Ending the Inflation Tax on Capital Gains Will Help Millions of Middle Class Americans

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, August 11th, 2020, 3:30 PM PERMALINK

President Donald Trump has announced that he is "seriously considering" cutting the capital gains tax.

President Trump should use his executive authority to index capital gains taxes to inflation, a tax cut that would benefit millions of middle income households. 

ATR looked at Internal Revenue Service data from 2017 (the most recent available data) to determine what percentage of middle class households had a capital gains filing:

  • 25,494,330 American households had a capital gains filing 
  • 13,730,710 (53%) made less than $100k 
  • 20,466,770 (80%) made less than $200k 
     

In Pennsylvania, more than one million households had a capital gains filing in 2017.  58 percent of those households made less than $100,000, and 83 percent made less than $200,000.

These results are just from one year. Imagine how many middle income households would be helped over the course of a decade by ending the inflation tax.

The breakdown for all 50 states is below. 

Alabama 
237,850 households had a capital gains filing
134,560 (57%) made less than $100k
198,770 (84%) made less than $200k 

Alaska
52,090 households had a capital gains filing 
26,910 (51%) made less than $100k 
43,130 (82%) made less than $200k

Arizona
493,700 households had a capital gains filing 
283,840 (57%) made less than $100k
412,790 (84%) made less than $200k

Arkansas
156,360 households had a capital gains filing 
95,290 (61%) made less than $100k
133,610 (85%) made less than $200k

California
3,164,570 households had a capital gains filing
1,483,910 (47%) made less than $100k
2,335,870 (74%) made less than $200k

Colorado 
557,710 households had a capital gains filing 
290,200 (52%) made less than $100k
446,340 (80%) made less than $200k

Connecticut
383,770 households had a capital gains filing
186,810 (49%) made less than $100k
290,480 (76%) made less than $200k

Delaware
79,320 households had a capital gains filing
43,240 (55%) made less than $100k
66,360 (84%) made less than $200k

Florida
1,671,930 households had a capital gains filing 
960,130 (57%) made less than $100k
1,359,950 (81%) made less than $200k

Georgia
612,040 households had a capital gains filing
312,530 (51%) made less than $100k
479,210 (78%) made less than $200k

Hawaii
118,500 households had a capital gains filing
67,270 (57%) made less than $100k
101,300 (85%) made less than $200k

Idaho 
130,670 households had a capital gains filing
77,770 (60%) made less than $100k
108,880 (83%) made less than $200k

Illinois
1,124,230 households had a capital gains filing
593,720 (53%) made less than $100k
902,930 (80%) made less than $200k

Indiana
447,230 households had a capital gains filing
275,530 (62%) made less than $100k
386,120 (86%) made less than $200k

Iowa 
278,830 households had a capital gains filing
173,830 (62%) made less than $100k
245,420 (88%) made less than $200k

Kansas
244,970 households had a capital gains filing
148,030 (60%) made less than $100k
210,480 (86%) made less than $200k

Kentucky 
243,280 households had a capital gains filing 
148,590 (61%) made less than $100k
209,010 (86%) made less than $200k

Louisiana 
244,760 households had a capital gains filing
139,460 (57%) made less than $100k
203,150 (83%) made less than $200k

Maine
110,320 households had a capital gains filing
70,280 (64%) made less than $100k 
96,330 (87%) made less than $200k

Maryland
506,630 households had a capital gains filing
229,920 (45%) made less than $100k
388,000 (77%) made less than $200k

Massachusetts
718,080 households had a capital gains filing
333,920 (47%) made less than $100k
532,420 (74%) made less than $200k 

Michigan 
792,020 households had a capital gains filing 
480,120 (61%) made less than $100k
677,810 (86%) made less than $200k

Minnesota
562,350 households had a capital gains filing
314,770 (56%) made less than $100k
467,420 (83%) made less than $200k

Mississippi
114,930 households had a capital gains filing
68,780 (60%) made less than $100k
98,460 (86%) made less than $200k

Missouri
476,520 households had a capital gains filing
295,190 (62%) made less than $100k
411,850 (86%) made less than $200k

Montana
104,190 households had a capital gains filing
69,520 (67%) made less than $100k
92,820 (89%) made less than $200k

Nebraska 
181,550 households had a capital gains filing 
112,880 (62%) made less than $100k 
159,320 (87%) made less than $200k

