• 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.



  • As Tax Day Nears, Give April Back To Oregonians

    With just days to go until the April 15 filing deadline for federal income taxes, Ron focused last week at several stops in Oregon on his solutions to improve the tax system and to stop fraudsters from preying on taxpayers.

    At the Hollywood Senior Center in Portland and at the Chetco Activity Center in Brookings before his Curry County town hall, Ron met with tax preparers helping seniors file their taxes. He heard from preparers how those seniors are targeted increasingly by scammers.

    It seems to me this is an emerging form of organized crime,” Ron said at the Hollywood Senior Center. “I especially worry about seniors falling victim to fake phone calls coming from racketeers who say they are from the IRS.”

    Ron also highlighted the need to provide greater simplicity and transparency in an overly complicated tax code, saying during television interviews in Eugene that “Oregonians should get their April back.”

    In Eugene, Ron spotlighted how he is working to eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. “I want to use those tax dollars we then save to reduce rates for small businesses here at home that are creating what I call ‘red, white and blue’ jobs,’’ Ron said.

    In Portland, Ron and Rep. Earl Blumenauer announced plans to make federal income taxes  equitable for small marijuana businesses in states like Oregon that have legalized medical marijuana and recreational marijuana use by adults.

    Both Oregon lawmakers said those businesses should be able to take the same deductions as any other legal business -- such as for hiring veterans or for rent -- in Oregon and other states where voters have chosen to legalize marijuana use.

    Our legislation would provide an overdue update to federal tax law, which has not caught up to the fact that it’s 2015 and Oregonians have voted both to legalize medical marijuana and to regulate marijuana for recreational use,” Ron said. “This is a question of standing up for the people of Oregon, and ensuring that the federal government respects the decision Oregonians have made at the ballot box.”

  • Ron calls for renewal of CHIP at Randall Children’s Hospital

    As part of Ron’s work to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), he spoke on Friday in Portland with pediatricians, medical officials and healthcare advocates for the African-American and Latino communities.

    What Ron heard during his meeting at Randall Children’s Hospital was agreement on the need for Congress to extend CHIP -- and to do so quickly so that state legislatures nationwide can know they can count on the federal program as they put together their budgets.

    “What I am hearing from advocates like you is the need for certainty and predictability,’’ said Ron, who also toured the children’s hospital--Oregon’s largest provider of pediatric inpatient and trauma services. 

    About 10 million children rely on CHIP for access to comprehensive, affordable health care. In Oregon, that includes 128,000 children, a number that would fill each seat in Portland’s Moda Center six times over.

    The uninsured rate for children has dropped dramatically since CHIP’s enactment, nationally from 14 percent in 1997 to a record low of 7 percent in 2012--and in Oregon over the same time period, the rate of 10 percent in 1997 has been nearly cut in half.

    We should build on this success,” Ron said, “not put it at risk.”