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How Trump’s Tax Plan Could Affect You

 

Jonnelle Marte

The White House unveiled a broad outline Wednesday for a dramatically simpler tax code that could lead to lower tax bills for many ordinary taxpayers but also eliminate many of the tax deductions that Americans currently claim.

President Trump’s plan, which offered few details, could cut taxes for some middle- and high-income families and for parents, and also reduce taxes for businesses large and small. The plan would also substantially increase the standard deduction, which reduces an individual’s taxable income, and would eliminate some common tax deductions such as those used to offset medical costs or state and local taxes.

Without more details, it is difficult to know exactly how some taxpayers will fare. The White House will need to work with Congress on the final plan, which could look very different if lawmakers push back against some of the proposed changes.

Here is a look at some of the major changes that could affect you:

Larger standard deduction would mean lower tax bills. The plan calls for doubling the standard deduction that people can claim on their income tax returns, which would lower tax bills for some taxpayers and lead to a much simpler tax filing process for others. Under the proposal, married couples filing jointly would not owe income taxes on the first $24,000 of income (up from $12,600).

U.S. National Economic Director Gary Cohn© L and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unveil the Trump administration’s tax reform proposal in the… U.S. National Economic Director Gary Cohn

 

Gary Cohn, the director of Trump’s National Economic Council, told reporters Wednesday that the higher standard deduction means that fewer people will have to file itemized deductions to reduce their taxable income, which could lead to a simpler tax return.

Most tax deductions are going away. All individual tax deductions would be eliminated with the exception of deductions related to homeownership and charitable contributions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the briefing Wednesday.

Under that scenario, taxpayers would no longer be able to write off expenses now commonly deducted, such as state and local property taxes and medical expenses. The White House will have to work with Congress to finalize the details of the plan, and it’s not clear if lawmakers will be willing to eliminate some of the deductions that may be popular in their home states.

Fewer tax brackets. The proposal would reduce seven tax brackets to three brackets with tax rates at 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. Currently, tax brackets range from 10 percent to 39.6 percent, based on income. High-earning taxpayers could see an immediate tax break on their income taxes, while low-income families may not feel much of a change, said Alan Cole, an economist with the Tax Foundation, a conservative think tank. However, the proposal did not disclose the income ranges for the new tax brackets.

Bigger tax breaks for parents. The plan calls for increasing the tax benefits available to families paying for child and dependent-care costs, such as day care, but few details were provided. Trump is considering raising the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, a tax break that allows parents to reduce their tax bills by up to $2,100, based on how much they spend on child care.

The approach would be different from Trump’s earlier plan, which was criticized as an approach that would mostly benefit high-earning taxpayers. That plan would have allowed parents to deduct the cost of child care from their income, which would not have provided much tax savings to lower-income families that do not owe much in income taxes.

Reduced taxes on the wealthy. The plan calls for eliminating two key taxes that traditionally affect higher earners: the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax. The alternative minimum tax was enacted to ensure high income earners would pay a minimum tax even if they were claiming numerous tax breaks. But the tax now affects about 5 million middle- and high-income taxpayers, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The estate tax, which is also known as the death tax, affects people who inherit wealth or businesses worth more than about $5.5 million. Some people struggle to pay tax bills owed on money and assets they inherit from family members, Cohn said.

Lower tax rate for business owners. Some small and family-run businesses are subject to individual income tax rates, which can be as high as 39.6 percent. Under the president’s plan, they would pay a lower rate of 15 percent. Mnuchin said the administration would include provisions to keep wealthy business owners of large companies from taking advantage of the lower rate, but he did not offer details.              (The Washington Post)

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Barrack Obama’s $400,000 Speech To Wall Street Sparks Liberal Blowback

 

Matthew Rozsa
Former President Barack Obama hosts a conversation on civic engagement and community organizing, Monday, April 24, 2017, at the University of Chicago in Chicago. It's the former president's first public event of his post-presidential life in the place where he started his political career.© AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast Former President Barack Obama hosts a conversation on civic engagement and community organizing, Monday, April 24, 2017, at the University of Chicago in Chicago. It’s the former president’s first public… 

The former leader of the free world is suddenly facing intense criticism.

