Americans for Tax Reform
Trump Budget Cuts IRS Funding by $239 Million
President Donald Trump's 2018 budget blueprint is out, and it wisely cuts IRS funding by $239 million.
The blueprint states:
“Diverting resources from antiquated operations that are still reliant on paper-based review in the era of electronic tax filing would achieve significant savings, a funding reduction of $239 million from the 2017 annualized level.”
Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist praised the cut: "President’s Trump’s first budget outline makes it clear. He is governing as Reagan did. Tax cuts. De-Regulation. Spending restraint and reduction. And this time he has a Reagan Republican House and Senate at his side—not Tip O’Neil and Howard Baker tossing marbles at his feet."
The IRS has failed to spend taxpayer resources wisely. IRS boss John Koskinen and other IRS officials have claimed the agency is underfunded. One even claimed that the agency was “struggling to keep the lights on.” But the facts say otherwise – the IRS has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted to wisely spend taxpayer dollars.
In fact, the IRS is unable to justify its spending decisions, according to a report by the independent National Taxpayer Advocate:
“the IRS has come under scrutiny by external oversight organizations who have questioned the IRS’s rationale for its budget decisions. They have not been satisfied with the IRS’s response to their inquiries.”
This has not stopped agency officials from complaining, or from making further poor spending decisions. The IRS has also been caught wasting over 500,000 hours, or $23.5 million a year on union activities, and gave 57 contracts worth a total of $18.8 million to corporations that had federal tax debt or a felony conviction.
The IRS also made the costly (and perhaps illegal) decision to hire a litigation-only white shoe law firm for over $1,000 an hour over an audit of Microsoft. As noted by Congressional investigators, the agency has 40,000 employees dedicated to enforcement efforts and access to the IRS office of Chief Counsel or a Department of Justice attorney for audits. Instead the agency chose to hire an expensive law firm for at least $2.2 million.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
ATR Supports President Trump’s Plan to Halt DOL Fiduciary Rule
Washington – ATR President Grover Norquist issued the following statement this week in support of President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to halt the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Fiduciary Rule and his instruction to DOL officials to pursue regulatory action to undo the rule:
“President Trump’s announcement this week that he will delay the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule and pursue regulatory action to undo the rule is a positive first step to protect low-and-middle income Americans, small businesses, and employees from increased retirement savings costs and reduced access to investment advice.
“The Fiduciary Rule put forth by the DOL under President Obama was set to take effect in April of this year. The rule would have greatly reduced the ability of financial advisors to give advice to IRA and 401(k) holders, essentially putting the federal government between Americans and their retirement savings decisions.
“Estimates show the Fiduciary Rule could have disqualified up to 7 million IRA holders from investment advice, and reduced the number of IRAs opened annually by between 300,000 and 400,000.
“I applaud President Trump’s leadership on this important issue and his willingness to work quickly to protect Americans and their retirement savings decisions. ATR looks forward to working with President Trump to undo this harmful and costly rule.”
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Vote Yes on New Jersey Public Question 2
Americans for Tax Reform Urges New Jersey Taxpayers to Vote Yes on Public Question 2
Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization founded in 1985 at the request of Ronald Reagan, announced today it is urging New Jersey voters to support Public Question 2, a ballot measure whose fate will be determined on November 8.
Public Question 2, if approved by voters, would dedicate all state gas tax revenue to the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund. Under current law only 10.5 cents of the 13.5 cent per gallon gas tax is dedicated to the transportation fund.
Diversion of gas tax revenue to non-transportation purposes is a problem in many states. Approval of Question 2 by New Jersey voters will implement a taxpayer safeguard ensuring that gas tax revenue goes toward building and maintaining roads, as opposed to being diverted to non-transportation purposes. Approval of Question 2 would also alleviate pressure to raise gas taxes in the future. Similar transportation funding safeguards are in place in both Maryland and Wisconsin.
“The legislation that abolished the state death tax, cuts the state sales tax and reduces income taxes on retired New Jersey voters as well as increasing the gas tax is overall a net tax cut over the next ten years. That is a victory for taxpayers,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“But another victory is that finally New Jersey taxpayers will be protected from politicians stealing from gas tax revenues and spending them on politics as usual. If New Jersey passed Public Question 2 that protects our gas tax monies from politicians looking to fund special interests. Limiting gas taxes to building roads and transportation projects is giant step in reducing corruption in New Jersey,” said Norquist.
Koskinen’s IRS: Meet the Shredder that Destroyed Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to defend himself against impeachment charges following his role in the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.
