Gov. Scott Walker Looks to Return Budget Surplus Back to Badger State Taxpayers

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Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018, 1:52 PM PERMALINK

The media is abuzz with what President Trump will or won’t say during his first State of the Union Address this evening. Yet a number of state chief executives have already introduced some exciting reforms during the annual speeches to their state legislative bodies.

Take Governor Scott Walker, who has already used his time in office to enact a host of transformative and innovative fiscal reforms that have saved Badger State taxpayers billions. During his State of the State Address last week, Gov. Walker proposed further reforms that would allow Wisconsin taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned income. The spending restraint of previous years, combined with the institution of pro-growth reforms have produced a budget surplus this year, which Gov. Walker has proposed returning to taxpayers with a new $100 per-child tax credit.

Walker’s proposed child tax credit, if enacted, would return a projected $122 million to 671,000 Wisconsin households this year. Also proposed were further entitlement reforms, including the institution of work and training requirements for able-bodied adults receiving food stamps. Gov. Walker used his address to explain how the conservative reforms enacted in previous years have will permit state officials to provide further relief to taxpayers in 2018:

“Our plan is simple. Our reforms are working. Our economy is growing. And because of all this, we have a budget surplus. I want to give it back to you. It’s your money; not the government’s. So, if you’ve got three kids at home under the age of 18, that’s $300 more this year for new shoes, coats, activity fees at school, or a co-pay at the doctor or dentist.”

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, commends Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for being one of the nation’s top taxpayer champions, and for his latest round of reforms:

“Gov. Walker has been a national leader in passing pro-growth, pro-taxpayer reforms. Through the historic Act 10 entitlement reforms alone, Gov. Walker has saved state taxpayers over $5 billion dollars,” Norquist said. “His repeal of inflated wage requirements has also reduced the taxpayer cost of state and local infrastructure projects. Gov. Walker has used savings from these and other reforms to return $8 billion back to Badger State taxpayers through various tax relieving measures over the years, including the elimination of three entire taxes last year alone. With his recent State of the State Address, Gov. Walker has made clear he is not going to rest on his laurels, and is instead going to use 2018 continue building on an already impressive record of pro-taxpayer reforms.”

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Ryder System, Inc. to Give $23 Million in Tax Reform Bonuses to Employees

Posted by John Kartch on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 9:40 PM PERMALINK

Miami-based Ryder System, Inc. will give special tax reform employee bonuses totaling $23 million, the company said in a filing late Monday. Ryder, with locations pretty much everywhere in the USA will pay the bonuses in February to all non-incentive bonus eligible employees.

Ryder has 31,300 employees in North America. Ryder manages 234,100 vehicles, has 44 million square feet of warehouse space, has 7,700 drivers, 5,900 technicians, and 800 maintenance facilities.

The company is now listed on the compilation of companies giving tax reform bonuses, raises, and 401(k) matches, at

An excerpt from the Ryder filing reads as follows:

In connection with the anticipated benefit of the Tax Act, the Company awarded a

one-time cash bonus, estimated to be approximately $23 million or $0.27 per

diluted share, to all non-incentive bonus eligible employees of the Company

employed on December 31, 2017. The bonus will be paid to eligible employees in

February 2018. – Jan. 29, 2018 Ryder System, Inc. filing




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ISI Financial Group Awards Employees with $2,000 Tax Reform Bonuses

Posted by John Kartch on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 8:52 PM PERMALINK

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based ISI Financial Group has given employees $2,000 tax reform bonuses. (A list of other companies giving tax reform bonuses can be found at President and CEO Tim Decker issued a challenge to other companies to do the same:

At year ahead staff planning meeting in January I proudly announced to all of our staff that because of the new tax law, that ISI is happy to share the tax savings and will providing to all staff members a $2000 bonus.  When announced, the staff were all taken back, very surprised and EXTREMELY grateful.

This welcome tax cut for ISI Financial Group and most other companies and individuals is a welcome and prudent step toward freeing up capital for all of us to invest into our economy and great country.  I, Tim Decker, personally challenge other companies to share this gift with their employees as well. – Tim Decker, President and CEO


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Bipartisanship Paves the Road to Self-Driving Vehicles

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Posted by Jonathan Cannon on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 4:16 PM PERMALINK

In 2015, 90% of the 35,000 car crash fatalities were attributable to human error. While human error cannot be eliminated, it can be removed from the equation. Self-driving and semi self-driving vehicles, one of the most exciting technical developments is turning science fiction into science.

The dream of self-driving vehicles is slowly becoming a reality. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Gary Peters (D-Mich) have introduced a bipartisan bill to help lay the track for highly automated vehicles (HAVs), and to stop government getting in the way of this advancement. The American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act “proposes common sense changes in law to keep pace with advances in self-driving technology.”

