New Florida Taxpayer Protection Caucus Announced, Led by Rep. Bob Rommel

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Posted by Josie Kavanagh on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 3:38 PM PERMALINK

Just last week, Florida State Representative Bob Rommel announced on Twitter that he plans to form a new Taxpayer Protection Caucus in the Sunshine state legislature.   

In leading this caucus, Rep. Rommel aims to work with other pro-taxpayer legislators to protect Floridians from incoming pressure to add new taxes and hike old ones, as well as defend against increased spending driven by third parties and the left. He vows to “be ready for action and to stop any proposed new taxes.” 

Rommel, who represents Florida’s 106th district, is one of 62 Florida state House pledge signers of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. Members who have signed the pledge are welcome and encouraged to join the Taxpayer Protection Caucus. 

“One of the important aspects of leadership is making sure to build an infrastructure for carrying important policy goals from one generation to the next. Our caucus will be an important part of helping to stop tax increases in Florida well into the future. I am honored that Grover asked me to take this on, and I look forward to working with ATR on an ongoing basis,” said Rep. Rommel. 

This new caucus can help ensure Florida remains one of the leading states for job growth, and for families looking to build a future, by keeping the tax burden on Floridians low.  

Photo Credit: Steven Martin


Biden and Pelosi have Repeatedly Praised Payroll Tax Cuts

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 3:14 PM PERMALINK

President Trump has signed an Executive Order deferring the collection of the 6.2 percent social security employee payroll tax through the end of the year. While this will provide much needed liquidity for American families, Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Joe Biden have criticized this proposal as doing little to help Americans and undermining social security.

This is a sharp reversal from a decade ago when Pelosi and Biden vocally supported payroll tax cuts pushed by the Obama administration.

Throughout this period, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly highlighted payroll tax cuts as way to give middle class families more money and help grow the economy.

For instance, in a blog post, the Obama administration highlighted that payroll tax cuts would give the typical family $40 per two-week pay cycle. As the document noted

 “$40 is real money for working families, as people all over the country told us. That money buys things like school lunches, the gas needed to get to work or visit ailing relatives, and co-pays for doctor visits and essential prescription medicines.”

It is important to note that Trump’s payroll tax deferral applies to the entire 6.2 percent tax while Obama’s payroll tax cut reduced the tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for two years. As a result, the same working family highlighted by Obama would be seeing three times the benefit under Trump, or roughly $130 per pay cycle.

Democrats also repeatedly highlighted how a payroll tax cut will help workers. For instance, in a speech given on December 17, 2010, President Obama noted that the payroll tax cut would reduce taxes for 155 million workers:

“Over the course of 2011, 155 million workers will receive tax relief from the new payroll tax cut included in this bill -– about $1,000 for the average family. This is real money that’s going to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Similarly, in a speech given on May 22, 2012, Biden highlighted the administration’s efforts to cut the payroll tax, noting that it would reduce taxes for 98 percent of Americans:

“In December of 2010 we passed the payroll tax that gave each and every American an average of $1,000 tax cut. One thousand dollars less was taken out of their pay in payroll taxes. We repassed that not long ago, allowing another $1,500 to go into people's pockets instead of going into taxes. Ninety-eight percent of the American people -- they get a pay stub. They pay payroll taxes. So when you cut taxes for people with a -- with a payroll tax, 98 percent of the American people are getting a tax cut.”

Joe Biden’s biography on the Obama White House website even specifically highlighted his effort to cut payroll taxes for American workers:

“Fought for payroll tax cuts during the economic recovery -- ensuring a tax cut for every single worker in America.”

Speaker Pelosi also vocally supported payroll tax cuts. For instance, On December 13, 2011, Speaker Pelosi said that a payroll tax cut will give more money to Americans and help create more jobs:

“This is about a thriving middle class.  It's about a payroll tax cut that does what it sets out to do, puts $1,500 in the pockets of Americas families who need it, who spend it and in doing so inject, inject demand--demand, demand--into our economy which further creates jobs.”

