Tom Perriello: Reducing the burden
Column by Tom Perriello
One of my top priorities in Congress has been reducing financial burden on middle- and working-class families during these tough economic times. Last week, USA TODAY reported that Americans paid their lowest level of taxes in 2009 since Harry Truman’s presidency. The news story reported: “Federal, state and local taxes – including income, property, sales and other taxes – consumed 9.2 percent of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12 percent for the last half-century.”
These findings bring more good news on top of a report released last month by Citizens for Tax Justice, which showed that 98 percent of working families and individuals in Virginia benefited from at least one of the tax cuts enacted by this Congress and signed into law. Most of these tax cuts are a result of the American Recovery or Reinvestment Act, or stimulus bill, which I supported. The report found that working individuals and families in Virginia received, on average, $1,229 from four tax breaks enacted by Congress.
In all, this Congress has enacted more than $800 billion of tax cuts. The major tax cuts fell into four major categories:
Tax Cuts for American Families ($232 billion over 10 years): includes the Making Work Pay Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit of up to $400 per worker ($800 per couple filing jointly) and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which I wrote, that covers up to $2,500 for the cost of college tuition and related expenses.
Business Tax Incentives to Create Jobs ($10 billion over 10 years): includes extending the increased bonus depreciation for businesses making investments in new plants and equipment in 2009, and extending small business expensing, doubling the amount small businesses can immediately write off their taxes for capital investments and purchases of new equipment made in 2009.
Tax Incentives for State and Local Job Creation ($26 billion over 10 years): for critical activities like school construction, low-income housing, and infrastructure development.
Largest Health Care Tax Cut in History (Over $500 billion): the health insurance reform law contains the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history, providing 40 million middle-class families with incomes up to $88,000 for a family of four with tax credits to help pay for health care coverage in the exchange. For a family of four making $50,000, the average tax credit will be approximately $5,800. Also provides $40 billion in tax credits for 4 million small businesses to help them offer coverage to their employees if they choose, starting this year.
I’m proud to have supported the largest middle-class tax cut in American history, which will not only allow Virginians to keep more of their hard-earned money, but give a much-needed boost to our small businesses as they rebound from the recession. We are on the path to economic recovery, but the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high. Our own region was hit with a devastating blow last week as Stanley Furniture announced its closing of its Henry County plant, resulting in the loss of more than 500 jobs. That’s why I remain laser-focused on job creation and rebuilding America’s competitive advantage, and reject an economic strategy centered on Wall Street. We won’t rebound from this crisis overnight, but I have no doubt that America can lead the way in the industries of tomorrow if we make the right investments today.