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E.V. Buying Guide: What to Know About Models, Batteries, Charging and More

Buying used could be a cheaper way to get an electric vehicle, though evaluate the car you are buying carefully, particularly the quality of the battery, because it will degrade over time. That said, a used electric vehicle could be a perfect choice for a second car for errands, commutes and other short trips.

As exciting as it may be to own an electric vehicle, it may not be for everyone. Many families and individuals can’t afford an E.V. that meets their needs — there are few electric vehicles with three rows and room for youth sports gear, for example, and they tend to be expensive. Others cannot easily charge at or near their homes. That’s why Mr. DeLorenzo and Mr. Fisher recommend plug-in hybrids.

“If you’re interested but not really sure you want to commit, these plug-in hybrids are kind of a gateway,” Mr. Fisher, of Consumer Reports, said.

For many people, a plug-in like a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan or the RAV4 Prime S.U.V. could effectively serve as an all-electric vehicle, he said. Toyota claims the RAV4 Prime can run for 42 miles before switching to gasoline, while Chrysler says the Pacifica has 32 miles on a full charge. If used mostly for short commutes to work and trips around town, the cars could rarely use gas. Those two vehicles and other plug-in hybrids also qualify for federal tax credits.

“You can just plug it into your normal wall outlet and charge it overnight and you can get a taste of what that’s like, having an E.V., and then maybe your next vehicle will be a pure E.V.,” he said.

Of course, gas-powered cars have grown increasingly efficient, and choosing one wisely can help reduce emissions if you are upgrading from an older vehicle. Yet many people buy cars based on what they consider alluring and attractive. And if you are wowed by the features and design of an E.V., you might find it hard to settle for anything else, Mr. DeLorenzo said.

“It’s a different experience,” he said. “It’s not the same as owning a regular car, for sure. So there’s something to be said for that.”

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Why a $10,000 Tax Deduction Could Hold Up Trillions in Stimulus Funds

“I think it’s a giveaway to the rich,” she told reporters last month. “So, I do not believe in holding the entire infrastructure package hostage for a full repeal and abolishing the cap. I think we can have a conversation about the policy, but it’s a bit of an extreme position, to be frank.”

There’s no debate that the SALT deduction goes mostly to wealthier taxpayers. About 85 percent of its benefits accrue to the richest 5 percent of households, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington. Were the cap to be repealed, about two-thirds of the benefits — about $67 billion — would go to families making over $200,000 a year.

Exactly how that is distributed is subject to an overlapping crosscurrent of tax policies whose effects vary from place to place. Since the 2017 tax cut broadly lowered taxes, even for residents of high-tax states, the $10,000 cap meant that affluent people in blue states ended up with smaller tax cuts than those in lower-cost red states.

But the political bottom line is that capping a very visible benefit angered the sorts of voters on whom high-tax states rely — families in a place like Long Island or Orange County, Calif., who might make a six-figure income, own a home and pay tens of thousands a year in state income and local property taxes. In the psychology of paying taxes, a slightly smaller savings might seem worse than no savings at all, particularly if you feel singled out, as blue state taxpayers clearly were.

Giveaway or not, there is political logic in trying to restore the unlimited benefit. Affluent suburban voters helped Mr. Biden win the White House, and there is even some evidence to suggest that anger over the lost deduction helped Democrats flip a handful of Republican seats during the 2018 election.

Though the debate affects Democratic districts disproportionately, SALT is less about rote partisanship than about representing voters from wealthy areas with high housing costs. The handful of Republicans who voted against the 2017 tax cuts mostly did so because of the loss of tax breaks like SALT, and today Representative Young Kim, a California Republican from Orange County, supports a repeal of the cap.

There’s also little doubt that the cap falls much harder on blue states. Before the 2017 tax cuts, the average SALT deduction in New York was $22,169 — twice the national average of $10,233 — according to data compiled by the Government Finance Officers Association. It was $19,664 in Connecticut, $18,437 in California and $17,850 in New Jersey.

