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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) and Ways and Means Committee Member Representative Rahm Emanuel, two leading Democrats on the push for tax reform, released the following statement in response to news reports that the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform will submit its final report to the Bush Administration by the end of October instead of tomorrow, September 30th, as previously scheduled:
“We would like to thank the Panel Members, especially Chair Connie Mack and Vice-Chair John Breaux, for their hard work on tax reform this year. We appreciate their dedication in pursuing this complicated but important issue. If tax reform is done right, it can have a positive impact on taxpayers, families, small businesses and our entire economy.
“Democrats want to reform the tax code to make it simpler and fairer for taxpayers and small businesses. President Bush says his first priority for tax reform is that it is revenue-neutral. Our core principle is that tax reform must not raise taxes on the middle-class. To that end, there are several priorities we believe should be included in any bipartisan proposal.
“First, for middle-class taxpayers we must defuse the alternative minimum tax, which was enacted decades ago to ensure that high-income Americans pay their fair share but increasingly ensnares those with middle-incomes. And education and retirement tax incentives must be streamlined. The complexity of rules surrounding these incentives, involving everything from eligibility to contribution limits, may actually discourage middle-class Americans from taking advantage of such opportunities.
“The Simplified Family Credit (SFC) also has broad appeal and benefits. The SFC collapses the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Credit and the Dependent Exemption into one fully refundable tax credit for working families with children, while reducing 200 pages of the tax code down to one 12 question form.
“In addition, we need to simplify tax rules for small businesses, which bear the greatest tax compliance burden. We also must level the playing field for small businesses and protect jobs at home by overhauling the corporate income tax, with a focus on eliminating tax breaks that encourage American companies to move jobs overseas.
“Unfortunately, the American people cannot look to the Republicans in Washington to lead on tax reform. Despite their frequent claims to the contrary, Republicans in Congress have made the tax code more complex, adding more than 20,000 pages in the ten years they have controlled Congress. And Democrats will fight against any Republican attempts to use tax reform as a front to continue their failed tax policies that have created record deficits while increasing the tax burden on middle-class families.
“We are hopeful that the tax reform panel will complete its report by the end of October, and urge the President to act quickly on its recommendations. This issue demands Presidential leadership and determination. The President must not allow tax reform to follow his initiatives on Mars and steroid use into the dustbin.
“We ask the President to depart from business-as-usual and work with Democrats to enact comprehensive tax reform for the benefit of taxpayers, businesses and our economy. We stand ready to work with him.”