Koskinen was appointed to lead the IRS after promising to bring transparency and openness to the embattled agency. He has failed.
Lois Lerner’s hard drive met its end in the amoral maw of an AMERI-SHRED AMS-750 HD shredder, according to testimony submitted last year by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
In 2011, after an IRS-contracted Hewlett Packard technician serviced Lerner's laptop and determined the hard drive "more than likely crashed due to an impact of some sort," and after a different technician in the IRS Criminal Investigation Division noted there was “some scoring on the top platter of the drive,” the hard drive made its way to a recycling facility in Florida operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The testimony states:
“We determined by obtaining the certificate of destruction dated April 16, 2012, interviews with the facility manager, and a search of the facility, that this shipment of hard drives was destroyed using an AMERI-SHRED AMS-750HD shredder. TIGTA agents observed the shredder in operation and noted that the shredder cut the inserted hard drives into quarter-sized pieces, and according to the facility manager, those pieces are then sold for scrap.”
Video footage of the 7.5 horsepower, 2,700-lb. shredder in action can be found here:
Democratic Platform Calls for Carbon Tax
The 2016 Democratic Party platform endorses a carbon tax on the American people. The carbon tax language, added at the last minute, states:
“Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean economy and help meet out climate goals.”
The move by Democrats to impose a carbon tax comes in clear contrast to the 2016 Republican Party platform opposition to any carbon tax:
“We oppose any carbon tax.”
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, predicts the Democrat call for a carbon tax will have electoral consequences: “When counting to 270 – the number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency – the Republicans may have already won the election in five short words: ‘We oppose any carbon tax.’ Note the overlap between new fracking states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado – and the swing states to reach 270 for any candidate.”
Photo credit: Jim Hutchison
More from Americans for Tax Reform
ATR Statement on New Jersey Assembly-Passed Tax Reform Plan
Americans for Tax reform is pleased to endorse the tax reform package, A 12, passed by the New Jersey State Assembly on Tuesday.
The reform package is consistent with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge signed by pro-taxpayer legislators.
The tax reform package is not a tax hike; the increase in the gasoline tax of a maximum of 23 cents per gallon is combined with a rollback of the previous one percent sales tax hike such that the sales tax now at 7 percent would be reduced to 6.5 percent on January 1, 2017 and 6 percent on January 1, 2018.
The package also removes the state income tax on pension income over a four-year period for all income below $100,000. That phase in takes place in equal parts over four years.
Taxpayers would have been well served if the gas tax hike was also matched with reforms in the state's prevailing wage law.
The November ballot measure that would require that all gas tax revenue go only to transportation will further protect NJ taxpayers.
The statement can also be read here.
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Norquist: “Hillary is on the Wrong Side of History on the Gig Economy”
ATR President Grover Norquist was a guest on CNBC’s Squawk Box today. He pointed out Hillary Clinton’s threat to “crack down” – her words -- on independent contractors in the sharing economy.
“Hillary is on the wrong side of history on the gig economy, the sharing economy. She wants everyone in America to have a boss. And what Trump and the others who are advocating for the sharing economy and for Uber drivers and Lyft drivers and Airbnb and TaskRabbit -- all the various ways that people are choosing to organize their lives. It gives them more flexibility so they can work when they want to. Not everybody punches in 8:00 – 5:00. Not everybody wants to spend $1,000 of their income every year paying union dues to some guy who is supposed to be smarter and better than they are. They want to run their own lives and make their own deals. And that’s what Uber and companies like Uber have given to people.
And what Hillary has announced, she wants to take away with her ‘cracking down’ on independent contractors which makes Uber illegal. As they just tried to do in Austin. Watch Austin, that’s the opening shot by the Left against the sharing economy.”
Missouri HB 2203 Infringes on Free Speech Rights
Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to Missouri legislators regarding HB 2203:
"On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Missouri, I write today to urge you to reject HB 2203. As amended by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, this legislation will have a chilling effect on free speech by restricting the ability of charitable organizations, social welfare organizations, and individuals to engage in advocacy issues within and outside of the Show-Me State.
Under Sen. Schaefer’s bill, all 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) groups that are run by a candidate, a candidate’s spouse, or those who are employed by or have a contract with the candidate must disclose their donors even if they do not operate within the state. Campaign finance 'reformers,' like Sen. Schaefer, hide behind the notion that mandatory disclosure of donors to political causes is vital to transparency in the election process. While they may value transparency, they are undermining political plurality.
