Natalie De Vincenzi

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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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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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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Norquist: Don't Hike the Capital Gains Tax

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Thursday, June 30th, 2016, 11:10 AM PERMALINK

Writing for the Huffington Post, ATR President Grover Norquist denounced efforts to hike the capital gains tax in any tax reform plan.

Instead, the capital gains tax ought to be reduced or repealed. It taxes income that has already been taxed when it was earned so it has the effect of discouraging investment and economic growth. 

As Norquist points out, big government liberals have tried to raise the capital gains tax again and again and again. He notes: 

“Their long-term policy goal is higher taxes, with ALL capital gains taxed as ordinary income, and for that rate to be very high. Sometimes they deride the capital gains tax as a “loophole” that needs to be closed. Other times they see raising it in increments as the best way to achieve their long-term policy goal of higher taxes. Regardless of the proposal, the end game is the same.”

President Obama has twice-raised the capital gains tax. He initially raised it by 5 percent, raising the rate from 15 to 20 percent, and then through an additional 3.8 percent Obamacare “surtax”. A Clinton presidency would continue this work, as Norquist warns:

“Hillary Clinton would only perpetuate Obama’s misguided effort. Already she has called for a byzantine capital gains tax with six brackets for those whose taxable income puts them in the 39.6 percent bracket.”

Raising the capital gains tax would be a huge mistake. It should be common-sense to end this double taxation.

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Democrats Raise Concerns Over Obama Debt Equity Regulations

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Monday, June 27th, 2016, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, House Democrats expressed concern with the administration’s proposed “Debt-Equity” regulations. They now join Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and former treasury officials in sounding the alarm over these regulations.

The regulations, proposed under section 385 of the tax code were sold as a way to stop inversions, however they may actually make the issue worse. They require businesses to disclose extensive information and give the government the authority to reclassify debt as equity for federal tax purposes. Because they are so broad, 385 regulations will likely foster business uncertainty, leading to a chilling effect on investment.

Businesses are already struggling to compete against foreign competitors. As a report by Ernst & Young notes American businesses are vulnerable to acquisitions because our code is far more burdensome that our competitors. Proposing complex new regulations will only make make it even more difficult for American businesses to compete.

The U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world at a steep 39.1%, much higher than the global average of 25%. The U.S. rate is two to three times higher than its direct competitors, like Canada (26.3 percent), the U.K. (20 percent), and Ireland (12.5 percent).

Additionally, the U.S. is only one of six OECD countries that utilizes a worldwide system of taxation. American businesses overseas are required to pay taxes in the country it earned the income in and then pay U.S. taxes on the remaining income, essentially double-taxing American businesses.  This system of double taxation puts American businesses at an immense disadvantage, as they are competing with businesses who utilize the more modern territorial system of taxation. Ultimately, the costs of the worldwide system of taxation are passed onto employees, as much as 75 percent of the costs can be passed onto workers.  

Instead of imposing countless new regulations, the U.S. should directly address our competitiveness problem through tax reform. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the House GOP recently released a blueprint on tax reform that would reduce the U.S. corporate rate to 20 percent, which is lower than the global average, and create a territorial system of taxation. If passed into law, these two solutions will halt inversions and ensure our businesses can again compete in the global economy. 

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ATR Applauds House Republicans’ Tax Blueprint

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi, Alexander Hendrie on Friday, June 24th, 2016, 10:19 AM PERMALINK

ATR together with 18 free market organizations today applauded the House Tax Reform Working Group blueprint.

Standing at 74,000 pages, the U.S. tax code is too complex. Americans waste billions of hours and dollars trying to comply with the tax puzzle and the U.S. faces a serious global disadvantage with the nation’s high corporate tax rate. Tax reform is necessary to make American lives easier and to reestablish America’s global competitiveness.

The full letter is here and below.

Dear Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write to applaud the efforts of the House Tax Reform Working Group. The Blueprint you have released today outlines a thoughtful approach to tax reform that would greatly benefit the individuals, families, and businesses that are hampered by a broken tax code.

Tax reform was last passed three decades ago and our code is woefully uncompetitive, overly complex, and out of date. It urgently needs to be fixed, and the working group’s Blueprint ensures this issue remains center stage. Unfortunately, the current President has proven unwilling to seriously address the issue of our uncompetitive and unfair tax code, instead deriding the pressing need to update it as a “race to the bottom.” Given the urgency of this problem, we believe it is vital that pro-growth tax reform is passed within the first hundred days of the next Congress.

While tax reform touches many issues by necessity, it is crucial that any new code prioritizes competitiveness, simplicity, and growth.

