Local leaders get peek at GOP tax plan

Local leaders get peek at GOP tax plan

May 27th, 2017 by Judy Walton in Local Regional News

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 5/11/17. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann speaks to CTFP reporters during an editorial board meeting at the newspaper on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Rep. Kevin Brady

Rep. Kevin Brady

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The top lawmaker in one of Congress' most powerful committees visited Chattanooga on Friday to talk to local business leaders about tax reform.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was guest speaker at a breakfast hosted by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the Chattanooga Republican who represents Tennessee's 3rd District.

President Donald Trump and Congress each have vowed to restructure the U.S. tax code, and Brady is in charge of the House effort.

"People are sick of the complicated tax code we've got. It's costly and unfair," Brady said in an interview after the breakfast.

He said Americans deserve a simpler system — in fact, they should be able to file their annual income taxes on a postcard, he said.

Brady, elected to Congress in 1996 and a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, took over Ways and Means when Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was elected House speaker. The Texan and the Tennessean both said they became friends when Fleischmann was elected in 2010. Fleischmann serves on the House Appropriations Committee.

"He's been a friend and inspiration since I've been in Congress," Fleischmann said.

Brady told MSNBC in late April he had been working with the White House on tax reform and said the president was "going bold" on tax reform.

The House plan will focus on cutting business and personal tax rates, shrinking the number of tax brackets, "busting up" the IRS and doing away with the federal estate tax, or "death tax" in the GOP's vernacular.

Cutting business taxes by 43 percent and ending the estate tax — levied on incomes over $5.9 million per person or $10.98 million per couple — would "leapfrog America" from "dead last among our competitors" and help turn America into the "best place on the planet for that excellent new job" and let hardworking families pass down the businesses they built to the next generation, Brady said.

There would be just three personal income tax brackets with lower rates and a bigger standard deduction, but his plan would preserve much-loved benefits such as the home-mortgage interest and charitable deductions, the Earned Income Tax Credit and child and college credits.

The House plan would cut the tax rate in half on what he called "savings," such as interest and dividends and capital gains, allow businesses immediate write-offs for equipment and close a slew of special interest loopholes.

Republican orthodoxy is that lower taxes stimulate the economy and juice revenues. Brady told MSNBC in April that "I think there's 80 percent or more common ground" with Trump's ideas on tax reform.

It's a "tax code built for growth," he said Friday.