It is no secret that our tax system is broken.
Did you know that the tax code has not been fully reformed in over 30 years? Right now, we have the opportunity of a lifetime to achieve fair, comprehensive tax reform to make the system work for all Americans.
Politicians in Washington have a spending problem, not an income problem. We have to distinguish the needs versus wants, which conservatives have promised the American people.
Tax reform is fundamentally about achieving three goals, draining the swamp that is Washington, making American businesses more competitive and simplifying the tax code.
In order to keep President Trump's commitment to the American people of draining the swamp in Washington, a comprehensive tax reform must be passed. In 2016 alone, over $3 billion was spent lobbying Congress and the Executive Branch compared to $1.5 billion in 2000. As the size of the federal government grows, lobbying also increases simply because more is at stake.
The size of the tax code, in particular, has gotten stuffed with special tax breaks over the years. For example, between 2000 and 2014, NFL owners have received $3.7 billion in tax benefits to build new sports stadiums despite the fact the average NFL team is worth $2.5 billion.
A key plank of our tax reform plan will reduce business and individual tax rates across the board and pay for it by eliminating special interest tax goodies. The end result is a simpler and fairer tax code, which reduces the need for well-heeled lobbyists in Washington.
In order for America to be competitive on the global stage, tax reform is critical. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world at 35 percent and even higher when you factor in state and local corporate taxes. Simply put, the excessively high corporate tax rate is why companies hold over $2.6 trillion overseas, instead of reinvesting that money back here at home to build new factories and investing in new American-made equipment. The United States has world-class universities, the largest producer of patents and new innovations, so the time is now for our nation to have a world-class tax code too so companies choose to invest here rather than in Europe or Asia.
The Republican tax reform plan will lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent and incentivize companies to bring money back to the United States. South Carolina is already one of the more economically competitive states in the country and a top recipient of foreign direct investment. With the GOP tax reform plan, South Carolina is teed up to benefit even more with a more favorable tax climate to complement all other advantages in its quality of life, infrastructure and lower-than-average energy prices. This ultimately means more high-quality manufacturing and knowledge economy jobs in the state.
Americans deserve a simple tax code. The number of pages in the tax code has increased by 50,000 pages since the code was last reformed in 1986, while revenue as a percentage of GDP has remained constant over that same period. No one likes spending hours on hours trying to comply with our nation's overly complex tax code and working with a bureaucratic IRS. It takes the average taxpayer eight hours to do his or her taxes. Small businesses in particular face excessive burdens, with tax-related paperwork costing $74.24 per hour.
Simplifying the tax code will minimize the cost in time and money for families and businesses. For families, our tax plan will reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three, double the size of the standard deduction from $12,000 to $24,000 and reduce the number of special breaks for the wealthy. Taxpayers can file taxes as easy as using a postcard-size form, saving hours filling out a 1040 tax return form.
Over these next few months, I will tirelessly work with my colleagues in Congress to achieve a tax code that makes American businesses more competitive and easy for Americans to understand.
Editor's note: U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., was recently elected to represent the state's 5th District, which includes all of Lee County and a portion of Sumter County.