Nevada
185,410 households had a capital gains filing
106,470 (57%) made less than $100k
153,150 (83%) made less than $200k

New Hampshire
138,010 households had a capital gains filing
72,600 (53%) made less than $100k
112,020 (81%) made less than $200k

New Jersey
919,180 households had a capital gains filing
434,750 (47%) made less than $100k
690,050 (75%) made less than $200k

New Mexico 
118,500 households had a capital gains filing
71,230 (60%) made less than $100k
102,300 (86%) made less than $200k

New York 
1,749,140 households had a capital gains filing
920,440 (53%) made less than $100k
1,368,100 (78%) made less than $200k

North Carolina
711,010 households had a capital gains filing
393,900 (55%) made less than $100k
584,080 (82%) made less than $200k

North Dakota
76,010 households had a capital gains filing
45,980 (60%) made less than $100k
66,380 (87%) made less than $200k

Ohio
871,480 households had a capital gains filing
530,690 (61%) made less than $100k
746,060 (86%) made less than $200k

Oklahoma
211,550 households had a capital gains filing
124,580 (59%) made less than $100k
177,450 (84%) made less than $200k

Oregon
367,640 households had a capital gains filing
210,410 (57%) made less than $100k
308,170 (84%) made less than $200k

Pennsylvania 
1,131,880 households had a capital gains filing
656,800 (58%) made less than $100k
942,780 (83%) made less than $200k

Rhode Island
87,160 households had a capital gains filing
47,550 (55%) made less than $100k
72,420 (83%) made less than $200k

South Carolina
322,640 households had a capital gains filing
184,710 (57%) made less than $100k
271,290 (84%) made less than $200k

South Dakota
84,850 households had a capital gains filing
54,310 (64%) made less than $100k
74,780 (88%) made less than $200k

Tennessee 
384,010 households had a capital gains filing
219,170 (57%) made less than $100k
316,210 (82%) made less than $200k

Texas
1,657,150 households had a capital gains filing
802,760 (48%) made less than $100k
1,259,020 (76%) made less than $200k

Utah 
191,520 households had a capital gains filing
105,750 (55%) made less than $100k
158,600 (83%) made less than $200k

Vermont
66,280 households had a capital gains filing
41,690 (63%) made less than $100k
58,010 (88%) made less than $200k

Virginia 
734,100 households had a capital gains filing
338,010 (46%) made less than $100k
565,840 (77%) made less than $200k

Washington 
714,380 households had a capital gains filing
346,160 (48%) made less than $100k
552,960 (77%) made less than $200k

West Virginia
83,390 households had a capital gains filing
53,700 (64%) made less than $100k
73,510 (88%) made less than $200k

Wisconsin
568,430 households had a capital gains filing
360,460 (63%) made less than $100k
500,340 (88%) made less than $200k

Wyoming
51,980 households had a capital gains filing
31,580 (61%) made less than $100k 
44,970 (87%) made less than $200k

Photo Credit: SalFalko


New Research Examines State-By-State Growth In Per Capita State Spending

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Posted by Jack Fencl on Tuesday, August 11th, 2020, 2:46 PM PERMALINK

State government spending nationwide has grown steadily over the past two decades, according to new research conducted by Americans for Tax Reform, utilizing data from the National Association of State Budget Officers and the Census Bureau. 

 

After controlling for inflation, average per capita state spending rose by 25.58% between 2000 and 2018, with the vast majority of the growth taking place between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, inflation adjusted average per capita state spending was $4,885.30. In 2010, inflation adjusted average per capita state spending was $6,033.84. By 2018, inflation adjusted average per capita state spending had risen to $6,134.97.   

 

Inflation adjusted average per capita state spending in most states spiked rapidly from 2000 - 2010, rising by an average of 23.51% that decade (the Bush years were bad for spending at both federal and state levels). After the 2010 wave election, average per capita state spending was held nearly flat, rising only 1.68% between 2010 and 2018. 

 

Between 2000 and 2018, inflation adjusted per capita state spending rose in 49 states. Only Florida saw a reduction in per capita spending since 2000, with the Sunshine State experiencing a 14.67% decline over the 18 year period. Florida was also the only state that had a decline in per capita state spending in the decade from 2000-2010. Today, Florida has the lowest per capita state spending at $3,696.19 (2018 dollars). This, coupled with the state’s lack of an income tax, its supermajority requirement for the state legislature to raise taxes, and its national leadership in expanding school choice make Florida a limited government success story. 

