WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) issued the following statement concerning his vote in opposition to the House’s misguided tax legislation, which would saddle the nation with crippling debt and provide little to no tax relief for thousands of residents of Georgia’s Second Congressional District. The bill was approved last week by the full House of Representatives in a vote of 227 to 205.
“I could not in good conscience vote in support of the tax reform legislation considered last week by the U.S. House of Representatives. Tax reform must make our tax code more equitable, less complex, and not significantly add to the budget deficit. Unfortunately, the tax legislation approved by the House last week does not fulfill these requirements. It would shift the tax burden from wealthy taxpayers to middle income families by increasing taxes for 36 million middle income households.
“The House legislation would lower or eliminate many tax credits and deductions that are relied upon by middle income Georgia families. It would (1) eliminate the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes, and cap the deduction for state property taxes; (2) limit the mortgage interest deduction to under $500,000 of mortgage debt; (3) eliminate the student loan interest deduction, increasing costs for millions of college graduates; (4) abolish the medical expense and dependent care assistance deductions, which are relied upon by millions of families caring for sick and aging relatives; (5) end the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which is used by employers who hire veterans with a service-connected disability or history of unemployment; (6) repeal personal exemptions, which are relied upon by large families with multiple children and other dependents; and (7) eliminate the casualty loss deduction, which helps families rebuild after storms and disaster.
“The legislation would also eliminate tax deductions for teachers purchasing school supplies for their students, while permitting similar deductions for companies purchasing supplies for their employees. The bill has similar disparate treatment for moving expenses – allowing a deduction for business moving expenses, but disallowing such a deduction for an individual.
“Additionally, the legislation would end the tax exemption for Private Activity Bonds, which are used by states and municipalities to construct dorms, classrooms, highways, and other public infrastructure improvements. Furthermore, the bill would repeal the deductibility of donations made to college athletic departments for sport ticket rights. These donations are used to fund women’s and men’s college sports, and repeal of this deduction would lead to the loss of scholarship opportunities for student athletes.
“Congress must ensure that tax relief flows to middle income Americans. According to the nonpartisan Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI), nearly forty percent of the aggregate tax cut in this legislation would benefit the wealthiest one percent of Georgians. These tax cuts for high income households and large corporations would become more generous over time whereas other broader benefits under the legislation for middle and lower income households would shrink and eventually expire. GBPI found that while Georgians earning over $543,000 a year would see their taxes cut by $56,000 in 2018 and $75,000 in 2027, the middle fifth of Georgia households would see their taxes reduced only by $500 in 2017 and $220 in 2027, and nearly 30% of middle income households would actually see a tax increase.
“Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the bill would increase deficits by $1.44 trillion over ten years, saddling the nation with more debt just as more and more Americans are retiring and making use of government services including Social Security and Medicare. Combined with the budget resolution passed late October, this could result in reductions to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, nutrition assistance, and our agriculture and commodity support programs.
“While I do support tax relief for Georgia families, it needs to be fair, balanced, and fiscally responsible both in the short and the long term. The benefits must be shared among Georgians of all income levels rather than just concentrated at the top. While the tax legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week fails that test, I remain hopeful that it can be improved in the coming weeks during negotiations with the U.S. Senate.”
The House tax bill is opposed by the AARP, the National Farmers Union, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Fire Fighters, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the NAACP, the National Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Home Builders, Americans for Tax Fairness, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and the National Association of Realtors.