Pelosi even supported extending the payroll tax cut without offsetting lost revenue, as her February 13, 2012 press release noted

“Democrats have always demanded that we extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans without paying for it.”

In addition, following a jobs report released on December 2, 2011, Pelosi called for expanding the payroll tax cut:

“Today's jobs report sends a clear message: we've made some progress but we have work to do. The American people's top priority remains job creation. Democrats want to put more money in the pockets of all Americans and strengthen small businesses by expanding the payroll tax cut.”

President Trump has called on Congress to make the tax deferral a permanent tax cut. Given their past support for payroll tax cuts, Biden and Pelosi should join Trump in calling for permanent payroll tax relief.

Photo Credit: Pete Souza


20 Candidates Make “No New Taxes” Promise Ahead of the August 11th Primaries

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Posted by Gerald Sharpe on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 1:28 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform commends the federal incumbents and candidates in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge ahead of tomorrow’s congressional primary. The Pledge is a written commitment to the American people to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes. 

“By signing The Pledge, these candidates and incumbents demonstrate that they will safeguard taxpayers from higher taxes,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “Pledge signers understand that government should be reformed so that it spends less and will oppose tax increases that prolong the failures of the past.” 

There are currently 172 Pledge signers in the U.S. House and 48 Pledge signers in the U.S. Senate. Eighty-nine percent of all congressional Republicans have made the written commitment to oppose higher taxes. In contrast, zero congressional Democrats have made that promise. 

Candidates running for public office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The idea of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing, so the promise is harder to break.  

New candidates sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge regularly. For the most up-to-date information on these races or any other, please visit the ATR Pledge Database.  

Candidates can still make this important commitment to voters ahead of the primary by visiting: www.atr.org/take-the-pledge 

The following candidates have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge: 

Minnesota  

  • Karin Housley (SEN) 
  • Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) 
  • Tyler Kistner (MN-02) 
  • Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06) 
  • Dave Russell (MN-07) 
  • Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) 
  • Dave Hughes (MN-07)  
  • Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08)  
     

Wisconsin   

  • Ron Johnson (SEN) 
  • Rep. Bryan Steil (WI-01) 
  • Derrick Van Orden (WI-03) 
  • Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) 
  • Cliff DeTemple (WI-05) 
  • Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05) 
  • Rep. Glen Grothman (WI-06) 
  • Rep. Tom Tiffany (WI-07) 
  • Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-08)  
     

Georgia (runoff) 

  • Andrew Gurtler (GA-09)  
  • Matthew Clyde (GA-09) 
  • John Cowan (GA-14) 
  • Marjorie Green (GA-14) 

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Fitzgerald and DeTemple Take Bold “No New Taxes” Pledge Ahead of Wisconsin’s Congressional Primary

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Posted by Gerald Sharpe on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 1:22 PM PERMALINK

Taxpayers in The Badger State will be happy to learn that Scott Fitzgerald and Cliff DeTemple have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in the WI-05 Republican primary. They are running to replace retiring U.S. Congressman and Pledge signer Jim Sensenbrenner. By signing the Pledge, these candidates make a written commitment to oppose and vote against any efforts to increase taxes on Wisconsin taxpayers.  

Scott Fitzgerald is the Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Senate and has been endorsed by outgoing Rep. Sensenbrenner. Fitzgerald’s primary opponent, Cliff DeTemple, has also signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. DeTemple is a small business owner specializing in measuring systems for Land Surveying.  

With a Solid Republican rating from Cook Political Report, the winner of tomorrow’s primary is a strong favorite to become the next Congressman from Wisconsin’s 5th district.  

In Wisconsin, every Republican in the state congressional delegation has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Candidates running for public office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The idea of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing, so the promise is harder to break.  

ATR strongly urges all candidates running for elected office to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledges. Candidates can still make this important commitment to voters ahead of the primary by visiting ATR.org. 

