At an Americans for Tax Reform press conference in the U.S. Capitol, conservative hero Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) called attention to the tax burden faced by Americans and called for “aggressively pro-growth” tax reform. Sen. Lee noted that Americans “work three or four months out of every year just to pay their tax bills.” 

In introducing Sen. Lee, ATR president Grover Norquist spoke of taxation’s role in the founding of our country: “Before the country was founded in 1774, we were paying 1 to 2 percent of our income in taxes. This was considered outrageous, they were thinking of moving maybe to 3% and the guns came out and we told the British to leave. They, by the way, were paying 20 percent in London. The guys in London were paying 20 percent in order to repress us and tell us what to do and we paid 1 to 2 percent.

Since then, there’s been some backsliding and I’m going to ask Senator Mike Lee to come explain why we went from 1 to 2 percent up to about 30 percent of our income being taken, and what are we going to do about it because something needs to be done. This has not been moving in the right direction for a while.”

Senator Lee said: “Thank you, very much, Grover. I appreciate your leadership on this as well as that of ATR, the House Ways and Means Committee, and also the Senate Finance Committee. But we live in a country that has, as you referred to, increasingly been overrun by tax burden. On the eve of tax day, we see our tax freedom day going further and further into the year. We see Americans working three or four months out of every year just to pay their tax bills. This was not always the case, as you pointed out, that from the founding, we — we paid a very small percentage of our GDP in taxes. But over the couple of centuries since then, we’ve seen the growth of government explode and that has all been facilitated by a tax code, one that has some serious problems.”

One of them relates to its complexity. The fact that, together with its implementing regulations, it takes up tens of thousands of pages. The overall tax burden is substantial, forcing people to spend months out of every year just working for the government.

There are also other problems that relate to the fact that it punishes people for being married. It punishes people for having children. The marriage tax penalty and the parent tax penalty are horrible burdens, horrible disincentives for the very kind of behavior that we ought not be punishing. And so we need tax reform, we need simplification, and we need the kind of reform this aggressively pro-growth and that is pro- family. Our republic requires nothing less.”

Norquist then praised Sen. Lee on the landmark Rubio-Lee tax reform plan: “Your leadership with Senator Rubio on the legislation is a powerful pro-growth, pro-family reform for the tax code.”

ATR has praised the Rubio-Lee plan here and here.