Cliff Stearns on Tax Reform
Republican Representative (FL-6)
Voted NO on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income.
Congressional Summary: Amends the Internal Revenue Code to:
Wikipedia.com Explanation: The AMT became operative in 1970. It was intended to target 155 high-income households that had been eligible for so many tax benefits that they owed little or no income tax under the tax code of the time. However, when Ronald Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the AMT was greatly expanded to aim at a different set of deductions that most Americans receive.
- increase and extend through 2008 the alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amounts;
- extend through 2008 the offset of personal tax credits against AMT tax liabilities;
- treat net income and loss from an investment services partnership interest as ordinary income and loss;
- deny major integrated oil companies a tax deduction for income attributable to domestic production of oil or gas.
The AMT sets a minimum tax rate of 26% or 28% on some taxpayers so that they cannot use
certain types of deductions to lower their tax. By contrast, the rate for a corporation is 20%. Affected taxpayers are those who have what are known as "tax preference items". These include long-term capital gains, accelerated depreciation, & percentage depletion.
Because the AMT is not indexed to inflation, an increasing number of upper-middle-income taxpayers have been finding themselves subject to this tax. In 2006, an IRS report highlighted the AMT as the single most serious problem with the tax code.
For 2007, the AMT Exemption was not fully phased until [income reaches] $415,000 for joint returns. Within the $150,000 to $415,000 range, AMT liability typically increases as income increases above $150,000.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This vote extends the AMT exemption, and hence avoids the AMT affecting more upper-middle-income people. This vote has no permanent effect on the AMT, although voting YES implies that one would support the same permanent AMT change.
Reference: Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act;
; vote number 2008-455
on Jun 25, 2008
Voted NO on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes.
H.R.4351: To provide individuals temporary relief from the alternative minimum tax (AMT), via an offset of nonrefundable personal tax credits. [The AMT was originally intended to apply only to people with very high incomes, to ensure that they paid a fair amount of income tax. As inflation occurred, more people became subject to the AMT, and now it applies to people at upper-middle-class income levels as well. Both sides agree that the AMT should be changed to apply only to the wealthy; at issue in this bill is whether the cost of that change should be offset with a tax increase elsewhere or with no offset at all. -- ed.]
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. RANGEL: We have the opportunity to provide relief to upward of some 25 million people from being hit by a $50 billion tax increase, which it was never thought could happen to these people. Almost apart from this, we have an opportunity to close a very unfair tax provision, that certainly no one has come to me
to defend, which prevents a handful of people from having unlimited funds being shipped overseas under deferred compensation and escaping liability. Nobody, liberal or conservative, believes that these AMT taxpayers should be hit by a tax that we didn't intend. But also, no one has the guts to defend the offshore deferred compensation. So what is the problem?
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. McCRERY: This is a bill that would patch the AMT, and then increase other taxes for the patch costs. Republicans are for patching the AMT. Where we differ is over the question of whether we need to pay for the patch by raising other taxes. The President's budget includes a 1-year patch on the AMT without a pay-for. That is what the Senate passed by a rather large vote very recently, 88-5. The President has said he won't sign the bill that is before us today. Republicans have argued against applying PAYGO to the AMT patch. In many ways PAYGO has shown itself to be a farce.
Reference: AMT Relief Act;
; vote number 2007-1153
on Dec 12, 2007
Voted YES on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends.
Vote to reduce federal spending by $56.1 billion over five years by retaining a reduced tax rate on capital gains and dividends, as well as.
Reference: Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act;
Bill HR 4297
; vote number 2005-621
on Dec 8, 2005
- Decreasing the number of people that will be required to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
- Allowing for deductions of state and local general sales taxes through 2007 instead of 2006
- Lengthening tax credits for research expenses
- Increasing the age limit for eligibility for food stamp recipients from 25 to 35 years
- Continuing reduced tax rates of 15% and 5% on capital gains and dividends through 2010
- Extending through 2007 the expense allowances for environmental remediation costs (the cost of cleanup of sites where petroleum products have been released or disposed)
Voted YES on providing tax relief and simplification.
Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004
Reference: Bill sponsored by Bill Rep Thomas [R, CA-22];
; vote number 2004-472
on Sep 23, 2004
- Extension of Family Tax Provisions
- Repeals the scheduled reduction (15 to 10 percent) for taxable years beginning before January 1, 2005, of the refundability of the child tax credit.
