by Brian Mahany
A Swiss court approved a controversial tax on unoccupied 2nd homes. The measure is designed to raise revenues by taxing those fortunate enough to have a second house. (The hotel industry also likes the idea because it encourages visitors to stay in a hotel instead of a 2nd home.)
The measure has been called a “cold bed tax” by many Swiss.
Whether or not taxes should be used to reward or punish social certain behaviors is a much larger question for another day. Anytime you have a label like “cold bed tax,” however, expect the measure to be controversial.
When I was Maine’s revenue commissioner back in the mid-90’s, the legislature sought to enact a tax on hospital beds. The legislation was quickly labeled a “sick tax” because the increased tax payments would ultimately be borne by those needing a hospital stay. Although the bill was aimed at taxing revenues received from Medicare, any tax increase ultimately gets pushed down to consumers.
When the economy sours, demand for government services increases. More unemployed, more housing assistance and more people without health insurance means more revenue is needed. Politicians are left with few choices (or more properly stated, few choices they are willing to consider); tax increases, increased enforcement or hidden taxes such as Switzerland’s cold bed tax or Maine’s sick tax.
An increase in spending is almost always coupled with more aggressive audit and enforcement efforts. If you are one of the lucky businesses or professionals still making money, your risk of audit increases dramatically.
The tax lawyers at Mahany & Ertl have helped many individuals and businesses fight back aggressive state and IRS enforcement efforts. Although every case is different, we recently helped a business with a 4 million dollar tax assessment reduce that assessment in U.S. Tax Court to under $100,000 and that included interest and penalties. The business was saved as well as about 80 jobs.
If you are facing an IRS or state collection or audit proceeding, give us a call. From audit defense to a full appeal in U.S. Tax Court, we can help. For a confidential complimentary consultation, contact attorney Bethany Kroes at or 414-223-0464. All inquiries are protected by the attorney-client privilege and kept in complete confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Tax Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and coming soon, San Francisco, California. Tax services available nationwide.