ATR Supports the “No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act”

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, May 18th, 2015, 9:47 AM PERMALINK


Congressman David Rouzer (R-N.C.) recently introduced H.R. 1206, the “No Hires for Delinquent IRS Act.” This common-sense legislation prevents the IRS from hiring additional employees until the Secretary of the Treasury confirms that no current employee of the IRS has a seriously delinquent tax debt. ATR supports this legislation and urges all members of Congress to vote for and otherwise support this bill.

H.R. 1206 holds IRS employees to a fair standard and ensures that the workforce practices what it preaches. Each year, IRS employees are expected to process the tax returns of millions of Americans from across the nation. In the process, they come across the confidential information of taxpayers, and must be trusted to perform this task in a responsible manner.

Recently, it was revealed that the agency has failed to properly discipline employees that “willfully violate tax law.” Despite being legally required to fire employees who committed this serious transgression, only 25 percent of employees were terminated. Clearly, it is time for the agency to clean up its act. This legislation will help hold the IRS accountable to the American people and ensure that its employees act in a responsible way. ATR fully supports this legislation and urges all members to support it.

Photo Credit: 
Becky McCray

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


ATR, CWF Promote Right-to-Work in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, May 15th, 2015, 2:33 PM PERMALINK


Until recently, the economic benefits and personal freedoms of right-to-work were not available to Kentuckians because state lawmakers have blocked such laws. But late last year, this began to change thanks to brave local officials.

Starting with Warren County in December 2014, local authorities used Kentucky’s home rule statute – which gives significant economic development authority to Kentucky counties – to successfully pass a right-to-work ordinance. To date, 11 more counties have followed suit and even more are considering.

And no wonder. The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce reported that since Warren County became right-to-work, it has had interest from more than 40 companies, representing over $800 million in potential investment and 4,000 new jobs.

The Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) knows that as news of this economic success spreads, many Kentuckians would like to learn more about local-right-to-work and the truth about labor unions. So to help, and CWF will be hosting a town hall at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky to promote local-right-to-work.

The town hall will be held on Monday, May 18th and feature a panel of experts and lawmakers:

State Representative Jim DeCesare, 17th District, Warren, Butler counties

Jim Waters, President, Bluegrass Institute

Matt Patterson, Executive Director, Center for Worker Freedom

Ron Bunch, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce

Jason Nemes, Fultz Maddox Hovious & Dickens PLC

Jon Crosby, Field Representative of Senator Rand Paul

The panel will educate workers, managers and business owners on the economic benefits of right-to-work, gives workers the freedom to decide whether or not they want to belong and pay dues to a union.

So come join us Monday for panel presentations from 6:00-7:00 PM CST and a Q&A from 7:00-7:30 PM CST. 

Photo Credit: 
John Norman McDonald

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


Grover Norquist: "Audit the Pentagon"

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Jorge Marin on Thursday, May 14th, 2015, 4:46 PM PERMALINK


Today, Congressman Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced an amendment to bring the Pentagon closer to the audit that it owes to the American taxpayer.

If the Pentagon is worried about the lack of funds for maintaining America’s arsenal, then the solution isn’t to break the nation’s finances, but to stop wasting money on projects which are “too big to fail.” Projects like the F-35, which consistently under-perform and increase in cost.

The amendment requires the Department of Defense to submit a list of the departments and agencies which are most prepared for a comprehensive audit. Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist had this to say about the amendment:

All departments of the United States Government are audited--except the Pentagon.  This is not acceptable.  If the management of the Pentagon cannot pass an audit--get new management.

At a time when resources are scarce it is particularly important that we audit the Pentagon to reduce waste and the costs of mismanagement.

All Americans who want our nation strong and secure know that step one is to ensure that all available resources are being spent wisely.  Every wasted dollar is a cut in our preparedness. An audit is the only way to begin to know how much is misspent.

