Please call your legislators about the Democratic tax reform plan

The package of tax reform proposals that Iowa Democratic leaders worked out will come up for a vote this week. The Republican Party of Iowa and various right-wing interest groups are generating phone calls and e-mails to the capitol in opposition to this plan, and are planning several protest actions as well.

This package isn’t everything I’d like to see on tax reform, but it would be a huge improvement on the status quo. As State Senator Joe Bolkcom wrote in this op-ed for the Iowa City Press-Citizen,

There is no doubt that lightening the tax burden on Iowa’s middle-class families would be a significant change in direction for Iowa tax policy. It would reverse the trend of tax changes that mostly benefit the wealthiest Iowans. Increases in sales taxes, the reliance on gambling, and the changes in income tax policies have made Iowa’s overall tax system very regressive and unfair. Those who have less pay more. Those with more pay less to support state and local services.

Our proposed reform would reward work and provide tax cuts to middle-class Iowa workers who are bearing the brunt of the national recession.

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Michael Kiernan sent out an action alert on Monday urging Democrats to contact legislators in support of the tax changes. After the jump I’ve posted an excerpt with some details about the plan and other talking points.  

From Kiernan’s e-mail:

Governor Culver, Senate Leader Gronstal and Speaker Murphy have proposed a $54 million Middle-Class tax cut proposal that will reduce the taxes of more than 800,000 Iowa households.  Six out of ten Iowa households will see a tax cut!

What else might the Middle-Class tax cut proposal mean for you and your family?

   •    More than 881,000 Iowans will see their standard deduction increased by nearly $1,000.

   •    More than 31,000 Iowa families will see an increase in the child and dependent tax credit.

   •    All Iowans will realize tax simplification, including the elimination of 9 lines from the state’s 1040 tax form.

   •    Nearly 69,000 Iowa college students will benefit from a new $100 refundable tax credit.

   •    More than 187,000 Iowans will benefit from an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Democrat’s Middle-Class tax cut proposal also helps family farmers and other small business owners.

  •    80 percent of Iowa farmers who pay state income taxes will receive a tax cut under this revised proposal or see no change (i.e., 61.5% will see a tax cut and 17.9% will see no change).

   •    73 percent of Sole Proprietors who file a Schedule C will receive a tax cut under this revised proposal or see no change (i.e., 66% will see a tax cut and 9% will see no change).

   •    67 percent of Subchapter S, Partnerships & LLC’s who file a Schedule E will receive a tax cut under this revised proposal or see no change (i.e., 51% will see a tax cut and 16% will see no change). […]

To contact your representative in the Iowa House call 515-281-3221

To contact your Senator in the Iowa Senate call 515-281-3371

I don’t think e-mails at this stage of the game are as effective as phone calls.

If your representative or senator says eliminating federal deductibility would impose a “tax on a tax,” you might want to point out that 47 states are already doing this. Are Americans clamoring to move to Alabama or Louisiana, or open businesses there, because they have federal deductibility?

In this piece at Iowa Independent, economist Dave Swenson offers several other good reasons to ditch federal deductibility.

Final note: I was too busy with other commitments to blog about it at the time, but I am really tired of Iowa Republicans creating a myth of martyrdom surrounding last month’s public hearing over the tax proposals.

A large group of noisy and angry conservatives were asked to leave the Iowa House chamber after they repeatedly booed and jeered at speakers they disagreed with. To hear Republican politicians and commentators tell it, the people’s employees threw the employers out of the public’s house. The reality is that the protesters were breaking “House rules [that] prohibit demonstrations of any type from the gallery.”

Look, I’ve been to a lot of public meetings. A little applause when someone on your side makes a good comment is fine, but heckling your opponents is totally out of bounds.

I would expect to be asked to leave a public hearing if I started hollering at the people who support road projects I consider wasteful and destructive, or the people who recite Farm Bureau talking points against reasonable limits on air and water pollution.

Show some courtesy when others are expressing their opinions.

This thread is for any comments related to Iowa tax policies.

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