Entering a new tax age

Published 8:36 am Monday, April 22, 2019

I believe one thing all Americans can agree on is that no one likes Tax Day. April 15 is the day when hardworking Americans focus on how much of their salary has been taken by the government at the expense of more important priorities, such as saving up for retirement or for a child’s college tuition. Tax Day is also stressful for many Americans because of the complexity of filling out your taxes — so complex, in fact, that millions of Americans have had to rely on professional assistance to correctly pay their taxes. This is why at the end of 2017 Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, our first big step in reforming our tax code in over 30 years. This year, the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut, and millions of Americans were able to take advantage of a much simpler form for filing.
Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, we have seen countless examples of employers improving benefit packages, giving employees bonuses, creating new jobs and people going back to work. In Tennessee, these changes have led to personal income increasing on average by $1,471 from the 3rd quarter of 2017 to the 3rd quarter of 2018. Now, people are getting to see the significant individual income tax relief that was included. In the First District alone, a typical family of four earning an income of around $58,367 will receive a tax cut of around $1,620 under the new law. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been improving the lives of nearly every citizen, particularly American families benefit the most by doubling the Child Tax Credit to help middle and lower income families.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, tax reform opponents are still attempting to mislead citizens that they didn’t benefit from the tax cuts. The New York Times acknowledged this point, reporting in an article last weekend, “To a large degree, the gap between perception and reality on the tax cuts appears to flow from a sustained — and misleading — effort by liberal opponents of the law to brand it as a broad middle-class tax increase.” The article also acknowledged, “Most people got a tax cut.” These facts come from one of the most liberal papers in the country. Our tax reform has benefited our country, and the proof is in the numbers. If you believe you did not receive a tax cut, I encourage you to take a look at the taxes you paid last year and the taxes you paid this year.
The tax law has resulted in the U.S. economy being stronger today than ever before. The unemployment rate, currently sitting at 3.8 percent, is at a historic low, and we currently have more job openings (7.6 million) than there are people looking for work. Seventy percent of workers gaining employment came from outside the labor force in the first quarter of 2019 to be exact, which means people who gave up looking for a job are coming back. Despite the doom and gloom predictions about how the law would leave our country unable to afford critical priorities, revenue in 2018 was up compared to 2017.
Even with these positive reforms that have been implemented, I believe we should continue to improve and simplify our tax code. That’s why I supported the Taxpayer First Act, which passed the House on April 9 to ensure IRS prioritizes taxpayers. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This legislation creates an independent appeals process for taxpayer disputes with the agency; requires IRS to develop a restructuring plan that prioritizes efficiency and cybersecurity; ensures IRS notifies parties subjected to an audit; and creates an easier electronic submission of tax return forms and supporting documentation. These are all commonsense, bipartisan changes, and I was pleased to see this legislation pass the House last week.
I am very proud of the positive effects that the Tax Cut and Jobs Act had on the lives of nearly every American, but there is more to be done. The tax relief for individuals expires after 10 years, and I believe it should be extended permanently. I voted in favor of making these tax cuts permanent last Congress, but unfortunately no action was taken in the Senate. Our work in reforming our tax code and the IRS is not finished, and I will continue to support legislation that benefits every American.

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