Interest in the health of our nation’s economy is universal to every American. Political ideology aside, the state of our economy directly affects our ability to provide for our families, grow our businesses, and save for the future. As the debate on tax reform continues in Washington, I think it’s important to talk about why it matters here in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is home to nearly 450,000 small businesses that employ 1.2 million people —roughly 50% of the private workforce in our state. Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led Legislature have worked hard to implement common-sense reforms that have allowed our businesses to grow and expand. Over the last 12 months, Wisconsin added about 25,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stands at 3.4%, which is lower than the national average.
Our state was once one of the worst states to do business. Now, thanks to the reforms enacted since 2010, Wisconsin has attracted global businesses such as Amazon, Haribo, and most recently tech manufacturing giant Foxconn to invest here, creating thousands of new family-supporting jobs and enticing Wisconsin’s next generation to stay and begin their careers here.
But there’s a limit to what can be done on the state level unless Congress can pass tax reform legislation. Businesses in Wisconsin and nationwide carry the heavy burdens of an onerous and convoluted federal tax code. In fact, it has increased so much in length and complexity that hundreds of pages of instructions are necessary to file even the most basic returns.
The current federal tax system is unworkable for small businesses, which incur between $15 billion and $16 billion in tax compliance costs, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. But small businesses aren’t alone; they share the painful repercussions of an outdated and unfair tax code with everyday taxpayers. Data provided by the Internal Revenue Service’s Taxpayer Advocate Service shows that American taxpayers spend more than 6 billion hours annually complying with our monstrous tax code.
I remember the impact bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform had on our nation’s economy when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law more than 30 years ago. Those reforms gave a jumpstart to our economic climate and reignited Americans’ faith in the national economy. Similar reforms are long overdue. The time is now to move forward with a comprehensive overhaul of our federal tax system, which has hampered economic growth and bankrolled the bloated federal bureaucracy.
Taxpayers in Wisconsin and throughout the country deserve a fairer tax code that will allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money by streamlining the process and closing special interest tax deductions and loopholes. Business owners deserve a flatter, simpler tax code that will reduce the amount of time and money they spend on compliance and allow them to invest more of their capital back into their businesses. America deserves a tax code that doesn’t incentivize its companies to relocate overseas in order to avoid massive tax obligations that crush growth and kill American jobs.
We all deserve more from our federal tax code. That’s why my congressional colleagues and I — led by House Speaker Paul Ryan — are proposing a plan for long-term, comprehensive tax reform. We want to jumpstart the American economy and restore hope to the millions of businesses and individuals who have come to accept an anemic economic growth rate as the “new normal.”
President John F. Kennedy famously said that a rising tide lifts all boats. That’s exactly what state-level reforms have done here in Wisconsin, and that’s what it will do for our national economy and all Americans when Congress passes comprehensive federal tax reform legislation.
Wisconsin is leading the way, and Congress must now follow suit by passing tax reform legislation that will deliver results to improve the lives of citizens here and around the country, while giving a much needed hand up to our businesses.
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