Simplify the Tax Code The tax code is more than 74,000 pages long and Americans spend over 6.1 billion hours complying with it each year, resulting in an annual economic loss of $234.4 billion. The reality is, it is difficult or impossible for American families to properly comply with the tax code. Your Blueprint takes significant, important steps toward simplicity and fairness by consolidating seven individual income tax rates into three, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, and completely killing the death tax, which has destroyed over $1.1 trillion of capital in the U.S. economy. Additionally, it streamlines individual deductions and exclusions and consolidates numerous, overlapping tax benefits for higher education. All of these changes would help reduce the monstrous tax code to a more manageable size and decrease the amount of confusion and frustration that Americans face every year when they file their taxes.

Reducing Rates to Address America’s Competitiveness Problem. Under our current system, American businesses simply cannot compete with the rest of the world. We have business taxes far higher than the rest of the developed world with a statutory corporate rate exceeding 39 percent, more than 14 points higher than the developed average. Other countries are taking advantage of our inaction as they aggressively lower their tax rates to lure American jobs and businesses to their soil. Your Blueprint reduces the corporate tax rate to 20 percent – a change that would act as a powerful economic stimulus by encouraging domestic businesses to grow and foreign businesses to relocate

to the U.S. Further, it would reduce the top rate on pass-through entities, many of which are small businesses, to 25 percent.

Tax reform must encourage economic growth, jobs and innovation. For years, growth has remained stagnant, as new jobs have failed to materialize and wages remain unchanged. Just 38,000 jobs were added in May and labor force participation has continued to drop. Congress can reverse this trend with the type of pro-growth tax reform outlined in your Blueprint. In addition to reducing rates, your plan would provide full expensing for businesses – a change that would incentivize capital investment and lead to significant economic expansion. Additionally, it would transition from a worldwide tax system to a territorial system, thereby aligning our code with much of the industrialized world and, more importantly, allowing companies to reinvest foreign earnings back into our domestic economy. Also, under your plan, the top tax rate on long term capital gains and qualified dividends is cut from 23.8 percent today to 16.5 percent, a powerful pro-growth reform.

We applaud the work of the Tax Reform Working Group and your efforts to keep this important issue at center stage. It has been far too long since Congress last passed tax reform and it is imperative that businesses and families receive relief soon. We understand that there are many details of the plan to be worked out and we look forward to participating in these discussions and working with you to enact pro-growth tax reform in the coming months and years.

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Neil Bradley
Chief Strategy Officer, Conservative Reform Network

Jim Martin
Chairman, 60 Plus Association

Tom Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Christine Harbin
Director of Federal Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Americans for Prosperity

Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment 

Paul Gessing
President, Rio Grande Foundation 

Andrew Moylan
Executive Director, R Street Institute

Darcie L. Johnston
Founder, Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom

Brian McClung
Chair, Minnesota Center-Right Coalition

Charlie Gerow
CEO, Quantum Communications (Wisconsin)

Chuck Muth
President, Citizen Outreach

Brett Healy
President, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy (Wisconsin)

Chip Faulkner
Associate Director, Citizens for Limited Taxation (Massachusetts)

Dan Weber
President, Association of Mature American Citizens  

Penny Nance
CEO& President, Concerned Women for America LAC

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Conservatives Oppose Big Labor's "Take on Wall Street" Campaign

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi, Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, June 23rd, 2016, 2:00 PM PERMALINK

Today, ATR and more than 20 other conservative organizations have voiced opposition to Big Labor’s campaign “Take on Wall Street”.

Big Labor’s campaign is radical and out of touch.  Through tax hikes and increased government involvement, the five-part campaign will restrict the ability of Americans to access important investment and retirement advice to the benefit of big labor interests.

The full letter can be found here and is below:  

As organizations representing taxpayers, Tea Party activists, limited government conservatives, libertarians, and Americans across all 50 states, we write in opposition to the radical agenda proposed by Big Labor's latest campaign, "Take on Wall Street."

This campaign is a thinly-veiled attempt to push a radical liberal agenda on the electorate under the flimsy guise of fighting monied interests on Wall Street. Nothing could be further from the truth – this plan is really about restricting the ability of Americans to access important investment and retirement advice to the benefit of big labor interests.

Their agenda is a five-point recipe for financial ruin. It includes:

Forcing the most disadvantaged to bank with the United States Post Office (USPS). Many low income Americans don’t have access to banking services and decide to borrow from check cashing and payday loan businesses in their communities. Rather than promote time-tested, conventional banking options for the poor, Big Labor is pushing the ridiculous idea that the USPS should take on banking services for low income Americans. They want to have the government shut down private business and instead direct the poor to the local post office for banking needs. They even want them to be able to receive car loans at the post office. One Obamacare is quite enough--we don't need Obamacare for banks, too. If there's one thing most Americans know, it's that the USPS is the last place you'd want to keep your money. Yet that's exactly what Big Labor wants low income Americans.

