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Loudoun County sends, then retracts tax reform letter to Rep. Comstock

As members of Congress continue debate and dialogue on the Republicans' plan for tax reform, Loudoun County supervisors are trying to figure out how a letter described by some as highly political was sent to Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th) on behalf of the Board of Supervisors.

On Nov. 14, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), writing on behalf of the Board of Supervisors, sent a letter to the congresswoman highlighting the county’s concerns with the tax bill.

The letter stated that Loudoun was concerned about a number of tax provisions in the bill, specifically the elimination of the state and local tax deduction (SALT), the home mortgage interest deduction, advance refunding for municipal bonds and tax-exempt private activity bonds.

“Retaining these types of tax provisions are vital to ensuring that communities have resources for schools, hospitals, police and fire departments,” the letter read. “Without them, it means fewer infrastructure projects will get built. Our nation faces a critical infrastructure shortage, and the federal government will have to rely on local government to overcome that shortage.”

“Any changes to the tax code that make it more costly and difficult for local governments to undertake and complete infrastructure projects would be counter-productive,” the letter continued.

The letter followed the board's vote on Nov. 8 to add tax reform to its 2017 federal legislative agenda and have its lobbying firm, The Ferguson Group, track the potential impacts of the federal tax legislation on Loudoun County and its residents.

The lobbyists warned that Congress’ potential elimination of the SALT deduction and mortgage interest deductions could have the biggest impact on Loudoun residents.

The SALT deduction allows taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes paid from their federally taxable income, while the mortgage interest deduction allows homeowners to deduct interest on their mortgages up to $1 million, or $500,000 or less if a homeowner is married or filing separately.

Comstock said in the House bill they were able to preserve property deductions up to $10,000 for taxpayers who itemize, but would need to do more in revising provisions that would get more tax relief to individual taxpayers. Comstock voted in favor of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, on Nov. 16.

A day after the letter was sent -- the day before the House vote -- County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, in an email provided to the Times-Mirror, wrote to the U.S. House of Representative’s Legislative Director and Counsel Peter Mihalick asking for the letter from the county to be retracted.

Some supervisors say the letter was too political and factually incorrect.

“Certainly Loudoun wants to make sure that state and local taxes, the tax deduction grows in any new draft of the bill, Loudoun wants to make sure that the bond tax preferences are put there, but this letter was written in a way that looked political, it sounded political, and people who read it would take it politically,” Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said. “As a Board of Supervisors, we have a duty to make sure that when we send letters on behalf of the board -- they are not political.”

Another supervisor has issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see which county staffers or supervisors had a hand in sending the letter.

In an email provided to the Times-Mirror, Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) asked in his FOIA request for all incoming and outgoing county emails related to the “drafting, editing or any other communications about this letter from all individuals including county staff, supervisors and their staff or anyone else.”

Higgins told the Times-Mirror he sent the FOIA request because there was a concern that the letter was not authorized by the full Board of Supervisors.

Meanwhile, Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said: “Whether there was anything nefarious, we don’t know.”

County spokesman Glen Barbour said the letter was not actually written by Randall, but the county’s federal legislative consultant, who sent the letter to Hemstreet's office.

County staff then reviewed the letter and gave it to Randall to review, sign and send to Comstock’s office.

“This is where our staff failed to follow our policy, which is referenced in the Rules of Order,” Barbour said in an email. “ … Our staff should have provided the letter to at least the vice chair of the board, Supervisor Buona, for review prior to sending the letter. Once Mr. Hemstreet learned about this failure in our process, he retracted the letter.”

Randall acknowledged county staff’s oversight.

“[County staff] was coming back from their [Virginia Association of Counties] meeting, and was in a huge hurry to get it out because the item was coming up on the floor of the Congress the next day,” Randall said. “So, normally they pass it by me and they pass it by the vice chair, and in their haste, they forgot to pass it by the vice chair … That’s it, there’s nothing more to it than that.”

The chairwoman said she is not yet sure if the county plans to send another letter to the congresswoman as tax reform works its way through Congress.


Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.

Comments


Since some speaking about taxes, the need to go to a flat income tax where everyone pays 10%. No deductions. And add in a 4% federal sales tax.


Making. America. Great. Again!!!


Firefly, I’m happy for you.  You’re able to feel good about getting a bad deal cause at least it’s your team that’s doing it to you.


Firefly, your numbers are out of date. Obamacare subsidies were technically refundable tax credits so the number of folks who pay no (or even get money back as a negative tax) has to be 55% or higher now.