There are on average 6 million car accidents a year in the United States. In a world of self driving cars we could see a drop in accidents to 1.3 million accidents a year and a significant drop in accident related deaths from 33,000 a year to 11,300 a year.

General Motors recently unveiled their latest undertaking, a fully self-driving vehicle without a steering wheel, brakes, or any other manual controls. This ambitious project seeks to bring us one step closer to a driverless and safer future. Unfortunately, a series of regulatory hurdles have impacted the implementation of these vehicles, slowing down production and deployment. We will be lucky if we start to see this major advancement on the road before the end of next year.

This technology is still in its infancy, and has barely been tested in real world situations like on public roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created a voluntary guidance outlining 12 safety elements to ensure safety and security on the road for self-driving vehicles. General Motors has used these guidelines in the hope that it will help expedite the regulatory process, bringing us one step closer to a driverless world.

Tesla currently gives us the closest experience to automated driving with their autopilot features. Tesla’s system serves as an assistive tool that can maintain speed, keep lane placement, and detect cars around the vehicle. This is more of an advanced cruise control system than a full automated driving experience, but it has the potential to make roads significantly safer as a computer will always have faster reaction time than a person. A number of car manufacturers have rolled out other driver assistance systems like self-parking, lane detection and braking systems.

It is clear that with the deployment of SDC lives behind the wheel can be saved. But, in order for SDC to be properly tested and deployed in the future, we need a consistent regulatory framework conducive to innovation.

As Senator Thune said “by playing a constructive role in the development of self-driving transportation systems, our government can help save lives, improve mobility for all Americans… and create new jobs.” Senators Thune and Peters are pushing this legislation to keep the law up to date with advances in self-driving technologies.

The important provisions of the AV START bill includes reducing barriers to deployment by implementing enhanced review and approval processes for federal motor vehicle safety standards to prioritize safety, modernization of motor vehicle safety standards to bring them in line with self-driving vehicles, developing policies that factor in cyber security vulnerabilities with self driving cars by identifying and reducing these risks, and improving safety and mobility for all Americans especially those with disabilities.

In September 2017, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to Senators urging the Senate to adopt and pass the Self Drive Act to maintain the division of regulatory authority between state and federal bodies. In the letter ATR recognized the importance of having consistent legislation to unlock the potential of this new technology.

It would be a regulatory nightmare for companies to try to comply with 50 different state policies under a regulatory patchwork, making it more difficult for new life saving innovations from joining the market. Another issue raised by this patchwork is potential violations of Interstate Commerce. This patchwork would force manufacturers to build a different vehicle for each state market, driving up the costs of production, and placing an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. Creating a federal regulatory framework that preempts states would ensure that the innovative future of SDC could become a reality in the foreseeable future.

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Congress Should Pass Rep. Noem's "Ensuring Integrity Within the IRS Workforce Act"

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 2:39 PM PERMALINK

Under President Obama's watch, the IRS proved that it plays by different rules than the private sector. Not only is the IRS incapable of performing its basic duties, the agency is plagued by corruption, mismanagement, and rampant politicization. 

A simple step President Trump can take in order to clean up the IRS is to force the agency to reexamine its hiring practices [Read ATR's letter in support of H.R. 3500]. Much of the IRS workforce is seasonal in order to assist the agency during tax season. Between January 2015 and March 2016, the IRS hired 7,500 employees, 2,000 of which had previously worked for the agency.

Evidently, the IRS does not notice or care when an employee has been previously fired by the agency for misconduct in the workplace. According to an independent audit of the IRS by the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA), the IRS rehired over 200 employees between January 2015 and March 2016 that had been previously fired for misconduct by the IRS. In other words, a staggering 10% of the IRS’s rehired employees had previously been fired for misconduct by the agency.

The litany of charges against the delinquent employees is vast, ranging from threatening coworkers to illegally accessing taxpayer information and falsifying documents. 7% of rehired employees experienced further misconduct issues within a year of their rehiring.  

The IRS’s negligence in rehiring these employees is egregious. A prior TIGTA report stated that “…one employee was rehired after being removed by management for abusing leave, despite the fact that IRS personnel files included the notation ‘do not rehire.’” The IRS has consistently refused to adjust its hiring practices in response to previous TIGTA audits that uncovered similar misconduct. According to the most recent audit: “IRS officials stated that they did not update hiring policies based on our prior report because…it would be cost prohibitive to do so… However, a formal cost-benefit analysis was not performed to reach this conclusion.”

It is clear that the IRS does not have a comprehensive system to prevent rehiring problematic employees. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) has introduced H.R. 3500, the Ensuring Integrity Within the IRS Workforce Act, which would prohibit the IRS from rehiring employees previously fired for misconduct issues. [Read ATR's letter in support of H.R. 3500]

“This is about having a basic respect for hardworking taxpayers,” said Noem. “If the IRS won’t instill commonsense hiring practices within the agency, we will work to write them into law.”

