Videos & Speeches

Mr. President, I wish to speak about the tax issues the Senate is facing this week. There is clearly a tremendous need for comprehensive tax reform. Americans worked from January 1 to April 17 this year, 107 days, to earn enough money to pay their share of Federal, State, and local taxes. Americans also spent nearly 8 billion hours preparing their tax returns this spring. This amounts to 1 million people working full time for an entire year. There is no reason that paying taxes should be so confusing and so complicated, so time-consuming.

The burden this process places on individuals and small businesses must be relieved. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, the average American taxpayer will spend more on taxes in 2012 than they spend on food, clothing, and housing combined.

It is time for tax freedom. We need to replace our deeply flawed tax system with a commonsense system that is simpler and more growth oriented. The Tax Code matters when it comes to growing the economy. It is for these reasons that I am a sponsor of S. 13 and a long time supporter of the Fair Tax, which I see as a step in the direction of liberty and prosperity. The Fair Tax eliminates payroll, estate, and many other taxes, to be replaced with a national sales tax levied on purchased goods, placing all Americans on equal footing. The Fair Tax allows our businesses to thrive while generating tax revenues to be similar to our current 3-million-word-long Tax Code.

The process of tax reform has major consequences for every citizen of our country. But it is a process that must be started because the consequences of inaction are too costly. The truth remains that Americans want and need some sort of tax-filing relief. The need for commonsense reform becomes more obvious each and every tax season.

Over the course of the last several years, American taxpayers have become much more attentive to what is and is not happening in the Nation's Capital, and they have made their choices clearly heard. They have a message Congress should be willing to listen to, and that message is: Simplify the Tax Code.

In doing so, we will create an opportunity for economic growth and new prosperity while increasing personal freedom and liberty. By reforming this broken process, the Tax Code we have today, Americans will once again be more in charge of their lives and their money.

This coming January, as we know, our Nation faces a fiscal cliff. On top of the tax increases included in President Obama's health care law, if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, a tax increase of $494 billion will strike the economy. For Kansans, that is an average tax increase of $3,000 per tax return, money they should be using to put food on their family's table, save for their children's education, and prepare for their own retirement. It is estimated that 70 percent of the looming tax increases will fall directly on low- and middle-income families.

This week, Congress will consider a tax proposal from the majority leader that increases taxes, unfortunately, the exact opposite of what our economy needs. S. 3412 that we are debating this week raises the death tax on family farms, small businesses and ranches and estates to a level over a decade old, when they were brought down in a bipartisan basis.

This proposal would increase the death tax from its current rate of 35 percent to 55 percent. According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the number of estates hit by this tax will rise from 3,600 to nearly 47,000.

Nothing hinders the transfer of a family farm to the next generation more than the estate tax. It is an unfair, unjust burden on our economy, and it punishes Kansans who want to continue their family business. I have long sought a permanent repeal of the estate tax and have pursued opportunities to increase the size of the estate tax exemption and lower the rates. Now we have a proposal to increase the burden of this tax. That will only create less certainty for farmers and small business owners as they plan for their future.

Under this massive tax increase, 20 times more family farming estates will be hit by the death tax and 9 times more small businesses. This tax increase comes on top of significant small business tax increases already in the legislation. According to Ernst & Young, these tax increases on the top two marginal rates would shrink the economy by 1.3 percent and reduce by over 700,000--reduce by over 700,000--jobs from the American workforce.

This tax increase legislation will only add more uncertainty to our Nation's convoluted, ever-changing tax system. Common sense tells us it does not have to be Republicans and Democrats, common sense tells us a simplified Tax Code will help boost the economy.

The revenues we need to balance our books are not increases in taxes; in fact, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Revenues we need to balance our books will come from a strong and growing economy, where more Americans are working and therefore paying taxes.

Government must get out of the way and reduce the drag on the private sector so entrepreneurs and small business owners can put Americans back to work. Americans know that when our economy is strong, when our tax laws are fair, simple, and certain, they can provide for their families. We will have the opportunity to see once again our children and grandchildren pursuing the American dream.