Kayla Shields

ATR Opposes Tonnage Tax

Posted by Kayla Shields on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013, 1:33 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent the following letter to Wisconsin legislators:

I write today in opposition to any new taxes as part of mining reform, including a proposed tonnage tax imposed on iron mining companies. Mining reform should be about streamlining and simplifying regulations in order to allow businesses to create jobs in Wisconsin. It should not be seen as a money grab to grow state government coffers. A tonnage tax will limit mining companies’ ability to contribute to Wisconsin’s economy, and should be rejected out of hand.

Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have made it clear that they do not support new taxes. Americans for Tax Reform applauds that stance. It is important to realize that Wisconsin’s economy does not exist in a vacuum. While the legislature and governor have partnered to take bold steps to modernize and grow the state’s economy, Wisconsin still competes with other states for jobs, commerce, population, and economic growth. The majority of states under Republican control – especially in the Midwest – are cutting taxes, streamlining regulations, and reducing the burden of government. It is imperative that Wisconsin lawmakers continue to take proactive steps to keep the state competitive. A new tax on mining is something the state simply cannot afford.

Perhaps the most dubious argument in favor of a tonnage tax is that it should be modeled after a tax levied in Minnesota. Mark Dayton’s Minnesota should not be the model for any economic policy. Minnesota’s tax increases will undoubtedly lead to more residents leaving the state – potentially to the benefit of Wisconsin, should the legislature stand with the governor and reject tax increases.

For those of you who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a new tonnage tax is a violation of that pledge.

I urge you to continue the hard work of streamlining mining regulations without raising taxes, which will lead to new jobs for Wisconsin residents. If you have any questions on this matter, please contact Wisconsin state affairs manager Josh Culling at jculling@atr.org.

Full Letter PDF here

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Governor Patrick Hits Small Businesses Hard With Proposed Budget

Posted by Kayla Shields on Friday, February 1st, 2013, 1:33 PM PERMALINK

Last week during his annual State of the Commonwealth Address, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick outlined to lawmakers the key points of his proposed $34.8 billion FY2014 budget. The common theme of burying Bay State residents with numerous tax increases radiated throughout the speech.

The tax hikes Gov. Patrick proposed in this year’s budget include increasing the individual income tax from its current rate of 5.25% to 6.25%. This proposed income tax hike would be the biggest increase Massachusetts residents have seen in twenty one years. Patrick’s budget also extends the nickel deposit on bottled beverages to include bottled water and sports drinks, and increases the state’s tax on cigarettes to $3.51 per pack. 

What Gov. Patrick fails to address in his speech is how his budget will raise taxes on the more than half a million small businesses in the Commonwealth that file their income taxes as individuals, significantly diminishing their job-creating capacity. The same small businesses that kept the struggling economy afloat during the recession would be rewarded with tax increases if the legislature enacts the Governor’s proposal.

ATR encourages Massachusetts legislators to reject Gov. Patrick’s efforts to bring Obama’s tax-and-spend policies, which have yielded economic contraction and rising unemployment nationally, to the Bay State.

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Kansas Bill Aims to Begin the State Income Tax Phase Out

Posted by Kayla Shields on Monday, January 28th, 2013, 12:54 PM PERMALINK

The Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation responded to the call by Governor Brownback in his State of the State Address to phase out the states income tax, with the filing of SB 78. Governor Brownback expressed in his address the need to reform the Sunflower states income tax rates in order to compete with neighboring states, especially Texas which has no state income tax. When speaking about his proposed plan, Governor Brownback stated, “What this is is a plan, a strategy that gets us to job growth,” also stating that reducing the states income tax will, “protect families.”

With the introduction of SB 78 on Friday, the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation took a major step forward in helping the Governor’s proposal become a reality. SB 78 dramatically reduces the state’s individual income tax. Over the next five years the bill proposes to reduce the individual income tax rates from where they are today at 3.5% for the bottom bracket and 6.45% for top earners to the rates of 1.9% and 3.5% respectively by 2017. In addition, SB 78 would consolidate Kansas’s three income tax brackets into two and eliminate the tangible property tax. The bill is currently scheduled for two days of hearings, which will begin on Tuesday, igniting the fight to lower the burden for the taxpayers of the state of Kansas.

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McCaskill 2nd Term Priorities: Higher Taxes at both the Federal & State Level

Posted by Kayla Shields on Monday, November 5th, 2012, 12:51 PM PERMALINK

Federal lawmakers are often hesitant to wade into state matters, but Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill voiced her support for Proposition B, which would increase the state excise tax on tobacco products sold in Missouri, taking the rate from 17 to 90 cents per pack, a whopping 429 percent increase.

It’s bad enough that McCaskill is calling for a tax increase on the majority of small business profits, but now cheerleading for a tax hike that will most negatively affect those who can afford it the least. Studies have shown that 41 percent of smokers in Missouri earn less than $15,000 a year. At a time when President Obama has raised the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 156 percent.

