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Ross Op-ed: A Simpler, Flatter, Fairer Tax Code
Posted in the Lakeland Ledger
By Rep. Ross
Tax Day has to be one of the most dreaded days of the year.
I think everyone agrees: We all spend too much time filing our taxes just so the government can take our hard-earned money and spend it the way it wants. Not only do we pay too much in taxes, but the actual process of handing our money over to the government is a nightmare.
The Internal Revenue Service's tax code is too complex and, for many families and small businesses, the tax rates themselves are too high. Taxpayers deserve a tax code that is simpler, flatter, fairer and easier.
The United States tax code is 74,000 pages long. This is seven times as many words are in the Bible and double the length of the Encyclopedia Britannica. According to the IRS, it will take the average taxpayer about 13 hours to understand and decipher all of the forms, and gather all of the receipts that are required. That's 13 hours that you can't spend at your child's tee-ball game, eating dinner with your family, exercising, reading a book or even working.
Additionally, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, 90 percent of taxpayers (both individual and corporate) are forced to spend money on tax return preparation services just to file their taxes.
It's not that Washington taxes too little, it's that Washington spends too much. Families all across America are struggling. They are already making sacrifices to make ends meet. Many families and small businesses give almost half of their income to the federal government, and I think that is wrong.
They can't afford for Washington to take any more of their hard-earned money. Rather than bailing out Washington with another tax increase, Congress should work hard to ensure Americans keep as much of their paychecks as possible to spend and save as they see fit. Lowering the tax rate is a commonsense solution that is good for hardworking Americans.
This year, I introduced HR 243, the BOLD Act, which would address these issues. It would implement aspects of the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission's recommendations for lowering America's debt and simplifying our tax code. The Bowles-Simpson Commission was a bipartisan group created by President Obama in 2010 to determine ways to improve America's economic situation. Unfortunately, the president has ignored all of its suggestions.
In February, we marked the 100-year anniversary of the federal income tax. To commemorate this anniversary, I propose Congress adopt these recommendations to the tax code, which are needed and long overdue.
First, we must reduce individual and corporate rates. The BOLD Act narrows the income tax into just two brackets: 10 percent for annual incomes less than $100,000 and 20 percent for incomes more than $100,000. My bill would set a flat corporate tax rate of 20 percent. Instead of having multiple tax brackets that favor people and companies who know where to find the loopholes, my legislation proposes lower, more fair tax rates for all.
Second, we must eliminate or phase out unfair tax policy, as recommended by the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Perfect examples are tax credits or reductions that pit various energy sources unfairly against each other.
More and more tax credits and deductions are added every year. They favor those people and corporations who have the funds to find and utilize the loopholes. Hardworking taxpayers can't afford to pay for these special interest tax credits and loopholes.
Lowering the tax bracket and simplifying the tax code would still provide more-than-adequate funding for the necessary functions of government, and would give the benefit of simplicity and fairness in our tax system, better than tax loopholes.
By creating a healthier economy by making our tax code simpler, flatter, and fairer for every American, Congress will give families and small businesses all across Florida and the country the ability to keep more of their hard-earned money — in exchange for the angst that comes on Tax Day every year.
[ U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, represents District 15. ]