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President Trump Increases Access to Telehealth

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Posted by Clara Diaz on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 11:40 AM PERMALINK

In recognition of the increasing importance of telehealth during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration on Monday announced an executive order that allows telehealth workers to better treat patients in rural communities.  This order will help improve health care accessibility for the approximately 57 million Americans living in rural communities. 

During the height of nationwide shutdowns, Medicare telehealth visits grew from just a few thousand per week to more than 1 million. In this time of social distancing, telehealth has become a vital source for many Americans looking for safe ways to see their doctor while maintaining social distancing.

In the days following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Trump Administration took steps to expand healthcare access for Medicare beneficiaries by issuing temporary waivers expanding telehealth options. This meant that seniors did not need to come in contact with health care providers to receive the quality of care they expect.

In March, President Trump issued an executive order on telehealth, allowing Medicare beneficiaries to interact with their doctors via phone or video conferencing at no additional cost, covering commonly used services like Facetime and Skype. Prior to President Trump’s order, Medicare was only allowed to pay for telemedicine in certain circumstances, such as for rural patients that lacked easy access to their doctors. In these situations, the patient would have to travel to a medical facility and teleconference with their doctors, and beneficiaries could not generally receive care in their homes. 

The Trump Administration expanded telemedicine in Medicare even prior to the pandemic. Over the past two years, beneficiaries have been able to briefly check in with their doctors via phone, videoconferencing, or online patient portals.

The telemedicine expansion for Coronavirus allowed a wide range of providers (doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed social workers) to offer telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can receive telecare at any healthcare facility, like nursing homes or physician’s offices, or from the comfort of their own homes. 

Since telehealth is relatively new and growing, the existing Medicare payment structure was unprepared for the surge in telemedicine that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused. The new order requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release a revised payment model and test new innovations in order best meet the needs of rural patients.

The order also addresses technological limitations that prevent patients from easily accessing their doctors. Now, the Federal government is directed to launch a joint initiative in 30 days to improve healthcare communication infrastructure and expand rural services

Instead of using the crisis to consolidate more power in the federal government’s hands, President Trump and his administration have made deregulation a central part of the Coronavirus response. State and local governments have followed suit, leading to the suspension of over 800 rules and regulations in total.

As the pandemic continues, access to telehealth for American seniors and individuals in rural areas is more important than ever. President Trump’s new executive order helps achieve this goal by ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the safe, quality care they need from the comfort of their own homes. 

Photo Credit: Sean Spicer


Judge Rules Misleading Tax Measure Cannot Appear on AZ Ballot

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, August 7th, 2020, 3:02 PM PERMALINK

In a big win for Arizona taxpayers, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury ruled that a nearly $1 billion income tax hike cannot appear on the November ballot due to its misleading language.

Backers of the Invest in Education initiative said it would have imposed “a 3.5% surcharge on taxable income above (a) $250,000 annually for single persons or married persons filing separately, and (b) $500,000 annually for married persons filing jointly or head of household filers.” Three and a half percent sounds like almost nothing, but as the Judge pointed out, that is shockingly and deliberately dishonest.

“Invest in Education circulated an opaque ‘Trojan horse’ of a 100-word description, concealing principal provisions of the initiative,” said Coury in his 20-page ruling. One of his main concerns with the initiative is its use of the word “surcharge” in the description.

“Although the use of the term ‘3.5% surcharge on taxable income’ may be perfectly understood by some Arizona voters to be permanently adding 3.5 percentage points to the taxation rate – an increase 77.7% in the tax rate on taxable income above the threshhold – others reasonable Arizona voters may understand a “surcharge” to mean a temporary tax, or to mean a modest 3.5% increase of the existing tax rate,” explained Coury. “The use of the term ‘surcharge’ creates a substantial likelihood of confusion for a reasonable Arizona voter.”

