ATR Applauds Efforts to Repeal Gov. Jerry Brown’s Gas Tax Hike

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017, 3:33 PM PERMALINK

At the start of this year, California had the 7th highest taxes and fees on gas in the U.S. Thanks to the gas tax increase championed by Gov. Jerry Brown that took effect on November 1st, it is estimated that California will have the nation’s 2nd highest gas tax by 2019, behind only Pennsylvania, with total state taxes and fees coming to 58.3 cents per gallon.

Proponents claim funds from the new tax hike will fund transportation needs, but the Golden State has a bad track record of diverting gas tax funds elsewhere. Despite already having some of the highest taxes and fees on gas in the nation, California has some of the worst and most congested roads in the country. A big reason for that is gas tax revenues get used for things other than building new roads and instead spend the money on non-transportation purposes. That can be expected to continue with the most recent gas tax hike.

Gov. Brown’s gas tax hike will cost California taxpayers $5 billion per year. That’s about $600 extra per year that the average family will shell out because of this tax. Fortunately, there may be a way for voters to undo this harmful tax hike. State Assemblyman Travis Allen is leading an initiative to repeal this latest gas tax hike. This requires 365,880 signatures to be gathered from registered voters in 180 days in order to qualify it for the ballot in November 2018.

Unfortunately, Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra are misleading California voters by drafting language for the measure that would appear on the ballot in a deceitful manner. The state constitution requires ballot initiative summaries to be drafted with neutral language. But Attorney General Becerra’s language is far from neutral and is outright misleading, in a shameless attempt to prevent the gas tax from meeting its potential demise at the hands of voters.

Becerra claims that the gas tax repeal initiative seeks to eliminate the Independent Office of Audits and Investigations, which is a blatant lie because that agency doesn’t exist. Becerra also falsely alleges in his ballot statement that the initiative would be taking away existing transportation funds, when in reality the initiative leaves the existing transportation funds alone. 

Becerra’s misleading statement has led Assemblyman Travis Allen to file a lawsuit against the Attorney General for his deceptive ballot statement, and to revert back to the initiative’s original, straightforward, and honest language.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, praises the Assemblyman Allen for his efforts in defense of taxpayers:

“Assemblyman Travis Allen should be applauded for his efforts to repeal this tax hike, which will siphon even more money from the pockets of California taxpayers, who already face one of the nation’s heaviest overall tax and regulatory burdens, and send it to the black hole for taxpayer dollars that is Sacramento.

This tax hike will disproportionately harm low and middle income households already facing steep tax bills. I commend Assemblyman Allen, Carl DeMaio, and others who are working to give voters a choice to repeal this latest Sacramento cash grab.

While Gov. Brown and national Democrats talk about taxing the rich, Jerry Brown’s gas tax hike is just the latest example of how the party of Pelosi, Schumer, Brown, Cuomo, and Malloy is pushing a policy agenda that harms middle and low income households. Now Attorney General Becerra is shamelessly lying to voters in order to prevent them from having a chance to repeal this tax hike. All in all a sad state of affairs in the Golden State.”

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Tax Reform Should Kill The Individual Mandate

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017, 3:24 PM PERMALINK

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a powerfully pro-growth bill that will bring much-needed tax relief to middle class Americans. The bill is jam-packed with provisions that will boost wages and turbocharge the economy. Almost all Americans will see a tax cut from this bill, with annual savings of approximately $1,200 a year.

The bill reduces the corporate tax rate to 20%, which studies show would boost wages by at least $4,000 in the long run. The bill also offers relief from the death tax, which is a boon to family businesses all across the country. The bill doubles the standard deduction from $6,000 to $12,000, allowing Americans to earn more tax-free income. One of the best achievements of the tax reform bill is that it repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate, one of the most regressive and harmful taxes in American history.

Under current law, individuals are legally required to purchase health insurance, whether through an employer or through Obamacare’s failing insurance marketplaces. If an individual cannot afford to buy health insurance because of Obamacare’s artificially high costs, he will have to pay the individual mandate tax.

In order to avoid paying the tax, an individual must submit proof of insurance when he files his federal tax returns. The penalty for not having health insurance in 2017 is $695 per adult or 2.5% of household income, whichever is higher. The penalty for a family of four is $2,085. Without this enormous burden, families could use that extra $2k a year to buy gas, groceries, or other necessities. This repeal would mean a lot to them.

IRS data from 2015 reveals some shocking statistics about who actually shoulders the burden of the individual mandate tax. In tax year 2015, 6,665,480 households paid a total of $3,079,255,000 in individual mandate tax penalties. 79% of those households have a yearly income of less than $50,000. 37% of those households have a yearly income of less than $25,000.