Raising capital gains taxes. The ultimate goal of the Left is to tax all capital gains as ordinary income. They are content to do this one piece at a time. Their first target is taxing carried interest capital gains at higher rates. This would hurt pension funds, charities, and colleges that depend on these investment partnerships as part of their savings goals. It would also hurt small businesses who would find themselves increasingly shut out from investment money available to them from these partnerships.

Creating a financial transaction tax. Big Labor also wants to create a brand new kind of tax that does not exist today. Sometimes known as a "Tobin tax," a financial transaction tax would put a levy on every single financial transaction done every day. This would even include simple actions like investing in an IRA or saving for a child's college in a 529 plan.

Allowing the government to rip apart banks. "Breaking up the big banks" is a rallying cry of socialist Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and at Big Labor conventions, but it makes no sense in the real world. A better solution would be ending “Too big to fail” and allow the free market, not big government to decide whether a business is too big or too small. Government's job is to fairly enforce basic laws and generally get out of the way of the market.

Imposing a tax hike "wage control" on CEOs. The government should not be allowed to tell businesses how much they can pay their employees, but that’s exactly what Big Labor wants to do by limiting the tax deductibility of CEO compensation. This was tried in the 1993 Clinton tax hike and resulted in an explosion in stock options, something Big Labor now also laments. The simple fact is it's not the government's job to say how much is too much to pay talent--that's the job of shareholders.

This five-point plan is completely divorced from reality. It is radical, out of touch, and would take our nation in the wrong direction.

Sincerely,

Jim Martin
Chairman, 60 Plus Association

Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Kevin Waterman
Chairman, Annapolis Center-Right Coalition

Justin Owen
President and CEO, Beacon Center (Tennessee)

Andrew F. Quinlan
President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Matt Patterson
Executive Director, Center for Worker Freedom

Chuck Muth
President, Citizen Outreach (Nevada)

Neil Bradley
Chief Strategy Officer, Conservative Reform Network

Tom Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

George Landrith
President, Frontiers of Freedom

Sal J. Nuzzo
Vice President of Policy, The James Madison Institute (Florida)

Lisa B. Nelson
CEO, Jeffersonian Project

Brett Healy
President, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy (Wisconsin)

Seton Motley
President, Less Government

Kyle S. Hauptman
Executive Director, Main Street Growth

Dee Hodges
President, Maryland Taxpayers Association (MD)

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

Honorable Jeff Kropf (Ret)
Representative, Oregon U.S. House of Representatives
Executive Director, Oregon Capitol Watch

Paul Gessing
President, Rio Grande Foundation (New Mexico)

David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Darcie Johnston
Founder, Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom

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Like-Kind Exchanges are a Model for All Capital Gains

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie, Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 10:54 AM PERMALINK

Like-kind exchanges, a provision existing under section 1031 of the tax code allows an investor to defer paying capital gains taxes on certain assets when they use those earnings to invest in another, similar asset. This can be done again and again until the investor ultimately cashes out and protects against a needless lock out effect that would discourage investment.

In the perfect world, income from capital gains would not be taxed at all.  The 23.8 percent tax hits income that has already been subjected to income taxes and is then reinvested to help create jobs, grow wages, and increase economic growth. This double taxation makes no sense from the perspective of encouraging investment and stronger growth.

The importance of like-kind exchanges led to 19 Members of Congress writing to urge the preservation of section 1031 like-kind exchanges in a letter to ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). 

In the absence of full repeal of the capital gains tax, Section 1031 is both vital and commonsense from an economic perspective. Because there is a continuity of investment from any 1031 eligible transaction, there is no reason to arbitrarily punish reallocation of resources. If anything, this provision should be expanded so all capital gains are treated the same as like-kind exchanges.

In fact, repealing this provision would have a damaging impact on our economy, resulting in lower investment and less incomes as proven by a study by Ernst and Young. If used to finance more government spending, repeal of section 1031 would cost the U.S. economy $13.1 billion in lost GDP year after year. Using like-kind exchanges as an offset for tax reform would be only marginally better, reducing annual GDP loss over the long term by $8.1 billion. This GDP loss would also result in investment falling by $7 billion every year and reduce labor income by an estimated $1.4 billion.

Because repeal would subject many business to higher taxes, it would reduce capital stock, labor productivity, and output. These factors would consequently result in longer holding periods and slow or restrict the transfer of capital within our economy because businesses would become arbitrarily discouraged from making investment decisions due to the tax consequences.