 

Twelve states saw their per capita spending grow by more than 40% over the last two decades, with the table below listing the ten states where spending grew most rapidly. West Virginia has the unfortunate distinction of leading the pack, with the Mountain State’s spending growing by an astonishing 79.89%. While this is certainly a dubious honor, West Virginia has made some progress in recent years, with per capita state spending declining by 26.21% between 2010 and 2018. 

 

10 States Where Per Capita State Spending Grew The Most Since 2000

State

% Per Capita Spending Growth ('00-'18)

West Virginia

78.89%

Colorado

77.07%

Vermont

70.24%

Wyoming

62.88%

Arkansas 

54.87%

North Dakota

51.77%

New York

49.04%

Montana 

45.68%

Pennsylvania 

45.50%

Maryland 

44.02%

 

On the flip side, the table below lists the ten states that did the best job at keeping spending under control over the past two decades. Among this group, the four states that stand out for their superb fiscal restraint are Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, and North Carolina. These are the only states that held per capita spending growth to single digits (with Florida seeing a real reduction) since the turn of the century. 

 

10 States Where Per Capita State Spending Grew The Least Since 2000

State

% Per Capita

Spending

Growth ('00-'18)

Florida

-14.67%

Missouri

1.66%

South Carolina

2.02%

North Carolina

2.64%

Georgia 

10.53%

Michigan

10.58%

Utah

10.72%

Idaho

11.11%

New Hampshire

13.14%

Maine

13.40%

 

Below is current (2018 data) per capita spending for all 50 states, ranked lowest to highest. The national average is $6,134.97.   

 

50 States 2018 Per Capita Spending, Ranked Lowest to Highest

State

2018 Per Capita Spending

Florida

$3,696.19 

Texas

$4,024.22 

Missouri

$4,253.45 

New Hampshire

$4,529.85 

Idaho

$4,548.89 

Utah

$4,689.64 

Nevada 

$4,711.40 

North Carolina

$4,800.02 

Georgia 

$4,889.48 

South Carolina

$4,967.79 

Indiana 

$5,021.43 

Tennessee

$5,049.01 

South Dakota

$5,072.28 

Arizona 

$5,238.04 

Kansas

$5,473.05 

Alabama

$5,577.70 

Michigan

$5,670.43 

Illinois 

$5,720.55 

Oklahoma 

$5,753.21 

Ohio

$5,967.88 

Washington

$6,116.67 

Virginia

$6,125.66 

Maine

$6,281.29 

Nebraska 

$6,305.00 

Montana 

$6,554.38 

Mississippi

$6,592.71 

Pennsylvania 

$6,633.04 

Louisiana 

$6,707.10 

California 

$6,833.68 

New Jersey

$6,839.39 

Colorado

$6,995.61 

Minnesota

$7,102.61 

Maryland 

$7,256.04 

Iowa

$7,426.12 

Kentucky

$7,633.00 

Wyoming

$7,661.00 

North Dakota

$7,768.31 

Wisconsin

$8,299.57 

Massachusetts

$8,299.87 

New York

$8,384.08 

Arkansas 

$8,518.03 

Rhode Island

$8,751.88 

Vermont

$9,089.34 

Connecticut

$9,282.32 

West Virginia

$9,342.73 

Oregon

$9,713.08 

New Mexico

$9,776.65 

Hawaii

$10,699.05 

Delaware

$11,234.84 

Alaska

$14,013.68 

 

An examination of what happened following the 2010 wave election, a period during which Republicans achieved a level of control in state legislatures not seen in roughly a century, shows that states exerted much more fiscal restraint compared to the previous decade. 

 

The table below lists the ten states that experienced the most precipitous decline in spending per capita between 2010 and 2018. While these ten saw the most dramatic cuts in per capita state spending, 22 states in total experienced a reduction over the period. The overwhelming majority of states where spending declined are Republican led, and in the historically blue states that saw spending drop, Republicans held power at some point over that eight year period.

10 States Where Per Capita State Spending Declined The Most After 2010

State

% Per Capita Spending Growth ('10-'18)

Wyoming

-50.97%

West Virginia

-26.21%

Mississippi

-25.30%

North Carolina

-18.16%

Louisiana 

-16.49%

Maine

-13.32%

Alaska

-11.03%

Utah

-10.32%

Oklahoma 

-10.04%

Massachusetts

-7.74%

 

On the flip side, some states saw their spending per capita continue to rise at an unsustainable clip after 2010. The table below lists the ten states where spending rose most rapidly from 2010-2018. This list is mostly comprised of blue states, with the usual culprits like Illinois, Hawaii, and New York seeing some of the most egregious spending growth. 