Representative Burgess also weighed in on his amendment:

As the holder of the purse, Congress has a duty to demand transparency,” Rep. Burgess said. “Our amendment will provide Congress with concrete, concise information as to how close each part of DOD is to achieving the goal. No such list currently exists and Congress to date has not required it. This amendment corrects a crucial missing puzzle piece and allows the Congress to execute a chief governmental function: oversight. –Burgess

In a released statement from Representative Lee’s office, the Congresswoman also addresses taxpayer concerns:

Unauditable is unacceptable. It has been more than two decades since the Pentagon was required to undergo an audit and the Pentagon is still reporting that full audit-readiness is years off. This amendment, which also passed last year, requires a ranked list of all departments and agencies by their audit-readiness status. This list will empower Congress to make decisions on next steps to ensure auditability of the Pentagon,” said Congresswoman Lee. “We need greater sunlight and transparency so the American people know how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. It’s past time to end waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars in Pentagon spending.

The Pentagon’s books have remained closed for too long, the nation deserves a military establishment that demonstrates a culture of fiscal responsibility and efficiency. Representatives should strongly consider this proposal.

Photo Credit: 
gregwest98

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


Mike Huckabee: Tax Hikes Are Off the Table

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by ATR on Thursday, May 14th, 2015, 2:44 PM PERMALINK


Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R), a candidate for the presidency of the United States, has made a written pledge to the American people to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to raise taxes.”

“Governor Huckabee has pledged in writing to the American people that he will oppose and veto any and all tax increases,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “His public commitment makes it clear that he will fight to reform government to cost less rather than paper over and continue past failures with higher taxes."

Governor Huckabee also ruled out tax hikes as a candidate for President in 2008. Among declared 2016 GOP presidential candidates, Huckabee joins Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina in pledging to oppose any and all tax increases.  

In 2012, all candidates for the Republican nomination for president pledged to oppose tax hikes with the lone exception of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Huntsman finished seventh in Iowa and third in New Hampshire before dropping out of the race.

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Libertarian Board

This is the same man who begged for tax increases when he was governor of Arkansas. Difficult to trust him due to that.


Federal Gas Tax Hike would Hurt Consumers and Encourage Overspending

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Justin Sykes on Thursday, May 14th, 2015, 1:50 PM PERMALINK


Just when American motorists thought it affordable to get back on the highways this summer, some Washington lawmakers are calling for massive increases to the federal gas tax. While there is currently a highway-funding gap, the answer is not to raise taxes but to reign in waste. Increasing the gas tax will not only worsen Washington’s spending problem, but will have American taxpayers picking up the tab.

Currently the federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and revenue from the tax goes into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).  The HTF was originally created with the goal of financing and maintaining the nation’s highway systems. However in recent years HTF funds have increasingly been siphoned off to fund everything from bike paths to landscaping and -- most infamously -- squirrel sanctuaries.

Overspending on non-highway related projects has gotten so bad that spending of HTF funds is outpacing revenue from the gas tax. In fact the federal government spends roughly $50 billion annually while the gas tax only brings in around $34 billion each year. As a result, Congress has repeatedly had to add short term funding patches to maintain the HTF, with the most recent set to expire May 31st of this year.

With the looming May 31st deadline lawmakers are scrambling to find a solution, with some calling for an increase in the gas tax of up to 80%. One doesn’t have to be an economist to realize that the solution to overspending is not to increase the amount of money that politicians and bureaucrats have to overspend. Such a massive increase comes on the backs of taxpayers and avoids addressing the issue of overspending altogether.

Instead lawmakers should be looking to improve the fiscal responsibility with which HTF funds are spent, ensuring the funds go to what they were originally intended – the highways. For instance since 2008, federal spending on side projects has increased 38% while highway spending has remained flat. In fact using gas tax revenue to pay solely for highways would make the “HTF 98% solvent for the next decade” without increasing taxes.      

Additionally, increasing the gas tax would hit low to middle-income Americans the hardest. Most Americans are currently enjoying increased discretionary income each month due to historically low gas prices. When Americans have more to spend that extra income benefits the economy as a whole. Yet if some in Washington have their way that extra income would instead go to Uncle Sam where it would likely fund more wasteful spending on non-highway related projects.        

It’s clear there is a need for a solution to the inherent lack of fiscal responsibility in the way HTF funds are spent, a solution that doesn’t work to the benefit of government bureaucrats at the expense of American taxpayers. Thus it should also be clear to lawmakers that increasing the gas tax to pay for their fiscal transgressions is outrageously irresponsible, would reduce the discretionary income of millions of hardworking Americans and is simply not the answer. 

