20 mrt. 2009

How to get the money back

A plan to recoup millions of dollars of American International Group bonuses by taxing them into oblivion has put top Republicans on opposite sides of a riddle: When is a tax hike not a tax hike?

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he hasn’t made up his mind about the plan — first proposed Tuesday by senior members of the Senate Finance Committee and given a full-throated endorsement by Democratic House leaders Wednesday evening — but that he’s sure that raising taxes on AIG’s bonus recipients isn’t, you know, a tax hike.

“I don’t know [that] anybody would look at that as a tax increase,” Boehner told POLITICO Wednesday.

But Jeb Hensarling would.

The Texas Republican — who until recently was the chairman of the Republican Study Committee — said a tax hike is a tax hike, even if the taxes being hiked are on somebody you don’t like.

“You know, this is the wrong instrument to go around and say [about] people that do things that are reprehensible, ‘I’m just going to tax them,’” Hensarling said. “Who’s up tomorrow? You know, a lot of my colleagues vote on reprehensible legislation — when I’m in power, should I vote to increase their taxes 100 percent?”

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee are putting together a bill that would impose a 35 percent excise tax on AIG on bonuses greater than $50,000, force the company to be responsible for paying taxes for foreign employees who received the bonuses, and tax by 20 percent any deferred compensation that exceeds $1 million. House leaders are moving forward with similar legislation, which could hit the floor this week.

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