 

10 States Where Per Capita State Spending Grew The Most After 2010

State

% Per Capita Spending Growth ('10-'18)

Nevada 

33.42%

Illinois 

29.30%

Connecticut

18.39%

Hawaii

15.71%

New Mexico

13.97%

Alabama

12.45%

Kentucky

11.06%

Maryland 

9.96%

New York

9.50%

Minnesota

9.33%

 

Overall, two clear pictures emerge from the data. The first is that per capita state spending has been growing at an alarming rate over the past two decades. The second is that continued profligacy is not inevitable and that course correction can occur. The post-2010 state spending trends prove that it is possible for states to exercise fiscal restraint, provided that those in positions of power have the necessary political will and courage. 

 

[State spending comes from the National Association of State Budget Officers annual spending reports for years 20002010 and 2018. Population information provided by the United States Census Bureau.]

Photo Credit: Peter Fitzgerald

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ATR Leads Coalition of 80 Groups Opposing “Most Favored Nation” Executive Order

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Tuesday, August 11th, 2020, 4:00 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform today released a coalition letter signed by 80 free market, conservative, and libertarian groups and activists in opposition to President Donald Trump’s recent “Most Favored Nation” executive order. 

If implemented, the order would impose an “International Pricing Index” on Medicare Part B drugs, tying American drug prices to the prices in foreign countries with government-run healthcare systems. 

President Trump has repeatedly stood strong against the left’s calls for socialized medicine, even promising in the 2020 State of the Union Address that “we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.” 

Unfortunately, an MFN policy would adopt these same socialist healthcare policies and threaten American medical innovation. As the letter notes: 

Adopting these price controls will slow medical innovation, threaten American jobs, and undermine criticism of single-payer systems. In addition, a United States embrace of price controls will make it immeasurably more difficult to get foreign countries to pay their own way in the development of new medicines.

An MFN policy would also threaten our COVID-19 response and exacerbate foreign freeloading off of American innovation. As the letter notes: 

The U.S. is the best in the world when it comes to developing innovative, lifesaving and life preserving medicines. Because of this, the U.S. is leading the way when it comes to developing COVID-19 vaccines, with several promising candidates entering the final stages of testing and clinical trials.

In contrast, foreign countries have been free riding off this American medical innovation for decades through crushing price controls and other market-distorting government rules and regulations.

The MFN order would also harm our economy through a decrease in research and development. Medical innovation directly or indirectly supports 4 million jobs and $1.1 trillion in total economic impact, which will be threatened by importing price controls from foreign countries. 

Finally, the letter urges President Trump to apply the same successful, deregulatory, market-based approach that he has championed in other policy areas to health care: 

As President, you have championed vital changes in tax and regulatory policies that have allowed free market innovation to flourish. We believe a market-based approach like those that your administration has consistently supported in other policy areas will lead to economic growth and promising new treatments, but adopting price controls through the MFN plan would undermine rather than build on those successes.

Click here to read the full letter.

Photo Credit: Tom Lohdan


New Florida Taxpayer Protection Caucus Announced, Led by Rep. Bob Rommel

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Posted by Josie Kavanagh on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 3:38 PM PERMALINK

Just last week, Florida State Representative Bob Rommel announced on Twitter that he plans to form a new Taxpayer Protection Caucus in the Sunshine state legislature.   

In leading this caucus, Rep. Rommel aims to work with other pro-taxpayer legislators to protect Floridians from incoming pressure to add new taxes and hike old ones, as well as defend against increased spending driven by third parties and the left. He vows to “be ready for action and to stop any proposed new taxes.” 

Rommel, who represents Florida’s 106th district, is one of 62 Florida state House pledge signers of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. Members who have signed the pledge are welcome and encouraged to join the Taxpayer Protection Caucus. 

“One of the important aspects of leadership is making sure to build an infrastructure for carrying important policy goals from one generation to the next. Our caucus will be an important part of helping to stop tax increases in Florida well into the future. I am honored that Grover asked me to take this on, and I look forward to working with ATR on an ongoing basis,” said Rep. Rommel. 