Coury also noted that the description fails to inform voters that the proposed tax increase would apply to more than just the “wealthy.” It would also apply to a number of small businesses, which are already struggling from the pandemic. Coury explained:

“Under applicable tax law, income generated by businesses – sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, S-corporations, and partnerships – that is not paid at the business level ‘passes-through’ to individuals and is captured as taxable income of the business owners. This ‘pass-through’ business income is taxed at the individual level. The 100-word description does not alert signers that this ‘pass-through’ ‘business’ income would be subject to the ‘surcharge’ if it was part of an individual or married couple’s taxable income…”

Adding insult to injury, a similar Invest in Education initiative was bumped off the ballot in 2018 for similar reasons. The Arizona Supreme Court suggested acceptable initiative language to the backers of Invest in Education, but they deliberately chose not to use it.

“Arizona is not a low tax state. Its top income tax rate is already too high – just a tad below Massachusetts’. And certainly above the nine states that do not tax wage income, such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Wyoming,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Arizonans know this. An effort to phase down the state income tax to zero over time was narrowly defeated in the Arizona Senate just last year.”

Tragically, unclear tax initiatives are not uncommon. For example, in Arkansas, a roughly 9% permanent sales tax hike will be on ballot this November under the title “Continuing a One-Half Percent (0.5%) Sales and Use Tax for State Highways and Bridges; County Roads, Bridges and Other Surface Transportation; and City Streets, Bridges, and Other Surface Transportation After the Retirement of the Bonds Authorized in Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 91.”

Coury’s ruling shines a spotlight on a major problem that happens throughout the country. Too many tax hike measures are intentionally vague or unclear in hopes of confusing or tricking voters into supporting them.

Backers of the Invest in Education initiative have filed a notice of appeal, but given the Arizona Supreme Court’s opinion in 2018, Coury’s ruling is unlikely to be overturned.  

Photo Credit: Tuxyso

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ATR Supports Payroll Tax Executive Order

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Posted by John Kartch on Friday, August 7th, 2020, 12:45 PM PERMALINK

As President Donald Trump considers an executive order to suspend the collection of payroll taxes, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

"President Trump should be applauded for his proposal to suspend payroll taxes and increase take-home pay for Americans. This will increase the value of work and lower the cost to businesses of rehiring more Americans. President Trump's tax relief and deregulation will create millions more jobs in the next few months."

See Also:

Over 1,100 examples of good news arising from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Survey: App-Based Drivers Want to Maintain Independent Contractor Status

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Friday, August 7th, 2020, 11:00 AM PERMALINK

A new survey finds that the freedom to be an independent contractor is vital to rideshare and food delivery drivers, as nine out of ten drivers on app-based platforms "began driving because they needed a job where they could control their work hours." 72 percent of drivers support California Proposition 22, affirming their right to be an independent contractor.

Edelman Intelligence, with author Brad Williams, completed the California App-Based Driver survey in July. The survey interviewed 718 Californian app-based rideshare and food delivery drivers “who have driven with any rideshare or food delivery app within the past year." Data was collected between May 19 and June 1, 2020.

Here are its key findings, including AB5 impact analyses in the white paper report:

  • 88% of drivers said they started driving because they needed a job where they could choose when or where to work.
     
  • 68% of app-based drivers say they wouldn’t continue driving if they didn’t have the flexibility they have now and were required to work a fixed shift.
     
  • 72% of rideshare and food delivery app drivers support Proposition 22, a ballot initiative which would affirm app-based driver freedom to continue as independent contractors and not employees or agents. 
     
  • About 84% of drivers say that they have another job, and agree with the statement, “This is part-time work, not a full-time job.” 
     
  • Drivers report that, without the extra income, they wouldn’t be able to put money away for a rainy day (76%), provide for themselves and their family (73%), pay their bills (73%), put food on the table (65%), and pay rent/mortgage (67%).
     
  • 71% of app-based drivers say their driving schedule changes from week to week.
     
  • Rideshare prices (after AB5) would need to increase 25 percent to 111 percent to cover the additional employee costs, “depending on current market conditions, minimum wages, and other regulations in local regions throughout the state.” 
     