LetsGetBackToHonesty has no clue what they are talking about. Virginia is a relatively low tax state. You will benefit from the elimination of state/local tax deductions because of lower rates and higher standard deductions. Maybe you should try to review the bill in whole before criticizing it.


Lets get back to honesty the top 1% pay over 34% of all tax dollars paid so yes they get more tax brakes when taxes are lowered. The top 5% of income earners pay 67.5% of taxes. When 45% of Americans don’t pay any federal tax dollars exactly how are they supposed to get tax relief? They don’t pay anything so of course zero minus tax relief equals zero… But in political world the other side just screams that these people are not benefiting from lowered taxes.

Our reality is that any tax relief we may feel will be more than eaten up by the doubling of our health insurance rates. Obamacare has made sure that we now get to pay for everyone else to have substance abuse care, “free” birth control, etc.

In the end any tax money my family gets will just be redistributed to pay for other people’s “health care”.


wall st, big banks, large corporations, donors like kochs & mercers
“do not like (hard-working middle class or the poor) having more money in your pocket”

trump’s scammers know this; that’s why swamp lobbyists have seen final bill w/ loads of recent amendments in last hours but not any senators or american public


I’m liberal and I would absolutely love to get a tax cut.  This plan will cost me: no more deduction of the $13K my wife and I pay in Virginia income tax. Paying federal tax (even if it were a slightly lower rate) will bite me when my “income” goes up $13K! 

If you’re in the top 5% of income then fine, I get it, this is a great plan. 

If you’re closer to the rest of us, regardless of whether you think Trump is the second coming or not, we’re getting the shaft.

I’m not happy about it.


Will the BOS/Randall be sending a letter to Richmond about Loudoun getting more of it’s tax $$$ back? I doubt it. And what about the letter for Obamacare, the one that costs the hard working middle class and above 5-10 times what they were paying before. I don’t get these corrupt politicians. And send another one regarding the AMT tax because that’s a bad tax too that affects most of Loudoun. Guess that’s why she voted on that 60% raise…. Writing a letter is very hard work, even for her.


Liberals do not like you having more money in your pocket…..they are smarted then everyone else and would love to confiscate all your property since they know what to do with it better than you do….


Democrats don’t want the middle class to get a tax cut. Sounds like a winning strategy huh.


aca - “H.R. 3962 was presented to the House of Representatives in July of 2009, and wasn’t signed into law until March 23, 2010, after (9) months of revisions, amendments, and debates about the bill.”

reagan’s tax cut plan = 33 days debate, 10 mo of wk, 100s pps
trump tax scam = 0 days debate, 1 mo of wk, 1 pp outline

donors own gop; money chasers like cohn & mnuchin trying to sell self-dealing; most middle class will see tax hikes for christmas; those in poverty suffer most; trump family gets $1 billion; large corporations will still pay 0%, offshore, see loopholes, w/out hiring or investing in capital

talk about freebies. . . sheesh


62% of the tax cut benefits go to the top 1%

Think about what that actually means when you’re enjoying the $81 you think you’re going to get, workhard.  And realize you won’t “net” 81 more dollars because you’ll see all sorts of things cost more as government support falls away.

But, like you say, at least you’re enjoying the ride down as America circles the drain and our incompetent, lying clown of a leader reaches for his phone to troll us with another tweet-sized thought.


Equity, yeah, just like Obamacare was pushed down our throats, unfortunately, it cost the American people money. In this case, the majority of Americans get money back. I will get 81.00 more in my paycheck if this passes. Who doesn’t like more money in their paycheck?


