All blog posts related to the issue: Education
  • 10 Ways the Tax System is Unfair to Middle-Class Americans

    On Tax Day, Ron calls for comprehensive tax reform that works for all Americans. Here are just ten ways the broken tax code hurts middle-class families:

    1. Unfair tax treatment of wage income vs. wealth

    Taxes on wealth, such as capital gains, are often subject to a lower tax rate than wages and salaries, which the vast majority of every day Oregonians rely on for most of their income. A fair tax system would narrow the disparity between tax rates on income from wealth and income from work

    2. The tax code is too complex. 

    Without access to expensive financial planners, many families aren’t event aware of the tax credits they could take advantage of hidden in the 74,608 page tax code.  Students from Oregon, like Eugene’s Amber Lee, miss out on tax breaks to help with the costs of higher education.

    3. It takes Americans far too much time to complete their taxes.  

    Everyone deserves their April back!  It shouldn’t take U.S. taxpayers 6.1 billion hours and $168 billion per year to file their taxes.

    4. Small, family businesses are forced to navigate confusing rules and requirements.  

    According to the National Small Business Association, 40% of small businesses reported spending more than 80 hours a year dealing with federal taxes in 2014. Businesses in Oregon and across the country should be using this time to grow their businesses, not figuring out their taxes.

    5. Upside-down retirement tax breaks. 

    Our tax code makes it harder for typical Americans to save for retirement as incentives for retirement saving benefit high-income families far more than middle- and low-income families.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 16% of retirement tax benefits go to the bottom 60% of U.S. households by income.

    6. Those who ask for help from the IRS often can’t even get it. 

    It’s middle and low-income Americans who cannot afford expensive accountants that rely on the IRS for tax help. Customer service has declined in recent years due to budget cuts, so much that calling the IRS is like shouting into a void. Only 4 in 10 U.S. taxpayers calling into the IRS for help can get through to a real person. IRS budget cuts have led to inadequate service meaning billions in taxpayer dollars go uncollected every year. Many well-off taxpayers know this and have little fear of getting audited.

    7. Scams, fraud and identity theft are on the rise

    According to the Federal Trade Commission the #1 complaint they receive is tax-related identity theft.   In 2013 43% of all identify theft complaints to the FCC were tax related, up from 15% in 2010.  

    8. The well-off are gaming the system through offshore tax avoidance. 

    Billions of dollars are being hidden in undisclosed off-shore accounts, leaving taxpayers and small business to foot the bill Last year alone the Treasury and state governments lost nearly $110 billion in tax revenues through offshore tax havens. 

    9. No basic standards for tax-return preparers. 

    Without basic standards, too many unaffiliated tax-return preparers are incompetent or even unethical, giving taxpayers incorrect advice and potentially depriving them of their refund – something that many Oregon families depend on. Senators Wyden and Cardin are fighting to set basic standards that tax-preparers must meetLearn more here.

    10. The tax code is filled with loopholes that encourage the use of complicated financial products to lower the tax burden on investments. 

    Earlier this year Senator Wyden released a report detailing a number of these strategies. Once identified, these loopholes must be sealed shut.



  • Creating manufacturing jobs at home in McMinnville

    As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Wyden knows the importance of innovative partnerships between the private sector and local schools to provide training that will generate good-paying manufacturing jobs in Oregon and nationwide.

    On Tuesday, he saw just such a partnership in action in Yamhill County between Yamhill-Carlton High School and Meggitt Polymers and Composites in nearby McMinnville.

    Meggitt makes polymer-related seals for the aerospace industry and has worked with other local businesses to develop an outreach program for the workforce it needs locally.

    During his visit to the high school, Sen. Wyden heard from top Meggitt officials as well as from school teachers and administrators how the estimated $250,000 the company has contributed to the school over the past three years has benefited students.

    Yamhill-Carlton students have received top-notch equipment and exposure to manufacturing techniques and machinery used at Meggitt, had their manufacturing shop completely rebuilt, and interacted directly with Meggitt executives and employees.

    It’s so exciting what’s going on at the high school,” Sen. Wyden said after an hourlong visit that included touring the school’s metal and wood shops and speaking with an AP government class. “It doesn’t get any better than this.

    From the high school, Sen. Wyden traveled to visit Meggitt’s facility in McMinnville. After touring the facility, Sen. Wyden spoke with about 75 employees and fielded their questions in a half-hour forum.

    He told the employees that he sees his job as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee as working to raise everybody’s wages, which he called “one of the premier economic issues of our time.”

    Sen. Wyden said one in five Oregon jobs depends on international trade, which often pay better than other jobs.

    Oregon prospers, he told the Meggitt employees, when it grows and makes products in the state, adds value to products in Oregon and then ships those products somewhere. He said that’s what happening at Meggitt.

    It’s clear what the ambition is here in McMinnville -- to beat the pants off the competition,” Sen. Wyden said.

    People in politics don’t create jobs,” he added. “The jobs come from you all -- the private sector … If I can help set the climate right, you all can do your thing.”

    Sen. Wyden spoke of how his bipartisan plan to lower the top tax rate from 35 percent to 24 percent would “reward the people who create what I call good-paying red-white-and-blue jobs.”

    Asked his definition of a good-paying job, Sen. Wyden described it as one that “lets you buy a house, buy a car, educate your kids ….maybe even once in a while go on a trip to the coast for a couple of days.”

    He linked the job training that students at Yamhill-Carlton High School are receiving from Meggitt as a vital support to ensure Oregon continues to grow its manufacturing base.

    This is a big piece of Oregon’s economic future,” he said. “Middle-class people are hurting and we need these kinds of jobs.”

  • School Libraries, Summer Lunch, Summer Learning

    Hunger doesn’t take the summer off and learning shouldn’t either. That’s why over the Fourth of July week Ron visited summer learning sites in Oregon. OregonASK (Oregon Afterschool Network), National Summer Learning Association, and their partners work with local schools to provide lunch and access to books and activities to Oregon kids in the summer. Low-income students more likely to experience the “summer slide” since they often lack the opportunities to keep learning over the summer.

    Ron stopped by three of the twenty-six School Libraries, Summer Lunch, Summer Learning sites. The first was Nellie Muir Elementary School in Woodburn where he read to students participating in the program. He also answered their questions including what it means to be a senator and what he does for Oregon.

    At Grant School in Salem and Guy Lee Park in Springfield, Senator Wyden helped to serve lunch, read with students and participated in a roundtable of Oregon educators and officials to discuss how to provide more kids with access to Summer Lunch, Summer Learning programs.

    During the week Ron also held his annual Curry and Coos County town halls, stopped at Ninkasi Brewing on the way, and marched in one of the best parades in Oregon – the Fourth of July parade in Ashland.

    After visiting the summer learning sites, Ron vowed to help efforts like these that make sure no kid goes hungry or experiences learning loss just because school’s out for the summer.