  • This increase in prices would result in a reduction in trips of between 23 percent and 59 percent, with less dense cities and rural areas experiencing the largest percentage losses.
     
  • “Assuming that the company would hire full-time workers, the number of active drivers in a three-month period would decline from 209,000 to 51,000, a 76 percent decrease.”
     
  • “Despite the [AB5] proponents’ claims to the contrary, economic realities would require app-based platform companies to curtail or eliminate the flexibility currently afforded to drivers to choose when, where, and number of daily hours they work. Instead, drivers would be subject to fixed work hours and driving locations set by the companies.”
     
  • One in four drivers (25%) say that they lost a part of full time job due to COVID-19. About 67% of drivers agree that app-based driving gave them an opportunity to earn money after losing a job or hours.
     
  • “The resulting decline in the industry means fewer jobs, less income, and lower tax receipts to state and local governments in California - at a time when the state has the highest unemployment since the Great Depression.”
     
  • “The losses will be magnified by the fact that five of the six largest app-based platform companies in the U.S. are located in California.”
     

See Also:

Biden Threatens Independent Contractors and Freelancers Nationwide

Pew Research Center Survey: By a 3-1 Ratio, Americans Consider Rideshare Drivers to be Independent Contractors

Pew Research Center Survey: By a 5 - 1 Radio, Residents of Majority Minority Neighborhoods Say Uber and Lyft Bring Them Where Taxis Will Not Go

 

 

Photo Credit: Salihan


Ignore the Environmental Activists, Listen to the U.S. Army Corps on Pebble Mine

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, August 6th, 2020, 8:20 PM PERMALINK

Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine Project, one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits, is approaching the final stage of its permitting process. After recently receiving a positive environmental review from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project is anticipated to receive a final Record of Decision from the Trump Administration in the coming weeks.

ATR and a coalition of conservative organizations have consistently argued that Pebble Mine, like all other proposed projects, should be evaluated based upon a proper and well-established environmental review process. Its approval would decrease America’s reliance on foreign nations for critical minerals while creating thousands of new jobs in a community that needs them, now more than ever. 

Radical environmentalists bent on obstructing Pebble Mine’s permitting process have found no shortage of excuses to oppose the project, but the most commonly raised concern is the project’s alleged impact on the native salmon population.

This concern was rightly considered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Army Corps recently issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and directly contradicted claims that the mine posed a significant threat to the area’s salmon population. The final EIS concluded that “no long-term measurable changes in the number of returning salmon are expected, nor is genetic diversity expected to change.”

Pebble Mine cleared its final environmental review without issue. Any lingering claims from the environmental-left that the proposed mine poses a significant threat to salmon in the area are without merit, according to the Army Corps’ review. 

President Trump has rightly taken issue with the existing permitting process he inherited, a process that bogs down critical infrastructure and energy development projects with red tape. Last month, President Trump took action to speed up our nation’s permitting process by establishing time limits for an EIS to be conducted.

Pebble Mine is the poster-child of critical projects delayed by a broken permitting process. The Obama Administration went as far as issuing a preemptive veto to prevent the mine from even receiving a proper environmental review. Last year, the Trump Administration righted this wrong by withdrawing Obama’s preemptive veto, allowing the project to move through the standard review process.

President Trump can continue the restoration of a proper permitting process by ignoring the calls of environmental activists who oppose all development projects and instead allow for Pebble Mine’s final Record of Decision to be based upon the merits of the Army Corps’ review.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

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Podcast: Runaway Pensions, High Taxes, & Govt Employees Scamming Taxpayers

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Posted on Thursday, August 6th, 2020, 4:27 PM PERMALINK

Government employees get raises in the middle of a pandemic, some fraudulently claim unemployment. Just a sample of the challenges Connecticut faces. Yankee Institute’s Carol Platte Liebau joins the podcast to talk about fixing Connecticut and lessons for other states.

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