & Gravelle, Jane G.
Description: The unified estate and gift tax is levied on the transfer of assets that occurs when someone dies or gives a gift. Filing an estate tax return can be difficult depending on the value and complexity of the estate. The purpose here is to outline the mechanics of the estate and gift tax. The first section begins with a brief review of the general rules accompanied with a numerical example. There are some minor provisions of the law that are not discussed here, however, such as the phase out of the graduated rates and the credit for taxes on property recently transferred. The second section summarizes the special rules for farms and small businesses. And, the final section briefly describes the generation skipping transfer tax. The appendix of this report provides detailed data from returns filed in 2005, the latest year for which data are available.
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Conservation Reserve Program Payments: Self-Employment Income, Rental Income, or Something Else?

Conservation Reserve Program Payments: Self-Employment Income, Rental Income, or Something Else?

Date: April 14, 2008
Creator: Pettit, Carol A.
Description: This report outlines the history of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the changing positions of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), pertinent case law, and other provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Several possible approaches to the taxation of CRP payments are discussed.
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Tax Gap: Administration Proposal to Require Information Reporting on Merchant Payment Card Reimbursements

Tax Gap: Administration Proposal to Require Information Reporting on Merchant Payment Card Reimbursements

Date: April 28, 2008
Creator: Bickley, James M.
Description: The high current and forecast budget deficits as well as pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) procedures have resulted in congressional and executive branch interest in raising additional revenue through proposals for improved tax compliance. The Bush Administration’s FY2009 budget includes a proposal (the proposal) to require each payment card processor to inform the IRS on the net dollar amount paid to reimburse each merchant (i.e., seller) for his payment card receipts in a calendar year. Payment cards consist of both credit cards and debit cards. This report examines the proposal by describing current law, presenting the proposal contained in the FY2009 budget, describing the structure of the payment card industry, analyzing the justifications for the proposal, explaining the criticisms of the proposal, and offering concluding observations.
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Calculating Estate Tax Liability: 2001 to 2011 and Beyond

Calculating Estate Tax Liability: 2001 to 2011 and Beyond

Date: May 7, 2008
Creator: Noto, Nonna A.
Description: This report provides a basic explanation of how to calculate the federal estate tax liability for a taxable estate of any given size, using the schedule of graduated marginal tax rates and the applicable exclusion amount or the applicable credit amount for the year of death. The “applicable exclusion amount” is the amount of any decedent’s taxable estate that is free from tax. It is known informally as the estate tax “exemption.” The “applicable credit amount” or “unified credit” is the corresponding tax credit. It is equal to the tax that would be due on a taxable estate that is the size of the applicable exclusion amount.
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Lobbying Regulations on Non-Profit Organizations

Lobbying Regulations on Non-Profit Organizations

Date: May 7, 2008
Creator: Maskell, Jack H.
Description: This report is intended to provide a brief overview of the various potential restrictions or regulations on lobbying activities of non-profit organizations. Public charities, social welfare organizations, religious groups, and other non-profit, tax-exempt organizations are not generally prohibited from engaging in all lobbying or public policy advocacy merely because of their tax-exempt status.
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Coal Excise Tax Refunds: United States v. Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Co.

Coal Excise Tax Refunds: United States v. Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Co.

Date: May 16, 2008
Creator: Lunder, Erika
Description: In 1998, a U.S. district court held that the imposition of the coal excise tax, or black lung excise tax, on coal destined for export was unconstitutional. The process of refunding the tax has been controversial. This is because some coal producers and exporters have attempted to bypass the limitations in the Internal Revenue Code's refund scheme for bringing suit under the Export Clause in the Court of Federal Claims, seeking damages from the United States in the amount of coal excise taxes paid. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held the court had jurisdiction under the Tucker Act to hear the suits and allowed them as an alternative to the Code's refund process. However, in a 2008 decision, United States v. Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Co., the Supreme Court unanimously held that taxpayers must comply with the Code's administrative refund process before bringing suit. Meanwhile, H.R. 1762 and S. 373 would provide an alternative method for taxpayers to receive coal excise tax refunds.
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Statutory Individual Income Tax Rates and Other Elements of the Tax System: 1988 through 2008

Statutory Individual Income Tax Rates and Other Elements of the Tax System: 1988 through 2008

Date: May 21, 2008
Creator: Shvedov, Maxim
Description: This report summarizes information about the tax brackets and other key elements of the tax system that determine taxpayer's statutory marginal tax rate. Such elements include tax brackets, exemptions, standard deductions, etc. Statutory individual income tax rates, also referred to as “statutory marginal tax rates,” are the rates of tax applicable to the last (marginal) increment of taxable income. Statutory rates play an important role in determining the real marginal tax rates, which affect taxpayers' economic behavior.
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U.S. Taxation of Overseas Investment and Income: Background and Issues

U.S. Taxation of Overseas Investment and Income: Background and Issues

Date: May 21, 2008
Creator: Marples, Donald J.
Description: This report analyzes how the current U.S. tax system applies to foreign investment undertaken by U.S. firms abroad, and how that application was changed by recent legislation. It also assesses the impact of the tax system and legislation, and concludes by discussing a variety of issues in international taxation that Congress may face in 2008 and beyond. It begins with a brief examination of the data on international investment.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Tax Treaty Legislation in the 110th Congress: Explanation and Economic Analysis

