Thank you for being in touch with me about reforming the tax code. I appreciate hearing your thoughts about this important issue.
As you know, taxes are one of the main revenue sources for the government and help provide for many critical services. Decisions about what should be included in the tax code are ultimately questions about priorities. I strongly believe that our priority should be to create a fair tax code that supports hard-working Americans, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet or have lost their jobs in the worst recession of our lifetimes.
One of the biggest portions of our current federal debt came from the income tax cut for the wealthiest Americans that President George W. Bush signed into law early in his first term. After an extension in 2010, these cuts were set to expire at the end of 2012. I strongly oppose giving massive income tax breaks to millionaires and was glad to end the cuts for the wealthiest in H.R. 8, the fiscal cliff package at the end of the 112th Congress. These cuts did not provide the country with needed economic stimulus or job creation, and they effectively amounted to government aid to millionaires at a time when we are cutting spending on education and infrastructure.
I also oppose a number of loopholes in the tax code for investments that allow millionaires and billionaires to effectively pay tax rates of around 15 percent, much lower than the average worker, and was encouraged to see this rate changed to 20 percent in H.R. 8. Private investment is an important aspect of economic growth and should be encouraged. But the fact is that no American millionaire earned his or her wealth all by him or herself. They benefited from public education, or public infrastructure, or publicly funded research—sometimes all three—and those same programs continue to face steep budget cuts.
Additionally, I strongly favor closing wasteful corporate tax loopholes and subsidies, including giving money to large oil companies who are making billions of dollars a year in profits. This is why in the 112th Congress I was a cosponsor of the End Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act. We need to end wasteful and duplicative tax subsidies for the ethanol industry.
We need to close the loopholes that allow companies to ship their profits and jobs overseas and that allow large corporations, like American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, General Electric, and Verizon Communications, who make billions of dollars in profits each year but pay little or no taxes. With an army of lobbyists, accountants, and tax attorneys, these companies spend millions of dollars to save billions by creating legal tax structures that benefit only those with the money to take advantage of them. In fact, according to public data analyzed in a report by the non-profit, non-partisan Public Campaign, from 2008 to 2010 those same five companies paid more to lobbyists than they did in taxes. Closing loopholes and evasive tax shelters should be another priority in any tax reform effort.
Finally, we need to make sure that we administer the tax code in a fair and even-handed way. In 2011, I joined several of my colleagues in urging the IRS to develop tax forms that are friendly and easy to use for Maine’s seniors. I have also helped numerous Mainers navigate the IRS tax code and fought with the IRS to make sure Mainers receive the refunds they deserve and are treated respectfully and fairly in IRS enforcement proceedings.
Thank you again for contacting me about taxes. Please rest assured that I will continue to advocate for these priorities as my colleagues and I consider reforming the tax code. I hope to see you in Maine soon.
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