Until we abolish the capital gains tax within businesses, lawmakers should keep section 1031 because it reminds us of how moving in the right direction creates jobs, increases national income and wealth. It also serves as a good example. We should expand and enlarge, not repeal this provision. 

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Economy Task Force Calls for Financial Free Market Solutions

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Thursday, June 16th, 2016, 10:27 AM PERMALINK

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Republicans this week released their third policy blueprint. The proposal calls for overhauling the regulatory system and lays out a number of financial solutions to help all Americans better obtain financial independence. Over the past seven years, unelected bureaucrats have run rampant over, making unilateral decisions over products and services one better left up to consumers and investors.

Speaker Ryan blueprints many problems, and also proposes commonsense, conservative solutions to halt the Obama takeover of basic financial services. Most importantly, these solutions all ensure that decision-making power is placed back with American families and small businesses.

Obamacare for your retirement

The Department of Labor recently released the “fiduciary rule,” a regulation that will clamp down on the financial advice available to 401(k) and IRA users. The 1000+ page rule creates a “best interest” standard that is so broad and lack clarity that they are open to wide interpretation. Some economists have even warned the standard is an “open-ended obligation with seemingly no bounds.” This rule is projected to leave up to 7 million IRA holders being unable to receive investment advice, and 300,000 to 400,000 fewer IRAs being opened yearly.

To address the fiduciary rule, the blueprint calls for securing American’s retirement and investment choices, as well as censuring the DoL’s fiduciary rule and to directing the SEC to regulate this area as it is required to under federal law. These measures will put American families and small businesses back in charge of making their retirement decisions and reel in Obama’s executive overreach.

Lack of consumer choice

The Dodd-Frank Act has eliminated consumer choice and empowered regulators broad authority to control consumer behavior. Since the passage of the legislation, the number of banks offering free checking has dropped from 75 to 39 percent. Additionally, the law created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has the authority to outlaw a product or service if the director finds it “unfair” or “abusive”.

The proposal recommends reforming the CFBP in three ways. First, turn the CFPB into a five member, bipartisan stand-alone agency. Second, create and institute an Inspector General for the CFBP. Third, bring transparency and accountability to the CFBP by creating a budget and restoring congressional oversight, so that money is not squandered by this unregulated agency. These are important reforms to restore consumer choice and not allow the Obama administration to inefficiently and unfairly act.

Credit unions and small banks are being phased out

Dodd-Frank has also squeezed credit unions and brought on roughly $2.8 billion in regulatory compliance costs. Inevitably, these costs are passed onto the consumer through higher prices or diminished credit availability. Today, credit unions are forced to dedicate one in every four employees to comply with mind-numbing regulations.

To stop banks and credit unions from being squeezed out, the GOP blueprint proposes providing immediate relief to the community banks and credit unions. It suggests enabling regulators to tailor regulations to align with the size and business model of a bank or credit union and raising the consolidated assets threshold to allow more small banks to access capital for new loan products and making loans. Both of these solutions will help small businesses regain control from the dictatorial regulations and executive overreach. 

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ATR Supports H.R. 3590, the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016, 11:10 AM PERMALINK

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, has expressed support for H.R. 3590, the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act. This piece of legislation seeks to reform the coming 2017 Obamacare tax hike on out of pocket medical expenses. 

Read the full letter below or here

June 14, 2016

 

The Honorable Martha McSally

United States House of Representatives

1029 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Congresswoman McSally,

I write in support of H.R. 3590, the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act, legislation to stop Obamacare’s 2017 tax increases on out of pocket medical expenses and provide tax relief to Americans. 

Seniors and the middle class bear the brunt of Obamacare’s tax increases. Prior to passage of Obamacare, Americans could deduct out of pocket medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted annual income.  10.2 million families used this tax provision in 2012 with an average of under $8,500 in medical expenses claimed. More than half of the families that used this provision made less than $50,000 per year.

Thanks to Obamacare, this threshold increased to 10 percent for most families, and on January 1, 2017 it will also increase for seniors. This tax hike represents President Obama once again violating his “firm pledge” against “any form of tax increase” on any American earning less than $250,000.

Typically, the elderly have the costliest medical expenses and require greater medical care. In addition, they typically no longer have an influx of income, instead relying on their savings. Obama’s tax increase from 7.5 to 10 percent will have a ringing effect on seniors, who often no longer have an influx of income. 

H.R. 3590 stops this tax increase on seniors and reinstates the older lower threshold for medical expenses for all Americans. This tax hike represents yet another way Obamacare has hurt American families, who were already struggling to receive the medical care they need.

Americans for Tax Reform supports the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act and urges all members of Congress to support and co-sponsor this important legislation to relieve Obamacare’s tax burden on the middle class and seniors.

 

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform


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