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Biden’s Tax Proposals Are Not Just for the Really Wealthy

Mr. Biden has cleared up some issues for the middle class in his proposal. He has recommended an exemption of $1 million on the capital gains of assets transferred to heirs. He has also left in place the $250,000 exemption on taxable gains in the value of a person’s primary residence. (These exemptions would double for a couple.)

But in many cases, this would affect people who would not have had to think about paying any tax at death, whether the estate tax exemption remained the current $11.7 million or dropped to $3.5 million, which had been expected to happen.

“The changes to the step-up in basis — that’s the curveball,” said Paul Saganey, the founder and president of Integrated Partners, a financial advisory firm. “It’s really going to surprise people. People don’t know what it is or what it means, so how can they quantify the impact of it?”

Also missing was any mention of reinstating the full deduction for state and local taxes, known as SALT. The cap on these deductions in the 2017 tax law hurt people living in the Northeast and West Coast states, where the property and state taxes are higher.

Mr. Biden has proposed limiting a break on real estate transactions. He would cap at $500,000 the value of 1031(b) exchanges, which have essentially allowed real estate investors to roll gains from the sale of buildings into new buildings without ever paying capital gains taxes on them. Coupled with the step-up in basis at death, which wiped out all the gains in value of the buildings, this was a large tax break for families whose wealth rested on real estate investment and ownership.

What is less known is what, if anything, may be adopted from the “For the 99.5 percent” plan. The plan would close some popular tax-reduction strategies, many of which were targeted during the Obama administration.

Three of the proposals would be relatively easy to enact. One would end short-term trusts that allow people to pass tax-free to their heirs expected appreciation — say from the sale of a private business. Another would limit tax-free gifts that can be given each year to trusts to fund things like life insurance to pay estate taxes. A third would curtail special tax treatment that family partnerships receive, even when they own liquid securities and not an operating business.

“They already have the regulations written of these,” Ms. Lucina said. “I don’t want to scare anyone that these will be enacted. But some of these could be enacted quickly and looked at as loophole closers.”

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It’s Not Just the Really Wealthy Who Face Tax Increases

Mr. Biden has cleared up some issues for the middle class in his proposal. He has recommended an exemption of $1 million on the capital gains of assets transferred to heirs. He has also left in place the $250,000 exemption on taxable gains in the value of a person’s primary residence. (These exemptions would double for a couple.)

But in many cases, this would affect people who would not have had to think about paying any tax at death, whether the estate tax exemption remained the current $11.7 million or dropped to $3.5 million, which had been expected to happen.

“The changes to the step-up in basis — that’s the curveball,” said Paul Saganey, the founder and president of Integrated Partners, a financial advisory firm. “It’s really going to surprise people. People don’t know what it is or what it means, so how can they quantify the impact of it?”

Also missing was any mention of reinstating the full deduction for state and local taxes, known as SALT. The cap on these deductions in the 2017 tax law hurt people living in the Northeast and West Coast states, where the property and state taxes are higher.

Mr. Biden has proposed limiting a break on real estate transactions. He would cap at $500,000 the value of 1031(b) exchanges, which have essentially allowed real estate investors to roll gains from the sale of buildings into new buildings without ever paying capital gains taxes on them. Coupled with the step-up in basis at death, which wiped out all the gains in value of the buildings, this was a large tax break for families whose wealth rested on real estate investment and ownership.

What is less known is what, if anything, may be adopted from the “For the 99.5 percent” plan. The plan would close some popular tax-reduction strategies, many of which were targeted during the Obama administration.

Three of the proposals would be relatively easy to enact. One would end short-term trusts that allow people to pass tax-free to their heirs expected appreciation — say from the sale of a private business. Another would limit tax-free gifts that can be given each year to trusts to fund things like life insurance to pay estate taxes. A third would curtail special tax treatment that family partnerships receive, even when they own liquid securities and not an operating business.

