HEARING ADVISORY: Camp Announces Hearing on Tax Reform and Consumption-Based Tax Systems

July 26, 2011 — Hearing Advisory   
Committee Activity   
Tax Policy    Full Committee   

Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Committee will hold a hearing on alternative tax systems, with a focus on tax systems that are based on taxing consumption rather than income.  Specifically, the Committee will consider the FairTax – a proposal to replace existing federal taxes with a national retail sales tax – and the Value-Added Tax (VAT), a type of consumption tax used by many other countries as a supplement to other taxes, such as taxes on individual and corporate income.  The hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.

In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only.  However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.  A list of invited witnesses will follow.

BACKGROUND:


For several consecutive Congresses, legislation to repeal existing federal taxes on income, payroll, estates and gifts and replace them with a single national retail sales tax has been introduced as the Fair Tax Act.  The bill would grant states the primary authority for the collection of sales tax revenues and the remittance of such revenues to the Treasury.  It also would abolish the Internal Revenue Service after fiscal year 2015, replacing it with a Sales Tax Bureau to administer the FairTax and an Excise Tax Bureau to administer remaining excise taxes formerly under the jurisdiction of the IRS.  In the 112th Congress, the Fair Tax Act has been introduced as H.R. 25.

Many countries have adopted a different kind of consumption tax – the Value-Added Tax – in addition to their income and other taxes.  Under a VAT, a business pays tax on the value it adds during its stage in the production, distribution, and sales processes.  Generally, “value added” is measured as the difference between the price for which a business sells a good or service and the cost of the inputs the business incurred to produce it.  Economically, however, a VAT is considered equivalent to a retail sales tax, in that the VAT paid at each stage of the process is passed on to the ultimate consumer in the form of a higher retail price. 

In announcing this hearing, Chairman Camp said, “While the Committee thus far has focused on reforming the income tax, tax proposals that would move us away from an income base and instead adopt consumption as the tax base have continued to generate interest as well.  Supporters of such approaches believe that taxing consumption rather than income could have important economic benefits, and so as part of our efforts to reform the tax code, the Committee needs to examine those proposals.  This hearing will allow the Committee to learn more about two of the most-discussed consumption tax proposals, the FairTax and the VAT.”

FOCUS OF THE HEARING:


The hearing will consider separately two different consumption tax models.  One panel will examine the advantages and disadvantages of a VAT, whether as a supplement to or full replacement for existing taxes.  Another panel will discuss the policy arguments for and against adopting the FairTax as a replacement for existing federal taxes.  The hearing will explore the economic impact of consumption tax systems, as well as issues surrounding administration and compliance.

DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:


Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit written comments for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.”  Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.”  Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Tuesday, August 9, 2011.  Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-3625 or (202) 225-2610.

FORMATTING REQUIREMENTS:


The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.  As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee.  The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines.  Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below.  Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

  1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.

  2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased.  All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

  3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears.  A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.

The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.  If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested).  Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.

Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.