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Mortgage Deduction Backers Spend Heavily on Politics 

PAUL C. BARTON

03/07/2016

The mortgage interest deduction is expensive not only in terms of cost but in money spent in support of it, leaving many confident in its continued existence in the tax code under most policymakers' vision for tax reform.

The IRS should stop providing online access to a key anti-fraud program through a marginally revised version of the authentication process that allowed thousands of tax records to be stolen last year, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and other tax observers told Tax Analysts.

If perception is reality, the new reality for nonprofit "social welfare" organizations is that they can emphasize politics as much as they want and not worry in the slightest about losing their tax exemptions, some observers say following recent developments in the area, including the IRS's approval of the exemption application of Crossroads GPS.

Alan D. Viard analyzes proposals by two Republican presidential candidates, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., to replace much of the federal tax system with a subtraction method VAT.

Under the IRS's "future state" vision for taxpayer service, taxpayers will be able to solve tax return filing problems in minutes that could've taken months before, according to the IRS's top executive, but the Service's taxpayer advocate counters that they might have trouble if they need to talk with an agency representative on the phone.

The IRS's reliance on Social Security numbers to authenticate users of its electronic filing personal identification number application endangers the program's integrity, security experts and tax practitioners said in the wake of a major cyberattack on the agency.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia deprives the U.S. Supreme Court of a strict constructionist and a gifted writer who could look at a state tax case concerning the dormant commerce clause and find judicial fraud, incoherence, and "ad hocery."

In news analysis, Joseph J. Thorndike discusses why the GOP candidates should release their personal tax returns.