Barack Obama has accepted a $400,000 speaking fee for a Wall Street conference that will be hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald LP, according to a report by Fox Business.

This is almost twice as much as the speaking fees Hillary Clinton charged for three speeches to Goldman Sachs after she left the State Department. She later came under immense criticism during her campaign for receiving so much money to speak to Wall Street firms. According to the Washington Post, her husband and former president Bill Clinton “earned more than $16.3 million for 72 speeches” in 2012 —  averaging around $226,000 per speech. CNN also reported he was once paid $750,000 for a speech to telecom firm Ericsson.

Obama will address a health care conference scheduled for September and the 44th president will reportedly be the keynote luncheon speaker for one day of the event. Although Obama has already signed the contract, the early reports indicate that Cantor Fitzgerald is still in the process of coordinating the details with the former president. Obama can still reportedly pull out of the deal if there are scheduling conflicts or if he finds himself on the receiving end of negative publicity.

And Obama’s already received boatloads of negative publicity.

“Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee will undermine everything he believes in,” wrote Vox’s Matthew Yglesias this week. “To fight the rising tide of populism, mainstream leaders need to raise their ethical game,” he argued.

“The more that Wall Street firms give out-of-office presidents and big-name politicians these paydays, the more they become the norm,” Aaron Blake of The Washington Post wrote. “Other presidents will know that such payments are on the table, and it risks coloring their decisions with regard to Wall Street and special interests.” A point Vox’s Yglesias agreed with:

Indeed, to not take the money might be a problem for someone in Obama’s position. It would set a precedent.

Obama would be suggesting that for an economically comfortable high-ranking former government official to be out there doing paid speaking gigs would be corrupt, sleazy, or both. He’d be looking down his nose at the other corrupt, sleazy former high-ranking government officials and making enemies.

Which is exactly why he should have turned down the gig.

The election in France earlier this week shows that the triumph of populist demagogues is far from inevitable. But to beat it, mainstream politicians and institutions need to shape up — not just with better policies, but with the kind of self-sacrificing spirit and moral leadership that successful movements require.

Blake also pointed out that bans on lobbying by former government employees are usually written because “it became so normal for former aides to cash in afterward and basically use their government jobs for a future payday on behalf of well-heeled special interests. The prospect of future wealth became a given.”

Of course, the criticism continued on Twitter:

It’s so heartwarming that @barackobama is willing to speak to Wall Street for only a $400,000 hourly fee. A true man of the people.

— Gad Saad (@GadSaad) April 26, 2017

Almost as though Obama explained himself why giving $$$ speeches to banksters is bad https://t.co/IT5RnyawaT

— Jonathan Cohn (@JonathanCohn) April 26, 2017

Hey @BarackObama if you are unable to give your Wall Street speech, I am available to attend. I’m willing to give a 50% discount. DM details

— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) April 26, 2017

This is what Obama said literally the same day his $400K Wall Street speech was revealed. The, er, um … audacity pic.twitter.com/P3hTwOPZ6j

— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Vox) April 25, 2017

But not everyone thinks Obama’s legacy is on the line with a couple of big post-presidency paydays:

I fail to see how @BarackObama accepting one high-paying speaking gig “undermines everything he believes in.” https://t.co/GVJrEj9uQL

— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) April 25, 2017

Salon

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Malawian Pastor Introduces Miracle Pregnancy Test That Can Reveal Paternity

Image result for Sherpard Bushiri with pregnancy test kit

Prophet Shepard Bushiri

 A Malawian preacher, Prophet Major One, whose real name is Shepard Bushiri, says he has created a pregnancy test kit that helps women determine the real fathers of their unborn children.

