As I travel across Virginia’s Fifth District, I regularly hear how our nation’s outdated and complicated tax code is making life more difficult for the people I represent. It is far too complex, onerous, and unfair, placing a tremendous burden on our families, farmers, and Main Street businesses. Laden with special interest loopholes and characterized by high rates, our broken tax code discourages investment and hinders economic growth at a time when we still need more and better jobs in the Fifth District and across the country.
This week, the House, Senate, and President came together in a bipartisan way to address one problem with our tax policy – temporary tax provisions. For many years, both Republicans and Democrats have adopted time-limited tax policies; for example, a five-year tax credit. When the time period of that tax provision nears expiration, Congress rarely allows that tax provision to expire, nor does it make the provision permanent law. Instead, it would adopt a one or two-year extension, kicking the can down the road rather than making a difficult decision.
This is a completely inefficient and unfair way to make tax law, creating significant uncertainty for both individuals and businesses. A family cannot reasonably be expected to budget for their tax bill for the year without knowing if they will be able to use a tax credit for which they used to qualify. Likewise, a small business cannot effectively plan to invest in new employees or capital projects if their taxes unexpectedly spike. We should seek to eliminate as much of this uncertainty from the tax code as possible so taxpayers know what to expect from year to year. It is the least we can do considering how heavily the tax burden falls upon the American people.
Last week, the House and Senate passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act on a bipartisan basis. This pro-growth legislation, which the President signed into law, prevents dozens of potential tax hikes and even permanently extends certain tax policies that will not only ease the burden of taxes on middle class families and our small businesses, but also encourage economic investment and growth. This was not a perfect bill, but it was a big step in the right direction, and I am hopeful that it lays the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform in the near future.
We still must overhaul the tax code, both for individuals and corporations, to lower rates and root out the loopholes and wasteful tax provisions that only benefit special interests. Doing so will generate dynamic job growth and substantially reduce the tax burden on the American people. Speaker Ryan stated that he is committed to advancing a tax overhaul in the House in 2016, and I certainly look forward to that debate.
Finally, as we gather with our families and friends during this holiday season, I hope you will join me in giving thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon our nation – blessings of American freedom, American peace, and American bounty.
Thank you for the honor of serving as your representative in Congress. I hope that you and your family will enjoy this season of peace and good will toward men, and I wish each and every one a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District of Virginia in Congress.