U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) marked Tax Day, April 15, by delivering the following remarks (as prepared for delivery) on the Senate floor:
“Mr. President, it’s been said that April is the cruelest month.
“I think that pretty much captures how Americans feel as Tax Day approaches each year.
“This year, Americans will spend 114 days working to pay for their federal, state, and local taxes.
“In other words, Americans may have submitted their federal tax returns – or be getting ready to submit them tonight – but they’re still not done working off all their taxes.
“In fact, Americans won’t start earning a dollar for themselves until April 25, almost one-third of the way through the year.
“Americans spend 6.1 billion hours every year trying to comply with the tax code.
“That’s an average of 19 hours for every man, woman, and child in the United States – or an average of 76 hours for a family of four.
“Almost half of small businesses spend more than $5,000 each year on tax compliance – that’s $5,000 on top of their tax bill.
“Mr. President, paying taxes is never going to be at the top of Americans’ list of favorite activities, but it does not have to be the torturous process it has become.
“The tax code takes too much time to comply with, and it takes too much money from hard-working Americans.
“Comprehensive tax reform is long overdue.
“Unfortunately, instead of tax reform, under the Obama administration Americans have just gotten more taxes.
“The president’s health care law created or raised taxes to the tune of more than $1 trillion over its first decade.
“And several of those taxes have hit families making less than $250,000 a year, despite the president’s campaign pledge not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000.
“Take the Obamacare medical device tax.
“Thanks to this tax, families are now facing higher prices on life-saving medical equipment like pacemakers and insulin pumps.
“Obamacare taxes are also driving up prices for families on essential drugs like EpiPens and asthma medications.
“Other Obamacare taxes are costing American families in other ways:
“The Obamacare employer mandate tax is discouraging employers from expanding and hiring, which means fewer jobs and opportunities for American workers.
“Then there’s the individual mandate tax that last year began hitting American families without government-approved insurance.
“For 2015, the individual mandate tax penalty is $325 per person, or 2 percent of household income, whichever is greater.
“In 2016, that tax penalty will rise to $695 per person, or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.
“But that’s not all Obamacare is bringing to tax season.
“This year, a full half of Americans receiving Obamacare health insurance subsidies discovered that they have to pay back some or all of their subsidies because they didn’t estimate their income correctly.
“Ultimately, just 4 percent of households receiving subsidies had the correct subsidy advanced to their insurance companies.
“Unfortunately, the confusion and mistakes are par for the course for Obamacare.
“The administration apparently finds the law so confusing that it sent out incorrect Obamacare forms to more than 800,000 people.
“And yet the administration wants us to believe that Obamacare is working.
“Mr. President, we need to repeal this broken law and its trillion dollars’ worth of taxes.
“And we need to reform our bloated tax code.
“We need to cut rates for families so that Americans can spend more of the year working for themselves, and less of the year working for the federal government.
“And we need to cut rates for businesses large and small.
“The U.S. currently has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
“That puts American businesses at a huge disadvantage compared to their foreign competitors, and American workers suffer the consequences: lower wages and fewer opportunities.
“Reforming both corporate and individual tax rates would go a long way toward making American businesses more competitive and opening new opportunities and higher-paying jobs for American workers.
“And of course, any tax reform measure should include reforms to the IRS.
“From mishandled customer service to the agency’s most serious offenses – the First Amendment violations involving the deliberate targeting of groups for extra scrutiny based on their political beliefs – this agency is long overdue for reform.
“The IRS commissioner himself, John Koskinen, was quoted in Monday’s Washington Post as saying “We certainly can’t afford to have taxpayer service be any worse than it is, although it’s hard to imagine it being much worse than it is.”
“When even the IRS commissioner admits that the agency’s taxpayer services can’t get much worse, that’s a signal that the agency is ripe for reform.”