Major One made the revelation during an interview on Mpumalanga FM on Tuesday, Malawi Voice reported.

In a recording of the interview posted on Media News, Bushiri explains that anointed pregnancy tests by him will help the female members of his church and his numerous female followers to know the man who made them pregnant.

The preacher also acknowledged that female members of his church have issues with staying faithful to a partner. He said they need the pregnancy test kit because they are sleeping around without protection and with spiritual husbands, as well.

He said: “Instead of prophesying about men who made them pregnant, they can just use my accurate anointed pregnancy test. I speak the Word to those pregnancy test. The power of God will get in, they use my tests and God does something.”

He also warned about the terrors of invisible men known as “spiritual husbands” that stalk ordinary people’s houses, sleeping with both men and women. These spiritual husbands cause horror and agony in people’s lives, including causing supernatural pregnancies.                           (Punchng.com)

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Nigeria Will Exit Recession Within The Last Three Months Of This Year – Emefiele

godwin-emefiele-2

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said that with the current efforts by the Federal Government to revive the country’s economy, the country should be out of recession by the third quarter of this year.

Emefiele also said the CBN would continue with its intervention in the foreign exchange market, adding that efforts by the apex bank so far had been yielding positive results.

He added that the country had started to see a downward trend in the prices of commodities, indicating a reduction in the rate of inflation.

“We are very much optimistic that by the end of the second quarter, or latest the third quarter, we should be out of recession that we are in right now,” he said.

The CBN governor said these after meeting with the leadership of the Senate in Abuja on Tuesday.

In attendance at the closed door meeting were the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Rafiu Ibrahim.

Emefiele, while briefing journalists after the meeting, said discussions were held between the apex bank and the legislature on the current state of the economy.

He said, “Actually, the Senate President invited us to come and brief the Senate leadership in a closed session and to provide some updates on the foreign exchange markets. You would have observed that in the last two months, the central bank has been involved in some form of intensive intervention in the foreign exchange market and this has fortunately resulted in a downward trend in the parallel market price of foreign exchange, from as high as N525 to a dollar to as low as N370.

“Right now, it hovers between N370 and N380. I think it’s an opportunity for me to say that we are going to continue this intervention because the reserves look very good. As I speak to you, our (external) reserves stand at above $31bn and that provides us enough of firepower or ammunition to be able to defend the currency, and we will do so with all intensity to ensure that foreign exchange is procured by everybody.

“If you want to import raw materials, you will get foreign exchange; you want to import plant and equipment, you will get foreign exchange; you want to pay school fees or you are a small business that wants to buy foreign exchange for you to import your small items, you will procure foreign exchange.”

Emefiele recalled that the CBN had last week announced a policy to encourage foreign investors in the country’s forex market.

He said, “It is the market or window that is opened for them to bring in their foreign exchange and come into the market on what we call a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis, in which case there will be no form of any price intervention by anybody, including the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Indeed, with the kind of firepower that we have, we are also going to play in that market to ensure that as the prices move on based on the managed float regime that we run, we should be able to control the price based on the willing-buyer, willing-seller basis.”

In his remarks, Ibrahim said the meeting was part of the engagements between the legislature and the executive.

He stated, “As usual, the leadership of the Senate is always engaging the most important sectors of our economy. So, we had a discussion with the Senate President and the (CBN) governor and they were briefed just like he (Emefiele) has given you an overview of the briefing.

“We have proffered more solutions, which will result in more policy directions very soon, because the major reason is for us to attract foreign direct investments so that the watchers, that is, the reserves, and the monetary aspect of the economy will be intact and the intervention will be sustainable.

“So, we are happy with what they (CBN) are doing and we have been able to proffer more solutions as usual and more suggestions. We are hopeful that by the grace of God, we will be able to sustain working together.”   (Punchng.com)

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2015 Election: Jega Disappointed Me, Says Jonathan |The Republican News

82522-13359goodluck-jonathan-osaseye

Former President, Dr Goodluck E. Jonathan

Niyi Odebode and  Olaleye Aluko

The 2015 general election came to the fore again  on Tuesday with former President Goodluck Jonathan and an ex-Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof.  Attahiru Jega, expressing different views about it.

