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Government Taxation And Revenue

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The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn national protections for abortion has set off a contest between Democratic and Republican lawmakers over whose policies would do more to help vulnerable mothers and children. It's a key issue going into the midterm elections. Republicans such as Florida Sen. Rick Scott say that GOP lawmakers have the responsibility to “do everything in our power to meet the needs of struggling women and their families so they can choose life.” Democrats suggest their rivals are hypocrites who would offer half-measures at best and that voters should judge them accordingly.

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Many California households could soon get help to pay for the state's record-high gas prices. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders have announced a $307.9 billion operating budget. The budget includes a plan to send cash to most taxpayers to pay for gas prices. The most a household could get is a $1,050 for a married couple with one child who makes less than $150,000 per year. The least a household could get is $200 for a single person with no children who makes less than $250,000 per year. Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the proposal later this week.

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A judge has blocked New York City from letting noncitizens vote for mayor and other municipal offices. Republicans challenged the measure as unconstitutional. A Staten Island Judge agreed with the GOP in a ruling issued Monday. In January, New York became the first major U.S. city to grant widespread municipal voting rights to noncitizens, though none had cast ballots yet. The law’s supporters said it gave an electoral voice to many people who have made a home in the city and pay taxes to it but face tough paths to citizenship. City lawyers say they're considering next steps.

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Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature are working through their remaining differences as they try to produce an agreement on a roughly $42 billion budget plan that they say marshals new aid for Pennsylvania's public schools and environmental cleanups while cutting corporate taxes. Greasing the skids is a massive influx of tax receipts. Lawmakers are also expected to approve more money for services for the disabled, children and elderly and significant sums for mental health services and school security, including counseling. A big sticking point is the amount of aid that Wolf, a Democrat, wants for public schools.

Top Indiana Republicans expect to see action toward tightening the state’s abortion law during the Legislature’s special session that is set to start next month. Leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature said Friday they were glad the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling returned decisions on regulation abortion to the states. Republican House Speaker Todd Huston said he expected lawmakers would “take action to further protect life when we return to the Statehouse.” GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this week called the Legislature into a special session starting July 6 to take up a tax refund proposal, but state law allows legislators to take up any subject.

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Arizona lawmakers were moving Thursday night to vote on a flurry of bills they need to clear off their desks so they can adjourn for the year. Waiting in the wings for Friday's expected last day of the session is one of the most contentious bills of the year, a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher system. The measure passed the House on Wednesday and a Senate committee Thursday night. The push led to a series of battles, including an effort by majority Republicans to ban cities and towns from charging a tax on rented homes and apartments that fell one vote short in the Senate. Another fight was over a big tax credit for film production that passed the House after an acrimonious debate that got personal.

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Groups representing the oil industry and refiners say a meeting with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was productive and should send a signal to markets that the United States is committed to long-term investments in the oil and refining industry. The meeting Thursday with Granholm and other top officials came as President Joe Biden called on Congress to suspend federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel as a way to relieve high gas prices that have frustrated drivers and spurred inflation. The Democratic president also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, and he delivered a public critique of the energy industry for prioritizing profits over production.

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen is calling for tax cuts and a clampdown on government spending and regulations to help Minnesotans cope with inflation. Though his plan was short on specifics on how he’d get there, Jensen told reporters Thursday his goal is to return around $4,000 to $5,000 for every family of four. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz a day earlier renewed his call for one-time tax rebate checks of $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for couples to help them cope with high gas and other prices. Jensen and Republican legislative leaders are calling for permanent tax cuts instead.

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Idaho’s 44 counties will receive a combined $35.8 million under a program intended to offset the loss of property taxes on federally managed land within the state. The Interior Department announced Thursday that the Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, funding for 2022 will be $549.4 million. About 63% of Idaho is federally managed lands, and the state's PILT payment is the seventh-highest among states this year. In Idaho, Elmore County is receiving the most at $2.7 million, with Cassia and Blaine counties at roughly $2.5 million. The PILT money helps counties pay for law enforcement, firefighting, road construction, school buildings and other essential services.

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Arizona’s legislature has approved a bipartisan $18 billion spending plan making substantial investments in public schools and new highways. The budget passed early Thursday also pays down long-term debts and includes no major tax cuts. The improbable bipartisanship was enabled by an unprecedented surplus topping $5 billion, which allowed for a broad array of new spending and savings. More than half a billion goes to K-12 schools, and a proposal to expand private school subsidies was dropped. Republican leaders tried for months to craft a much more limited plan without Democratic support before looking across the aisle for votes.

The Arizona Senate’s appropriations committee has advanced a series of last-minute measures as the Legislature prepares to adjourn for the year. The new or revived bills that passed Wednesday now move to the full Senate. They include a big new tax credit for film production, a measure requiring a supermajority vote for initiatives if they increase taxes and a bill that would force failing schools to implement improvement plans. The school improvement plan measure requires schools that have a “D” or “F” grade on their yearly state assessment to participate in a school improvement plan. The movie bill provides up to $125 million a year in credits when it is fully in place.

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Legislation that would have authorized sports betting across all of North Carolina has fallen apart in the state's General Assembly. The House late Wednesday narrowly rejected a measure that would have adjusted how betting operators would be taxed and state proceeds would be distributed. An unusual coalition of social conservatives and liberal Democrats halted the effort issuing warnings about the dangers of gambling. A House lawmaker who shepherded the two betting bills said the idea is still alive because one of the measures passed by a one-vote margin. But the General Assembly work session is likely to end late next week, leaving little time for retooling the legislation.

