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Clear nonpartisan analysis of fiscal and tax policy enables policymakers and the public to weigh competing theories on how to end the country’s economic crisis. Urban Institute researchers evaluated key components of the stimulus package and analyzed the tax proposals in the president’s budget. Warning decisionmakers about the unsustainable fiscal course ahead, our experts propose ways to control deficits and reform the entitlement programs that drive up spending. Read more.

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The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2014: Public Charities, Giving and Volunteering (Survey Brief)
Brice McKeever, Sarah L. Pettijohn

The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2014 highlights trends in the number and finances of 501(c)(3) public charities and key findings on two important resources for the nonprofit sector: private charitable contributions and volunteering. Each year, The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2014 presents the most recent data available on the nonprofit sector. This particular edition of the brief presents data from 2002 to 2012.

Posted to Web: October 27, 2014Publication Date: October 27, 2014

State Economic Monitor: October 2014 (Series/State Economic Monitor)
Richard C. Auxier

Most states ended the summer of 2014 on a positive economic note. Up from 14 states a year earlier, 25 states reported August unemployment rates below 6 percent. Every state but Alaska added jobs within the last year. But some troubling signs remain. Inflation-adjusted average weekly wages declined or did not change in 26 states. The latest issue of the State Economic Monitor describes economic and fiscal trends at the state level, highlighting particular differences across the states in employment, state government finances, and housing conditions. This issue also includes a special section on state minimum wages.

Posted to Web: October 16, 2014Publication Date: October 16, 2014

Professor Shay Got It Right: Treasury Can Slow Inversions (Article/Tax Notes Viewpoints)
Steven Rosenthal

In a recent Tax Notes article, Shay argued that Treasury could write regulations to reduce the tax incentives for U.S. corporations to expatriate. Rosenthal agrees with Shay and analyzes the legal support for regulations under section 385.

Posted to Web: September 30, 2014Publication Date: September 22, 2014

The $300 Billion Question: How Should We Budget for Federal Lending Programs? (Research Report)
Donald Marron

Student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other lending programs create special challenges for federal budgeting. Under official budget rules, these programs are projected to bring in $200 billion over the next decade. Under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose $100 billion. That $300 billion disparity confuses policy deliberations. In this report, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. The report critically reviews today’s budgeting approaches, identifies their flaws, and demonstrates how expected returns would improve budgeting for federal lending.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

A Better Way to Budget for Federal Lending Programs (Policy Briefs)
Donald Marron

Policy analysts have long debated how best to budget for student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other federal lending programs. Under official budget rules, these programs appear highly profitable; under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose money. That discrepancy confuses policy deliberations. In this brief, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. Unlike existing approaches, expected returns accurately reports the fiscal effects of lending over time and provides a natural way to distinguish the fiscal gains from bearing financial risk from the subsidies given to borrowers.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

Flow-Through Business Income as a Share of AGI (Article/Tax Facts)
Joseph Rosenberg

This Tax Fact documents the increasing share of flow-through business income as a percentage of adjusted gross income (AGI) reported on individual income tax returns. In 2012, net income from sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations totaled nearly $840 billion and accounted for more than 9 percent of total AGI.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

Who Benefits from Asset-Building Tax Subsidies? (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
C. Eugene Steuerle, Benjamin H. Harris, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caleb Quakenbush, Caroline Ratcliffe

Tax subsidies for asset building totaled $384 billion in 2013, with the vast majority going toward subsidizing homeownership and retirement saving. This factsheet summarizes distributional estimates of major tax subsidies for homeownership, retirement saving, and higher education. Low- and moderate-income households benefit very little from these subsidies. For example, about 70 percent of the mortgage interest deduction and employer-sponsored retirement plan subsidies go to the top 20 percent of tax payers while the bottom 20 percent receive less than one percent. Upper-income households, which likely require less incentive to save, may merely shift assets from unsubsidized to subsidized accounts.

Posted to Web: September 24, 2014Publication Date: September 24, 2014

Summary of and Comments on Exempt Organization Provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 (Presentation)
Roger Colinvaux

The slides summarize the content of and provide detailed commentary on the exempt organization provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 2014, a discussion draft released February 26, 2014 by Dave Camp, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, including changes to the charitable deduction, unrelated business income tax, penalty and excise tax regimes, and administrative provisions. The slides find that several themes emerge: the charitable deduction is supported by a base-defining theory, unrelated businesses should be discouraged, compliance by exempt organizations is problematic, the law is too complex, and the tax exemption for investment income is too broad.

Posted to Web: September 24, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

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