Furthermore, McCaskill has stated that, “We’ll be the cheapest cigarettes in the whole Midwest with the additional tax.” This is completely false as bordering states Kentucky and Tennessee will both have lower tobacco taxes at $0.60 and $0.62 respectively. As we have seen with tobacco tax hikes in other locales, they have the effect of pushing many residents to make their cigarette purchases in neighboring states. According to a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago, 75 percent of sampled cigarette packs found on the streets of the windy city, were purchased outside of the city whose state and local tobacco taxes totaled $4.05 at the time of the study. The out of state purchases cost the city roughly $120 million in revenue a year.

McCaskill and other proponents of the initiative contend that with the $0.73 increase the state is projected to bring in an additional $283 to $423 million in revenue, which will to go toward smoking cession programs, K-12 education and higher education programs. What lawmakers fail to understand is that history has shown that cigarettes are an uncertain source of revenue.  For example, New Jersey raised their state excise tax on cigarettes in 2006 by 17.5 cents per pack. In FY 2007 the state collected $52 million less revenue than projected. Maryland also raised their cigarette taxes in 2007 and 2008 by 100 percent hoping to increase state revenue. They only collected half of what they expected from the tax increase.

Americans for Tax Reform urges Missouri taxpayers to vote no on Proposition B. For a list of ATR’s recommendations for ballot measures in others states, click here.

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ATR Expresses Opposition to TAP in Alabama

Posted by Kayla Shields on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 1:30 PM PERMALINK

October 2, 2012

Hon. Robert J. Bentley, M.D.


600 Dexter Avenue  

Montgomery, AL 36130


Dear Governor Bentley:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our membership throughout the state of Alabama, I am writing to express strong opposition to the Department of Revenue's plan to implement a government owned and operated tax preparation service, known as TAP, effective October 20, 2012.

The government should never seek to compete with private sector employers who are providing excellent service. We therefore respectfully request that your office intervene and make every effort to reverse this ill-advised decision and restore Alabama's Free File program.

For years, approximately 27,000 Alabama taxpayers have had access to free, privately provided tax preparation services via the Alabama Free File program. This public-private partnership is available to thousands of Alabama residents for free ­ and costs the state nothing to operate. Until now, the Alabama government has never inappropriately sought to compete with the private sector.

ATR believes it makes no sense to replace a successful private sector service, which is available for free, with an unproven government-run program. This extremely misguided idea will not only grow Alabama’s tax-collecting bureaucracy, it will also add to the cost of running state government now and in the future.

We also believe that allowing state tax collectors to act as tax preparers under any circumstance would create a significant conflict of interest. Despite assurances to the contrary, we fundamentally do not believe that state tax collectors can, or will, fairly advise taxpayers how to legitimately reduce their tax bills when questions arise.

Times are tough. Alabama’s taxpayers cannot afford ­ and should not be asked ­ to fund the creation or operation of a costly new government program ­ especially one as unnecessary and harmful as this proposal.  I therefore respectfully request that you do everything in your power to block this initiative. Thank you for your attention to this matter.



Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

Full Letter PDF

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ATR Urges Georgia Legislature to Vote No on Bed Tax Extension

Posted by Kayla Shields on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, 12:39 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent the following letter to Georgia legislators

As the national economic recovery continues to sputter, most recently showcased by last week’s dismal jobs report, some in Georgia are calling for a tax increase on the state’s fastest growing industry. Extension of the hospital bed tax, passed in 2010 and set to expire in January, would kill jobs, dampen medical innovation and raise health care costs. It should be rejected. A vote in favor of extending the bed tax is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Voters made known their opposition to tax increases just six weeks ago when they soundly defeated the T-SPLOST at the polls. This is an affirmation of the public’s general distaste for higher taxes, and rightly so: Georgia’s tax code is currently uncompetitive with its neighbors. Tax reform that reduces the burden on families and small businesses is the correct approach.

The bed tax is especially onerous for two reasons. First, health care is a booming industry in Georgia. A recent study by Georgetown University found that health care jobs are set to grow at a higher rate than any other industry in the state this decade. Job growth is expected at a 38 percent rate, compared to 20 percent for all other industries. A tax hike during such a promising period of expansion in the industry would inhibit job creation just as Georgia is starting to move past the highest unemployment rate in its history, reached last year.

But the bed tax is not only a state issue. The reason it is so enticing to state lawmakers is that it allows state government to take advantage of the federal matching program for Medicaid. While hospitals in the state will be forced to cough up $216 million because of the tax increase, the heavily-indebted federal government will be on the hook for at least $200 million more. Fiscal conservatives should not be looking to Washington for more federal aid, especially when the national debt climbed above $16 trillion for the first time last week.