Jonathan said   he was disappointed  by Jega’s  insistence on conducting   the  elections in February  2015.

An online newspaper, The Cable, reported on Tuesday that Jonathan disclosed this in a book, “Against the Run of Play” written by the chairman of THISDAY editorial board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi.

The 2015 general election were initially  scheduled for February 14, 2015, but the Jonathan administration shifted it by six weeks. The action was greeted by strong criticism from some  Nigerians.

The former President, according to the report, said when Jega  was insistent  on  conducting the elections in February 2015, about 40 per cent eligible Nigerians had not collected their Permanent Voter Cards.

Jonathan was quoted to have said, “I was disappointed by Jega because I still cannot understand what was propelling him to act the way he did in the weeks preceding the election.

“As at the first week in February 2015 when about 40 per cent of Nigerians had not collected their PVCs, Jega said INEC was ready to  conduct an election in which millions of people would be disenfranchised.”

According to the report,  Jonathan said he met with Jega to express his reservations about the preparedness of INEC for the elections.

According to him, the  former chairman insisted that the election would go ahead.

He  stated, “Of course, the Americans were encouraging him to go ahead yet they would never do such a thing in their own country. How could we have cynically disenfranchised about a third of our registered voters for no fault of theirs and still call that a credible election?

“The interesting thing was that the opposition also supported the idea of going on with the election that was bound to end in confusion.”

Jonathan was also reported to have  defended his decision to postpone the election, saying it was for security reasons.

“When the military and security chiefs demanded more time to deal with the insurgency, the reasons were genuine,” he said.

“As of  February 2015, it would have been very difficult to vote in Gombe, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. But the  moment all the arms and ammunition that had been ordered finally arrived, the military was able to use them to degrade the capacity of Boko Haram to the level in which they posed the threat to the election.”

In his reactions, the spokesperson for the former INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu,said Jega would not take  issue with anyone over an election, adjudged globally as credible.

Idowu, who was the Chief Press Secretary to Jega, said, “Well, it is not in the habit of Prof Jega to take issue with what is already a fact of history. It is a fact that an election and it is a fact of history that the election globally was adjudged to have been credible.  (Punchng.com)

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Flynn Probably Broke Law By Failing To Declare Foreign Payments, House Oversight Leaders Say

 

Karoun Demirjian
FILE PHOTO - White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017.© REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo FILE PHOTO – White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House…  

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn probably broke the law by failing to disclose foreign income he earned from Russia and Turkey, the heads of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday.

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), said they believe Flynn neither received permission nor fully disclosed income he earned for a speaking engagement in Russia and lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey when he applied to reinstate his security clearance. They reached this conclusion after viewing two classified memos and a disclosure form in a private briefing Tuesday morning.

“Personally I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz told reporters after the briefing.

Said Cummings: “He was supposed to get permission, he was supposed to report it, and he didn’t. This is a major problem.”

Chaffetz and Cummings stressed that as a former military officer, Flynn would have needed special permission for his appearance at a gala sponsored by RT, the Russian-government-funded television station, for which he was paid $45,000. For his work lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government, he was paid more than $500,000.

“It does not appear that was ever sought, nor did he get that permission,” Chaffetz said.

The Republican later added that while Flynn was clearly not in compliance with the law, “it would be a little strong to say that he flat-out lied.”

Democrats immediately pounced on the news, claiming that it was yet another drip of damaging information implicating Trump world’s relationship with Russia.

“The disturbing news that General Flynn may have violated the law in connection with his security clearance may be just the tip of the iceberg,” declared Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday.

“These revelations highlight the importance of the intelligence committee working in a bipartisan way to request and receive documents with respect to any financial arrangements Flynn and others in similar positions may have had with foreign governments.”