This bill is a commonsense solution to a problem that shouldn’t even exist in the first place. In a time of declining faith in our institutions, it is imperative to have high-integrity employees dealing with sensitive taxpayer information. This bill is essential in ensuring that employees that have been fired for misconduct don’t get a second chance to wreak havoc. [Read ATR's letter in support of H.R. 3500]

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

ATR’s Paul Blair Talks Democrat Lawsuit Against Trump Tax Cuts on Fox News at Night

Posted by Tyler Tate on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 1:38 PM PERMALINK

Last Friday, Americans for Tax Reform’s Paul Blair appeared on Fox News at Night with host Shannon Bream to offer his insights on the latest effort to block the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The discussion focused on the announcement that New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut plan to jointly file a lawsuit challenging the tax cuts over the cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) Deduction.

Blair made the point that after spending months characterizing these tax cuts as only benefitting the rich, Democrats in high-tax states are now fighting against the law in order to protect a deduction that mostly benefits high income taxpayers. Addressing the root cause of the problem, Blair stated “This has nothing to do with tax rates at the federal level. It has everything to do with the fact that, for decades, they've paid no attention or concern to what's going on in their own state."

Rather than challenge a bill that reduces taxes on almost all Americans, Blair argued these Democrat governors, who represent the three states with the highest state and local tax burdens in the country, should focus on cutting taxes to achieve parity with other states.

Wrapping up, Blair said “I hope the outcome, though, is that a number of Democrats in these states become very familiar with the 10th Amendment… they are not going to find a solid legal strategy that allows them to sue… because the rest of the country will no longer subsidize their very, very high tax rates.”

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Governor Rick Scott’s Constitutional Taxpayer Protection Initiative Passes Florida House

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Posted by Tyler Tate on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 10:12 AM PERMALINK

At the beginning of the 2018 state legislative session, Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.) began pitching an extensive taxpayer protection initiative to state lawmakers, businesses, and Florida voters that would place future limits on the ability of the state legislature to raise taxes and fees.  

The Constitutional Amendment, which recently passed the House of Representative by a vote of 80-29, would amend Article 7, Section 19 of the Florida Constitution to require a two thirds vote, rather than a simple majority, in both houses of the Florida Legislature to increase or impose any tax or fee on Florida residents and businesses. If also adopted by the state Senate, the amendment will be put to Florida voters in a ballot initiative requiring 60% of the vote to pass this November.

In pitching his initiative, Scott recently stated that it “will force leaders to contemplate living within their means rather than taking the easy way out and just sticking it to the public by raising taxes on families and job creators.”

If the initiative is successful, Florida would join more than a dozen other states with similar limitations on the ability of a legislature to raise taxes without a supermajority vote. However, Scott’s initiative goes one step further than similar initiatives by applying the supermajority requirements to fee increases in addition to tax increases. This component is crucial, as lawmakers in states such as California have used the “fee” loophole to bypass supermajority requirements to implement relentless waves of tax increases on their states’ residents.

Scott’s momentous initiative continues to pick up broad support and key endorsements across Florida. The initiative is also supported by leading public officials such as Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, and organizations such as National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and Americans for Prosperity.

Scott’s initiative is the culmination of a 7-year record of taxpayer relief, job-creation, and economic growth. Since taking office, Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott have cut taxes by more than $7 billion and Florida’s private sector has created almost 1.5 million jobs.

ATR strongly supports Scott’s historic initiative to create a permanent protection against unnecessary and disastrous tax increases to continue Florida’s impressive record of job creation and economic growth and urges the Senate to follow the House by voting to place the issue upon the ballot this year. 

Photo Credit: Will Dickey, AP/Florida Times-Union

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Governor Jim Justice Proposes the Just Cut Taxes and Win Act

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Posted by Tyler Tate on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 9:09 AM PERMALINK

This week, Governor Jim Justice (R-W. Va.) proposed the Just Cut Taxes and Win (JCTAW) Act, a bill that would reduce the business tangible property tax imposed on many businesses in the state of West Virginia. Over six years, the bill would reduce taxes by about $420 million, specifically on manufacturing businesses. Bill proponents argue that the JCTAW is designed to bring manufacturing jobs back to West Virginia and make the state more competitive for manufacturing.

The JCTAW Act would start by phasing out the $140 million business tangible personal property (TPP) tax on industrial machinery, equipment and inventory over a period of six years, with the tax permanently eliminated in Fiscal Year 2026. The current tax rate is between 2% - 3% (depending on the county the business is in) on 60% of the market value of the business property.