- Extends through 2005 the increased exemption from the alternative minimum tax for individual taxpayers.
- Extends through 2005 the following expiring tax provisions:
- the tax credit for increasing research activities;
- the work opportunity tax credit;
- the welfare-to-work tax credit;
- the authority for issuance of qualified zone academy bonds;
- the charitable deduction for donations by corporations of computer technology and equipment used for educational purposes;
- the tax deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers;
- the expensing of environmental remediation costs;
- the designation of a District of Columbia enterprise zone
Voted YES on making permanent an increase in the child tax credit.
Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend the $1,000 per child tax credit that is scheduled to revert to $700 per child in 2005. It would raise the amount of income a taxpayer may earn before the credit begins to phase out from $75,000 to $125,000 for single individuals and from $110,000 to $250,000 for married couples. It also would permit military personnel to include combat pay in their gross earnings in order to calculate eligibility for the child tax credit.
Reference: Child Credit Preservation and Expansion Act;
Bill HR 4359
; vote number 2004-209
on May 20, 2004
Voted YES on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty.
Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend tax provisions eliminating the so-called marriage penalty. The bill would make the standard deduction for married couples double that of single taxpayers. It would also increase the upper limit of the 15 percent tax bracket for married couples to twice that of singles. It also would make permanent higher income limits for married couples eligible to receive the refundable earned-income tax credit.
Reference: Marriage Penalty Relief;
Bill HR 4181
; vote number 2004-138
on Apr 28, 2004
Voted YES on making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend the cuts in last year's $1.35 trillion tax reduction package, many of which are set to expire in 2010. It would extend relief of the marriage penalty, reductions in income tax rates, doubling of the child tax credit, elimination of the estate tax, and the expansion of pension and education provisions. The bill also would revise a variety of Internal Revenue Service tax provisions, including interest, and penalty collection provisions. The penalties would change for the failure to pay estimated taxes; waive minor, first-time error penalties; exclude interest on unintentional overpayments from taxable income; and allow the IRS greater discretion in the disciplining of employees who have violated policies.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Lewis, R-KY;
Bill HR 586
; vote number 2002-103
on Apr 18, 2002
Voted YES on $99 B economic stimulus: capital gains & income tax cuts.
Vote to pass a bill that would grant $99.5 billion in federal tax cuts in fiscal 2002, for businesses and individuals.
The bill would allow more individuals to receive immediate $300 refunds, and lower the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 18%.
Bill HR 3090
; vote number 2001-404
on Oct 24, 2001
Voted YES on Tax cut package of $958 B over 10 years.
Vote to pass a bill that would cut all income tax rates and make other tax cuts of $958.2 billion over 10 years. The bill would convert the five existing tax rate brackets, which range from 15 to 39.6 percent, to a system of four brackets with rates of 10 to 33 percent.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA;
Bill HR 1836
; vote number 2001-118
on May 16, 2001
Voted YES on eliminating the Estate Tax ("death tax").
Vote to pass a bill that would gradually reduce revenue by $185.5 billion over 10 years with a repeal of the estate tax by 2011.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Dunn, R-WA;
Bill HR 8
; vote number 2001-84
on Apr 4, 2001
Voted YES on eliminating the "marriage penalty".
Vote on a bill that would reduce taxes for married couple by approximately $195 billion over 10 years by removing provisions that make taxes for married couples higher than those for two single people. The bill is identical to HR 6 that was passed by the House in February, 2000.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX;
Bill HR 4810
; vote number 2000-392
on Jul 12, 2000
Voted YES on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business.
Provide an estimated $46 billion in tax cuts over five years. Raise the minimum wage by $1 an hour over two years. Reduce estate and gift taxes, grant a full deduction on health insurance for self-employed individuals, increase the deductible percentage of business meal expenses to 60 percent in 2002, and designate 15 renewal communities in urban rural areas.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Lazio, R-NY;
Bill HR 3081
; vote number 2000-41
on Mar 9, 2000
Phaseout the death tax.
Stearns co-sponsored the Death Tax Elimination Act:
Title: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to phaseout the estate and gift taxes over a 10-year period.
