By Tony Sayegh
U.S. Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
This column was published in the 2017 edition of Wisconsin Business Voice.
America’s tax system has not been overhauled in 31 years, and it is placing U.S. taxpayers, businesses and workers at a huge disadvantage. This fall, Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass a comprehensive reform plan that puts America first and positions our businesses and workers to win again. This is President Trump’s top legislative priority, and he is working with both parties to get it done.
It is time for lawmakers to put partisanship aside and come together to get our economy and wages growing at a much faster rate. Real reform that cuts taxes and levels the playing field for American workers will bring jobs back from other countries, and lay the groundwork for companies to grow and hire here as they adapt to the economy of the future.
Hardworking Americans deserve to keep more of their precious time and money. It should not take 241 pages of instructions and a high-priced accountant to file your taxes. President Trump is committed to a plan that will lower the tax burden for middle-income families, and simplify the system so that 95% of Americans can fill out their tax returns on a single sheet of paper.
Middle-income families deserve a pay raise and a tax cut, and that is what the President’s plan will accomplish. We plan to double the standard deduction so that a typical family will not pay any federal income taxes on the first $24,000 of their income, and we will get rid of special-interest loopholes that only benefit those who can afford Washington lobbyists.
At the same time, we must stop the flow of cash and capital out of our country through nonsensical policies that penalize our most talented entrepreneurs with sky-high business tax rates of 35 percent or more.
While countries in Europe and Asia have adapted and lowered rates to compete in the global economy, America’s tax code has been largely stagnant since the mid-1980s.
President Trump has set his sights on a 15 percent business tax rate, which would mark a sharp reversal of this job killing narrative. Lower rates will attract investment and spur the growth that our businesses need to compete and succeed in an inter-connected global economy. This will especially benefit small businesses, which fuel much of our job growth.
Small towns across the country have unfortunately paid the price for Washington’s decades of failure. Local manufacturers have been forced to shut down or move factories overseas in order to stay alive. Instead of giving American companies a leg up against global competitors, our politicians have let them down time and again—and American communities have suffered. We need to incentivize companies to bring their jobs and money back to the U.S. instead of penalizing them with punishing tax rates and compliance costs.
President Trump’s plan will take us from the “Off Shoring Model” to the “American Model,” and bring back trillions of dollars and millions of jobs parked overseas. This will spur growth that will revitalize our cities and unleash the work ethic and ingenuity of America’s greatest assets—our people. Wisconsin saw a preview of how transformative a tax system that supports businesses and their employees can be when technology manufacturer Foxconn announced it would be opening a $10 billion factory in the state, creating thousands of jobs. We now have an opportunity at the federal level to create an environment that attracts businesses and helps to get our manufacturing sector roaring again.
It will not be easy to pass such a bold package of reforms, and we know that special interest groups will fight hard to save their carve outs and tax breaks. It is time to take on the status quo and seize this opportunity to restore prosperity. Congress must break through these barriers to pass an America First tax plan that the President can sign to restore our economic dominance and once again make our country the best place in the world to hire, invest and grow.