The fact that nearly 40% of the burden of the individual mandate tax falls on those making less than $25,000 obliterates the argument that Obamacare allows all Americans to access affordable health care.

Contrary to popular belief, repealing the individual mandate would not cause 23 million Americans to lose health insurance. This is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts by Democrats and the mainstream media. Repealing the individual mandate would allow those 23 million individuals to choose whether or not they want to buy health insurance.

The bill also does not repeal the Obamacare premium tax credit. All it does is repeal the individual mandate, which is a tax on individuals, not health insurance plans. The individual mandate simply allows the government to keep a failing health care law on life support by stealing money from low-income Americans.

The Senate should be commended for including the individual mandate repeal in its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This is one of many tax cuts for middle and low income individuals in the Republican tax plan. As conferees from both chambers of Congress get together to iron out the differences between the House and Senate bills, they should include the individual mandate repeal in the final text. Repealing the individual mandate would be the best Christmas gift the middle class could ever ask for.

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FATCA Repeal Cuts Taxes and Reduces Compliance Costs


Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, December 11th, 2017, 2:09 PM PERMALINK

Repeal of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) reduces taxes by approximately $150 million per year AND reduces compliance costs by $200 million per year, according to estimates by William Byrnes of Texas A&M University School of Law.

This means that repeal of FATCA simultaneously offers relief to taxpayers and saves the government money by reducing outlays and reducing revenues.

FATCA was signed into law in 2010 with the goal of stopping tax evaders that were using offshore bank accounts. However, it was designed as a blunt instrument that targets any American with a bank account overseas. Most who are forced to comply are expatriate Americans who have, little if any U.S. presence. 

As a result, compliance costs far outstrip any effectiveness in curbing tax evasion. American citizens overseas have become locked out of financial institutions including banks, stockbrokers, hedge funds, and insurance. Often, it is easier for these businesses to deny US citizens service.

Under FATCA, any overseas account held by U.S. citizens must be reported to the IRS. This means that millions of Americans must give up personal information and comply with burdensome IRS regulations and reporting requirements. The law requires financial institutions to collect and disclose this information. If they fail to do so, the IRS can impose a 30 percent withholding penalty on an institution’s U.S. investments.

FATCA also requires American citizens to comply with tax filing forms if they have assets overseas that meet or exceed $50,000. For overseas Americans, this means they must comply with the tax compliance laws in their country of residence in addition to IRS laws.

Given that this law increases taxes and increases compliance costs for the government, it should be repealed. Doing so will offer relief to millions of Americans living overseas and reduce the size and scope of the IRS.

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Conservatives Support a 20% Corporate Rate


Posted by ATR on Friday, December 8th, 2017, 12:06 PM PERMALINK

In an open letter, 26 conservative groups urged the conference committee to support a tax cut bill with a 20% corporate rate. As the letter notes, a 20% corporate tax rate will spur American competitiveness, increase wages and deliver the relief middle-class taxpayers deserve.

The full text of the letter can be found here and is below: 

 

Conservative Groups to Conferees on Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Reduce Corporate Income Tax Rate to 20 Percent

December 8, 2017

Dear Conferee,

The central pro-growth provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is reducing the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. It is a primary reason for our enthusiastic support of tax reform. The United States currently has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world - dropping that rate to 20 percent will spur American competitiveness, increase wages and deliver the relief middle-class taxpayers deserve.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a tax cut bill with this exact rate cut. The U.S. Senate passed a tax cut bill with this exact rate cut. We strongly urge the conference committee to report a tax cut bill with this exact rate cut. We are confident that it will, and we write to encourage you in your good work.

Sincerely,

National Taxpayers Union

Americans for Tax Reform

FreedomWorks

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE)

Center for Individual Freedom

Americans for Prosperity

Freedom Partners

Generation Opportunity

The LIBRE Initiative

60 Plus Association

American Commitment

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

Independent Women’s Voice

Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund

Center for Worker Freedom

Digital Liberty

Property Rights Alliance

American Conservative Union

American Conservative Union Foundation

Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC)

Club for Growth

ALEC Action

 

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SCOTUS: Americans for Tax Reform Fights Against Overreaching State Taxes

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Posted by Jonathan Cannon on Friday, December 8th, 2017, 9:25 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax reform submitted an Amicus Brief to the United States Supreme Court in the case South Dakota v. Wayfair asking the court to deny South Dakota’s petition and affirm the holding of the South Dakota Supreme Court, holding the law unconstitutional.