Summary: Repeals, effective January 1, 2011, current provisions relating to the basis of property acquired from a decedent. Provides with respect to property acquired from a decedent dying on January 1, 2011, or later that:
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR8 on Mar 14, 2001
- property shall be treated as transferred by gift; and
- the basis of the person acquiring the property shall be the lesser of the adjusted basis of the decedent or the fair market value of the property at the date of the decedent's death.
- Requires specified information to be reported concerning non-cash assets over $1.3 million transferred at death and certain gifts exceeding $25,000.
- Makes the exclusion of gain on the sale of a principal residence available to heirs.
- Revises current provisions concerning the transfer of farm real to provide that gain on such
exchange shall be recognized to the estate only to the extent that the fair market value of such property exceeds such value on the date of death.
- Provides a similar rule for certain trusts.
- Amends the special rules for allocation of the generation-skipping tax (GST) exemption to provide that if any individual makes an indirect skip during such individual's lifetime, any unused portion of such individual's GST exemption shall be allocated to the property transferred to the extent necessary to make the inclusion ratio for such property zero; and
- if the amount of the indirect skip exceeds such unused portion, the entire unused portion shall be allocated to the property transferred.
- Provides that, if an allocation of the GST exemption to any transfers of property is deemed to have been made at the close of an estate tax inclusion period, the value of the property shall be its value at such time.
Abolish IRS--replace income tax with national sales tax.
Stearns co-sponsored the Fair Tax Act to abolish the IRS
A bill to promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States. The Fair Tax Act of 2003 amends the Internal Revenue Code to repeal subtitle A (Income Taxes), B (Estate and Gift Taxes), and C (Employment Taxes) of the Internal Revenue Code. Imposes a tax on the use or consumption of taxable property or services. Sets the tax rate at 23 percent for the calendar year 2005. Sets the rate, for years after 2005, at the combined sum of the general revenue rate (14.91 percent), the old-age survivors and disability rate, and the hospital insurance rate. Senate bill S.1493 is identical to House bill HR.25.
Source: Bill sponsored by 2 Senators and 55 Reps 03-S1493 on Jul 30, 2003
Rated 73% by NTU, indicating "Satisfactory" on tax votes.
Stearns scores 73% by NTU on tax-lowering policies
Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes—every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers. NTU assigned weights to the votes, reflecting the importance of each vote’s effect. NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All Members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score. The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a Member of Congress voted to lessen or limit the burden on taxpayers.
The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the Member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring Members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower. A Member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.
Source: NTU website 03n-NTU on Dec 31, 2003
Rated 0% by the CTJ, indicating opposition to progressive taxation.
Stearns scores 0% by the CTJ on taxationissues
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CTJ scores as follows:
About CTJ (from their website, www.ctj.org):
- 0% - 20%: opposes progressive taxation (approx. 235 members)
- 21% - 79%: mixed record on progressive taxation (approx. 39 members)
- 80%-100%: favors progressive taxation (approx. 190 members)
Citizens for Tax Justice, founded in 1979, is not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organization focusing on federal, state and local tax policies and their impact upon our nation. CTJ's mission is to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws.
Against the armies of special interest lobbyists for corporations and the wealthy, CTJ fights for:
Source: CTJ website 06n-CTJ on Dec 31, 2006
- Fair taxes for middle and low-income families
- Requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share
- Closing corporate tax loopholes
- Adequately funding important government services
- Reducing the federal debt
- Taxation that minimizes distortion of economic markets
Member of the Congressional Flat Tax Caucus.
Stearns is a member the Congressional Flat Tax Caucus
"Our current income tax system is broken. It is complex; unfair; inhibits saving, investment and job creation; imposes a heavy burden on families; and undermines the integrity of the Democratic process. It cannot be repaired by any tinkering or fine-tuning. It must be completely repealed and replaced."
THE FLAT TAX:
Source: Flat Tax Caucus website 07-FTC0 on Nov 6, 2007
- It is SIMPLER--the flat tax will save taxpayers time and money
- It is FAIRER--The flat tax will treat everyone the same
- It is PRO-GROWTH--the flat tax will stimulate economic growth
Replace income tax & employment tax with FairTax.
