Today, the Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee – chaired by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) – held a hearing on how tax reform can create a simpler, fairer tax code that will help individuals and families across our country. As Members and witnesses discussed, the current tax code is outdated, overly complex, and discourages economic growth. Permanent, pro-growth tax reform and a fairer tax code will improve the lives of hardworking taxpayers.
Chairman Roskam discussed the complexity of today’s broken tax code and its impact on families, noting:
“Our tax code has grown so bloated over the last 30 years to the point that it is a drain on our productivity and a headache for every single taxpayer … Every year millions of Americans spend hours trying to figure out what they owe. In fact combined, Americans spend 2.6 billion hours trying to calculate what they need to pay Uncle Sam; this translates to $409 billion in lost productivity. What should be a simple calculation is so complicated, that 9 out of 10 people either pay for a professional or for software just to figure out how much they owe the government.”
The witnesses testifying before the Committee today – people who have worked to simplify the tax code or help people navigate the tax code – agreed with Chairman Roskam that the tax code is “inherently unfair,” imposing too many burdens on individuals and families. As former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, who filled out his own tax returns, described:
“As Chairman, I prepared my own tax returns because I believed that I had to experience the same process as every other taxpayer. I would lock myself in my office to struggle through the entire effort – using paper and pencil – not a computer program. It was a multi-day effort! … When I retired from Congress and moved to the private sector, I found it impossible to do my return on my own any more.”
As witnesses and Members reinforced, Americans are eager for a simple and fair tax code – one that delivers the certainty and economic growth Americans deserve.
SIMPLICITY AND FAIRNESS
Bernard McKay – Chairman of an organization focused on modernizing and simplifying the tax filing process for taxpayers – stressed: “The tax code needs to be sufficiently simplified [so] taxpayers can understand what financial decisions they may make going forward that could minimize their tax bills, optimize their refunds, or, more generally, improve the financial lives of themselves and their families.”
As Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) said, his constituents desperately want a tax code that’s easier to understand and simple to comply with each year: “As I go around my district and talk about tax reform, the thing that I hold up at most of the meetings is this postcard. And believe it or not, this postcard is much more popular than the IRS code as it exists.”
Discussing the need for permanent tax reform, Chairman Archer said: “The American public needs to be able to plan and make their financial decisions in an environment where our tax code does not resemble a roller coaster of ups and downs – of provisions here one year and not the next.”
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) added that a more permanent tax code would provide certainty for somebody looking to start a business and provide for their family: “If I am going to go to the bank and ask for a loan, they are going to want to know what my liabilities are going to be and what my business plan is and it’s hard to do that unless you have a permanent tax code.”
Jania Stout – who co-founded a business to help more Americans save for retirement – said: “A major objective of tax reform is to provide long term economic growth to build financial security for the middle class.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) agreed, explaining how a simpler, fairer tax code will grow the economy: “The Tax Foundation estimates that in 2016 Americans spent over 2.6 billion hours compiling tax returns, the cost of almost 100 billion dollars. Again, that is time and money which could have been used for productive economic activity, or better yet, time spent with family.”
Chairman Roskam summarized the choices facing the Ways and Means Committee – the Committee responsible for drafting tax reform legislation in the House:
“We now have a choice. We can accept high tax rates and a confusing code or we can grow the economy, lower taxes for everyone, and create a fair system that Americans can trust. I think the choice is clear.”
CLICK HERE to learn more about our plan to simplify the tax code.