ATR Supports Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, July 7th, 2016, 2:00 AM PERMALINK


Congressman Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) recently introduced H.Con.Res.140, a resolution calling for the Fiscal State of the Nation. This commonsense resolution requires the Comptroller General of the United States to present a financial report of the United States before a Joint Session of Congress. ATR supports this important resolution and urges all Members of Congress to co-sponsor and support H.Con.Res. 140.

Financial statements for the United States are already compiled, but are typically buried in 300 page reports. As a result, important information regarding the federal government’s assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses, and sustainability of programs are often ignored or missed by Members of Congress, the media, and the public.

The country is $19 trillion in debt and the long-term sustainability of important federal programs remains uncertain. At the same time, billions in taxpayer dollars are wasted on unnecessary or inefficient programs. By requiring an annual update on the long-term financial health of the country, your resolution helps ensure our nation’s finances remain at the forefront of public discussion.

This important financial information is already available but is all too often missed or ignored. ATR urges all Members of Congress to co-sponsor and support this important resolution.

 

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The Grover Norquist Show: Breaking Down the House Republican Tax Reform Plan

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016, 4:29 PM PERMALINK


In Episode 59 of The Grover Norquist Show, ATR’s Alex Hendrie joins Grover to discuss Speaker Paul Ryan and Chairman Kevin Brady’s new tax reform proposal unveiled last week. The plan will consolidate the tax brackets from seven to three, cut rates for all Americans, lower the corporate and small business tax rates, and abolish the death tax.

The House GOP’s plan will unleash growth and stimulate the economy, unlike Hillary Clinton’s plan that will raise taxes and further burden American businesses and families. Listen to the podcast below.

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ATR Submits Comment Opposing Treasury's Proposed Section 385 Regulations

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi, Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016, 3:27 PM PERMALINK


ATR President Grover Norquist today submitted a comment in opposition of Treasury’s proposed section 385 debt equity regulations. While these regulations were proposed as a way to halt business inversions, this is clearly not the case as they affect businesses regardless of whether they are inverting.

Instead, these regulations will only make it harder for American businesses to compete. They are unnecessary, will make it harder for our businesses to compete with foreign competitors, will reduce investment in the U.S., and will open the door for the IRS to further abuse its powers.

Debt and equity have been treated differently under the tax code for decades and businesses have structured themselves based on these rules. Altering these rules without adequate expert input as this administration proposes will immediately impact a wide range of common, internal business transactions such as the ability to redistribute cash among subsidiaries to make new investments.

In turn, this will result in extensive compliance and regulatory burdens affecting businesses across all industries. These regulations may result in less money invested in the U.S. economy, slow our already stagnant economic growth, and further encumber job growth. Additionally, the information disclosure requirements created to enforce this rule empower the already dysfunctional IRS to collect an excessive level of new information.

As written, section 385 regulations are an indiscriminate weapon that the federal government can use to restrict and undermine the legitimate business transactions of American companies operating at home and abroad, and foreign companies operating in the U.S.

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Nearly 4,000 EPA Regulations Issued Under President Obama

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016, 2:25 PM PERMALINK


The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing this week to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory activity under the Obama Administration, which highlighted the President and EPA’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and State authority. The hearing also addressed the drastic impact increased regulations have on U.S. energy and the economy as a whole.

Since President Obama assumed office in 2009, the EPA has published over 3,900 rules, averaging almost 500 annually, and amounting to over 33,000 new pages in the Federal Register. The hearing highlighted growing concerns from states and affected entities about the mounting complexity, costs, and legality of EPA rules.

The compliance costs associated with EPA regulations under Obama number in the hundreds of billions and have grown by more than $50 billion in annual costs since Obama took office. Such high costs, especially those related to the energy sector, ripple throughout the economy, impacting GDP, killing thousands of jobs, and increasing the cost of consumer goods.

In his opening statement, Chairman of the Subcommittee Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) noted that the impact of compliance costs is only part of the issue with EPA regulations. Chairman Whitfield stated the EPA’s “controversial and extreme interpretation” of it’s statutory authority has transformed it’s role to that of “ultimate” regulator. 

