ATR Urges Senate Lawmakers to Pass Arbitration Rule CRA (S.J. Res. 47)

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Posted by William Paul on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017, 9:20 AM PERMALINK

Senate lawmakers may soon vote on S.J. Res. 47, introduced by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), which would use the powers under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rescind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) costly rule banning arbitration agreements in certain consumer contracts.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) strongly urges lawmakers in the upper chamber to support and vote for this important resolution. Failure to use the CRA to rescind the arbitration rule would be a boon for trial lawyers, while conversely having negative impacts on America’s consumers.

In July ATR joined 26 other free-market, limited-government, and liberty-oriented groups in calling on Congressional lawmakers to use the power of the CRA to repeal the CFPB’s rule relating to arbitration agreements.

As outlined in the coalition letter, the CFPB’s arbitration rule doesn’t benefit American consumers and would flood courtrooms with class-action lawsuits putting more money in the pockets of trial lawyers. The rule would lead to a projected 6,000 class action lawsuits every five years.

The arbitration rule would also cost American consumers billions, as all of this work, money, and litigation would be wasted on an average payout of $2.00 per person, according to the CFPB’s own study. This is significantly lower than a payout from the arbitration process. Additionally, a mere 20 percent of class-action lawsuits are approved and among those the average wait time for a settlement is around 3 years, compared to the arbitration process wait time of only 6.9 months.

The House of Representatives in July passed their version of the CRA resolution rescinding the arbitration rule. Now lawmakers in the Senate should do the same by passing Senator Crapo’s S.J. Res. 47, rescinding this harmful and costly rule put forth by the CFPB.  

 

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19 Conservative Groups Support Rep. Roskam’s Free File Bill

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, September 8th, 2017, 10:30 AM PERMALINK

In a letter to Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL), 19 conservative groups including ATR urged support for H.R. 3641, the Free File Permanency Act.

As the letter notes, the Free File tax preparation program guarantees that millions of taxpayers across the country have access to quality, free, and efficient online tax preparation and electronic filing services. It should be made permanent so that taxpayers continue to get this relief. 

The full letter can be found here and is below.

September 8, 2017

The Honorable Peter Roskam

United States House of Representatives

2246 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Roskam:

On behalf of the undersigned conservative, free market organizations we write in support of H.R. 3641, the “Free File Permanency Act of 2017.”

By making the Free File tax preparation program permanent, this legislation guarantees that millions of taxpayers across the country will continue to have access to quality, free, and efficient online tax preparation and electronic filing services.

Since its inception in 2008, Free File – which was created as a public-private partnership between software companies and the IRS – has served more than 50 million taxpayers and saved $1.3 billion in preparation costs.

Today, the tax code is more than 75,000 pages long and contains more than 2.4 million words. This complexity forces American families and businesses to spend more than 8.9 billion hours and $400 billion complying with the code every year. Against this complexity, it is difficult or impossible for most taxpayers to file a tax return without assistance.

For many individuals and families, Free File is the solution to navigating tax complexity. The program offers roughly 70 percent of taxpayer’s access to electronic filing software provided by leading private companies free of charge. In 2016, any taxpayer with less than $64,000 in adjusted gross income qualified for the program. 

The IRS estimates that electronically filing tax returns through the Free File program saves the federal government approximately $13 Million each year. In addition, the program ensures that taxpayers are protected with the right to privacy and access to strict cybersecurity measures to prevent fraud.

Free File is a proven success in addressing tax complexity, and it is a vastly superior alternative to government controlled tax preparation, such as the system proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in S. 912, the misnamed Tax Filing Simplification  Act of 2017.

Giving the federal government control over tax preparation would be a disaster. This would involve giving the IRS more taxpayer dollars and new responsibilities at a time when the agency already struggles to complete existing responsibilities and has misused finite resources on numerous occasions.

Government-run tax preparation would also represent a conflict of interest and could undermine the rights of taxpayers. Under a system of government-run tax preparation, the IRS would have an incentive to overcharge or withhold information from taxpayers, while few taxpayers would know whether they were paying the correct amount of taxes.

Given the success of the Free File program and the failure of the IRS to manage its own responsibilities, the best path forward should be making Free File permanent. Since its inception, Free File has been a proven success story in helping American families comply with the absurdly complex tax code. As such, we urge all members of Congress to support your important legislation.

