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Federal Taxpayer Protection Pledge Questions and Answers
When did the Pledge begin?
Candidates and elected officials began taking the Pledge in 1986. Even before President Reagan's Tax Reform Act of 1986 was passed, many taxpayers feared that some politicians would try to use tax reform as a cover for tax increases. With President Reagan's support and endorsement, Americans for Tax Reform and a broad-based coalition of groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and hundreds of taxpayer groups throughout the nation began to ask all candidates for public office to sign the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” Every year, all Members of Congress are asked to take the Pledge by Americans for Tax Reform, and all challengers are asked to take the Pledge during each election cycle.
How many Members of Congress and Presidential nominees have taken the Pledge?
219 members of the House of Representatives and 39 members of the Senate have taken the Pledge. In the past, almost all candidates for the Republican presidential nomination--including former President George H.W. Bush, Senator Bob Dole, and former President George W. Bush-- have signed the Pledge.
What does the Pledge commit a signer to do?
Elected officials who have taken the Pledge to taxpayers commit to oppose and vote against any effort to raise the federal income tax on individuals or employers. The pledge does not stand in the way of any tax decreases or revenue neutral changes to the income tax.
What if I wanted to trade one tax deduction or credit for another of equal value?
Elected officials who have taken the Pledge to taxpayers commit to oppose changes in tax deductions or credits that increase the net tax burden on Americans. For example, a Pledge signer could endorse and sign legislation eliminating a particular tax credit or deduction as long as the same piece of legislation contained a reduction in taxes by the same amount or more. The offsetting reduction could be expanding another deduction or credit and/or reducing marginal tax rates.
What about a tax cut that may increase revenue solely due to economic growth, such as a cut in the capital gains rate?
A cut in tax rates is always allowed under the Pledge. Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports reducing the capital gains tax rate. All tax rate reductions that increase revenue solely due to economic growth are allowable under the Pledge and are greatly desired.
Do I have to take the Pledge again if I run for re-election?
No. Elected officials who have taken the Pledge make a commitment to taxpayers for the duration of their tenure in the office to which they are elected.
Can the language of the Pledge be altered to allow exceptions?
No. There are no exceptions to the Pledge. Tax-and-spend politicians often use “emergencies” to justify increasing taxes. In the unfortunate event of a real crisis or natural disaster, the legislator should propose spending cuts in other areas to finance the emergency response.