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Republicans in the Arizona House have approved a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher program. They voted Wednesday to allow all 1.1 million public school students to use public money to attend a private schools. The measure comes just four years after voters overwhelmingly rejected a smaller voucher expansion after an unprecedented mobilization by teachers opposed to using tax dollars for private education. It still needs approval in the Senate, which backed a smaller expansion in February. Democrats fiercely opposed the voucher bill. The party line vote came as the House and Senate prepare to vote on a nearly $18 billion state budget that will need Democratic support if it is not trimmed substantially.

The Arizona House has approved a bill that bans home and apartment rental taxes that most Arizona cities and towns charge. The Legislatures budget analysts say the move will save renters money but cost municipalities about $200 million a year. The measure has support from Republican Senate President Karen Fann, which means it is virtually certain to get a vote even though the Legislature is in its final days before adjourning for the year. The League of Arizona Cities and Towns strongly opposed the bill. They say it will force them to either cut services or raise other taxers. It passed the House on a 33-25 vote on Wednesday.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed legislation raising the state’s minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2028. Hawaii’s minimum wage is currently $10.10 an hour. The new law raises the rate in increments over the next several years, starting with $12 in October. The bill also makes the earned income tax credit permanent and refundable, which will help low- to moderate-income workers cut the taxes they owe and potentially increase their tax refund. The governor signed another measure providing one-time tax refunds. Individuals earning less than $100,000 and couples earning less than $200,000 will get $300 per tax exemption. For a family of four, the payout could total $1,200.

President Joe Biden has urged Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months and urged states to do the same at the local level. But both the Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon on Wednesday indicated they were unlikely to pursue a similar policy - even if the federal gas tax is eventually temporarily halted. At 49 cents a gallon, Washington’s tax is behind only California’s and Pennsylvania’s rate and almost triple the federal government’s 18 cents. Oregon’s gas tax is 38 cents a gallon. Inslee's office said a gas tax suspension would benefit oil companies while pausing revenue that goes to improving infrastructure.

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Facing stubbornly high gas prices that average about $5 a gallon nationwide, President Joe Biden has urged Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months. If savings from the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on gas are fully passed along to consumers, drivers would save about $2.76 for a 15-gallon fill-up. It’s unclear, though, if Biden can push his proposal through Congress, where lawmakers, including some Democrats, are skeptical or even opposed to the idea. Many economists also are wary of a gas tax holiday.

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A special session of the Indiana Legislature will begin July 6 to take up the governor’s proposal for sending out $225 payments to all taxpayers from the state’s growing budget surplus. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a proclamation Wednesday setting the date for the special session to start. Holcomb said two weeks ago he would call a special session as he announced his plan amid the worst national inflation in 40 years. Republican legislative leaders have signaled support for Holcomb’s proposed tax refund and joined with him in rejecting calls from Democrats for suspending the state’s gasoline taxes, which will grow to 62 cents a gallon starting July 1.

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President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months — an election-year move meant to ease financial pressures. But it's not clear Biden has the votes to suspend the taxes. Many lawmakers in his own party have expressed reservations. Biden says he knows the move wouldn't reduce “all the pain but it will be a big help.” If the gas tax savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump. Prices average about $5 a gallon nationwide. Biden also wants states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief.

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An IRS watchdog says customer service issues are worsening at the tax-return-processing agency. A new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate says taxpayers are experiencing longer wait times on the phone, there’s an even bigger backlog of paper returns than there was a year ago, and delays in processing paper returns have been running six months to one year. The report on taxpayer challenges is submitted twice a year to Congress. The latest edition comes one day after the IRS said it's on track to eliminate its 2021 backlog of tax returns. The IRS contends the report's numbers are “neither the most accurate nor most recent figures.” and that the agency ”continues to make substantial progress on the inventory."

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The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled the wording of a summary of a ballot question for a proposed “millionaire tax” constitutional amendment is legal and the measure can go before voters in November. The amendment would impose a 4% surtax on the portion of an individual’s annual income that exceeds $1 million. It had been challenged by a business group and others who said that the summary's wording that said revenues raised by the surtax would be spent of education and transportation is “completely misleading.” The Supreme Judicial Court in its decision Wednesday said the wording is in compliance with the state constitution.

European Union lawmakers are requiring deeper emission cuts from power plants, factories and planes in Europe while endorsing an unprecedented import tax to step up the fight against global warming. The European Parliament on Wednesday advanced draft climate legislation that would slash the EU's greenhouse gases by at least 55% in 2030 compared with 1990 rather than by a previously agreed 40%. The legislation also includes a tool that would allow the EU to raise the prices of steel, aluminum and some other imported goods that are spared the climate-protection costs faced by manufacturers in the 27-nation bloc.

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A late-session effort to authorize and regulate sports gambling in North Carolina is pressing forward in the state House. A divided House judiciary committee voted Tuesday for two bills. One is the exact same legislation that passed the Senate last August and the other makes edits to that proposal. This legislative maneuvering reflects the unusual nature of the gambling issue in a Republican-controlled General Assembly where social conservatives still carry great weight. These measures would authorize professional and college sports wagering. The bills could reach the House floor later this week. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has said he wants to sign sports wagering legislation.

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