Monday, April 18, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "Tax Day" by Rep. Pat Tiberi

BY: Congressman Pat Tiberi

By now, you’ve likely spent countless hours with your calculator filling out your tax forms.  While electronic filing, and professional tax preparers tend to make the process easier, gathering the necessary documents, filling out the appropriate forms and calculating the amount of your tax obligation is quite time consuming, complex and costly.

This year, Tax Freedom Day fell within a few days of the deadline for millions of Americans to write a check to the IRS.  Tax Freedom Day marks the day when Americans have worked enough days to pay off their federal, state, and local taxes and begin to earn money to take home.  This year Tax Freedom Day fell three days later, on April 12th, than the previous year, meaning Americans once again had to work longer that the previous year in order to meet their tax obligation.

This week, in the Ways and Means Committee, I heard testimony from tax preparers that they are being asked how folks can minimize earnings to avoid being bumped into a higher tax bracket.  When workers and entrepreneurs ask how they can work less to avoid penalties from the government, it is a sure sign of a broken system.  As a son of legal immigrants, whose parents came here on a boat from Italy for an opportunity at a better life, not a guarantee, the fact that workers feel like they are no longer rewarded for hard work is truly disheartening.  We must make our tax code simpler and fairer.  I continue to hear from Central Ohioans about their frustration with how hard it is to complete their tax forms.    No wonder, individuals and businesses spend 6.1 billion hours a year complying with tax filing requirements.  Unfortunately, more and more people have to rely on tax preparers to accurately fill out their tax forms.

I believe we must enact comprehensive tax reform.  President Obama called for corporate tax reform in his State of the Union speech, but I believe we need to go farther and enact individual tax reform to ease the burden on families and small businesses.  Families know how to better spend their money than unelected bureaucrats in Washington – bureaucrats who sometimes don’t even know what time zone Ohio is in!  By reforming our tax code, we can not only help families, but we can encourage small businesses to grow and hire.

I’m optimistic that reform can happen; however, we have a window of opportunity.  Republicans and Democrats worked together at the end of 2010 to prevent massive tax increases on all Americans.  Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have indicated they would like to see comprehensive tax reform move forward.  In 1986, the last time major tax reform was passed, the Chambers of Congress were controlled by different parties and members still managed to enact much-needed reform.  I’m hoping that President Obama will show leadership and welcome members of both parties to the table. Creating a simpler and fairer tax system can help grow the economy, create jobs, and ensure a more prosperous future for us all.