Politics

House Conservatives Set Ambitious Tax Reform Target: The IRS

Over 150 GOP lawmakers see chance to jettison reviled agency as part of comprehensive budget package

A group of 151 conservative Republican congressmen are calling for the Internal Revenue Service to be abolished, calling it an “inefficient behemoth weighing down our economy.”

“At its worst, the IRS has shown a capacity for outright corruption and political targeting,” the Republican Study Committee (RSC) wrote in its budget, released Thursday. “Under the Obama Administration, the IRS illegally targeted conservatives. It has channeled millions of taxpayer dollars away from taxpayer assistance for employee bonuses. It has allowed taxpayer information to be compromised in a data breach. The IRS has even intentionally leaked confidential taxpayer information. This is a blatant breach of trust. The American taxpayer deserves better.”

The RSC budget calls for tax collection to be moved to “new, smaller and more accountable departments” at the Treasury Department to include a family and individual unit, a business unit and an independent dispute-resolution unit.

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People applying for jobs in the new departments would have to undergo a “rigorous evaluation” of their work performance and would be subject to discipline or termination if they did anything to betray the public’s trust.

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“This fresh start is necessary to reassure Americans that the agency with access to every paycheck is trustworthy and honest,” the members of the RSC wrote.

The RSC’s budget also calls for scrapping the tax code by allowing it to sunset at the end of 2021, and starting fresh with a new tax system that would be simpler, with lower rates across the board (12, 25 and 33 percent) or possibly a flat tax, with no inheritance tax (known as the “death tax”) and few or no itemized deductions allowed.

“Only about 30 percent of individuals use itemized deductions, meaning many targeted tax breaks do not help most individuals,” the RSC wrote in the budget. “If you do not have a high-priced accountant digging through the tax code’s 70,000 pages to find you the best deals — or a high-priced lobbyist to get you a carve-out in the tax code — you are at a disadvantage.”

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The RSC’s budget is presented as an alternative to the official budget passed by the House Budget Committee, and given that the committee’s membership includes the majority of the 240 Republicans in the House of Representatives, it is expected that several of its proposals will be adopted as part of the budget for fiscal year 2018.

“The Republican Study Committee unequivocally chooses to restore our republic,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said in a statement accompanying the release of its budget. “In order to do so, we must reform government in a bold way that reverses fiscally irresponsible decisions that are resulting in an unsustainable budget outlook.

“The appropriate role of a limited government is to protect liberty, opportunity, and security. It is the responsibility of each generation to preserve these principles for the next. The RSC’s budget achieves this endeavor in line with these principles by restoring fiscal balance in 2023 through responsible, bold reforms.”

Abolishing the IRS and scrapping the tax code are presented as a chance that arises once in a generation.

“Congress should consider the full myriad of pro-growth plans put forward by conservatives and move aggressively toward fundamental tax reform,” the budget says. “Tax reform will not be easy, as evidenced by the fact that Congress has not tackled this task since 1986. But we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make this happen, and the RSC will be on the leading edge pushing to make tax reform a reality.”

The budget also calls for the elimination of the Sugar Program, a government program that essentially assures a bottom price for sugar produced in the United States, something that no other industry or product enjoys.

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“The U.S. sugar program is an outdated, Soviet-style command-and-control program that uses import quotas, loans, marketing allotments, price supports, and tariffs to artificially inflate the price of sugar,” Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) wrote in a 2016 report called “Prime Cuts.”

Because of the Sugar Program, according to CAGW, Americans end up paying $3.5 billion more each year for products like cereal, snack goods and soda that contain sugar, and it’s estimated that more than 100,000 American jobs have been lost because of the artificially inflated cost of sugar.

The budget also ends the Milk Program, which consists of subsidies and supports for milk producers.

Both agricultural programs have long been targeted by conservatives, given their distortion of the free market and increased costs to consumers.

(photo credit, article image: Gage Skidmore, Flikr)

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