Research & Commentary: Reforming SNAP
Budget & Tax
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and recent proposals to reform food stamp programs. Glans argues that reforms should focus on making sure recipients are both truly eligible and actively seeking work.
These reductions, which cannot truly be considered cuts, reduce SNAP funding only to its original level and result in an average decrease of only around 5 percent for those households receiving the maximum amount of food stamps, according to The Heritage Foundation. SNAP has been growing at a rapid rate. According to the Associated Press, in 2012 alone SNAP cost $78.4 billion to put 46 million people on food stamps; in 2006, 26 million people received benefits at a cost of $33 billion.
Research & Commentary: Supreme Court Rejects Internet Tax Case
A legal challenge to state “Amazon tax” laws was recently rejected for review by the United States Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota held a state must prove a company has a “substantial nexus” within a state before taxes can be imposed. Since this ruling the nexus or “physical presence” standard has been an important taxpayer protection. In recent years, however, states have begun to craft new laws attempting to widen the scope of the nexus standard, in hopes of increasing sales tax revenue.
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans discusses state Internet sales taxes and the New York Amazon tax and argues that instead of forcing out-of-state businesses to serve as government tax collectors, Congress and state legislators should improve the existing sales tax system, which is based on where the product was sold, known as an origin-based tax system. This would truly level the playing field, with both online and bricks-and-mortar retailers paying the same tax.
FATCA System Fails Government Probe, Threatens Privacy
Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
This article by Andrew Quinlan of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity examines a new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The report finds that despite spending more than $8.6 million so far on FATCA, with another $8 million projected to be spent on developing the online portal for handling the registration of foreign financial institutions for FATCA the IRS is still unprepared for the law.
“The report reveals amazing disarray in the implementation process, as the IRS spent considerable resources developing the system before issuing the final regulations, which then had to be scrapped to accommodate new requirements. As we’ve previously noted, the process has also been marred by multiple delays,” the article says.
Electricity Prices Rise Dramatically Under Ohio Renewable Mandates
Electricity prices in Ohio have risen approximately triple the national average since Ohio enacted renewable power mandates in 2008. The sharp rise in electricity prices occurred despite promises during 2008 legislative hearings that renewable power mandates would have little or no impact on electricity prices.
Heartland Senior Fellow James Taylor reports, “In Ohio, electricity prices since 2008 have risen 9 percent. EIA reports Ohio electricity prices in 2008 were 8.44 cents per kilowatt hour. As of September 2013, Ohio electricity prices were 9.19 cents per kilowatt hour.”
You CAN Opt Out of Obamacare: Here's How
Heartland Institute Policy Advisor Merrill Matthews, who is resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, points out that, “Some pundits and the media have stated or implied that it is illegal for health insurers to sell coverage that does not meet the Affordable Care Act’s ‘essential benefits’ (i.e., things it must cover). It’s not illegal; insurers are free to sell non-qualified coverage, subject to state insurance department approval.
“However, a person buying non-qualified coverage would still have to pay the penalty (or tax) for not having the kind of coverage President Obama approves of—what he likes to call ‘substandard coverage,’ but which many others call affordable.
“Assurant is one of the largest insurers for the individual (i.e., non-group) market. It has long offered limited policies, and still does, even with Obamacare’s mandate to have qualified coverage breathing down its neck. Its Health Access fixed-indemnity product—which means it pays a fixed amount of money rather than a percentage of the medical bill—costs $94, $159 or $249 a month for a 50-year-old male, depending on the coverage options a person chooses.