April 19, 2010

Levin Says There Is No Plan for a VAT

House Ways and Means chairman talks estate, stock transaction, other taxes in speech

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Rep. Sander Levin (D-Michigan), the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said during a speech before the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on April 19 focusing on taxes that he has heard "no one in our ranks discuss" imposing a value-added tax (VAT) on Americans' consumption. He said the issue was "being raised by Republicans for political gain," and that "by next week it will be gone." The comments on a potential VAT came during a question and answer session with reporters following his prepared remarks, during which Levin raised the issue of the Federal estate tax. "I'm a lawyer," he said, "and I did a little estate planning myself," but he said "we should keep the middle-income tax cuts and let the ones for the wealthy expire."

Responding to a question on whether the entire tax system should be overhauled, Levin said "we have immediately in front of us the 2001-03 tax cuts, and the estate tax," so "comprehensive tax reform is an issue for next year, not this year."

Discussing the possibilities of some other new taxes that have gotten some publicity lately, Levin said he didn't think either a financial transaction tax or a stock transaction tax "is likely to be enacted," but seemed more sanguine about levying a tax on banks that benefited from the TARP bailout. He said his tax-writing committee is in "serious discussions" with the Administration and the House Financial Services Committee" on whether such a tax is viable, and said he expects to have further news on the potential tax "in the next couple of weeks."

Rep. Levin's younger brother, Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), gave the opening statement that launched the April 16 hearing of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Hearing on Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: The Role of Bank Regulators, and why they didn't see the crisis coming.

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