Speaking of Comstock,
Barbara Comstock’s swamp team called the Washington Times and had Judson Phillip’s story exposing her pulled.
Here is the original text that Barbara and her swamp team had pulled down:
What did Rep. Comstock know and when did she know it?
By Judson Phillips - - Wednesday, November 29, 2017
ANALYSIS/OPINION:
What did she know and when did she know it?
Several weeks ago, a faux scandal erupted. The Washington Post released a story on Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The “scandal” amounted to 40-year-old claims that Moore had tried to date girls in their mid-to-late teens when he was in his late 20s or early 30s.
The story came from a paper that endorsed Roy Moore’s opponent and whose journalists could accurately be described as Democrats with a byline.
The Republican establishment went into an orgy of virtue signaling. Moore had just beaten their hand picked candidate and Moore has said he would not support Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Among the loudest of the virtue signalers was Republican Congressman Barbara Comstock of Virginia. She announced Roy Moore, “should not serve in the United States Senate.”
A funny thing happened to Comstock in the middle of her virtue signaling. A new scandal broke and it is now time to ask Barbara Comstock some questions. Multiple media sources have now reported that between 1997 and 2014, the Congress paid out approximately $15.2 million to settle sexual harassment claims against members of the House of Representatives.
Barbara Comstock, who was so eager to demand that Roy Moore step down, has been pretty silent on John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who was apparently well known on Capitol Hill for being a serial harasser. Comstock did announce she was cosponsoring a bill to stream line the process in sexual harassment claims but there is one point she and the left wing media, who love liberal Republicans like her, failed to mention.
Barbara Comstock sits on the House Committee on House Administration.
This is the committee that oversees the House of Representatives itself and is the committee that approves those kinds of payouts.
So, what did Barbara Comstock know and when did she know it?
In the last few days, Comstock has made numerous media appearances talking about this issue. In one, she said, “I can be their voice.”
Really? Where was your voice when this slush fund was going on? Where were her press conferences and media appearances before this scandal broke? When did she go to the House Leadership and say, “This must stop?”
When Barbara Comstock was parading around for the national media, denouncing Roy Moore for spurious forty year old, unsubstantiated allegations, where was her cry of “I can be the voice for all of these women being harassed on Capitol Hill?”
There are two possibilities here and neither of them are good for Comstock. Either she knew about the slush fund and ongoing harassment and did nothing or she did not know, despite being on the committee that has jurisdiction over that fund.
It is hard to tell which possibility is worse.
That takes everyone back to a paraphrase of the famous Howard Baker quote. “What did Barbara Comstock know and when did she know it?”
If she knew about the slush fund and the ongoing harassment of women by a number of congressmen, whose identities are kept secret, then she has no business being in the Congress and should resign immediately.
If she did not know, that raises a more serious question. As a member of the House Administration Committee, why didn’t she know. This is the committee that approves those payments.
Comstock’s Facebook page is loaded with pictures of her at dinners and out at photo ops. If she did not know this was going on, then she needs to spend less time having her photo taken and more time on her job.
Barbara Comstock is not the only member of Congress who should be asked that question. But she is trying to make political points off of this scandal so it is far to ask her that all important question.
“What did you know and when did you know it?”


These Republicans in Congress know they’re going to lose their seat in the 2018 tidal wave of disgust that’s going to clean house in DC.  What they’d like to do is throw a big wet kiss (in the form of this tax cut) to corporations so they can land sweet lobbying jobs when they’re suddenly unemployed this time next year.


The ignorance of the Loudoun Left is rather shocking.  Let’s go piece by piece.

1. Individuals produce more when the get to keep more of what they produce.  We tax different activities at different rates.  (housing and medical expenses are taxed less than transportation or food because of deductions; capital gains is taxed more than earned income -> see below for why this is true) We also tax income at different rates based on how much one produces.  (the first $30K has almost a 0% tax rate whereas anything over $400K is taxed at over 40%)  Globally, businesses are taxed at different rates based on where they perform their work.  (national tax rates)

2. Thus, the main goal of “reform” is to create more incentive (lower the burden) for everyone to generate products and services by lowering rates.  For each extra $1 you produce by working harder or smarter, you get to keep more of that $1 when the tax rate is lower.  Economists have shown that high tax rates can actually incentive productive workers to work less overall because they would rather spend the extra time as leisure than forfeit 50%+ of that work to the government in taxes (see Laffer curve)

3. Thus, we understand the goal is to lower tax rates on productive activity (starting businesses) and to eliminate give-aways on non-productive activity (why do we get massive deductions for building large McMansions?).  The main focus is not to shift how much taxes are paid right now by any individual, but to encourage folks to go out and create new economic output beyond what is occurring today.  Rates must be changed to do that.  As rates fall, more work is produced, the pie grows larger, and everybody wins.

4. But if rates are changed, it also changes how much each person owes in taxes based on today’s outputs (not the extra work performed tomorrow).  Thus, we are left arguing who “wins” and “loses” in tax reform even though that’s not its main focus, rates are.  We also have politicians arguing for changes that are in no way related to reform.  For example, giving parents an extra $1000 in child tax credits doesn’t change anyone’s incentive to produce more output.  It’s simply a way to mitigate the tax owed when rates are changed or pander to a constituency.