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment

Daniel Schnieder
Executive Director, American Conservative Union

Dan Weber
CEO, Association of Mature American Citizens

Norm Singleton
President, Campaign for Liberty

Bob Carlstrom
President, The Carlstrom Group

Jeffrey Mazzella
President, Center for Individual Freedom

Tom Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director, Digital Liberty

George Landrith
President, Frontiers of Freedom

Andrew Langer

President, Institute for Liberty

Tom Giovanetti
President, Institute for Policy Innovation

Seton Motley
President, Less Government

Colin Hanna
President, Let Freedom Ring

Charles Sauer
President, Market Institute

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Berin Szoka
President, Tech Freedom

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ATR Support Rep. Mullin's Amendments on Methane and Social Cost of Carbon


Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, 10:24 AM PERMALINK

This week the U.S House of Representatives is set to vote on the 2018 “Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations” or H.R. 3354. Americans for Tax Reform urges House lawmakers to support and vote for two amendments being offered by Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-Ok).

The first amendment being offered by Representative Mullin to H.R. 3554 would prohibit funds for enforcing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methane rule issued under former President Obama.

The EPA methane rule targets America’s oil and gas industry and simply put, is a regulation in search of a problem. While oil and gas production has increased over 25 percent since 2005, related methane emissions have actually decreased almost 40 percent during that same period. Such reductions are due in part to advances in technology made by the energy industry, advances that ironically could be stymied moving forward by the lack of flexibility inherent in the rule.

The EPA’s methane rule also would come with a hefty price tag with resulting compliance costs projected to be in the hundreds of millions. According to the EPA’s own estimates, the rule could cost over $530 million in 2025. Industry estimates also show the rule could cost motorists over $500 in higher prices at the pump annually, and reduce disposable income by $1,337 each year for average American families.

Representative Mullin is also offering an amendment to H.R. 3354 that would prohibit funding for the Obama Administration’s Social Cost of Carbon rule. Under President Obama the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) was established to require that SCC estimates be taken into account in agency rulemakings and regulatory actions.

The primary issue with the SCC is that it is fatally flawed and wholly arbitrary. SCC models have no basis in economic theory and as MIT Professor Robert Pindyck has explained, SCC estimates are “close to useless” for guiding policymakers.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds Representative Mullin for taking on these two important issues that have remained as detrimental reminders of the regulatory overreach that characterized the Obama Administration.

House lawmakers should support and vote for these two important amendments to H.R. 3354 that would prohibit funding for the EPA’s costly and economically detrimental methane rule, and the arbitrary and flawed Social Cost of Carbon. 

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Stabilize Insurance Markets Through Across-The-Board Relief from Obamacare’s Health Insurance Tax

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, September 1st, 2017, 2:00 PM PERMALINK

Eight governors from across the country led by Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado have released a number of proposals to stabilize healthcare insurance markets. Among the proposals, these governors suggest exempting counties with only one insurer from Obamacare’s health insurance tax.

While the governors are right to call for relieving Americans from the health insurance tax, they should not exempt a select few from this tax. Instead, Congress should ensure that everyone is protected from the higher costs that are being driven by the health insurance tax.

Roughly one-third of counties nationwide have just one insurer operating on Obamacare’s marketplaces, as the law’s costly mandates and regulations have increased costs. Next year, it is estimated that this number could increase to nearly half of the counties in the country.

The health insurance tax is set to go into effect at the end of the year, and will total $14.3 billion in higher taxes in 2018.  Clearly, this will contribute to the lack of coverage options. However, many Americans are shouldering the negative impacts of the health insurance tax, and relief should not be assigned on a case by case basis. 

Across the country, the health insurance tax hits 11 million households that purchase health care through the individual insurance market. This tax also hits 23 million households covered through their employers, and 1.7 million small businesses. Half of this tax is paid by those earning less than $50,000 a year. According to research by the American Action Forum, this tax is responsible for increasing premiums by an average of $5,000 per family over a decade.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the health insurance tax has cost an estimated 286,000 small business jobs and $33 billion in lost sales.

Congress’ failure thus far to repeal Obamacare taxes – including the tax on Americans facing high medical bills, taxes on health savings accounts, a tax on prescription medicines, and the tax for failing to buy health insurance—has already been devastating to American families, seniors, and businesses.

The last thing taxpayers need is another Obamacare tax to go into effect, and 36 conservative groups and activists recently told lawmakers that they must act so to prevent the health insurance tax from harming Americans. However, this relief should be offered to all, not a select few. 

