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Tax Relief and Reforming the Tax Code

Empowering People, not Washington

Americans are paying more in taxes than ever before. More and more people throughout Southern Wisconsin are telling me they are working harder and harder, yet getting farther behind. In Janesville, a lifelong friend who runs a tire and muffler business tells me that even though the economy may be doing well, and he and his family are working, our government is taking more from them than ever before. Today, in most cases, it takes two breadwinners to do what used to take one.

We are an over taxed nation.

When your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning you pay an electricity tax. When you go to the kitchen and drink a glass of O.J., you pay a sales tax. When you drive to work, you pay a gas tax and a car tax. When you are working, you pay an income tax and a payroll tax. You get home from work; you pay a property tax. When you turn on the TV to catch the evening news, you pay a cable tax. When you brush your teeth before going to bed, you pay a water tax. Then, when you die, you pay a death tax.

  1. Are you getting what you're paying for?
  2. Is this a good investment, or could you spend more of you own money more wisely?

According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, most people spend more of their money on taxes than they do on food, shelter, and clothing combined. I believe it is our moral duty to reduce the size and scope of the federal government and provide working Americans with real tax relief.

The Current Tax Code

Our current tax code is the product of more than 80 years of social engineering which has made it so complicated that even tax lawyers and accountants have a hard time figuring it out. Today, the tax code is 2.8 million words long, and when all the enforcing rules and regulations are counted, it grows to well over 10 million words long. There were 9,455 changes in the tax code between 1981 and 1994 alone.

The tax code is a monster

The incredible length and complexity of our tax imposes very high compliance costs on all Americans. According to the Tax Foundation, Americans spend 5.4 billion man-hours filling out their tax returns - that's time diverted from work, family and community. Their analysis finds that small businesses spend $724 to comply with the income tax for every $100 they pay in tax! In fact, the most recent estimates show that we spend about $225 billion per year complying with the tax code. That is $225 billion that should be put back into our economy rather than spent on tax lawyers and accountants. As I travel through southern Wisconsin listening to friends and citizens of the first Congressional District, so many people tell me that they are tired of politicians tinkering with their taxes and with the IRS for treating them like criminals.

Scrap the Tax Code and Start Over

Taxes are necessary, but a tax code that punishes families and costs jobs is unjust. I believe we should sunset the tax code by the year 2001 so we can force Congress to scrap the tax code and replace it with a tax system that is fairer and simpler. We should begin a new century with a new tax system that supports families and entrepreneurs rather than punish them. Specifically, we should:

  1. Abolish the Internal Revenue Code by the year 2001.
  2. Protect the Social Security Trust Fund.
  3. Begin a national debate on how to replace the tax code.

Although I do not endorse any particular tax reform, I do believe fundamental tax reform must take place. Recently, the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform, headed by Jack Kemp, recommended a set of principles and standards that any plan should meet if it is to achieve the goal of replacing the current tax code with a fair and simple system. I support these principles for a new tax code:

  • Economic growth through incentives to work, save, and invest
  • Fairness for all taxpayers
  • Simplicity, so that anyone can figure it out
  • Neutrality, so that people and not government can make choices
  • Visibility, so that people know the cost of government
  • Stability, so that people can plan for their future
  • Adopt a single, low rate with a generous personal exemption
  • Lower the tax burden on America's working families and remove it on those least able to pay
  • End biases against work, saving, and investment
  • Require a two-thirds super-majority vote in Congress to increase tax rates

I believe we can replace the current tax code with a system that is fairer for all. Our tax code should not push reluctant parents away from the home and into the workforce in order to make ends meet. Our tax code should not punish the entrepreneur and the risk-taker who can turn today's dreams into tomorrow's jobs. Our tax code should not take away family farms and businesses when parents want to pass them along to their children. Our tax code should not tell us how to run our lives - that is our right.

Whatever system replaces the current tax disaster, I believe it must include these important principles. As we enter the next century, America must prepare herself competitively for the global marketplace and morally by giving our families the room to grow together.