These same laws are used to intimidate and harass individuals for their political views. As a result, the amount of people choosing to exercise their rights in the name of political speech are bound to diminish, as businesspeople will have to choose between their wellbeing and their right to express themselves.
Sen. Schaefer’s effort to remove existing free speech protections by requiring all non-profits to disclose donors even if they do not operate within the state would erode the rights of your constituents and those that reside outside your state as well. The First Amendment is a sacred pillar of American exceptionalism that has only been curtailed in extreme circumstances. Even the United States Supreme Court has shown deference to this fundamental right. For example, in the 1958 Supreme Court case of NAACP v. Alabama the court put a stop to this type of arduous statutory restriction on free speech and free association. At the time, the Court’s decision to provide for 'immunity from state scrutiny' for organizations like the NAACP safeguarded an important protection on First Amendment rights by protecting members of organizations from intimidation and harassment. In the 2010 case, Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court further restored free-speech rights for non-profit organizations as well.
If enacted, this legislation will fly in the face of the Supreme Court precedent and erode centuries old constitutional rights. I urge you to stand up for the rights of your constituents and all Americans by voting no on this onerous legislation."
More from Americans for Tax Reform
ATR Releases List of 2016 Ohio State Pledge Signers
As today is the primary election in Ohio, Americans for Tax Reform has released an updated list of incumbents and challengers for the Ohio state legislative office who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. These candidates have made a written commitment to their constituents to oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes. ATR urges taxpayers to consider those who have made this commitment, as they vote today. Below is the list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Pledge:
- David Yost (State Auditor)
- Shannon Jones (S-7)
- Bob Peterson (S-17)
- Andrew Brenner (H-67)
- Thomas Brinkman Jr (H-27)
- Mike Dovilla (H-7)
- Anne Gonzales (H-19)
- Cheryl Grossman (H-23)
- David Hall (H-70)
- Bill Hayes (H-72)
- Ron Hood (H-78)
- Ron Maag (H-62)
- Jeff McClain (H-87)
- Kristina Roegner (H-37)
- Clifford Rosenberger (H-91)
- Marilyn Slaby (H-38)
- Andy Thompson (H-95)
- Ron Young (H-63)
- John Adams (S-12)
- Joseph Ebbing (S-4)
- Eric Gurr (S-4)
- Matt Huffman (S-12)
- Jeremiah York (S-4)
- Bill Dean (H-74)
- Ron Ferguson (H-96)
- Patricia Gacoyne-Telischak (H-15)
- Wesley Goodman (H-87)
- Candice Keller (H-53)
- Matt Lynch (H-76)
- Kevin Rettig (H-83)
More from Americans for Tax Reform
Norquist: Hillary’s Attack on Guns and Fracking Will Cost Her the Election
In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street today, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist made the case that Hillary Clinton’s attacks on guns and fracking will cause her to lose the general election.
“Whoever is the Republican nominee is up against Hillary Clinton who I think lost the election in the debate last night with two simple sentences:
The first was that under her new rules, fracking would exist almost nowhere because of the rules she wants to put in. Democrats used to be able to insult the energy industry because they lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Alaska – they don’t vote Democrat. But she declared war on Pennsylvania and Ohio with that statement. That’s not the way to win the election- that’s how you lose it.”
Norquist was referring to Clinton’s comment in Sunday’s Democrat debate where she said, "So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place."
“The other was her comment on guns. Hillary Clinton is old enough that she doesn’t know that since she got involved in politics, 13 million Americans now have active concealed carry permits -- five and a half percent of the adult population. She announced it was her idea to reduce the number of people who have gun. Not ‘bad people,’ she said last night ‘PEOPLE’ who have guns. There is a voting block of five percent of the electorate this did not exist 20 years ago.”
While Clinton has always been terrible on the gun issue, her anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment statement in Sunday’s debate was broad and sweeping: “I think we have to try everything that works to try to limit the numbers of people and the kinds of people who are given access to firearms.”
Americans for Tax Reform has pointed out Hillary’s support of a new national 25% sales tax on guns.
“The reason they’re important is that Hillary doesn’t understand that attacking the energy industry is no longer attacking a handful of Republican states. They’ve already lost West Virginia because of this and now they’re going to lose Pennsylvania and Ohio. You can’t win the presidency without Pennsylvania and Ohio and those states die if you take away fracking as she announced last night she was going to. You can’t declare war on five and a half percent of Americans who have concealed carry permits and expect to win an election. That’s a new voting group.”