Tax Day has come and gone, but the aggravation and frustration of tax season is still fresh in many minds. It’s during this particularly “taxing” time of year that hard working Americans are confronted with piles of forms, confusing instructions, and the prospect of turning more of their hard-earned money over to the government. Anyone who has filed taxes knows that the current tax code is overly complex and unfair. If America is to remain competitive in the global economy and build an economy ripe with opportunity here at home, the current tax system must be reformed.
Part of reforming the tax system is having an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that works on behalf of taxpayers, not against them. The IRS political targeting scandal did little to build trust and confidence in the agency. As part of a continued effort to hold the IRS accountable to the American taxpayers, the House of Representatives recently passed several bipartisan reforms. One approved bill, the Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act, would authorize the IRS to terminate the employment of anyone targeting individuals based on their political beliefs.
Additionally, the House passed H.R. 1295, a bill to improve the process for making determinations of whether a group is deemed tax-exempt under section 501(c)4 of the tax code. The provisions of this bill would help further prevent the IRS from targeting an organization based on political or religious beliefs and also allow groups to challenge IRS decisions in court. Another bill, the IRS Email Transparency Act, prohibits IRS employees from using personal email for official government business. With all of the problems featuring the IRS, we do not need employees mishandling private information or potential security breaches.
A fairer tax code also means one that eliminates the estate tax, or death tax, which penalizes many families. I recently voted in support of H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act, to permanently repeal this burdensome tax. I’ve had the opportunity to visit countless family-owned businesses in my travels around the Sixth Congressional District. These men and women have spent a lifetime saving and building their businesses to leave behind greater opportunities for the next generation.
Unfortunately, these earnings are taxed yet again at death. Oftentimes, that can lead to the family business having to be sold altogether, instead of being passed on to the next generation. Instead of taxing family businesses and farms out of existence, repealing the death tax is part of a much-needed overhaul of our tax system that will help protect families in Virginia from facing this unwelcome burden.
These reforms are just starting points for real tax reform. A fairer and simpler tax code is fundamental to encouraging investment, savings, and job creation. Rather than a tax code that restrains economic growth, we need a system that empowers job creators and families. I am committed to seeing these solutions through Congress and enacting a tax system that will serve as a foundation for our 21st century economy.
Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.