It’s time for a fairer tax system

It’s not wealthy corporations but smaller and growing companies that are paying higher taxes

The last time Congress undertook tax reform was 1986. Think about that, 1986: cellphones were just beginning to make their debut, the internet didn’t yet exist, and the movie “Top Gun” was in theaters.

Since that time, our tax code has gradually become bloated and overwhelmingly favors wealthy corporations with the resources to hire hundreds of accountants to cut their tax rates to virtually nothing. In fact, a recent study found that 100 Fortune 500 companies paid little or no federal income tax for at least one year between 2008 and 2015.

At the same time, smaller and growing companies that create the most jobs are the ones paying higher taxes. We should cut taxes for hardworking families and small businesses that are contributing more than their fair share.

In 1986, lawmakers in Congress faced a similar problem: a maze of tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations that hurt working families and our economy. But Democrats and Republicans stood together against narrow special interests and voted overwhelmingly to create a simpler and fairer tax code.

I am hopeful that by working together we can accomplish necessary reform 30 years later. Entire industries that couldn’t even be fathomed in 1986 are now driving our economy and it’s critical our tax code evolves to reflect the realities of the 21st Century world.

As we develop a tax system for the future, we must stay true to principles that will benefit Granite State and middleclass families.

That means tax reform must:

 • Increase working families’ wages by encouraging middle-class job growth.

 • Promote investment in the U.S. through a modernized and competitive tax code and commonsense business taxes.

 • Invest in our infrastructure.

 • Go hand-in-hand with sound fiscal policy. I can’t support tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations that increase the deficit and take important funding from defense, education, infrastructure, the opioid epidemic and other priorities.

 • Simplify taxes for small businesses, startups and working families. It shouldn’t take a team of lawyers and accountants for a small business or even a family to file their taxes. We should cut red tape and make it simpler to file taxes and get a refund.

 • End loopholes that reward companies that ship jobs overseas.

 • Encourage American companies to invest at home.

I want to be clear: we need tax reform, not tax cuts for special interests and corporations. I will oppose any plan that doesn’t put New Hampshire businesses and working families first.

Our economy is changing rapidly, and the tax code should play a role in helping companies succeed and expand. My bill, the Workforce Development Investment Act, would create tax incentives to encourage companies to partner with education providers to develop workforce training programs for skills they need. Partnerships like these are already helping people jump-start their careers or update their skills for jobs right here in the Granite State.

Reforming our tax code cannot be a partisan issue. It requires political courage to take on a task as daunting as tax reform but as we saw in 1986, it can be done. Today both Republicans and Democrats must come to the table in good faith to create a system that will help gear our economy toward lifting hardworking American families. No party has a monopoly on good ideas, and I believe that there is appetite on both sides of the aisle to work together for the good of the American people.

Annie Kuster, a Democrat from Hopkinton, represents New Hampshire’s 2nd District in Congress.

Categories: Opinion