We unanimously recommend two options to reform the tax code. We refer to one option as the Simplified Income Tax Plan and the other option as the Growth and Investment Tax Plan. Both of them are preferable to our current system. Both satisfy the President’s directive to recommend options that are simple, fair, and pro-growth.
The Simplified Income Tax Plan dramatically simplifies our tax code, cleans out targeted tax breaks that have cluttered the system, and lowers rates. It does away with gimmicks and hidden traps like the alternative minimum tax. It preserves and simplifies major features of our current tax code, including benefits for home ownership, charitable giving, and health care, and makes them available to all Americans. It removes many of the disincentives to saving that exist in our current code, and it makes small business tax calculations much easier. It also offers an updated corporate tax structure to make it easier for American corporations to compete in global markets.
The second recommended option, the Growth and Investment Tax Plan builds on the Simplified Income Tax Plan and adds a major new feature: moving the tax code closer to a system that would not tax families or businesses on their savings or investments. It would allow businesses to expense or write-off their investments immediately. It would lower tax rates, and impose a single, low tax rate on dividends, interest, and capital gains.
As directed by the President, our recommendations have been designed to raise approximately the same amount of money as the current tax system. The issue of whether the tax code should raise more or less revenue was outside of our mandate. Regardless of how one feels about the amount of revenue required to fund our government, all should agree that the tax system needs a solid and rational foundation.
We recognize that our report is just the beginning of the process to fix our broken tax system. The hardest work lies ahead. As a bipartisan Panel, we have heard from witnesses and elicited proposals from members of both major parties. We hope that the Administration and the Congress will carry forward this spirit of bipartisanship.
The effort to reform the tax code is noble in its purpose, but it requires political willpower. Many stand waiting to defend their breaks, deductions, and loopholes, and to defeat our efforts. That is part of the legislative process. But the interests of a few should not stand in the way of the tax code’s primary goal: to raise funds efficiently for the common defense, vital social programs, and other goals of shared purpose. If we agree the goals serve us all, we must also agree that the costs must be fairly borne by all. This report aims to give voice to the frustrated American taxpayer and to provide a blueprint for lasting reform. We look forward to a national debate and a better tax system.