This new caucus can help ensure Florida remains one of the leading states for job growth, and for families looking to build a future, by keeping the tax burden on Floridians low.  

Photo Credit: Steven Martin


Biden and Pelosi have Repeatedly Praised Payroll Tax Cuts

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 3:14 PM PERMALINK

President Trump has signed an Executive Order deferring the collection of the 6.2 percent social security employee payroll tax through the end of the year. While this will provide much needed liquidity for American families, Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Joe Biden have criticized this proposal as doing little to help Americans and undermining social security.

This is a sharp reversal from a decade ago when Pelosi and Biden vocally supported payroll tax cuts pushed by the Obama administration.

Throughout this period, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly highlighted payroll tax cuts as way to give middle class families more money and help grow the economy.

For instance, in a blog post, the Obama administration highlighted that payroll tax cuts would give the typical family $40 per two-week pay cycle. As the document noted

 “$40 is real money for working families, as people all over the country told us. That money buys things like school lunches, the gas needed to get to work or visit ailing relatives, and co-pays for doctor visits and essential prescription medicines.”

It is important to note that Trump’s payroll tax deferral applies to the entire 6.2 percent tax while Obama’s payroll tax cut reduced the tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for two years. As a result, the same working family highlighted by Obama would be seeing three times the benefit under Trump, or roughly $130 per pay cycle.

Democrats also repeatedly highlighted how a payroll tax cut will help workers. For instance, in a speech given on December 17, 2010, President Obama noted that the payroll tax cut would reduce taxes for 155 million workers:

“Over the course of 2011, 155 million workers will receive tax relief from the new payroll tax cut included in this bill -– about $1,000 for the average family. This is real money that’s going to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Similarly, in a speech given on May 22, 2012, Biden highlighted the administration’s efforts to cut the payroll tax, noting that it would reduce taxes for 98 percent of Americans:

“In December of 2010 we passed the payroll tax that gave each and every American an average of $1,000 tax cut. One thousand dollars less was taken out of their pay in payroll taxes. We repassed that not long ago, allowing another $1,500 to go into people's pockets instead of going into taxes. Ninety-eight percent of the American people -- they get a pay stub. They pay payroll taxes. So when you cut taxes for people with a -- with a payroll tax, 98 percent of the American people are getting a tax cut.”

Joe Biden’s biography on the Obama White House website even specifically highlighted his effort to cut payroll taxes for American workers:

“Fought for payroll tax cuts during the economic recovery -- ensuring a tax cut for every single worker in America.”

Speaker Pelosi also vocally supported payroll tax cuts. For instance, On December 13, 2011, Speaker Pelosi said that a payroll tax cut will give more money to Americans and help create more jobs:

“This is about a thriving middle class.  It's about a payroll tax cut that does what it sets out to do, puts $1,500 in the pockets of Americas families who need it, who spend it and in doing so inject, inject demand--demand, demand--into our economy which further creates jobs.”

Pelosi even supported extending the payroll tax cut without offsetting lost revenue, as her February 13, 2012 press release noted

“Democrats have always demanded that we extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans without paying for it.”

In addition, following a jobs report released on December 2, 2011, Pelosi called for expanding the payroll tax cut:

“Today's jobs report sends a clear message: we've made some progress but we have work to do. The American people's top priority remains job creation. Democrats want to put more money in the pockets of all Americans and strengthen small businesses by expanding the payroll tax cut.”

President Trump has called on Congress to make the tax deferral a permanent tax cut. Given their past support for payroll tax cuts, Biden and Pelosi should join Trump in calling for permanent payroll tax relief.

Photo Credit: Pete Souza


20 Candidates Make “No New Taxes” Promise Ahead of the August 11th Primaries

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Posted by Gerald Sharpe on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 1:28 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform commends the federal incumbents and candidates in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge ahead of tomorrow’s congressional primary. The Pledge is a written commitment to the American people to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes. 

“By signing The Pledge, these candidates and incumbents demonstrate that they will safeguard taxpayers from higher taxes,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “Pledge signers understand that government should be reformed so that it spends less and will oppose tax increases that prolong the failures of the past.” 

There are currently 172 Pledge signers in the U.S. House and 48 Pledge signers in the U.S. Senate. Eighty-nine percent of all congressional Republicans have made the written commitment to oppose higher taxes. In contrast, zero congressional Democrats have made that promise. 