Flynn’s omission could cost him. Violations of this nature can be punished by up to five years of jail time, though President Trump’s Justice Department ultimately would make the decision about whether to investigate or charge him.

Chaffetz stressed that the government ought to “recover the money” that was paid to Flynn by foreign entities — a figure that would at least be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer would not say whether Flynn may have broken the law.

“That would be a question for him and the law-enforcement agency. I don’t know what he filled out or what he did or didn’t do,” Spicer told reporters at the daily press briefing. “He filled that form out before coming here, so it would be up to the committee and other authorities to look at that.”

He insisted the Trump administration had provided all documents requested by Congress to the committee.

“Every document they asked for it’s my understanding they’ve gotten,” he said.

He added that the committee’s request for a record of Flynn’s conversations with foreign contacts was “unwieldy,” arguing it was Flynn’s job “to talk with foreign counterparts on a daily basis. To document every call that he may have made is not exactly a request that is able to be filled.”

While it will not be up to the Oversight Committee to impose punishment, panel leaders pledged to pursue the matter, indicating a preference for making the documents the lawmakers reviewed public.

The future of any action may rely on a new Oversight Committee chairman. Chaffetz announced last week that he would resign from Congress in 2018 and perhaps leave much sooner — setting off a scramble to replace him on the House’s chief investigative panel.

Flynn could be charged with a crime for lying on the background-check form, and it could cause problems with his future ability to obtain security clearances. But the law requires investigators to show that he “knowingly and willfully” made false statements, setting a high bar. Prosecutors would not be able to make a case if Flynn’s forms were inaccurate by mere carelessness or honest mistake.

The FBI could open an investigation into the matter, and if they have not already, Congress could presumably ask them to do so. Chaffetz himself did just that after FBI Director James B. Comey said he would need such a referral to explore whether Hillary Clinton committed perjury when she testified before a congressional committee about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

The documents that committee members reviewed Tuesday came from the Defense Intelligence Agency and showed that Flynn had not declared any income from Russian or Turkish sources, despite the fact that the forms were filed about a month after Flynn’s reported trip to Moscow to speak at the RT gala, Cummings said.

“As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of DoD, extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings,” said Flynn counsel Rob Kelner of Covington & Burling.

Flynn, a Trump campaign adviser and the first national security adviser of the Trump administration, was ousted in February after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Pence about his talks at the end of 2016 with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election, supposedly to help Trump. They are also exploring possible links between Trump aides and Russian officials.

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are scheduled to testify before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8. The House Intelligence Committee has also invited Yates and Clapper to testify in a public hearing that has not yet been scheduled.

The House probe in particular has been beset with controversy after the Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), publicly signaled that he had seen information suggesting the identity of Trump or members of his transition team may have been revealed in classified surveillance reports.

The Oversight Committee asked the White House in March for documents pertaining to Flynn’s security-clearance applications, the vetting that occurred before he was named national security adviser, and all of his contacts with foreign agents, including any payments received. In particular, the committee heads requested to see a disclosure form known as the SF86, on which Flynn was obligated to declare any foreign income.

On April 19, the White House sent the committee a reply, stating that any documents related to Flynn from before Jan. 20 — the day Trump took office — were not in its possession and that any documents from after that date did not seem relevant to the committee’s investigation.

“The White House has refused to provide this committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan request,” Cummings said.

He noted that lawmakers would be interested in seeing documents that could shed light on what Flynn told the White House and his foreign contacts before he was named national security adviser, and what led to his exit less than a month later.

During the transition period, Flynn told the incoming White House that he might need to register as a foreign agent. Cummings would not go so far as to accuse the White House of intentionally obstructing the committee’s investigation of Flynn.

The committee is not likely to pull Flynn before the panel for testimony — despite Cummings’s insistence that it “should be holding a hearing with General Flynn.”

Chaffetz said he would “highly doubt” that the committee would call Flynn to testify, deferring any command for such an audience to the House Intelligence Committee.

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