“They already have the regulations written of these,” Ms. Lucina said. “I don’t want to scare anyone that these will be enacted. But some of these could be enacted quickly and looked at as loophole closers.”

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Biden, Calling for Big Government, Bets on a Nation Tested by Crisis

“People are fed up with this,” said Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who heads the campaign arm for Senate Republicans leading into the 2022 elections.

Those attacks do not seem to carry the same sway that they did during Mr. Obama’s tenure, when the White House proposed a much smaller economic stimulus package than many economists thought was warranted given the huge erosion in household wealth after the financial crisis. Mr. Obama did raise taxes on high earners, including to help fund the Affordable Care Act, but not at a scale close to what Mr. Biden is proposing.

Mr. Biden might have Mr. Trump to thank for part of that shift. The pandemic aid bills he signed last year, with bipartisan support in Congress, might have helped reset the public’s views of Washington’s spending limits; “trillion” was a red line of sorts under Mr. Obama, but no longer.

Mr. Trump also pushed Congress to approve direct checks, an effort Mr. Biden continued, and began the Operation Warp Speed vaccine program that helped hasten the deployment of the most significant driver of economic activity this year: vaccinated Americans. As the economy reopens and people return to work, economic optimism is rising, though Republicans nationwide remain more pessimistic and are far more likely to oppose Mr. Biden’s plans.

In Washington, the president does not need Republican support to push through his agenda. He needs only his party to hold together in the House and the Senate, where Democrats enjoy majorities by thin margins, and move as much spending and tax policy as possible through the process known as budget reconciliation. The maneuver bypasses Senate filibusters and allows legislation, like Mr. Biden’s relief bill this year, to pass with only majority-party votes.

That process will give large sway to moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, but so far that group has not flinched at the scale of Mr. Biden’s ambitions. Mr. Manchin has said he will support $4 trillion in infrastructure spending.

It is unclear whether Mr. Biden can hold Mr. Manchin and others on his people-focused spending, like the education and child care efforts unveiled on Wednesday. His administration is trying to make the case on productivity grounds, casting the plan as investing in an inclusive economy that would help millions of Americans gain the skills and the work flexibility they need to build middle-class lifestyles.

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Big Companies Like FedEx and Nike Paid No Federal Taxes

Just as the Biden administration is pushing to raise taxes on corporations, a new study finds that at least 55 of America’s largest paid no taxes last year on billions of dollars in profits.

The sweeping tax bill passed in 2017 by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. But dozens of Fortune 500 companies were able to further shrink their tax bill — sometimes to zero — thanks to a range of legal deductions and exemptions that have become staples of the tax code, according to the analysis.

Salesforce, Archer-Daniels-Midland and Consolidated Edison were among those named in the report, which was done by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning research group in Washington.

financial reports that include federal income tax expense. The institute used that data along with other information supplied by each company on its pretax income.

Catherine Butler, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy, responded in an email that the company “fully complies with federal and state tax laws as part of our efforts to make investments that will benefit our customers and communities.”

She pointed out that the bonus depreciation, intended to encourage investment in areas like renewable energy, “caused Duke’s cash tax obligations to be deferred to future periods, but it did not eliminate them.” According to a filing at the end of 2020, Duke has a deferred federal tax balance of $9 billion that will be paid in the future.

DTE Energy, a Detroit-based utility that was also found to have paid no federal taxes for three years, said major investments in modernizing aging infrastructure and new solar and wind technologies were the primary reasons last year. “For utilities, the benefit of these federal tax savings are passed on to utility customers in the form of lower utility bills,” it said in a statement.

Democratic candidates citing it to argue the tax code was deeply flawed.

Tax avoidance strategies include a mix of old standards and new innovations. Companies, for example, saved billions by allowing top executives to buy discounted stock options in the future and then deducting their value as a loss.

