Rep. Roskam: Tax reform is IRS scandal ‘silver lining’

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Betsi Fores The Daily Caller News Foundation
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In what he describes as the “escalating culture of distrust,” chief deputy majority whip Rep. Peter Roskam says that the silver lining to the continued scandalizing of the Internal Revenue Service is the increased demand for tax reform.

“If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the scandal highlights the urgent need to reform the IRS by simplifying the tax code,” Roskam wrote in Roll Call op-ed.

“As is, the tax code is so burdensome and complex that Americans spend an average of 13 hours a year trying to comply,” Roskam continues. “Taxpayers can’t help but fear as they submit their forms that they’ve left themselves vulnerable to an audit. Even before details of the IRS scandal came out, there was an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and mistrust about the massive amount of power the IRS holds.”

Roskom is hoping that the bipartisan agreement of the IRS’s “outrageous abuse of power,” will propel lawmakers to find an agreement on the issue of tax reform.

Tax reformers are optimistic that a deal can be struck during the 113th session of Congress. Outgoing Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, of the Senate Finance Committee, has dedicated himself to getting something done on the issue while he is still in office. He, along with Republican Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp, have been talking and negotiating in hopes of coming to an agreement.

The symbolic House docket number H.R. 1 has been reserved for a piece of tax reform legislation.

The Ways and Means committee has held 20 hearings on how best to reform the tax code, to make it simpler and fairer.

The IRS scandal surrounding the targeting of Tea Party and other conservative 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations, compounded with last month’s Apple hearing on the company’s tax code, shed light on the nature and complexity of the current tax code.

“I don’t think this is going to slow down tax reform, not at all,” Sen. Baucus said on Bloomberg News last month.

There is great bipartisan support for lowering of the corporate income tax rate, that currently sits at 35 percent, the highest of developed countries. Most agree it could easily be lowered to 25.

On the individual income tax rate however, there has been little consensus among Democrats and Republican as to what should be done.

Since most small businesses file taxes as individuals, not as corporations, however, there is huge concern among small business advocates that should tax reform stray from the comprehensive vision that Rep. Camp has sent forth, small business will be under a large competitive disadvantage.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz shared with the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore, “I don’t think the president has any interest in lowering individual tax rates. He only wants to close loopholes to raise revenues. But on corporate tax reform, he’s open-minded.”

Still, other proponents agree, the spotlight on the IRS reveals the need for tax reform.

“The IRS’s political targeting underscores why comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform is so important,” Republican Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee said in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Rep. Black, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, added,  “A fairer, flatter, and more efficient tax code will go a long way in putting the power back in the hands of the tax payers and away from the IRS, an agency that has proven it can’t be trusted.”

“I am hopeful that recent events at the IRS will help to generate a greater sense of urgency for making tax reform a reality this year,” she said to The DC News Foundation.

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