Photo Credit: Drew Stephens

Photo Credit: 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinomite/

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


IRS May Have Broken Law, Put Taxpayers on Hook for $1,000 per Hour Trial Lawyers

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, May 14th, 2015, 11:20 AM PERMALINK


The IRS potentially broke federal law by hiring the trial law firm Quinn Emanuel to perform an audit of Microsoft. The unusual decision has prompted an investigation by the Senate Finance Committee over whether the agency is unnecessarily putting taxpayer data at risk and wasting taxpayer dollars. The trial law firm is billing taxpayers at least $1,000 per hour 

In a letter released Wednesday, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) questioned the hiring of expensive trial lawyers and asked the IRS to explain its decision. Specifically Hatch noted that the decision violates federal law, removes taxpayer protections, and raises questions the IRS’s ability to allocate its limited resources. As the letter states:

“The IRS’s hiring of a private contractor to conduct an examination of a taxpayer raises concerns because the action: 1) appears to violate federal law and the express will of the Congress; 2) removes taxpayer protections by allowing the performance of inherently governmental functions by private contractors; and 3) calls into question the IRS’s use of its limited resources.”

Chairman Hatch asked the agency to immediately stop using the expensive firm, citing the significant risks of using private contractors for the examination of records and handling of sworn testimony.

The IRS made the decision to hire expensive trial lawyers despite having over 40,000 employees dedicated to enforcement efforts. Additionally, the agency had the option to turn to the IRS office of Chief Counsel or a Department of Justice attorney, both of which have the expertise to conduct an examination without risking sensitive information. Instead, the agency choose to bring in a litigation-only white shoe law firm. The elite law firm was hired under an initial $2.2 million contract and is charging taxpayers over $1,000 an hour.

Earlier this year, the Taxpayer Advocate - an independent watchdog – raised concerns that the IRS was unable to justify its spending decisions. Despite having the data available to make these decisions, the agency did not bother to develop this data into a useful analysis. Given the carefree way in which the IRS is contracting trial lawyers, questions have to be asked about how the agency allocates its resources. 

Photo Credit: 
TownePost Network

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

TheOtherShoe
... the agency choose to bring in a litigation-only white shoe [emphasis added] law firm. The elite law firm was hired under an initial $2.2 million contract and is charging taxpayers over $1,000 an hour.

Perhaps I should change my avitar and apply for a job

Randy

Is this the same Congress that wants to privatize tax collections?

Randy

Don't Congressmen know that they can't tell the Executive branch how to execute laws?


Hawaii’s $205 Million Obamacare Exchange Implodes

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015, 5:17 PM PERMALINK


Despite over $205 million in federal taxpayer funding, Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange website will soon shut down.  Since its implementation, the exchange has somehow failed to become financially viable because of lower than expected Obamacare enrollment figures. With the state legislature rejecting a $28 million bailout, the website will now be unable to operate past this year.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the Hawaii Health Connector will stop taking new enrollees on Friday and plans to begin migrating to the federally run Healthcare.gov. Outreach services will end by May 31, all technology will be transferred to the state by September 30, and its workforce will be eliminated by February 28.

While the exchange has struggled since its creation, it is not for lack of funding. Since 2011 Hawaii has received a total of $205,342,270 in federal grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In total, HHS provided nearly $4.5 billion to Hawaii and other state exchanges, with little federal oversight and virtually no strings attached.

Despite this generous funding, the exchange has underperformed from day one. In its first year, Hawaii enrolled only 8,592 individuals – meaning it spent $23,899 on its website for each individual enrolled. Currently over 37,000 individuals are enrolled in Hawaii’s exchange - well below the estimated 70,000 enrollees that is required to make the website financially viable. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to hand out an additional $30 million so that Hawaii can migrate to the federal system.