Candidates running for public office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The idea of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing, so the promise is harder to break.  

New candidates sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge regularly. For the most up-to-date information on these races or any other, please visit the ATR Pledge Database.  

Candidates can still make this important commitment to voters ahead of the primary by visiting: www.atr.org/take-the-pledge 

The following candidates have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge: 

Minnesota  

  • Karin Housley (SEN) 
  • Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) 
  • Tyler Kistner (MN-02) 
  • Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06) 
  • Dave Russell (MN-07) 
  • Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) 
  • Dave Hughes (MN-07)  
  • Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08)  
     

Wisconsin   

  • Ron Johnson (SEN) 
  • Rep. Bryan Steil (WI-01) 
  • Derrick Van Orden (WI-03) 
  • Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) 
  • Cliff DeTemple (WI-05) 
  • Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05) 
  • Rep. Glen Grothman (WI-06) 
  • Rep. Tom Tiffany (WI-07) 
  • Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-08)  
     

Georgia (runoff) 

  • Andrew Gurtler (GA-09)  
  • Matthew Clyde (GA-09) 
  • John Cowan (GA-14) 
  • Marjorie Green (GA-14) 

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Fitzgerald and DeTemple Take Bold “No New Taxes” Pledge Ahead of Wisconsin’s Congressional Primary

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Posted by Gerald Sharpe on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 1:22 PM PERMALINK

Taxpayers in The Badger State will be happy to learn that Scott Fitzgerald and Cliff DeTemple have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in the WI-05 Republican primary. They are running to replace retiring U.S. Congressman and Pledge signer Jim Sensenbrenner. By signing the Pledge, these candidates make a written commitment to oppose and vote against any efforts to increase taxes on Wisconsin taxpayers.  

Scott Fitzgerald is the Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Senate and has been endorsed by outgoing Rep. Sensenbrenner. Fitzgerald’s primary opponent, Cliff DeTemple, has also signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. DeTemple is a small business owner specializing in measuring systems for Land Surveying.  

With a Solid Republican rating from Cook Political Report, the winner of tomorrow’s primary is a strong favorite to become the next Congressman from Wisconsin’s 5th district.  

In Wisconsin, every Republican in the state congressional delegation has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Candidates running for public office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The idea of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing, so the promise is harder to break.  

ATR strongly urges all candidates running for elected office to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledges. Candidates can still make this important commitment to voters ahead of the primary by visiting ATR.org. 

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President Trump Increases Access to Telehealth

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Posted by Clara Diaz on Monday, August 10th, 2020, 11:40 AM PERMALINK

In recognition of the increasing importance of telehealth during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration on Monday announced an executive order that allows telehealth workers to better treat patients in rural communities.  This order will help improve health care accessibility for the approximately 57 million Americans living in rural communities. 

During the height of nationwide shutdowns, Medicare telehealth visits grew from just a few thousand per week to more than 1 million. In this time of social distancing, telehealth has become a vital source for many Americans looking for safe ways to see their doctor while maintaining social distancing.

In the days following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Trump Administration took steps to expand healthcare access for Medicare beneficiaries by issuing temporary waivers expanding telehealth options. This meant that seniors did not need to come in contact with health care providers to receive the quality of care they expect.

In March, President Trump issued an executive order on telehealth, allowing Medicare beneficiaries to interact with their doctors via phone or video conferencing at no additional cost, covering commonly used services like Facetime and Skype. Prior to President Trump’s order, Medicare was only allowed to pay for telemedicine in certain circumstances, such as for rural patients that lacked easy access to their doctors. In these situations, the patient would have to travel to a medical facility and teleconference with their doctors, and beneficiaries could not generally receive care in their homes. 

The Trump Administration expanded telemedicine in Medicare even prior to the pandemic. Over the past two years, beneficiaries have been able to briefly check in with their doctors via phone, videoconferencing, or online patient portals.

The telemedicine expansion for Coronavirus allowed a wide range of providers (doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed social workers) to offer telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can receive telecare at any healthcare facility, like nursing homes or physician’s offices, or from the comfort of their own homes. 

Since telehealth is relatively new and growing, the existing Medicare payment structure was unprepared for the surge in telemedicine that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused. The new order requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release a revised payment model and test new innovations in order best meet the needs of rural patients.

