November 20, 2014

Ways and Means Chair Pushes Tax Code Overhaul

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is urging Republicans on the committee to support comprehensive tax reform, telling them in an email last Wednesday that he would release a first draft of his tax reform plan later this week.

Camp’s message emphasized that Congress “cannot simply afford the business-as-usual mentality that keeps Washington comfortable, but complacent.” He said his plan would make the tax system “simpler and fairer” while also strengthening the economy.

Ideally, a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code would eliminate most tax expenditures, which are special provisions that favor certain individuals and businesses. Many of these tax breaks for narrow constituencies are wasteful and inefficient, and they cut federal revenue by more than $1 trillion a year.

Camp’s plan is expected to end many of the tax breaks and would reportedly reduce the number of tax brackets sharply while adding a surtax for many high-income earners.

Many of his colleagues are wary of serious reforms that would offend special interests. But eliminating wasteful subsidies while broadening the tax base would create a simpler and more efficient tax code -- a comprehensive overhaul that many economists and tax experts say is needed.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Camp’s plan would “raise nothing for deficit reduction.” It would be best, however, if the revenue saved from cutting tax expenditures were used for deficit reduction as well as some lowering of tax rates.