Coats, Chamber Members Share Tax Reform Ideas

Combine a U.S. senator working to thoughtfully make a difference on a major issue impacting our future with an audience of knowledgable business leaders and there’s no doubt that you have a winning combination. That point was proven earlier today.

The event at the Indiana Chamber featured Sen. Dan Coats (R-Indiana) discussing The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011. This year’s version was introduced last week with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). Coats came to Indianapolis to outline the topic and gain feedback; he and his staff were not disappointed as they left with ideas and initiatives to further explore.

How does the following sound as part of the introduced bill?

  • Having 90% of taxpayers able to file with a one-page form
  • Reducing the corporate income tax rate to a flat 24% (or possibly even lower) to encourage economic growth
  • Moving the U.S. away from having the second highest combined corporate tax rates among 36 developed countries

It’s all done on a revenue neutral basis. Many current exclusions in the tax code would be eliminated in exchange for the lower overall rate. But Coats notes that this is a work in progress — and that’s why he’s collecting reactions and suggestions as he did today.

"There will be several other iterations (tax reform proposals), but we’re the first one out of the gate," he said, outlining his principles in agreeing to sign on to the legislation. The final caveat was that this be an open book — "so we can modify and adjust as needed."

In a letter sent to President Obama, 64 senators wrote, as Coats outlined today, that "this is more serious than who wins the election in 2012. It’s about which path we want to take for the future of our country." Currently, he adds, the federal government is spending $4 billion a day more than it takes in.

Returning to the Senate position he once held, Coats does cite a positive in the first few months of 2011. "We’ve elevated the debate to where it needs to be. The debate is not about how much more to add (budget spending), but how much to cut."

With a debt that he explains has gone from $1 trillion in 1981 to $14.3 trillion 30 years later, how can anyone argue with that?