OP-ED: Growth, simplicity, service should be focus of tax reform
As one of just 10 Certified Public Accountants in Congress I can tell you a secret: very few people – let alone many politicians - understand our current tax code and, if they do, they’re making a lot of money off it.
Standing at 70,000 pages, the United States tax code is nothing short of a roadblock to economic growth – punishing Main Street businesses and working families while corporations and the wealthy pay accountants to navigate the convoluted system. Simply put, the system is broken and we’re stuck paying for it.
If this Congress is serious about standing up for middle class families and unleashing the power of the American economy, tax reform is the natural starting point. The positive impact of strong, sustained economic growth has the potential to not only help families make ends meet, but address a number of other pressures we face.
One and a half percent growth in GDP is simply unsustainable. If that trend continues, we will not be able to fund priorities such as bolstering our national security, taking care of our veterans, combatting the addiction crisis, funding public education, and preserving our environment.
The model is straightforward: we need to simplify the ridiculously complex internal revenue code, eliminate the loopholes that allow corporations and individuals to avoid paying their fair share, lower the rates for middle class families and small businesses, and broaden the tax base. However, in Washington, we tend to immediately find the smallest areas of disagreement and work from there instead of finding points of agreement and realizing there is more that unites us on the issue.
That’s why, as a member of the Small Business Committee, Problem Solvers Caucus, and as a concerned taxpayer, I’ve outlined these commonsense reforms in terms of objectives we share –like encouraging growth, simplifying the tax code itself, and increasing service for taxpayers. Once we’re on the same page, we can stop fighting and start fixing.
Growth: It has been over 30 years since the last major overhaul of our tax system. Despite rapid economic change from technology to medicine, the tax code has only expanded its burdens on the American people, restricting opportunity and economic freedom. A successful tax plan should:
- Increase take-home pay for hardworking Americans by reducing the number of tax brackets and cutting individual rates
- Lower rates for small businesses and job creators so they can invest in growing their business, hiring new workers and raising wages
- Repeal the ‘Death Tax’
- Allow American businesses to immediately write off the full costs of new investments – including research and development, or technology
Simplicity: At over 70,000 pages, the current tax code forces American taxpayers to navigate a maze of burdensome regulations and compliance costs that include treasury regulations, IRS forms, instructions, publications and other federal guidance. A successful tax plan should:
- Simplify tax benefits for families
- Reduce numerous exemptions, deductions, and credits that riddle the tax code, making it less fair for those who cannot take advantage of such provisions
Service: Americans pay taxes voluntarily knowing that their tax dollars fund the federal government. As the agency in charge of this relationship, the IRS should have a singular focus: ‘Service First.’ A successful tax plan should:
- Restructure the IRS to resolves routine disputes quickly
- Hold the IRS commissioner accountable to the people by implementing term limits, keeping politics out of the IRS
As a CPA and an independent voice for my constituents, I understand the importance of tax reform for our economy. By passing the REINS Act and the Financial CHOICE Act, this Congress has already shown its commitment to reducing regulatory burdens and reviving the ability of community banks to support local economies. There is sincere support for infrastructure investment that puts Americans to work by rebuilding roads, schools, bridges, as well as our IT infrastructure and electrical grid. Tax reform is the third piece to the puzzle.
If we focus on areas of agreement, we can work together to get this done. We must seize this moment. The future of our economy and our country depends on it.