Stearns signed H.R.25 & S.296
Source: Fair Tax Act 09-HR25 on Jan 6, 2009
- Repeals the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax.
- Imposes a national sales tax on the use or consumption in the United States of taxable property or services.
- Sets the sales tax rate at 23% in 2011, with adjustments to the rate in subsequent years.
- Allows exemptions from the tax for property or services purchased for business, export, or investment purposes, and for state government functions.
- Prohibits the funding of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after FY2013.
- Establishes in the Department of the Treasury: (1) an Excise Tax Bureau to administer excise taxes not administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and (2) a Sales Tax Bureau to administer the national sales tax.
- Terminates the sales tax imposed by this Act if the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (authorizing an income tax) is not repealed within seven years after the enactment of this Act.
Taxpayer Protection Pledge: no new taxes.
Stearns signed Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge"
Politicians often run for office saying they won't raise taxes, but then quickly turn their backs on the taxpayer. The idea of the Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing.
In the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases. While ATR has the role of promoting and monitoring the Pledge, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is actually made to a candidate's constituents, who are entitled to know where candidates stand before sending them to the capitol. Since the Pledge is a prerequisite for many voters, it is considered binding as long as an individual holds the office for which he or she signed the Pledge.
Since its rollout with the endorsement of President Reagan in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office, and is a necessity for Democrats running in Republican districts.
Source: Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" 10-ATR on Aug 12, 2010
Replace income tax & estate tax with 23% sales tax.
Stearns co-sponsored Fair Tax Act of 2011
Congress finds the Federal income tax--
- retards economic growth and has reduced the standard of living
- impedes the international competitiveness of US industry
- reduces savings and investment by taxing income multiple times
- slows the capital formation necessary for real wages to steadily increase
- lowers productivity
- imposes unacceptable and unnecessary administrative and compliance costs
- is unfair and inequitable
- unnecessarily intrudes upon the privacy and civil rights of US citizens
- impedes upward social mobility.
Findings Relating to National Sales Tax- Congress finds further that a broad-based national sales tax on goods and services purchased for final consumption--
- is similar in many respects to the sales and use taxes in place in 45 of the 50 States
- will promote savings and investment
- will promote fairness
- will promote economic growth
- will raise the standard of living
- will increase investment
- will enhance productivity and international competitiveness
- will reduce administrative burdens on the American taxpayer
- will improve upward social mobility; and
- will respect the privacy interests and civil rights of taxpayers.
REPEAL OF THE INCOME TAX, PAYROLL TAXES, AND ESTATE AND GIFT TAXES
Source: H.R.25 11-HR025 on Jan 5, 2011
- Subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to income taxes and self-employment taxes) is repealed.
- Subtitle C of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to payroll taxes and withholding of income taxes) is repealed.
- Funding of Social Security Trust Funds [will be] from general revenue
- Subtitle B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to estate and gift taxes) is repealed.
- IMPOSITION OF SALES TAX: There is hereby imposed a tax on the use or consumption in the US of taxable property or services.
- In the calendar year 2013, the rate of tax is 23% of the gross payments for the taxable property or service.
Supports the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
Stearns signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge against raising taxes
[The ATR, Americans for Tax Reform, run by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, ask legislators to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in each election cycle. Their self-description:]
In the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases. Since its rollout in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office, and is a necessity for Democrats running in Republican districts. Today the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is offered to every candidate for state office and to all incumbents. More than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge.
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge: "I pledge to the taxpayers of my district and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar
for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
Opponents' Opinion (from wikipedia.com):In Nov. 2011, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed that Congressional Republicans "are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist. They're giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit, but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader." Since Norquist's pledge binds signatories to opposing deficit reduction agreements that include any element of increased tax revenue, some Republican deficit hawks now retired from office have stated that Norquist has become an obstacle to deficit reduction. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has been particularly critical, describing Norquist's position as "no taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell."
Source: Taxpayer Protection Pledge 12-ATR on Jan 1, 2012
Repeal marriage tax; cut middle class taxes.
Stearns signed the Contract with America:
[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:
The American Dream Restoration Act:
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA7 on Sep 27, 1994
A $500-per-child tax credit, begin repeal of the marriage tax penalty, and creation of American Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle-class tax relief.
Page last updated: Jun 10, 2012