The Biden administration announced this week that it planned to increase the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, and establish a kind of minimum tax that would limit the number of zero-payers. The White House estimated that the revisions would raise $2 trillion over 15 years, which will be used to fund the president’s ambitious infrastructure plan.

Supporters say that in addition to yielding revenue, the rewrite would help make the tax code more equitable, requiring individuals and companies at the top of the income ladder to pay more. But Republicans have signaled that the tax increases in the Biden proposal — which Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, called “massive” — will preclude bipartisan support.

Referring to the proposed revisions, Matt Gardner, a senior fellow at the taxation institute, said, “If I were going to make a list of the things I would want the corporate tax reform to do, this outline tackles all these issues.”

Deductions and exemptions wouldn’t disappear, but other changes like the minimum tax would reduce their value, he said.

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I.R.S. will begin issuing tax refunds in May for unemployment tax break.

Taxpayers who received unemployment benefits last year — but who filed their federal tax returns before a new tax break became available — could receive an automatic refund as early as May, the Internal Revenue Service said on Wednesday.

The latest coronavirus relief legislation — signed into law on March 11, in the thick of tax season — made the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits tax-free in 2020 for people with modified adjusted incomes of less than $150,000. (Married taxpayers filing jointly can exclude up to $20,400.)

But some Americans had already filed their tax returns by March and have been waiting for official agency guidance. Millions of U.S. workers filed for unemployment last year, but the I.R.S. said it was still determining how many workers affected by the tax change had already filed their tax returns.

On Wednesday, the I.R.S. confirmed that it would automatically recalculate the correct amount of benefits subject to taxation — and any overpayment will be refunded or applied to any other outstanding taxes owed. The first refunds are expected to be issued in May and will continue into the summer.

an updated worksheet and additional guidance in March for taxpayers that prefer paper.

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Biden’s Push for Electric Cars: $174 Billion, 10 Years and a Bit of Luck

But production is only one piece of the puzzle. The transition away from gas-powered vehicles rests on convincing consumers of the benefits of electric vehicles. That hasn’t been easy because the cars have higher sticker prices even though researchers say that they cost less to own. Electricity is cheaper on a per mile basis than gasoline, and E.V.s require less routine maintenance — there is no oil to change — than combustion-engine cars.

The single biggest cost of an electric car comes from the battery, which can run about $15,000 for a midsize sedan. That cost has been dropping and is widely expected to keep falling thanks to manufacturing improvements and technical advancements. But some scholars believe that a major technological breakthrough will be required to make electric cars much, much cheaper.

“There’s a good sense that at least for the next maybe five years or so they’re going to keep declining, but then are they going to level off or are they going to keep declining?” Joshua Linn, a professor at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow with Resources for the Future, an environmental nonprofit, said about battery costs. “That won’t be enough, so then that’s given rise to a lot of attention to infrastructure.”

The federal government and some states already offer tax credits and other incentives for the purchase of electric cars. But the main such federal incentive — a $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of new electric cars — begins to phase out for cars once an automaker has sold 200,000 E.V.s. Buyers of Tesla and G.M. electric cars, for example, no longer qualify for that tax credit but buyers of Ford and Volkswagen electric cars do.

The Biden administration has released no details about its proposed E.V. tax credits.

Another big concern is charging. People with dedicated parking spots typically charge their E.V.s overnight at home, but many people who live in apartments or have to drive longer distances need to use public charging stations, which are still greatly outnumbered by gas stations.

“The top three reasons consumers give for not buying E.V.s are lack of charging stations, time to charge, and the cost of E.V.s,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Guidehouse Insights. “They seem to be really emphasizing all three. So, over all, it looks very promising.”

There are well over 100,000 gas stations in the United States, most with multiple pumps. Mr. Biden’s plan calls for a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers within the decade, up from about 41,000 charging stations with more than 100,000 outlets today, according to the Energy Department.

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