The case involves a South Dakota law that compels out of state businesses to act as tax collectors on products sold into the state, making the out-of-state business subject to regulations, court proceedings and tax liens in a state where it has no recourse at the ballot box - effectively regulation without representation.

The Supreme Court has already established a firm precedent preventing states from taxing out-of-state retailers that dates back to the 60’s. South Dakota is aware of the precedent and drafted the law hoping to antagonize the Supreme Court into overturning half a century of precedent.

In our brief we explore the legal history of the argument, and raise some strong public policy concerns if the South Dakota law is upheld.  There would be a detrimental impact on small businesses, who as a result of this decision, could be forced to follow over 10,000 different tax codes, in order to meet state, local, and municipal tax codes.

Finally, it is not the Court’s role to legislate Commerce Clause policy, which is best left up to Congress.

We have urged the Court to deny South Dakota’s petition challenging the South Dakota Supreme Court’s decision, and will be following the case closely.

The brief can be found here

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A 20 percent Corporate Tax Rate Is Key for More Jobs and Higher Wages


Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, December 7th, 2017, 4:30 PM PERMALINK

Both the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces the uncompetitive 35 percent federal corporate tax rate to 20 percent – putting the U.S. in line with the corporate rates of the rest of the world.

Given this consensus, tax writers should ensure that the rate in the final tax reform bill is no higher than 20 percent. This competitive rate is key to stronger economic growth, higher wages, and more jobs.

A 20 percent corporate rate will mean more take-home pay for families across the country. As noted in a study released by the Council of Economic Advisors, a 20 percent corporate rate could result in household wages increasing by between $4,000 and $9,000.

A 20 percent corporate rate will create more jobs. In the increasingly global economy, it is clear that workers are more vulnerable to the high U.S. corporate rate. A high corporate tax rate means that capital will be relocated in a more productive way (i.e. to a country with a lower corporate tax rate). In other words, U.S. capital is mobile, while U.S. workers are not. According to research by the Tax Foundation, a 20 percent corporate rate will create almost 600,000 full time jobs.

A 20 percent corporate rate will make America globally competitive. The average rate in the developed world is around 25 percent, while the European rate is just 18 percent. When accounting for state corporate taxes, which average 4 percent across the country, a 20 percent rate would ensure the U.S. rate is in line with foreign competitors. Since 2000, 32 of the 35 developed countries have reduced their corporate rates. The U.S. is only one of two countries with a higher rate than in 1988.

A 20 percent corporate rate will end inversions and foreign acquisitions. The high rate has also resulted in close to 50 American businesses leaving the country through inversions in the past decade, according to data compiled by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.

In addition, the high U.S. rate has made American innovation vulnerable to foreign acquisitions. According to a study commissioned by the Business Roundtable, the U.S. business climate is so uncompetitive that American companies have suffered a net loss of almost $510 billion in assets since 2004. The study estimates that a 20 percent corporate rate would have resulted in U.S. companies acquiring $1.2 trillion worth of assets over that same period, meaning that more than $1.7 trillion in assets were lost because of the uncompetitive U.S. rate.

Increasing the 20 percent corporate rate now will mean future increases in the corporate rate. In 1986, President Reagan reduced the top marginal income tax rate from 50 percent down to 28 percent. President George H.W. Bush increased this tax in 1990 to 31 percent, in the process breaking his promise to the American people that he would not raise taxes. Since then, President Clinton and President Obama have signed into law rate increases. Today, the top rate sits at 39.6 percent.

 

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ATR Releases Letter to Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Conferees


Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, December 7th, 2017, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Members of the House and Senate will soon begin a conference committee to resolve differences in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

[ATR's Policy recommendations can be found here]

​While there are minor differences between the Senate and House passed bills, both proposals are strongly pro-growth and pro-family. Where differences remain, the conference committee should be an opportunity to make the bill more pro-growth and ensure strong tax relief for American families, individuals, and businesses. 

While there are ways both pieces of legislation could be improved, both bills are infinitely better than the status quo. It is imperative that conferees swiftly reconcile differences between the two bills and send it to the House and Senate to ensure tax reform is signed into law in 2017. 

As lawmakers progress through the conference committee, ATR urges confeerees to keep the following policy priorities in mind:

  • Ensure tax reduction for Americans of every income level while simplifying the code
  • Repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate tax penalty
  • Tax Reduction for Businesses including a permanent 20 percent corporate rate
  • Pro-Growth Cost Recovery including 100 percent expensing and reasonable limitations on deductibility of interest
  • Repeal of the death tax
  • An internationally competitive territorial system with appropriate base erosion rules
          

[The full document can be found here]

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ATR and CWF Support Multiemployer Pension Plan Reform


Posted by Olivia Grady on Tuesday, December 5th, 2017, 5:06 PM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) released a letter to Congress, urging members to reform multiemployer pension plans.