The order also addresses technological limitations that prevent patients from easily accessing their doctors. Now, the Federal government is directed to launch a joint initiative in 30 days to improve healthcare communication infrastructure and expand rural services

Instead of using the crisis to consolidate more power in the federal government’s hands, President Trump and his administration have made deregulation a central part of the Coronavirus response. State and local governments have followed suit, leading to the suspension of over 800 rules and regulations in total.

As the pandemic continues, access to telehealth for American seniors and individuals in rural areas is more important than ever. President Trump’s new executive order helps achieve this goal by ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the safe, quality care they need from the comfort of their own homes. 

Photo Credit: Sean Spicer


Judge Rules Misleading Tax Measure Cannot Appear on AZ Ballot

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, August 7th, 2020, 3:02 PM PERMALINK

In a big win for Arizona taxpayers, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury ruled that a nearly $1 billion income tax hike cannot appear on the November ballot due to its misleading language.

Backers of the Invest in Education initiative said it would have imposed “a 3.5% surcharge on taxable income above (a) $250,000 annually for single persons or married persons filing separately, and (b) $500,000 annually for married persons filing jointly or head of household filers.” Three and a half percent sounds like almost nothing, but as the Judge pointed out, that is shockingly and deliberately dishonest.

“Invest in Education circulated an opaque ‘Trojan horse’ of a 100-word description, concealing principal provisions of the initiative,” said Coury in his 20-page ruling. One of his main concerns with the initiative is its use of the word “surcharge” in the description.

“Although the use of the term ‘3.5% surcharge on taxable income’ may be perfectly understood by some Arizona voters to be permanently adding 3.5 percentage points to the taxation rate – an increase 77.7% in the tax rate on taxable income above the threshhold – others reasonable Arizona voters may understand a “surcharge” to mean a temporary tax, or to mean a modest 3.5% increase of the existing tax rate,” explained Coury. “The use of the term ‘surcharge’ creates a substantial likelihood of confusion for a reasonable Arizona voter.”

Coury also noted that the description fails to inform voters that the proposed tax increase would apply to more than just the “wealthy.” It would also apply to a number of small businesses, which are already struggling from the pandemic. Coury explained:

“Under applicable tax law, income generated by businesses – sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, S-corporations, and partnerships – that is not paid at the business level ‘passes-through’ to individuals and is captured as taxable income of the business owners. This ‘pass-through’ business income is taxed at the individual level. The 100-word description does not alert signers that this ‘pass-through’ ‘business’ income would be subject to the ‘surcharge’ if it was part of an individual or married couple’s taxable income…”

Adding insult to injury, a similar Invest in Education initiative was bumped off the ballot in 2018 for similar reasons. The Arizona Supreme Court suggested acceptable initiative language to the backers of Invest in Education, but they deliberately chose not to use it.

“Arizona is not a low tax state. Its top income tax rate is already too high – just a tad below Massachusetts’. And certainly above the nine states that do not tax wage income, such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Wyoming,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Arizonans know this. An effort to phase down the state income tax to zero over time was narrowly defeated in the Arizona Senate just last year.”

Tragically, unclear tax initiatives are not uncommon. For example, in Arkansas, a roughly 9% permanent sales tax hike will be on ballot this November under the title “Continuing a One-Half Percent (0.5%) Sales and Use Tax for State Highways and Bridges; County Roads, Bridges and Other Surface Transportation; and City Streets, Bridges, and Other Surface Transportation After the Retirement of the Bonds Authorized in Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 91.”

Coury’s ruling shines a spotlight on a major problem that happens throughout the country. Too many tax hike measures are intentionally vague or unclear in hopes of confusing or tricking voters into supporting them.

Backers of the Invest in Education initiative have filed a notice of appeal, but given the Arizona Supreme Court’s opinion in 2018, Coury’s ruling is unlikely to be overturned.  

Photo Credit: Tuxyso

More from Americans for Tax Reform


ATR Supports Payroll Tax Executive Order

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Posted by John Kartch on Friday, August 7th, 2020, 12:45 PM PERMALINK

As President Donald Trump considers an executive order to suspend the collection of payroll taxes, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

"President Trump should be applauded for his proposal to suspend payroll taxes and increase take-home pay for Americans. This will increase the value of work and lower the cost to businesses of rehiring more Americans. President Trump's tax relief and deregulation will create millions more jobs in the next few months."

See Also:

Over 1,100 examples of good news arising from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


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