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Grover Norquist Op-Ed in Washington Examiner: Trump’s Tax Reform Campaign is a Huge Deal

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Posted by Abigail Marone on Thursday, August 31st, 2017, 11:03 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist authored an op-ed today in the Washington Examiner describing the magnitude of President Trump’s tax reform agenda.

Norquist explained that in the 31 years since President Reagan last reformed the tax code, the Washington establishment has burdened Americans with thousands of pages of tax regulations and created more loopholes for special interests.

President Trump’s agenda of lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code has the potential to increase America’s growth rate while benefiting individuals and small businesses alike: 

Trump pointed out that if America grew at 3 percent a year rather than the anemic 2 percent a year for the next 10 years, our nominal GDP would be $16 trillion higher than our current path. Federal revenues would be $2.9 trillion higher, allowing tax cuts and/or debt reduction, plus workers would have $7 trillion more in wages and salaries.

Read the full op-ed and find out more on why this is such a huge deal for American taxpayers.

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Netflix Tax: A Dangerous New Trend

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Posted by William Paul on Friday, August 25th, 2017, 3:22 PM PERMALINK

Enjoyed by over 50 million subscribers, Netflix is best known for affordable and convenient online streaming of our favorite movies and TV shows. Sadly, their popularity has made them a target on the government taxation radar.

Thanks to what has been dubbed as the ‘Netflix tax’ – a tax on online streaming services – some Americans are now seeing an increase in their monthly Netflix bill. To date, this new tax is levied in Chicago, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Florida. A Netflix tax passed in Kentucky in 2015, though it was later nullified, and Alabama, Louisiana, Maine, West Virginia, and a handful of California cities have considered implementing this tax in recent years.

Nationwide, lawmakers would be wise to avoid this trend. In addition to the immediate financial harm the Netflix tax would inflict on consumers – higher priced TV and movie streaming – it would also result in a number of other negative consequences.

For one, businesses could decide to offset some of the compliance costs associated with the tax, which could impact wages or jobs. Businesses may also be forced to cut investments in future technology, depriving Americans of newer, better digital goods.

Along with stifling innovation and economic impacts, the Netflix tax is also likely to result in taxpayers footing a costly legal challenge. Indeed, this is the case in Chicago, where the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has filed suit against the city’s Netflix tax, citing that it violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA).

Similarly, the state of Kentucky also faced legal challenges over its Netflix tax in 2015 and lost, with the court ruling the state could not tax Netflix on the basis that the state cannot treat a digital streaming service the same way as traditional television services.

It is simply illogical to implement a tax that raises constitutional questions and is likely to be overturned.

Finally, it is also important ask the question: Where does it end? These days, books, music, games and greeting cards are all accessed more easily over the Internet. If revenue hungry lawmakers start taxing Netflix today, what will they go after tomorrow? Netflix spokesman, Jonathan Friedland, commented on the issue stating "Our view is that it is a dangerous precedent to start taxing Internet apps and websites using laws intended for utilities like water and electricity."

The Netflix tax is a disturbing encroachment by big government into American lives. Even California Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D – 54th District) wants lawmakers to think twice before slapping a tax on Netflix. His AB 252, also known as the ‘Stream Act’, would have prohibited cities from implementing such taxes until 2023.

Taxing Netflix and other streaming services not only sets a dangerous precedent that threatens further government intrusion and taxation of online entertainment services, but also makes it increasingly easier for lawmakers to justify targeting more services and products that consumers rely on everyday. 

 

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ATR Applauds Secretary Zinke's Efforts to Improve Antiquities Act Designations

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Thursday, August 24th, 2017, 3:50 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist issued the following statement today praising Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s efforts to highlight some of the most prevalent issues facing national monument designations under the Antiquities Act. 

Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior (DOI) issued a report this week in response to an Executive Order issued by President Trump in April directing DOI to study the Antiquities Act and monument designation process. 

“The actions taken today by Secretary of Interior Zinke represent a huge step forward in highlighting the need for bringing more transparency and accountability to the national monument designation process under the Antiquities Act.

“For too long the Antiquities Act has allowed for the unbridled abuse of executive power, far beyond what lawmakers intended when the Act was first passed. The Antiquities Act has permitted past Presidents to designate vast swaths of public land as national monuments unilaterally, often with little to no input from affected stakeholders.

