CPA’S ad­vice on grow­ing our economy

Springfield Sun - - OPINION - By U.S. Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick

As one of just 10 Cer­ti­fied Pub­lic Ac­coun­tants in Congress, I can tell you a se­cret: very few peo­ple — let alone many politi­cians — un­der­stand our cur­rent tax code and, if they do, they’re mak­ing a lot of money off it.

Stand­ing at 70,000 pages, the United States tax code is noth­ing short of a road­block to eco­nomic growth — pun­ish­ing Main Street busi­nesses and work­ing fam­i­lies while cor­po­ra­tions and the wealthy pay ac­coun­tants to nav­i­gate the con­vo­luted sys­tem. Sim­ply put, the sys­tem is bro­ken and we’re stuck pay­ing for it.

If this Congress is se­ri­ous about stand­ing up for mid­dle class fam­i­lies and un­leash­ing the power of the Amer­i­can economy, tax re­form is the nat­u­ral start­ing point. The pos­i­tive im­pact of strong, sus­tained eco­nomic growth has the po­ten­tial to not only help fam­i­lies make ends meet but ad­dress a num­ber of other pres­sures we face.

One and a half per­cent growth in GDP is sim­ply un­sus­tain­able. If that trend con­tin­ues, we will not be able to fund pri­or­i­ties such as bol­ster­ing our na­tional se­cu­rity, tak­ing care of our vet­er­ans, com­bat­ting the ad­dic­tion cri­sis, fund­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and pre­serv­ing our en­vi­ron­ment.

The model is straight­for­ward: we need to sim­plify the ridicu­lously com­plex in­ter­nal rev­enue code, elim­i­nate the loop­holes that al­low cor­po­ra­tions and in­di­vid­u­als to avoid pay­ing their fair share, lower the rates for mid­dle class fam­i­lies and small busi­nesses and broaden the tax base. How­ever, in Wash­ing­ton, we tend to im­me­di­ately find the small­est ar­eas of dis­agree­ment and work from there in­stead of find­ing points of agree­ment and real­iz­ing there is more that unites us on the is­sue.

That’s why, as a mem­ber of the Small Busi­ness Com­mit­tee and Prob­lem Solvers Cau­cus and as a con­cerned tax­payer, I’ve out­lined th­ese com­mon­sense re­forms in terms of ob­jec­tives we share — like en­cour­ag­ing growth, sim­pli­fy­ing the tax code it­self and in­creas­ing ser­vice for tax­pay­ers. Once we’re on the same page, we can stop fight­ing and start fix­ing.

Growth: It has been over 30 years since the last ma­jor over­haul of our tax sys­tem. De­spite rapid eco­nomic change from tech­nol­ogy to medicine, the tax code has only ex­panded its bur­dens on the Amer­i­can peo­ple, re­strict­ing op­por­tu­nity and eco­nomic free­dom. A suc­cess­ful tax plan should:

• In­crease take-home pay for hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans by re­duc­ing the num­ber of tax brack­ets and cut­ting in­di­vid­ual rates

• Lower rates for small busi­nesses and job cre­ators so they can in­vest in grow­ing their busi­ness, hir­ing new work­ers and rais­ing wages • Re­peal the "Death Tax" • Al­low Amer­i­can busi­nesses to im­me­di­ately write off the full costs of new in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing re­search and de­vel­op­ment or tech­nol­ogy

Sim­plic­ity: At over 70,000 pages, the cur­rent tax code forces Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers to nav­i­gate a maze of bur­den­some reg­u­la­tions and com­pli­ance costs that in­clude trea­sury reg­u­la­tions, IRS forms, in­struc­tions, pub­li­ca­tions and other fed­eral guid­ance. A suc­cess­ful tax plan should:

• Sim­plify tax ben­e­fits for fam­i­lies

• Re­duce nu­mer­ous ex­emp­tions, de­duc­tions and cred­its that riddle the tax code, mak­ing it less fair for those who can­not take ad­van­tage of such pro­vi­sions

Ser­vice: Amer­i­cans pay taxes vol­un­tar­ily know­ing that their tax dol­lars fund the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. As the agency in charge of this re­la­tion­ship, the IRS should have a sin­gu­lar fo­cus: "Ser­vice first." A suc­cess­ful tax plan should:

• Re­struc­ture the IRS to re­solves rou­tine dis­putes quickly

• Hold the IRS com­mis­sioner ac­count­able to the peo­ple by im­ple­ment­ing term lim­its, keep­ing pol­i­tics out of the IRS

As a CPA and an independent voice for my con­stituents, I un­der­stand the im­por­tance of tax re­form for our economy. By pass­ing the REINS Act and the Fi­nan­cial CHOICE Act, this Congress has al­ready shown its com­mit­ment to re­duc­ing reg­u­la­tory bur­dens and re­viv­ing the abil­ity of com­mu­nity banks to sup­port lo­cal economies. There is sin­cere sup­port for in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment that puts Amer­i­cans to work by re­build­ing roads, schools, bridges, as well as our IT in­fra­struc­ture and elec­tri­cal grid. Tax re­form is the third piece to the puz­zle.

If we fo­cus on ar­eas of agree­ment, we can work to­gether to get this done. We must seize this mo­ment. The fu­ture of our economy and our coun­try de­pends on it. U.S. Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick is serv­ing his first term in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and is a mem­ber of the Home­land Se­cu­rity, Small Busi­ness and For­eign Af­fairs com­mit­tees. He rep­re­sents Penn­syl­va­nia’s 8th District, which in­cludes all of Bucks County as well as a por­tion of Mont­gomery County.

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