Tax Treaty Legislation in the 110th Congress: Explanation and Economic Analysis

Date: May 22, 2008
Creator: Marples, Donald J.
Description: This report discusses the proposals that are designed to curb “treaty shopping” — instances where a foreign parent firm in one country receives its U.S.-source income through an intermediate subsidiary in a third country that is signatory to a tax-reducing treaty with the United States.
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Tax Deductions for Catastrophic Risk Insurance Reserves: Explanation and Economic Analysis

Tax Deductions for Catastrophic Risk Insurance Reserves: Explanation and Economic Analysis

Date: June 5, 2008
Creator: King, Rawle O.
Description: According to the Insurance Services Office, Inc., (ISO), the property/casualty (p/c) insurance industry paid $62.2 billion in catastrophe losses from 24 disasters and more than 4.4 million claims in 2005, making 2005 the most costly year for catastrophe losses. This report begins by providing some background on the market for catastrophe insurance. It continues by describing the proposal for tax-deductible reserve accounts as set forth in H.R. 164/S. 926 of the 110th Congress, and concludes by providing an economic analysis of the plan.
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Energy Tax Policy: History and Current Issues

Energy Tax Policy: History and Current Issues

Date: June 10, 2008
Creator: Lazzari, Salvatore
Description: This report discusses the history, current posture, and outlook for the federal energy tax policy. It also discusses current energy tax proposals and major energy tax provisions enacted in the 109th Congress.
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An Introduction to the Design of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

An Introduction to the Design of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Date: June 20, 2008
Creator: Keightley, Mark P.
Description: This report discusses the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which is a federal provision that reduces the income tax liability of taxpayers claiming the credit. These taxpayers are typically investors in real estate development projects that have traded cash for the tax credits to support the production of affordable housing. The credit is intended to lower the financing costs of housing developments so that the rental prices of units can be lower than market rates, and thus, presumably, affordable.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Alternative Minimum Tax for Individuals: Legislative Activity in the 110th Congress

The Alternative Minimum Tax for Individuals: Legislative Activity in the 110th Congress

Date: July 1, 2008
Creator: Maguire, Steven & Teefy, Jennifer
Description: The alternative minimum tax (AMT) for individuals was originally enacted to ensure that all taxpayers, especially high-income taxpayers, pay at least a minimum amount of federal taxes. However, the AMT is not indexed for inflation, and this factor, combined with recent reductions in the regular income tax, has greatly expanded the potential impact of the AMT. This report explains legislation for the FY2009 budget compromise, which includes an offset AMT patch.
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Tax Treatment of Employer Educational Assistance for the Benefit of Employees

Tax Treatment of Employer Educational Assistance for the Benefit of Employees

Date: July 3, 2008
Creator: Levine, Linda
Description: Educational assistance offered by employers to their employees may be exempt from federal income tax under Section 127 and Section 132 of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 127 is the employer educational assistance exclusion; Section 132, the fringe benefit exclusion for working condition benefits (e.g., job-related eduction) among other benefits. Congress established the two tax provisions well before it enacted to her higher education tax benefits meant to assist taxpayers, their spouses, and dependents -- regardless of employment status -- pay current educational expenses incurred while obtaining postsecondary degrees and undertaking lifelong learning.
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Tax Issues Relating to Charitable Contributions and Organizations

Tax Issues Relating to Charitable Contributions and Organizations

Date: August 5, 2008
Creator: Gravelle, Jane G.
Description: This report focuses on deductions for charitable contributions, and on institutions that are generally eligible for deductible charitable contributions, such as social welfare organizations, educational institutions, nonprofit hospitals, and churches, along with conduits to those institutions such as private foundations, donor-advised funds, and supporting organizations.
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Tax Expenditures and the Federal Budget

Tax Expenditures and the Federal Budget

Date: August 19, 2008
Creator: Hungerford, Thomas L.
Description: This report discusses tax expenditures, the federal budget and the reform of the federal tax system and provides tax expenditure analysis. The perception that the federal tax system is too complex and unfair could lead to public support for tax reform. Past efforts to reform the federal tax system have included policies to rein in the use and expense of tax expenditures--the special deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and credits resulting in revenue losses.
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Disaster Tax Relief for the Midwest

Disaster Tax Relief for the Midwest

Date: August 20, 2008
Creator: Lunder, Erika
Description: The Midwestern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2008 is intended to assist with the recovery from the severe weather that affected the Midwest during the summer of 2008. The Jobs, Energy, Families, and Disaster Relief Act of 2008 includes some similar provisions, but these are not limited to the Midwest disaster. The disaster relief in the three bills is similar to that provided to assist with the recovery from the 2005 hurricanes and the 2007 Kansas tornadoes. This report broadly discusses the disaster relief provisions in other relevant legislation.
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The Foreign Tax Credit's Interest Allocation Rules

The Foreign Tax Credit's Interest Allocation Rules

Date: August 20, 2008
Creator: Gravelle, Jane G. & Marples, Donald J.
Description: This report discusses the foreign tax credit's interest allocation rules, which alleviate the double-taxation that would result if U.S. investors' overseas income were to be taxed by both the United States and a foreign country.
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An Introduction to the Design of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

An Introduction to the Design of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Date: August 22, 2008
Creator: Keightley, Mark P.
Description: This report discusses the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which is a federal provision that reduces the income tax liability of taxpayers claiming the credit. These taxpayers are typically investors in real estate development projects that have traded cash for the tax credits to support the production of affordable housing. The credit is intended to lower the financing costs of housing developments so that the rental prices of units can be lower than market rates, and thus, presumably, affordable.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department