“In recent decades the size and scope of public land designations has increased exponentially with the Act having been used 26 times in the last 20 years to designate monuments well over 100,000 acres in size. Many designations have been made despite a lack of historically recognized significance, such as landmarks, prehistoric structures, or historic objects.

“Under former President Obama Americans witnessed the extent to which executive authority under the Antiquities Act could be abused. During the Obama Presidency the average size of monument designations was over 190 times larger than when the Act was first used under President Roosevelt. Currently 66 percent of the land and water mass of all national monuments was designated solely by the Obama Administration.

“Secretary Zinke’s work to highlight abuses and inefficiencies within the national monument designation process is a positive step towards reining in unchecked executive authority under the Antiquities Act. By focusing on positive reforms the Secretary has taken the first step to begin restoring the voice of rural communities and local stakeholders in federal land decisions, and rebuilding public trust.

“I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and President Trump to improve transparency and accountability under the Antiquities Act and the national monument designation process.”

 

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By Not Overriding Gov. Kasich's Veto, Ohio Senate Protects Buckeye Taxpayers

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017, 4:15 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform commends members of the Ohio Senate for declining to override Gov. John Kasich’s line-item-veto of a misguided effort to raise taxes on health insurance plans. The budget provision vetoed by Kasich would have had the state asking the federal government for permission to reinstate a tax on health insurers, and raise the rate from 5.85% to 7.2%, an effective 24% tax hike.

Some local government officials, hungry for more revenue that this tax hike would have funneled to them, are angry. But Ohio senators are right to stand up for taxpayers by allowing Kasich’s veto to stand. Ohio taxpayers have been hit with 20 federal Obamacare tax increases over the last eight years, along with the massive insurance premium hikes cause by President Obama’s signature achievement. Going hat in hand to Washington to request permission to pile on to this with another tax hike at the state level would add insult to taxpayer injury, and send the wrong message to employers and investors about Ohio.

Local governments should not be looking to blame Columbus for their bad spending plans. Instead, they should be making tough, but efficient spending decisions that favor taxpayers and the business climate of Ohio. Greg R. Lawson, research fellow at the Buckeye Institute, explains why the Senate’s decision to not override this veto was the right thing to do:

“This is not the time to raise taxes on health insurance plans, but it is time for local governments to justify their local spending to local taxpayers.”

 In addition to ATR, the Ohio business community has been urging legislators to not override Kasich’s veto of this tax hike. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, in a joint letter, stressed the negative effect this tax hike would have had on Ohio employers:

“If the additional tax were to be approved by CMS and subsequently implemented, the potential cost impacts are worrisome…Health insurance costs continue to rise year after year. They are consistently a top concern of most employers. In fact, in 2016 the average annual premium for an HMO plan with family coverage significantly increased. Employers can’t just absorb higher premium costs due to government interference in the marketplace.”

“It was unfortunate that the Ohio House of Representatives advanced this effort to raise taxes on hard-working Ohioans,” said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. “Thankfully the Senate stepped up to stop it from moving forward. I applaud Senate President Larry Obhof, Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson and their colleagues standing up for and protecting Ohio taxpayers.”

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Kevin Nicholson Makes Written Commitment to Oppose Higher Taxes in U.S. Senate Race

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Posted by Adam Radman on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017, 2:05 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) congratulates U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson for signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is a written commitment to the people of Wisconsin to oppose higher taxes.

Marine Corp Veteran and businessman Nicholson is the first Republican candidate to officially enter the Wisconsin senate race and looks to unseat liberal Sen. Tammy Baldwin next fall.

“The American people are tired of the tax-and-spend policies coming from Washington and they are looking for solutions that create jobs, cut government spending, and get the economy going again. Signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and holding the line on taxes is the first step in that process,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

By signing the Pledge, Nicholson joins a large list of Wisconsin public officials dedicated to protecting taxpayers that includes Speaker Paul Ryan, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, Gov. Scott Walker, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Rep. Glenn Grothman, Rep. Sean Duffy, and Rep. Mike Gallagher.

“Kevin Nicholson is the first candidate in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race to put his opposition to higher taxes in writing. I challenge all candidates to make the same commitment to Badger State taxpayers,” continued Norquist.

Candidates running for public office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge requires these candidates to put their rhetoric in writing. It is offered to every candidate for state and federal office and to all incumbents. Nearly 1,400 elected officials have signed the Pledge.

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