[The letter can be found here]

As the letter says, there are 100 multiemployer pension plans that will likely become insolvent if Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MEPRA) benefits are not reduced. Insolvent pension plans would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy. In order to avoid this, ATR and CWF urge members of Congress to consider long-term federal government loans at a low interest to the troubled pension plans. Supporting this proposal would not break the members’ Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

The full letter is below:

Dear Member of Congress:

We write to urge Congress to reform multiemployer pension plans because of the negative impact insolvent pension plans would have on the U.S. economy, the federal government, and all Americans.

Currently, there are 100 multiemployer pension plans that will likely become insolvent if Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MEPRA) benefits are not reduced, according to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Insolvency of these plans would require the PBGC to loan about $60 billion to pay for the guaranteed benefits of 1 million workers and possibly lead to the insolvency of the PBGC itself in 2026. Because of these problems, saving these plans in the future would likely require $600 billion, according to the Heritage Foundation, to pay future claims for the insolvent plans.

One viable solution to this problem is for the federal government to provide long-term loans at a low interest to troubled pension plans. These loans would cover the cash flow shortage of the plans for five years. In addition, the pension plan benefits could be reduced up to 20 percent.

After five years, the pension plans would repay their loans, paying only the interest for the first five years. However, to ensure the loans would be repaid, a Risk Reserve Pool would be established with non-government funds.

Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Worker Freedom support this proposal because it addresses the problem of insolvent pension plans without providing a government bailout. Long term, policy should increasingly favor defined contribution plans and move away from defined benefit plans, whose profound problems continue to accumulate throughout our economy.

While it is unusual for ATR and CWF to support a solution that continues government loans, when combined with benefit cuts this approach has the potential to stop the bailout that could be triggered by the guarantee already established by law. Supporting this proposal does not break your Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Olivia Grady
Center for Worker Freedom

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Grover Norquist Statement on Utah National Monuments Orders

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, December 4th, 2017, 5:17 PM PERMALINK

At an event in Salt Lake City, President Trump announced a significant scaling back of two national monuments established by President Obama in December of 2016 and President Clinton in 1996. The Bears Ears National Monument was scaled back by 85 percent and Grand-Staircase Escalante by 46 percent, for nearly 2 million acres in total. This important reining in of the designations is a win for public land use and the original intent of the Antiquities Act. 

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist had this to say:

"President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke should be applauded for working to correct past executive overreach by Presidents Obama and Clinton. This is a fight about the use and enjoyment of public lands by the public. The reality is that American outdoorsmen and women have a vested interest in conservation. Compare them to the federal government, which is a frequent abuser of America’s natural beauty, whether it’s polluting the San Juan River in Colorado or extorting the organizers of Burning Man for unnecessary fees in the desert of Nevada.

The Trump and Zinke effort to rein in the abuse of the Antiquities Act is extremely important in the fight against radical special interests and bureaucrats. From Presidents Kennedy to Coolidge, Wilson, and Eisenhower, Presidents have scaled back federal monuments 18 times in the past. This is a great first step in the march towards restoring property and land use rights of the West."


At the time of the Obama designation of Bears Ears, Utah Senator Mike Lee called the move "an arrogant act of a lame duck president," now noting of Trump that he's "grateful that [Trump] is willing to correct it." The two monuments were under review, based on an Executive Order issued by President Trump early this year. 

"No one values the splendor of Utah more than the people of Utah – and no one knows better how to use it. Families will hike and hunt on land they have known for generations, and they will preserve it for generations to come.” said President Trump. “The Antiquities Act does not give the Federal Government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice. Public lands will once again be for public use."

Photo Credit: Secretary Zinke on Twitter

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Norquist Statement Praising Senate Passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017, 1:52 AM PERMALINK

Following Senate passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, ATR President Grover Norquist released the following statement:

“The swamp mocked the idea that Republicans could enact sweeping tax reform in the first 12 months of the Trump presidency.  It was too much. Too big a hill to climb. Everyone else had failed.  Couldn’t be done.

“But it is happening. Tax Reform has now passed the House and Senate and after conference will soon be signed by President Trump.

“This is big.  A bigger deal than Obamacare. Big job creation. Big middle class tax cuts. Big changes in an outdated tax code. 

“They said it couldn’t be done.  It is happening now. It will change the world.”
 

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