5. Corporate taxes should be zero.  It is the owners of the company (or stock) who ultimately pay tax anyway.  When Warren Buffet earns money on his investments, he should have to pay 35%+ on those gains.  When a working class investor via his pension fund earns money, he should have to pay 15% or less.  When corporate taxes are taken out first before these investors get the profits, BOTH Buffet and the working class investors have 35% in corporate taxes taken out and then they pay their individual share.  Why is the working class investor getting shafted?  The Liberal blowhards on here claiming otherwise (that “big business” is making out) simply don’t understand what they are talking about.

6. Finally, it makes no sense to subsidize tax-and-spend states and localities. Yet that is EXACTLY what this letter is doing.  And it HURTS Loudoun citizens.  Virginia is a relatively low tax state.  If SALT (state-and-local-taxes) deductions are not reduced/eliminated, other taxes will have be maintained or raised to cover that revenue.  Loudouners don’t benefit nearly as much from the SALT deductions (these are actually handouts to high tax states) as New York or California residents.  So by the Loudoun Liberals (Randall, Umstattd, and others) arguing against elimination of SALT deductions, they are actually hurting Loudoun citizen interests.  I have this point again and again just as I did to Hornberger when he suggested the state of Virginia pick up more edcuation expenses even though we would then have to subsidize SW Virginia even more.

P.S. cap gains are paid AFTER corporate taxes are taken out.  Thus, the high-income investor keeps 80% (20% individual cap gain tax) of the 65% that is left (35% corporate tax rate) after business taxes.  That results in just 52% of the original profit or a whopping 48% tax rate.  That is far more than any tax rate for low income workers regardless of what the ill-informed Loudoun Left will tell you.


Loudoun is a AAA County getting the lowest rates of any municipality and loudoun is in a relatively low income tax state and has much lower real estate values compared to NY, CT, NJ, MD AND CAL so crying that the sky is falling is obviously political and inappropriate (ultra virus). Rather than focus on this simplistic mistake I would rather see the energy of criticism focused on why the BOS isn’t pushing for a composite index adjustment to prevent the state from extracting another $250 million from Loudoun in 2018, push for the federal gov’t to transfer the extremely lucrative Dulles Airport parking lots back to Virginia so Loudoun can collect appropriate property tax from MWAA and push for the federal government to step up and help fix the interstate commutation traffic problem Loudoun is suffering from. Let’s either act at the level of professionalism/competence Loudoun deserves or exchange junior league players for experienced non-political adults.
Bob Ohneiser Esq.


gop tax scam rushed thru house: no hearings, didn’t want middle class & poor to see they were getting tax hikes for christmas

now senate doing same w/ even worse bill, all for big $ donors


Please pass this wonderful and long overdue tax break….the fools we send the money to are not good stewards of our resources…remember your tax dollars in hard currency being handed over to the Iranians on pallets…


Nobody even knows what the procedures are because they literally make them up in court to avoid accountability. Good on Higgins. Nothing is beyond Randall, be it perjury or deceiving her own colleagues.


It is very clear that the reaction of “shock” from some of the Loudoun Supervisors (who, oddly enough, are in the same political party) is nothing more than faked unhappiness.  Only a fool would believe otherwise, as this is clearly an effort to protect a republican congresswoman, to the detriment of the residents of Loudoun County.  If the legislation passed by the House of Representatives is this bad - so bad that republicans on the Board of Supervisors have to act so extremely as a smoke screen, than we all should be very afraid of the new tax bill.  I guess Supervisors Myers and Higgins have no respect for reality and truth.


If the tax deduction for state and local taxes is removed—as the Republican tax plan appears ready to do—it will amount to double taxation. Simple as that.  You’re being taxed on money that’s already been taxed away.

Supervisor Higgins should be worrying about that, not that he might offend Barbara Comstock or poke a hole in the smokescreen surrounding this tax plan


Comstock is bought and paid for by the GOP, she will never do what is actually right for the citizens… only her pocketbook!


Another short circuit by our wonderful Chair. Rules don’t apply to her or Kristen or staff and apparently they do not preform well under pressure, gadzooks!


So do I have this right, a number of our Supervisors are OK with losing the ability to deduct state and local taxes and shaving deductions off Loudoun’s many McMansions? 

Opposing those parts of the GOP tax plan isn’t political…it’s looking out for taxpayers and recognizing that Loudoun taxpayers need the money more than using it to further fund ever deeper tax cuts for corporate America.

Shame on Meyer and others who are complaining about this.


So, Randall knows they broke the rules and did it out of convenience, or worse.

Again, Chairwoman Randall thinks herself above the process.  Another “do as I say, not as I do” moment for her.

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