Recent Op-Eds

It’s About Time

August 4, 2017

It was way back in August 1986 when President Reagan signed the last meaningful and comprehensive tax reform legislation into law. Randy Travis’s “On The Other Hand” was at the top of the country music charts, Bo Jackson was the first overall pick in the NFL draft, and Kimberley and I were in our second year of marriage. Just think for a moment about everything that’s changed in your own life over the last three decades: marriage, children, jobs, homes. Needless to say, reviewing, modernizing, and reforming our tax code is long overdue.

If you’ve ever flipped through the Internal Revenue Code – it’s not a light read – you’d know just how big and overly complex it has become. Most folks wouldn’t have to go to those lengths, though. For a lot of families, just filing their annual taxes can be a large enough burden. Even with online tax preparation programs and professional tax preparers, which nine out of 10 Americans now use, many people are still uncertain about their return’s accuracy when they file it.

There’s been a lot on the Senate’s agenda this year, but I’ve been working hard to get a head-start on tax reform so we can hit the ground running when the Senate returns to Washington from its summer state work period. While I’m back in South Dakota, I plan on visiting different parts of the state to take my message about pro-growth tax reform directly to the people who would be affected. With a code as massive as the one we have in the United States, it’s hard to find a single American whom tax reform wouldn’t touch.  

My goals for tax reform are actually pretty simple. For starters, I believe we must provide middle-class tax relief, simplify the code, and pursue reforms that increase wages, jobs, and economic growth in South Dakota. While creating an environment for new job growth is important, I also think tax reform must encourage employers to keep good-paying jobs here at home. Finally, whatever we do, we must improve and strengthen America’s competitive edge in an ever-growing global economy. It’s not just the nation’s largest corporations, but also our hometown businesses that make up the supply chain that are at risk if America continues to fall behind in the global marketplace.

Setting these goals is the easy part. The hard, but necessary work of getting a bill on the president’s desk comes next. I’ve already introduced several individual tax reform bills this year to help lay the groundwork for that effort. If you’re interested in learning more about them, go to and click on the tax reform icon on my homepage.

Over the next few weeks and months, I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to work with my colleagues on the Finance Committee as we work toward creating a tax system that works for South Dakotans, not against them.