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Call to action – if resolution fails, Americans may pay thousands more in annual taxes

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Call to action

Today, the National Association of Realtors has issued a Call to Action with current NAR President Ron Phipps asking Realtors to contact their representatives to support the continuation of the Mortgage Interest Deduction.

House Resolution 25 (H.Res.25, not to be confused with HR25) seeks to extend the mortgage interest deduction so it doesn’t get the axe as budgets are slashed across the boards as Congress seeks to attempt a balanced budget.

Why is this extension being considered?

The call for this extension is because with 67% of Americans owning homes, the mortgage interest deduction is one of their biggest deductions and saves them (and likely you) thousands of dollars every year. The National Association of Home Builders reports that 81% of America supports House Resolution 25 and the bill already has over 50 bipartisan co-sponsors, yet 17% of Democrats, 31% of Independents, and 30% of Republicans do not support the Resolution. A NAHB study shows the housing tax incentives disproportionately impact each taxpayer segment.

And now, for the Ways & Means Committee…

House Resolution 25 was introduced to the House on January 6, 2011 by Representative Gary Miller (R-CA) and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means which has an interesting mix of Representatives that will vote on the Resolution from Paul Ryan to Charlie Rangel.

The NAR wrote directly to the House of Representatives on January 13th and according to NAR, “NAR lobbyists will be aggressively seeking additional cosponsors.” NAHB has also called its members to contact their representatives in support of House Resolution 25.

Click here to contact your Representative to tell them your own thoughts on House Resolution 25.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Politics

The White House pushes for $450 per week return to work bonus

(POLITICS) The Trump administration wants people off the unemployment $600 per week, and they want people getting back to work with a $450 per week bonus.

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unemployment

In an update to our previous story on the next piece of proposed stimulus legislation, the White House is looking at options for a return-to-work bonus, making clear their preference for incentivizing reopening the economy rather than extending unemployment benefits for the time being.

CNBC reports that the Trump administration has, according to Larry Kudlow, voiced their disapproval of the proposed extension of the extra $600 per week for families on unemployment, opting instead for a smaller temporary weekly sum for people returning to work.

To recap, the current bonus of $600 per week for those on unemployment is scheduled to expire after July 31st, but the HEROES Act from House Democrats proposed extending it through the end of the year; the notion attracted criticism for several reasons, the most notable of which included waning unemployment numbers and some viewing the idea as an incentive to continue collecting unemployment rather than actually stimulating the economy.

An ancillary proposition to decrease the amount of extra aid per week incrementally as unemployment numbers fall was mentioned, but the Trump administration appears to stand firm on their counterproposal involving the aforementioned return-to-work bonus.

It’s not unreasonable for this administration to want to incentivize those who are reluctant to return to work, especially when unemployment numbers in the last few months have been the highest since the Great Depression; in any event, it seems that, whether or not the HEROES Act passes, folks on unemployment will most likely stop receiving that extra $600 per week at the end of this July.

We recognize that a little over a month isn’t a supremely generous amount of time with which to prepare for a sharp cut in income, and there are only a few things you can actively do to ensure that you’re adequately prepared for the proposed incentive.

Firstly, if you’re furloughed for now, there isn’t much you can do other than wait for your place of occupation to open; however, if you were laid off, actively seeking a job opening in your field–or any field, at this point–will be enough for you to qualify for the bonus.

More importantly, however, is that you start looking at how the lack of funding will impact you in the short-term. Remember, 63 percent of Americans on unemployment were actually making more money with the bonus $600 per week than they were while working, so while the impact of losing that bonus come August won’t be negligible, hopefully unemployment is enough to cover the necessities.

Unfortunately, aside from “go back to work”, there isn’t a whole lot to do besides hurry up and wait. We’ll know more about this round of proposed stimulus activity in the coming weeks.

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Politics

Why DID Gorsuch uphold Title VII for the LGBTQ+ community?

(POLITICS) Conservative SCOTUS justices rely on textualism to hand down landmark ruling in favor of LGBTQ rights in Bostock v. Clayton County

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Title VII LGBT equality

I have to admit that my liberal proclivities were offended when Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court. But the notoriously conservative Justice has followed his professional training to hand down a clear, concise, and logical landmark decision this week in Bostock v. Clayton County. The 6-3 ruling is a major win for the LGBTQIA++ community. Gorsuch is an unexpected champion of the landmark case as the author or the majority opinion.

The case concerned instances of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and sex identity. In Bostock v. Clayton County, Gerald Bostock asserted he was fired for expressing interest in a gay softball league. The case called into question whether sexual orientation was a protected classification under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Eleventh Circuit – which hears cases for districts in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida – had relied on a precedent that sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee, “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Gorsuch’s opinion relies on “textualism,” which is the interpretation of the law based strictly on the written language of a law. This approach to the justice system does not consider the original intentions of the law’s authors, therefore rendering irrelevant whether or not the authors intended to exclude sexual orientation from the list of protected traits. Based on the language of Title VII, the opinion is clear:

“In Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

Gorsuch also provides examples to illustrate how discrimination against sexual orientation falls under discrimination based on sex:

“Consider, for example, an employer with two employees, both of whom are attracted to men. The two individuals are, to the employer’s mind, materially identical in all respects, except that one is a man and the other a woman. If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague.”

A clear example of discrimination on the basis of sex. RBG must be proud.

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Politics

HEROES Act could increase unemployment stimulus benefits, add return to work bonus

(POLITICS) Because of the pandemic many peoples lives took a step back, by loosing their job. New unemployment benefits encourage you back to work.

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unemployment benefits

If you’re a citizen who has been laid off due to Coronavirus and filed for unemployment in the meantime, you may find yourself receiving a “back-to-work” incentive once you return.

According to the HEROES Act, workers who received unemployment benefits would receive $450 per week upon returning to work–this, of course, in addition to their take-home pay–rather than receiving the $600 per week that complements whatever their unemployment benefits amount to.

While the HEROES Act also proposes extending the current bonus of $600 per week for those receiving unemployment into 2021, some argue that this would incentivize remaining on unemployment checks rather than stimulating the economy–hence the $450 weekly bonus for returning to work when possible.

These fears aren’t without support. As Newsweek points out, the American Action Forum shows that “about 63 percent of Americans who are out of work as a result of the pandemic earn more with the enhanced unemployment benefits than they do from their normal wages”–a somewhat comforting statistic that still evokes relative unease when one considers the ramifications of attempting to reopen a reluctant country.

While it is unreasonable to assume that all 63 percent of those people would elect to remain on unemployment benefits rather than going back to work, the $450 bonus may ensure that all of these workers do, in fact, return in a timely manner.

Some may argue that Americans don’t (or shouldn’t) need an incentive to return to work and begin cranking the cogs of the economy once we’re in the clear, but such opinions are fairly short-sighted and largely dismissive of the economic strife many Americans face, especially in poorer regions.

Additionally, many workers will be required to take pay cuts upon rejoining the workforce, which makes the additional $450 per week much more attractive without eliciting criticism of American motivations and values.

As of this writing, Newsweek reports that the White House is “very carefully” considering the HEROES Act–a process that, given the proposed bill of $3 trillion, will take some time. It’s a colossal proposition that covers everything from the aforementioned weekly bonuses to a second round of stimulus checks, and even a form of student loan forgiveness, so keep your eye on this one.

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