West Virginia is one of only fourteen states that taxes industrial business inventory and has the fifth highest TPP tax among those states. The tax is especially harmful to attracting businesses that offer high paying, middle class manufacturing jobs because it makes equipment ownership unnecessarily expensive. In fact, a Tax Foundation policy report found that the TPP tax causes business investment to “flow out of jurisdictions with high tax rates into jurisdictions with lower tax rates.” This puts West Virginia at a major disadvantage compared to non-TPP tax states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania when it comes to attracting manufacturing jobs from states with less than friendly business climates across the United States.

The JCTAW Act is especially timely given the long-term trend of states such as Ohio, Florida, and Arizona moving to reduce or eliminate their TPP taxes. As this trend continues, and unless West Virginia acts, the state will fall further behind other states in attracting business investment if it fails to eliminate the TPP tax sooner rather than later.

ATR strongly supports Governor Justice’s and the legislature’s effort to deliver a win to West Virginia businesses and workers through the Just Cut Taxes and Win Act.

Photo Credit: Perry Bennet, West Virginia Legislative Photography

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Mountaire Corporation Announces Tax Reform Bonuses and Increased 401k Contributions

Posted by John Kartch on Saturday, January 27th, 2018, 8:15 PM PERMALINK

"All these improvements are being done because of the Tax Reform and Tax Cut passed by the Republicans in Congress and signed into law by our President."

Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Mountaire Corporation will give employees special bonuses of $1,000 or $500 based on length of service. The Millsboro, Delaware based chicken producer will also significantly increase 401(k) matches for employees.

The good news was detailed in a letter to employees from Mountaire Chairman Ronald M. Cameron:

January 26, 2018

Mountaire had an amazing year in 2017. We are blessed with great people and great opportunities. Our performance is outstanding and the blessings of Jesus Christ are all around us to enjoy.

I am very encouraged that the President of the United States and the Republican Congress have reduced taxes for businesses and individuals for 2018. I am extremely excited about what this new change means to our company and all Mountaire employees.

Very soon you should see the impact of the new lower tax rate in your paychecks.

Additionally, because of this new tax reduction, I am pleased to announce that on February 2, 2018, Mountaire is going to pay a one-time discretionary bonus to hourly employees. This bonus will be subject to normal taxes and distributed to all full-time Mountaire hourly and piece rate employees as follows:

  1. $1,000 for all active full-time hourly and piece rate Mountaire employees with more than 180 days of employment as of January 27, 2018.
  2. $500 for all active full-time hourly and piece rate Mountaire employees with between 91 and 179 days of employment as of January 27, 2018.
  3. $500 for all active full-time hourly and piece rate Mountaire employees with between 1 and 90 days of employment as of January 27, 2018. This group of employees will receive their bonus money as soon as they have completed their first 90 days of employment.

I have also decided to make significant improvements to our 401k savings plan. Effective November 1, 2018, Mountaire’s 401k match will be increased to 100% of the first 3% invested, and 50% of the next 2% invested. And also, effective November 1, 2018 you will be given immediate vesting on 401k matching monies.

All these improvements are being done because of the Tax Reform and Tax Cut passed by the Republicans in Congress and signed into law by our President.

I am very optimistic about our performance and the future of Mountaire and our country.

May God continue to bless us and guide us!

Ronald M. Cameron

Mountaire is now on the national list of companies announcing bonuses, 401(k) match hikes, and pay raises due to tax reform.




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The Hammock Source awards tax reform bonuses to employees

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Posted by John Kartch on Friday, January 26th, 2018, 10:16 AM PERMALINK

Employees of The Hammock Source, a Greenville, N.C. – based manufacturer, were surprised with tax reform bonus checks during an announcement on Thursday. Employees received up to $1,000 based on length of service. The company is now among the 260-plus that have announced tax reform bonuses, pay raises, and 401(k) match increases.

According to a company press release:

“Success is only attainable by having good people. We at The Hammock Source want to continue to invest in the people that have made our business successful. President Trump’s tax cuts will provide the funds to make this desire a reality. We hope that other businesses will follow our lead and give back to their employees as well. Keeping an American manufacturing business running profitably has been a challenge over the last decade. The future economic environment looks better for our business and we want our employees to have a gain in that future success early on. People make a business successful, not buildings, not machines. It’s the people.” – Walter Perkins III, CEO, The Hammock Source.

Perkins shared that each of The Hammock Source’s Employees, including new hires and part-time employees, will receive a bonus based on their length of service to the company. The company employs approximately 150 people with over ten percent having twenty or more years tenure with the Perkins Family’s Business.

The family business started over 40 years ago when founder Walker Perkins Jr. began crafting and selling his own hammocks out of the back of an old Toyota pickup. The company is now the world’s largest manufacturer and seller of hammocks.

The bonus checks were placed in envelopes featuring an American flag and the words “Trump Republican Tax Reform Bonus.”

The national list of tax reform good news can be found here.

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