Testifying on the Administration and EPA’s overreach of authority, David J. Porter, Chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, lambasted the Administration’s disregard for the rule of law, stating:

“The President disregards the Constitutional limits of his office and public opinion to forward his own liberal agenda…[and] in promoting his agenda, he has allowed EPA to become the mouthpiece for ideological propaganda.”

Vice Chairman Pete Olson (R-Texas) echoed the concerns of Chairman Whitfield and Mr. Porter during his questioning of Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Rep. Olson argued that the EPA’s drafting of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) amounted to the Agency writing laws, far outside the scope of EPA statutory authority and in clear violation of the Constitution. 

Subcommittee members further pointed out that the EPA is so removed from the rule of law that it has continued to move forward with new rules to implement the CPP, despite the Supreme Court having issued a stay of the rule. Obviously under Obama’s “pen and phone” mentality, EPA bureaucrats feel emboldened to continue enacting major regulations without fear of legal recourse or retribution from Congress or the public.

It is clear from the Subcommittee hearing that President Obama has allowed, and even encouraged, EPA regulators to stretch the legal limits of the U.S. Constitution and the Agency’s statutorily granted authority. The President is obviously indifferent to the regulatory precedent he has set, as well as the impact his economically destructive “legacy” will have on American families, businesses, and the economy.  

 

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House Republican Tax Plan Boosts GDP By 9 Percent, Creates 1.7 Million Jobs

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, 4:30 PM PERMALINK


The House Republican Tax Reform blueprint would lead to 9.1 percent higher GDP growth, 7.7 percent higher wages, and create 1.7 million new jobs, according to an analysis by Kyle Pomerleau of the Tax Foundation. This pro-growth plan, released under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) cuts taxes for ALL American families and businesses, simplifies the code, promotes strong economic growth, and allows our businesses to better compete against foreign competitors.

According to the Tax Foundation analysis, the plan cuts taxes by $2.4 trillion over the next decade. However, due to the more than 9 percent economic growth, the plan would result in federal revenue losses of just $191 billion over the same period.

On the individual side, the GOP blueprint calls for cutting taxes across the board by consolidating the existing seven tax brackets into three brackets – 12 percent, 25 percent, and 33 percent. The analysis finds that this would result in a $2 trillion tax cut for American families, while also boosting GDP by 1.5 percent.

The plan also cuts the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and the tax rate on pass-through entities from more than 40 percent to just 25 percent. According to the Tax Foundation, this would cut taxes by more than $1.7 trillion over ten years and directly lead to GDP growth of more than 2 percent.

The tax blueprint also simplifies the system through repeal of the Death Tax (raising $20 billion according to the analysis), repeal of business tax credits (raising $677 billion), eliminating itemized deductions except for homeownership and charitable giving (raising $2.2 trillion), and eliminating the AMT (cutting taxes by $428 billion). While may of these provisions increase taxes in isolation, they are more than offset by corresponding tax cuts in the blueprint.

 

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House EPA-Interior Spending Bill Would Rein in Regulatory Overreach

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, 2:48 PM PERMALINK


As lawmakers return this week from the July 4th holiday, they will have only until July 15th to act on a number of bills before heading home for the summer recess. Although the legislative schedule is packed, one of the bills that could potentially see floor time next week is the House Appropriation’s Interior and Environment spending bill for fiscal year 2017.  

The legislation, which was approved by the House Appropriation Committee (31-18) last month, provides funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Services, the Indian Health Service, and other related agencies. Overall, the bill provides $32.1 billion in funding, which is a $64 million reduction from fiscal year 2016 enacted levels and $1 billion below President Obama’s budget request.  

Under the spending bill, the EPA would see a reduction of $164 million from FY 2016 levels, which is $291 million below the amount requested in Obama’s budget request. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Land and Water Conservation Fund would also see funding reductions.

Most importantly, the legislation looks to rein in extensive regulatory overreach. Since taking office President Obama, along with the help of agencies such as the EPA, has enacted and proposed an avalanche of costly energy regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and Ozone Rule that threaten the livelihood of millions of Americans and the economy as a whole. 

