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Shelley Berkley

January 20, 2011

Rep. Shelley Berkley – Statement – Tax Reform Committee Hearing – 1/20/11

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the witnesses joining us today. A serious discussion about reforming our nation’s tax code is long overdue. The tax code is an area of law our constituents interact with everyday, yet we have created a system of taxation that is so dense and so complicated that few ordinary Americans – including, I’m sure, many Members of Congress – are able to calculate their taxes competently and confidently. This complexity harms individuals, families, businesses big and small and the economy at large by cementing into law inefficiencies in the way people do business. Creating a tax code that removes these issues, and creates a system that is more accessible and comprehensible to the American public, has the potential to fix many of these problems.

Merely saying that we need tax reform for the sake of simplifying the code is not enough. As we look at the code, it is important to do so with an eye toward maintaining a fundamental level of fairness with regard to the burdens of taxation. I’d like to ensure that all taxpayers pay their fair share, and that those at the top of the income scale aren’t able to manipulate the system at the expense of us all.

Warren Buffett has noted in the past how appalled he is that he pays a lower effective tax rate than most of his employees, despite being one of the wealthiest men in America. Efforts at reform must address this phenomenon so all Americans feel they are being given a fair shake by the system. We must thoroughly review the many deductions, credits and incentives we have created in the past and ensure they are still relevant to the economy today. We must not be caught up in maintaining an inefficient status quo merely because some of these breaks have “always been there.” Reform, done right, could help spur our economy and bring greater fairness and predictability to the system.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Committee in the months ahead to craft a tax reform package that is fair, efficient, and far less complex than our current system. Doing so will help the American economy by removing inefficiencies that harm our citizens and businesses.