This is not the first time that a state exchange has failed, and taken millions of dollars in federal funds down with it. Earlier this year, Oregon’s state exchange was officially abolished at an estimated cost of $41 million. Cover Oregon, as it used to be known received $305 million in funds from HHS but failed to produce a workable website months after the 2013 November deadline. The debacle has prompted numerous federal agencies and organizations to investigate allegations of inappropriate political interference from then Governor Kitzhaber’s 2014 reelection campaign.

Hawaii now joins Oregon, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, New Mexico, and Nevada as cautionary tales in government central planning. With so many failed state exchanges, questions need to be asked about the haphazard allocation of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds and the complete lack of oversight. 

Photo Credit: 
Charles Fettinger

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

ithakavi

That's exactly what Hawaii deserves for helping the little puke forge a birth certificate.

Blonde-Bond 007

I just wish this law was only harming the Gruber cretins who voted for it.

upcountrywater

$205 million: that's just one of Mooches vacations..


Pennsylvania 911 Fee Increase Update

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015, 2:09 PM PERMALINK


In April, Americans for Tax Reform expressed opposition to Pennsylvania House Bill 911.  Last week, this piece of legislation passed the Pennsylvania House and has now moved to the Senate.  Reports show the Pennsylvania collects $193 million in 911 fees annually.  This figure makes the commonwealth the second highest in the nation when it comes to wireless taxes.  Only Texas collects more and it has nearly double the population of Pennsylvania. 
 
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform, wrote a letter urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to oppose House Bill 911.  Norquist explains:

"The 911-fee increase from $1.00 to a $1.65 will raise $114 million across all phone services, resulting in a $78 million increase on wireless customers alone. These taxes are not only disproportionate in relation to other taxes, but also in relation to Pennsylvania’s population."

 

Photo Credit: 
plenty.r.

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Yardbird

"Second highest in the nation"...this is outrageous.
All of the vehicle title transfer fees, etc...have also skyrocketed at the auto tag agencies in the Keystone state this spring.


ATR Opposes DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's Proposed Tax Hikes

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, May 11th, 2015, 5:02 PM PERMALINK


As the Washington, DC City Council weighs Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 2016 budget, low and middle-income taxpayers should be wary. Last Friday, ATR testified before the Committee of the Whole to express our concerns regarding Bowser’s regressive tax hikes.

Among other things, the $12.9 billion budget submitted by Bowser raises the city’s sales tax from 5.75% to 6% despite growing city revenue and annual growth. This $22 million tax hike would adversely affect the city’s poorest, even if intended to fund government projects to their benefit. The city rejected this increase last year, when Bowser was on the Council.

“It’s the most regressive kind of tax . . . and besides, you save raising the tax for the rainy day,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), noting that local revenue is projected to grow to more than $7 billion next year, an increase of $185 million, or nearly 3 percent. “When revenues are growing by 3 percent, you don’t need to be raising taxes.”

Another tax increase contained in the budget targets smokers looking for an effective way to quit. Bowser's 70% tax on electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) would constitute more than 1200% increase on the products currently subjected to the city’s 5.75% sales tax. This tax on quitting smoking is misguided and will result in closed businesses and a loss of city jobs.

That testimony can be found in its entirety here:

Chairman Mendelson and Members of the DC City Council,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, thank you for providing us the opportunity to testify before the Committee of the Whole this morning.

Americans for Tax Reform is a non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization based here in Washington, D.C. that has existed since 1985. Last year, ATR was happy to support the historic tax reform package passed into law by the Council, which broadened the base of taxable services, reduced tax rates for individuals and businesses and took a step in the right direction towards making DC more competitive.

Unfortunately, this year’s Budget Request and Support Acts take a step in the wrong direction, particularly targeting low and middle-income consumers with higher, regressive taxes.

First, the proposal to raise the sales tax to 6%. District revenues are growing. This happens in periods of natural and competitive growth and makes this tax hike unnecessary. To target those who can least afford it with $22 million in higher taxes on the products they purchase just to get by flies in the face of last year’s tax reform package aimed at encouraging people to live, stay, shop, and move into the District.

Second, the proposal to raise taxes on electronic cigarettes and vapor products contained in the Vapor Products Amendment Act of 2015. Last year this Council changed the way DC taxes tobacco based on a recommendation from the DC Tax Reform Commission and the Tobacco Free Coalition. Electronic cigarettes and vapor products were exempt from being defined as tobacco for good reason. They’re tobacco-free and they’re effective smoking cessation products that stand to save thousands of lives in DC and millions of tax dollars.

