Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Personal Info and Tax Credits

Been busy, but have some free time to make a blog entry. This may be the last one before the Passover holiday, and if so, then best wishes from me and my family to everyone for a happy and kosher Pesach.

Much has been going on in the taxation arena since my last posting, most of which I am not at this time postured to dwell upon, due to time constraints

Brief mention is made of two tax matters.

First of all, in the 8 December 2008 Federal Register, the IRS proposed new regulations which would allow paid tax return preparers to make certain disclosures of taxpayer personal information to third parties. At the time, I thought that the tax return preparers were being given too much leeway, which threatened the security of their clientele. Now, it seems, several members of Congress (including my own Representative) agree with me, and, on 30 March 2006, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Snow and IRS Commissioner Everson to protest the proposed regs. It is now too early to call this one, but my gut hunch is that the final regulations will not be as permissive as the ones now proposed. We shall see.

Secondly, per article in today's New York Sun, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has taken personal affront at New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's failure to include tuition tax credits in the State budget. Silver has expressed concern that instituting the proposed $500 tuition tax credit would lead to corresponding tuition increases, thus nullifying all of the intended benefit to the affected families.

As mentioned in the prior post of 22 January 2006, my own son goes to a private Jewish religious day school, and we pay the tuition accordingly. The proposed tuition tax credits would not benefit us for various reasons, including the fact that our income level exceeds the proposed ceiling. But there are students in my son's school, and students in other Jewish religious schools, for whose families the proposed tuition tax credits would make a world of difference.

On one hand, it is politically correct within the religious Jewish community to support the tuition tax credits. On the other hand, the common street wisdom is that Assemblyman Silver is supposedly one of us who looks out for our interests. So now, we have a conflict.

My take on it: Shelly Silver has a valid point. Having, approximately 10 years ago, served on the board of a religious Jewish day school, I can say that any private school of any religious or non-religious or irreligious bent is under strong pressures to increase their tuition as much as the market will allow. Achieving voluntary cooperation in freezing tuition levels by a majority of the non-public schools in the State of New York would be extremely difficult because most will somehow paint the money a different color (e.g., increases in "activity fees" or "laboratory fees" or "building fund assessment" or "family assessment" or some other designation). Been there and done that!!

Paradoxically, I think that Silver's stance at this time is in the best interests of the financially-strapped parents the proposed tuition tax credits were intended to help in the first place. Having said this, I will also say that while I am not much of an Albany watcher (and indeed, have never physically visited Albany, New York ever in my life), I have been around long enough to instinctively suspect that Silver has some sort of overriding political agenda that has little if anything to do with the students in non-public schools. Further analysis along these lines is left to the Albany watchers, but whatever it is, I do not see how the teacher lobby, which virulently opposes tuition tax credits and vouchers and the like, can not somehow figure into the Silver's equation.

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