By Sen. John Thune
Let’s be honest, no one enjoys paying taxes. While that might be the understatement of the century, it’s worth pointing out now that tax season is upon us once again. April is typically enjoyed for other, more enjoyable seasons, like the return of spring or Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans spend a significant amount of time figuring out whether a return is headed their way or if they’ve struck out with the IRS and will need to write a check to Uncle Sam.
It’s hard to argue that taxes aren’t at all necessary. Communities throughout the country need money to build and maintain roads, bridges, schools, and other public utilities we’ve come to expect from local governments. The federal government needs revenue to support our military and the men and women who keep us safe. It also needs money to maintain things like our national park system and fund programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
South Dakotans know and appreciate the value of a hard-earned dollar more than most folks. So, while some taxes are necessary and South Dakotans are willing to pay their share, I firmly believe that we always need to be looking for ways to ensure taxpayers’ money isn’t being squandered by Washington bureaucrats. That means making sure the money that is being used is spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.
It’s also important to remember that there’s a cost associated with making sure an individual or his or her business is complying with the tax code. According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, the “value of the time (6.1 billion hours) plus out-of-pocket costs expended annually on complying with the individual and corporate Tax Code amounts to an economic loss of $234.4 billion.” That’s a staggering amount of time and money that could be more productively spent.
Congress can help alleviate some of that unnecessary burden by taking up pro-growth tax reform this year. It would be the first time in more than 30 years that the tax code was overhauled, and I’m hopeful and optimistic that Congress will take action. My goal throughout the process will be to lower tax rates and simplify the code so South Dakotans can keep more of what they earn. More take-home pay means there’s more to invest in a child’s education, to build a family business, or to save for retirement. American families, small businesses, farms, and ranches need and deserve a tax code that achieves these goals.
I’m confident that if we can lower tax rates, eliminate special rules, exemptions, and deductions, and incentivize businesses to invest, we can get economic growth back to where it needs to be. A stronger, more vibrant economy is good for everyone. Not only does it instill confidence in businesses and consumers, but it also leads to higher wages, more good-paying jobs, and a better quality of life for the American people.