The EPA-Interior spending bill would not only reduce EPA regulatory programs by 6 percent, but contains a number of provisions that would rein in costly regulations that increase the price of energy in the U.S., reduce GDP, and threaten millions of American jobs. Such provisions include:

  • A prohibition on the EPA from implementing new GHG regulations for new and existing power plants and the elimination of funding for GHG “New Source Performance Standards”;
  • A prohibition preventing EPA changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the CWA, essentially blocking the “Waters of the U.S. Rule”;
  • A prohibition on new methane regulations and requirements;
  • Provisions to stop economically harmful changes to the “stream buffer rule”; and
  • A rejection of the President’s proposal to increase inspection fees on energy producers.


Speaking on the legislation, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers stated, “This bill will stop many harmful and unnecessary regulations – by the Environmental Protection Agency and others – that hurt recovering communities and kill jobs.”

The House Rules Committee has now set a Thursday, July 7th deadline for amendments to the EPA-Interior spending bill, so many are optimistic it could see floor time soon. While it will likely receive resistance from President Obama, given the provisions blocking EPA and other agency rules, the bill highlights lawmaker opposition to the increase in bureaucratic regulatory overreach that has grown exponentially under President Obama. 

 

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Rep. Hudson’s FSGG Amendment Will Block Obama’s Last Minute Regulatory Flurry

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi, Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, 1:56 PM PERMALINK


This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, introduced by Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.). This legislation allocates 2017 federal funding for numerous agencies including the Treasury Department, the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FCC.

One amendment (#86), introduced by Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC) blocks all regulations from being proposed or finalized for the remainder of the Obama administration. ATR supports this important amendment and urges all Members of Congress to vote yes in order to stop Obama’s executive overreach.  

Over the past seven and a half years, the Obama administration has pushed numerous, unnecessary and damaging regulations that have cost billions of dollars. In the first half of this year alone, the administration has pushed regulations totaling more than $85 billion. With the Obama presidency coming to a close, unelected bureaucrats are pushing last minute regulations with reckless abandon.

One example of last minute regulations are the Treasury department’s Section 385 “Debt-Equity” regulations that grant the government power over a business’s internal transactions. This regulation was proposed with little input from experts and is on track to be finalized even as businesses do not understand all the ways it may affect them.

Both Democrats and Republicans have raised concerns with the broad scope of this regulation, specifically that it will have a chilling effect on investment, will create unneeded business uncertainty and complexity, and increase the frequency of inversions over the long-term.

However, this regulation is just one of many that the administration has pushed. Stopping Obama’s last minute regulatory flurry should be a priority for lawmakers, and Rep. Hudson’s amendment does exactly that. ATR urges full support for this important, conservative amendment. 

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It’s Time to Stop Taxpayer Funded Stadiums

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, 1:44 PM PERMALINK


Throughout many cities in America, professional sports teams are receiving a little extra help from taxpayers. A recent estimate from Judith Grant Long, professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University, states that taxpayers have put forth $12 billion dollars to fund fifty-one major sports stadiums from 2001-2010. This is yet another perfect example of taxpayer-backed corporate welfare. Profitable organizations such as NFL franchises that generate billions annually should not receive handouts from hardworking taxpayers, no matter how enticing the sport may be.

Generally professional sports cause a difference of opinion; however 2014 Super Bowl winner Richard Sherman recently said something that all Americans can get behind.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Sherman said:

“I’d get us out of this deficit, I’d stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums and probably get us out of debt and maybe make the billionaires who actually benefit from the stadiums pay for them. That kind of seems like a system that would work for me.”

While sports certainly do play an important role in many American’s lives, taxpayers should not be the ones funding stadiums. In a recent article, Brent Gardner, Vice President of Government Affairs at Americans for Prosperity, laid out some of the offenders of taxpayer-backed handouts: 

  • Indianapolis Colts: $619.6 million of taxpayers funds used on Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Seattle Seahawks: $300.3 million used on Sherman’s own stadium, Century Link Field


National Football League stadiums aren’t the only ones receiving millions from government sponsored corporate welfare; Major League Baseball stadiums received $203 million, $127 million for National Hockey League stadiums, and over $102 million for the National Basketball Association stadiums. While many argue that investing in stadiums will help boost local economies, studies state otherwise. In a 1997 book,Sports, Jobs, and Taxes, 17 economists including Andrew Zimbalist and Roger G. Noll, concluded that bringing in professional sports teams do not boost the economy. In a more recent 2007 study from the Journal of Sports Economics, researchers found that subsidizing stadiums do not raise regional income nor do they improve the local economy.