The massively unjustifiable 70% tax on the wholesale cost of vapor products will guarantee that the poorest DC residents continue smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes. And while projections assert that this new tax will result in $382,000 in revenue next year, that is extremely unlikely because it assumes two things.

First, that consumers who have and are looking to make the switch from tobacco to vapor products will not simply buy the products in Maryland or Virginia, where the products are taxed at 6 percent in retail locations.

Second, that DC vapor product sales won’t go online where the District does not have the authority to tax or regulate sales to consumers.

Both assumptions are wrong and will result in less revenue than anticipated and less sales tax revenue from products currently taxed at 5.75 percent in DC retail locations. For products costing as much as $300, not even wealthy consumers will purchase the products in DC retail locations.

There are real, operational, new businesses in this City who stand to be put out of business with this tax hike. While they can speak better to the new employees they’ve hired, the rent, income, and sales taxes they’re paying, I wanted to echo their concerns. Increasing the cost of vapor products by 70 percent will make their sales no longer viable in DC. These shops may shut down and the city’s tax policies will discourage new shops from opening. This budget stands to kill current and future jobs.

The Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products remarked last year, “If we could get all of those people to completely switch all of their cigarettes to noncombustible cigarettes (electronic/vapor), it would be good for public health.” Does this Council disagree? Should we not create tax policy that facilitates and encourages consumers switching to tobacco-free technology products without placing an undue and costly burden on them?

Even as the FDA considers a set of guidelines on the industry, they admit vapor products are likely good for public health. That’s precisely why vapor products may save the District millions of tax dollars. The cost borne by taxpayers for the use of tobacco by recipients of Medicaid far outweighs the revenue generated from cigarette sales or tobacco settlement payments by an astounding 200 percent, according to a recent study by State Budget Solutions. Vapor products, used by lower and middle-income consumers on Medicaid will bring down the long-term health care costs paid for by the rest of District taxpayers. 

There’s a reason every state in the nation that considered taxing vapor products like tobacco in 2014 failed. Politicians in both parties agree that vapor products may just accomplish what lawmakers have failed to do for decades: ending tobacco cigarette use, as we know it. Any policies, including higher taxes that make it more expensive for residents to make the switch to far healthier alternatives, should be rejected.

We urge the City Council to reject the Mayor’s tax hike proposals.​

 

Photo Credit: 
Crystal Nicole Davis

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


Montana Continues Trend on Asset Forfeiture

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Jorge Marin on Monday, May 11th, 2015, 4:22 PM PERMALINK


Montana can count itself in the growing group of states taking on civil asset forfeiture less than a month after New Mexico passed its lauded comprehensive reform. And though Montana’s legislation is not as exhaustive as New Mexico’s, it is nevertheless a giant step in the right direction.

Civil asset forfeiture is a controversial proceeding in which law enforcement authorities are allowed to confiscate property suspected of being used in a crime without a warrant or conviction. Property owners are then left with the options of hiring expensive legal help (for protracted civil proceedings) or writing off the lost property.

The property is then kept by the law enforcement agency that performed the seizure and can be used at their discretion: some argue that this creates an improper incentive for the agencies.

The new regime in Montana does away with the warrantless forfeiture component of the problem. HB 463—the enacted measure—will require a criminal conviction before the property is forfeited. Meaning that in order for the police to keep and use the money, they have to prove its connection with the crime.

The burden of proof on the government, and increasing the standard to “clear and convincing evidence,” gives innocent property owners expanded protections from overzealous forfeiture programs.

Civil asset Forfeiture has seen a dramatic increase of attention from both state legislators and the federal government. Montana has proven that it is prepared to put the interests of its citizens first and foremost. Hopefully this positive trend will continue to expand Fifth Amendment rights across the nation.

Photo Credit: 
Cuksis

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

bigcoffinhunter007

there's always your underwater submarine,long,hard and full of seamen.

jack anderson

There go the pension budgets.

hammerstamp

Once again Montana, well done!


hidden
×