The hospital bed tax is bad policy for Georgia and bad for our country. I urge you to encourage job growth in your most promising industries, not hit those job creators with new or higher taxes. Make good on the promise you made when the bed tax was instituted as temporary – let it expire in January and continue your hard work to make Georgia an economically competitive destination for jobs, investment and growth.

Full Letter PDF

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ATR Releases 2012 List of State Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers for Massachusetts

Posted by Kayla Shields on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012, 4:19 PM PERMALINK

With the Massachusetts primary taking place Thursday, Americans for Tax Reform has released an updated list of incumbents and challengers for state legislative office in each of these states 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 strongly encourages taxpayers to consider those who have made this commitment when they vote on Thursday, September 6. The list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and will be on the ballot Thursday is as follows


Robert Hedlund (S-Plym. & Norf.)
Richard Ross (S-Norfolk, Bristol, & Middlesex)
Demetrius John Atsalis (H-2 Barnst.)
Fred “Jay” Barrows (H-1 Brist.)
Richard Bastien (H-2 Worc.)
Matthew Beaton (H-11 Worc.)
Nicholas Boldyga (H-3 Hampden)
Angelo D’Emilia (H-8 Plymouth)
Vinnie DeMacedo (H-1 Plym.)
Geoffrey Diehl (H-7 Plymouth)
Peter Durant (H-6 Worcester)
Ryan Fattman (H-18 Worc.)
Kim Ferguson (H-1 Worc.)
Paul K. Frost (H-7 Worc.)
Susan Williams Gifford (H-2 Plym.)
Sheila Harrington (H-1 Middlesex)
Brad Hill (H-4 Essex)
Steve Howitt (H-4 Bristol)
Donald Humason (H-4 Hamp.)
Randy Hunt (H-5 Barnstable)
Kevin Kuros (H-8 Worc.)
Steven Levy (H-4 Middlesex)
Marc Lombardo (H-22 Middlesex)
Jim Lyons (H-18 Essex)
James R. Miceli (H-19 Middlesex)
David Nangle (H-17 Middl.)
Shaunna O’Connell (H-3 Bristol)
Keiko Orrall (H-12 Lakeville)
Elizabeth A. Poirier (H-14 Brist.)
John H. Rogers (H-12 Norfolk)
George Ross (H-2 Bristol)
Todd Smola (H-1 Hamp.)
David Vieira (H-3 Barnstable)
Daniel Winslow (H-9 Norfolk)


Paul Adams (S-2 Essex/ Middlesex)
Dean Cavaretta (S-Middlesex/Worcester)
James J. Buba (S-First Middlesex)
Thomas Keyes (S-Plymouth/Barnstable)
Sandi Martinez (S-3 Middlesex)))
Justin Brooks (H-4Worcester)
Korey Welch (H-5 Plymouth)
Jason Petraitis (H-5 Worcester)
Gardy Jean-Francois (H-10 Essex)
Francis X. Stanton III (H-10 Middlesex)
James Stanton (H-12 Norfolk)
Paul Caruccio (H-19 Suffolk)


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ATR Releases 2012 List of State Pledge Signers in Pennsylvania

Posted by Kayla Shields on Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 4:39 PM PERMALINK

With Pennsylvania’s primary taking place tomorrow, Americans for Tax Reform has released an updated list of incumbents and challengers for state legislative office in the Keystone State, who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. These candidates have made a written commitment to their constituents to never raise their taxes. ATR strongly encourages taxpayers to consider those who have made this commitment when they vote on Tuesday, April 24. The list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and will be on the ballot tomorrow is as follows:

Stephen Barrar (H-60)
Kerry Benninghoff (H-171)
Stephen Bloom (H-1999)
Jim Cox (H-129)
George Dunbar (H-56)
Brian Ellis (H-11)
Joe Emrick (H-137)
Mark M. Gillen (H-128)
Ted Harhai (H-58)
Susan C. Helm (H-104)
Rob Kauffman (H-89)
Fred Keller (H-85)
Tim Krieger (H-57)
David M. Maloney (H-130)
Jim Marshall (H-14)
Daryl Metcalfe (H-12)
Gerald J. Mullery (H-119)
Joseph A. Petrarca (H-55)
Jeff Pyle (H-60)
Dave Reed (H-62)
Brad Roae (H-6)
Todd Rock (H-90)
Mario M. Scavello (H-176)
Justin Simmons (H-131)
RoseMarie Swanger (H-102)
Katherine McDowell Watson (H-144)

John First (S-15)
William Seeds Sr. (S-15)
Dan Huffman (S-23)
Brian Rich (S-29)
Timothy Houser (S-35)
Kathy Coder (H-16)
Randall Smith (H-64)
James Brown (H-66)
Theresa Kane (H-115)
Larry Padora (H-124)
Joseph Capozzola (H-137)


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