taxes

Craft distillers, retailers wait anxiously for tax extenders
Stakeholders predict layoffs, hiring freezes if deal is not struck by end of year

Rep. Denver Riggleman says it would be “disastrous” for his wife’s Virginia distillery if a 2017 provision that cut excise taxes is not extended past its Dec. 31 expiration date. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman says a looming tax increase on small craft distillers will lead to layoffs at the distillery his family operates in Afton, Virginia, where they make a handful of spirits with colorful names like Strange Monkey Gin and Blackback Bourbon.

And Jeff Quint, a Swisher, Iowa, distillery owner who makes bourbon from corn grown on his family farm, says the demise of the small distillers’ break will force him to rethink new hires he’d been planning.

At Trump White House, that elusive China trade deal is always ‘close’
On Oct. 11, president saw final deal in a few weeks. Eight weeks later, talks drag on

A container ship sits docked at the Port of Oakland in May in Oakland, California. The Trump administration has yet to finalize an elusive trade pact with China that has at times shaken global markets. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — A trade agreement with China that President Donald Trump boastfully announced nearly two months ago remains stalled, despite a top White House economic adviser’s Friday pledge that a final deal is “close.”

On Thursday, the often-verbose president was notably succinct when a reporter asked about the on-again/off-again/on-again China trade negotiations, including whether he would follow through on a threat to slap 15 percent tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese-made items on Dec. 15.

House Democrats to move on temporary ‘SALT’ cap increase
Ways and Means panel could take up legislation as early as next week, Pascrell says

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. says the House Ways and Means Committee could take up legislation to increase the SALT deduction cap as early as next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ways and Means Committee could take up legislation as early as next week that would increase a limit on state and local tax deductions that has riled Democrats from high-cost regions, according to a senior panel member.

The “SALT” bill, which has not yet been released, is still in flux, but the $10,000 deduction limit set by the Republican-backed tax code overhaul would be raised to an as-yet undetermined level for three years, according to Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.. A final figure hasn’t been decided on, the New Jersey Democrat said, describing it as “maybe $15,000 or $20,000, whatever that figure’s going to be.”

A tale of two days — and tones — for Trump as he wraps wild NATO meeting
As president urges alliance to ‘get along with Russia,’ GOP chairman warns relations between two countries are at ‘low point’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, gestures to Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, right, while President Donald Trump looks on as NATO leaders leave the stage after having a group photo taken at the summit in London on Wednesday. (Peter Nicholls/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump shifted from an aggressive and attacking offense on the first day of a NATO summit in London to a more defensive posture on its second and final day.

Trump resorted to name-calling Wednesday as he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed their on-again/off-again feud. The president called Trudeau “two-faced” after the Canadian prime minister was caught on a hot mic Tuesday evening mocking his American counterpart for delaying other leaders by holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters that altered the agenda.

Trump has a new NATO foil: Canada’s ‘two-faced’ Justin Trudeau
U.S. president continues to embrace Turkey's Erdogan as other leaders keep their distance

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak Tuesday at the NATO summit in London. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

France’s Emmanuel Macron was first. Now President Donald Trump is feuding at a NATO summit in London with Canada’s Justin Trudeau, calling him “two-faced.”

But in keeping with his contrarian foreign policy approach, Trump told reporters Wednesday he thinks Turkey’s hardline leader, Recep Erdogan, is doing a “great job.”

Trump relishes in casting France’s Macron as new bad boy of NATO
US president acknowledges impeachment probe casts ‘cloud’ over his diplomatic efforts

President Donald Trump and France's President Emmanuel Macron answer questions during their meeting at at the NATO summit in London on Tuesday.. (ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Casting Emmanuel Macron as the bad boy of NATO, President Donald Trump kicked off a two-day alliance meeting by sounding off on everything from the French president’s “insulting” comments, his own impeachment and a possible Mike Pompeo Senate bid to an ally’s crucial elections and beyond.

During a 50-minute gaggle with reporters during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Trump appeared to revel in putting heat on Macron as their relationship continues to sour. Unprompted by reporters, he dinged Macron over his country’s unemployment rate and sputtering economy and offered something of a warning to France as he — in a complete 180-degree shift — became the NATO alliance’s defender.

Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, told two committees that refiner claims to tax credits for butane blends could cost nearly $50 billion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

California Supreme Court blocks effort to get Trump's tax returns
Law would have required disclosure to get on 2020 primary ballot

California lawmakers had attempted to require President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to qualify for the state’s primary ballot. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The California Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a state law that would have forced President Donald Trump to release his tax returns from the last five years in order to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot. 

The California legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, passed the law in July. But justices for the state’s high court unanimously declared that the law violated a provision of California’s constitution that requires “an open presidential primary” where the contenders are “recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States.”

House Democrats feeling the heat on ‘SALT’ cap rollback
Democrats still haven’t touched the cap on state and local tax deductions

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., D-Va., says Democrats “have to have a SALT vote.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s been almost a year since Democrats assumed control of the House, and they still haven’t touched the cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by the GOP Congress and President Donald Trump that disproportionately affect blue state districts.

That’s starting to become a problem for the dozen or so freshman Democrats who flipped GOP seats after campaigning in part on getting rid of that $10,000 “SALT” limit, which was included as an offset for the 2017 tax code overhaul.

Democrats prepare to duel McConnell over year-end wish list
Amid push for legislation benefiting Kentucky constituents, Dems seek their own concessions

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing several initiatives to benefit his constituents, including renewal of tax breaks for bourbon distillers, aid for retired coal miners and appropriations to bolster Kentucky’s hemp industry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As former Sen. Wendell Ford often said, with small variations: “Kentucky is beautiful women, fast horses, bourbon whiskey, cigarettes and coal. I represent Kentucky, and that’s what I represent.”

The colorful Ford, a Democrat who died in 2015, had little else in common with Mitch McConnell, the stoic Kentucky Republican who served as the junior senator from the Bluegrass State alongside Ford for 15 years until the latter’s 1999 retirement. But the Senate majority leader is clearly taking a few pages from Ford’s playbook in the year-end legislative scramble as he heads into a potentially difficult reelection campaign in 2020.