While construction of stadiums may provide short term opportunities such as construction jobs, the long term effect of providing large subsidies to professional sports teams does more harm than good. Some local businesses near the stadium including restaurants and hotels might win from the extra local spending, but taxpayers certainly will lose in the long run if they are expected to fund major sports stadiums.  

It should not be the role of taxpayer’s to provide a pathway for sports teams to build stadiums. Our elected officials should stop playing a game of their own and stop wasting their constituent’s money, or as Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, best states: “It’s better to have the billionaires who own these teams to pay for these themselves."

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ATR Supports H.R. 4474, the Fairness for Agicultural Machinery and Equipment (FAME) Act

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt, Justin Sykes on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, 10:59 AM PERMALINK


ATR President Grover Norquist today sent a letter to Congressional lawmakers urging support for Representative Ralph Abraham's (R-La.) Fairness for Agricultural Machinery and Equipment (FAME) Act, H.R. 4474. 

The U.S. agricultural industry relies heavily on farm machinery and equipment, however the current depreciation schedule for such equipment is not aligned with the average length of debt service on that same equipment. H.R. 4474 would correct this discrepancy by reinstating and making permanent five-year depreciation for farm equipment, thus aligning depreciation and debt service. Doing so is projected to increase after-tax farm income by $1 billion annually. 

Below is the full text of the letter, which can also be found here  

July 5, 2016

Dear Members of Congress,

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) urges your support of H.R. 4474, the Fairness for Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Act, otherwise known as the “FAME Act.” Introduced by Representative Ralph Abraham (R-La.), this pro-growth legislation would increase after-tax income for American farmers by reinstating and making permanent five-year depreciation for farm business machinery and equipment.

The U.S. agricultural industry is heavily dependent on farm machinery and equipment, which on average accounts for over eight percent of assets owned by farmers and ranchers. In fact, farm machinery and motor vehicles in use in 2014 were valued at almost $260 billion, according to the USDA.

The USDA also finds that a majority of farmers and ranchers generally finance business equipment and machinery for a period of five years. Currently however the allowed number of years to depreciate such equipment does not align with the average period of debt service, thus depriving those in the industry of potentially higher tax benefits that could otherwise be used toward the financing of related payments. 

H.R. 4474 would correct this discrepancy by aligning depreciation and debt service for farm equipment and machinery with a fiver-year depreciation schedule. It is projected that doing so would increase after-tax farm income around $1 billion annually. With net farm income this year projected to fall by almost half of what it was in recent years, farmers and ranchers need relief wherever possible.

While ATR does support the eventual repeal of depreciation schedules, moving instead to full business expensing, for now H.R. 4474 is a productive step to allow farmers and ranchers to better manage costs and reduce their tax burden.

I urge you to support and vote for H.R. 4474, the Fairness for Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Act.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

 

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How Many iPhones Does It Take to Comply with the IRS?


Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, 9:15 AM PERMALINK


The results are in. Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation has computed the costs and hours it takes to comply with IRS regulations. (Drum roll please.)

 

A whopping 8.9 billion hours and $409 billion will be spent complying with IRS tax filing requirements this year. 

 

Here are the facts:

Since 1955, the federal tax code has increased six-fold, from 409,000 words to 2.4 million words. 

 

 

​There would need to be 4.3 million full-time workers solely filing tax return paperwork to equate to the 8.9 billion hours spent complying with our outdated taxcode. 

 

 

U.S. businesses and individual income tax returns make up the majority of the hours spent complying, clocking in at 2.8 billion hours and 2.6 billion hours respectively.

 

 

With the dollars spent complying with IRS regulations, taxpayers could have purchased:

2,045,000 Lamborghinis 

 

 

 

744,990,892 iPhone 6s ($549 retail)
(That’s more than two iPhones for all Americans...or for your cat.)

 

 

166,938,775,510 Starbucks Venti Coffees
(That’s 525 large coffees for every American or more than a year and a half worth of coffee!)

 

 

House Republicans in their “Better Way” blueprint have introduced ways to simplify the puzzling tax code that will cut down on compliance costs and hours. Most notably, House Republicans have proposed a way that taxpayers can file their taxes on as little as a postcard. Now you can spend those hours on something less-taxing. 

 

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