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Yesterday, President Trump and the “Big 6” — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Senate Finance Chairman Orin Hatch– released the GOP’s latest plan for tax reform. Hours later, the President gave a speech in Indiana to formerly introduce and promote the plan.

Now, some might suggest that the President is often prone to hyperbole. Or half-truths. Or outright lies. I’m not going to opine on that, because the reality is, there are many shades to the truth, and as George Costanza once said, “it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

But this is tax reform we’re talking about; a topic so foreign and frightening to most people that they need an advocate. Someone to parse through the empty rhetoric and leading language and tell them what’s real and what’s not. And when it comes to the President’s speech on tax reform, that someone is me.

So here’s what I’ve done. I’ve copied much of the text from yesterday’s speech below, with all of the President’s words in italics. I haven’t presented the entire speech, of course, because it would run for pages and pages, and also because no one really needs to read the word “tremendous” that many times in one sitting.

After the President’s comments, I have added my commentary, in regular type. My hope is to cut through the sales pitch and give it to you straight, so that you might understand what this plan really means to you and this great country. I hope it helps.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

First thing this morning, I was scheduled for an upper endoscopy. As the anesthesiologist prepared to put me under, he asked what I did for a living and I explained that I was a CPA who also writes about tax law, and that today was a critical day in the tax reform process. He then asked me about what I though the GOP’s plan would be, and as I got into the finer points of budget reconciliation, deficit-neutral tax reform, and dynamic scoring, sleep finally set in.

Ok, on to what you came here for. Last week, President Trump, in his preferred manner of speaking in absolutes, said the following when pressed on the pace of tax reform:

We have a tax plan that’s totally finalized.

Earlier today, the President, along with the so-called “Big 6” — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Senate Finance Chairman Orin Hatch, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans all — unveiled their tax plan, and lo and behold, it IS in fact finalized, if by “finalized” you mean, “Seven pages of general highlights and a disturbing absence of detail.”

But hey, don’t be too hard on the Commander in Chief and the Big 6 (excellent band name); after all, tax reform is hard. To illustrate just how hard it is, let’s take a look at the parts of the plan that were made public today, and how each one presents significant challenges, both in regard to being politically palatable and economically feasible.

But first, let’s understand the biggest of all the challenges facing tax reform: fitting $5 trillion in tax cuts into a $1.5 trillion budget.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

I’m a coward. Always have been; always will be. I intend to live a long, pain-free life before slowly being lowered into the ground a pristine, unspoiled corpse. And if reaching that goal requires me to push a few kids out of the way in the event of a fire, well, I’ve made my peace with that.

So needless to say, if I ever encounter an unwelcoming job market, my initial reaction will not be to ponder, “Well, let’s see what’s available in war-torn Iraq.”

Cowardice, it seems, is not a trait Jesse Linde and I share. A two-time Army helicopter pilot, after struggling to find work in the private sector, Linde jumped at the opportunity to relocate to the Middle East in order to continue flying. To date, he has successfully navigated the many dangers to be found in Iraq, but even halfway across the globe, he couldn’t escape one domestic menace: the IRS.

Yesterday, Linde found himself in the Tax Court, and it’s a decision that all tax professionals would be wise to review, as it addresses a fascinating area of the law:

Where is a your “tax home?”

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

I wasn’t always like this, I swear. There was a time in my life when if I wanted to satisfy my urge for tinkering, I’d kill a few hours on ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, trying to determine exactly who my beloved New Jersey Nets would have to give up to acquire a young James Harden. But now…well, now I scratch that same itch by wondering, “Can I devise a revenue-neutral tax reform plan?”

And yes, I am significantly less fun at parties than I used to be.

But before my nerdiness drives you away, consider the importance of my undertaking. A revenue neutral tax plan — one that generates the same amount of tax revenue over the next decade — is the carrot the GOP is chasing. Why? As we’ve discussed in this space before, a tax reform plan — one that cuts rates, simplifies the law, and yes, as mentioned in the previous sentence, results in no net loss of tax dollars — can be passed through what’s called the “budget reconciliation process.”

Under this process, should the House and Senate ever get around to approving budgets that provide for a tax reform plan, that plan could be passed with only a simple 51 majority in the Senate. And because Republicans currently hold 52 seats in the Senate, it means that the GOP could pass its vision of tax reform without a single vote from a Democrat.

The catch, however, is that in order to use the reconciliation process, any bill cannot add to the deficit beyond the ten-year budget window, hence the need for revenue neutral tax reform.

How hard can that be?

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

After enduring the healthcare debacle, Charlottesville nightmare, and a seemingly endless string of natural disasters, the White House is desperate for some good PR, and revamping the nation’s tax law is where it aims to find it.

Over the past year, many promises have been made and modified, proposals floated and abandoned, and timelines established and extended. And while I’d like nothing more than to use this space to get you caught up on the details of where we stand today — projected tax rates, a review of what deductions will be eliminated or survive, etc… — the reality is, those details simply don’t exist. In fact, we know far less today about what tax reform might look like than we did seven or eight months ago.

So instead, I’d like to take a look at the big picture: what are the five biggest questions that must be answered before the GOP can fulfill one of its biggest promises to the American public: a more simple, more fair tax system that leaves additional cash in the hands of businesses and families? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

William Rutter is no dummy. A world-renowned scientist in the field of biotechnology, he earned a degree from Harvard and PhD from the University of Illinois before performing postdoctoral work at the Nobel Institute in Sweden. He has published over 400 scientific papers, holds over 25 patents, and has earned millions upon millions of dollars developing HIV and Hepatitis vaccines.

Late last week, however, all of Rutter’s accomplishments and accolades served only to validate a suspicion Albert Einstein voiced decades ago: the hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax. After all, if a genius like Rutter can wind up on the losing end of a Tax Court decision, what hope do the rest of us have?

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

As you may have read in one of your uncle’s late-night Facebook missives, President Donald Trump stands accused of having colluded with Moscow to make America not Great Again, but rather the largest province in the Russian empire.

There are more to these accusations than the social media ramblings of a distraught family member, however; the FBI found enough smoke around the Trump campaign to convince the Bureau there may well be fire, launching a federal investigation into possible collusion by the current administration in early 2017.

In May, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was tabbed as special counsel to head the investigation, a sign that things had turned towards the serious. The decision to bring in Mueller was made in response to the President’s dismissal of the standing FBI Director, James Comey, a move that came as Comey was reportedly intensifying his investigation into Trump’s affairs.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.