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Congress took an important step in the right direction in providing meaningful tax relief for the first time in twenty years and eliminating some of the worst aspects of the IRS tax code. CSE’s staff and volunteer activists contributed to this hard-fought battle at every step of the way. Though this is merely the first step in creating a fairer and simpler tax code, it will go a long way toward stimulating our economy, creating jobs, and encouraging entrepreneurship.
CSE took to the streets on Tax Day promoting the Bush Tax Cut plan nationwide. CSE held 76 events and had more than 37 media hits.
While CSE would have liked to see faster, larger tax cuts, we are pleased with the direction of tax policy and the potential for fundamental tax reform. We are also motivated and encouraged by the enthusiasm of CSE activists to fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom. Our efforts leave CSE stronger, more battle-ready, and eager for the anticipated annual tax relief legislation.
The battle for tax reform has been an institutional crusade throughout our 16-year history. This year, CSE’s grassroots army turned out in record numbers. Since March, we have:
Held events with 15 Members of Congress;
Organized 35 congressional district office visits with our activists;
Attended and asked death tax questions at 45 town hall meetings;
Organized more than 70 rallies and protests from coast to coast on Tax Day, April 16th;
Distributed more than 25,000 death tax brochures, talking points, and fair cards;
Generated more than 109 earned media “hits” on TV, radio and newspaper;
Generated more than 7,250 e-mails, calls, and letters into swing members’ offices;
Sent more than 205,000 pieces of educational mail.
As a result of our efforts, H.R. 1836, the tax relief bill included the following three primary components of the legislation: death tax repeal, cuts in marginal rates, and family-targeted tax cuts.
The death tax will be eliminated in a nine-year phase out plan. Over this period, the highest rate will be reduced gradually from 55 percent down to 45 percent and the unified exemption will be raised from $1 million to $3.5 million. The tax will be completely eliminated in 2010. And, while this is not an ideal solution by our standards, we are confident that continued pressure from CSE and coalition allies will improve on this beginning. Public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of death tax elimination and CSE will be the voice for more immediate repeal in the months and years to come.
Marginal rates will also be slashed as a result of H.R. 1836. So that all taxpayers receive a tax cut, a new 10 percent tax bracket will be created retroactive to January 1, 2001. Accordingly, rebate checks will be mailed out to all taxpayers late in the summer of 2001. Between 2001 and 2006, all rates (save the 15 percent rate) will be gradually reduced—28 percent down to 25 percent, 31 percent to 28 percent, 36 percent to 33 percent, and 39.6 percent to 35 percent. This will be a boon to our nation’s economy and give much-needed tax relief to millions of taxpayers and small-business owners.
The third key component of H.R. 1836 is a number of family-targeted tax cuts. The marriage penalty will be reduced by adjusting the 15 percent bracket for couples to twice that of individual filers. Also, the standard deduction will be set at twice that of individuals. Families will get an additional benefit from a doubling of the child tax credit, which after a nine-year phase-in will be $1,000.
Other provisions in the bill will increase flexibility with IRAs, modify the Alternative Minimum Tax, and expand student loan programs.
CSE’s state chapters played a critical role in achieving tax relief.
Alabama CSE activists rally outside of Rep. Bud Cramer’s (D- AL) district office in Huntsville. Pictured are Alabama CSE Director Twinkle Andress and Rep. Cramer’s District Director Howell Lee.
California CSE. California CSE made a big impact on Tax Day by being visible in Orange County at post offices and rallies with activists and several Members of Congress. In the past, Orange County has been a CSE stronghold: we have hosted a “Scrap the Code” event, five Tax Club Forums with congressmen and dozens of club meetings. We drew from our base to have activists meet and rally with U.S. Representatives Gary Miller (R-CA) and Ed Royce (R-CA) to demand reform of the tax code.
North Carolina CSE. While Iowa has tax cut-friendly Sen. Grassley, North Carolina CSE has to contend with U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC). Sen. Edwards was a regular on the Sunday morning talk show circuit as the “moderate voice” opposed to across-the board cuts. One statement by Sen. Edwards, which indicated that he had not heard from North Carolinians wanting a tax cut, came back to haunt him—thanks to North Carolina CSE! After North Carolina CSE activists were contacted by e-mail and phone calls about the quote from Sen. Edwards, they sent more than 500 e-mails and faxes and made hundreds of phone calls that ultimately resulted in a daylong closure of Sen. Edward’s Greensboro office and forced his staff to change their personal e-mail addresses.
New Hampshire CSE. Tax-Free New Hampshire put the pressure on U.S. Representative Charlie Bass (R-NH). Bass, a moderate Northeastern Republican, has a voting record to reflect that reputation. So, New Hampshire CSE leveraged our previously established good working relationship with him to enlist his support for full repeal of the death tax. Through the work of CSE and our activists, Bass abandoned his previously held opinion that exemptions be raised and voted in favor of total elimination.
Oregon CSE. Oregon CSE had tremendous success with our Tax Cut Powerpoint Presentation to educate activists and potential activists about the Bush tax cut plan. Oregon CSE Director Russ Walker was able to get entrÃ©e into multiple civic and political organization meetings that were new targets for us. Oregon CSE was also tremendously successful in our efforts to pass HJM 28, the state resolution supporting the Bush tax cut plan. In March, the resolution/memorial, HJM 28, was passed out of a House committee on a 7-1 bipartisan vote after testimony from Oregon CSE staff and volunteer activists. Less than a month later, the state Senate passed the resolution by a 16-to-13 margin.
Texas CSE. Texas CSE enlisted the help of their new Governor, U.S. Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), and Texas State Rep. Kent Grusendorf (R) to make the case to activists and taxpayers about the need to pass the Bush tax cut plan. Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) and Rep. Grusendorf were strong advocates and champions of HCR 207, the state resolution supporting the Bush tax cut plan. With their help, Texas CSE was able to get 75 cosponsors—half of the Texas House—to sign on to the resolution. Texans are also especially concerned about the death tax so Texas CSE participated in a 10-city tour with Sen. Gramm to raise awareness, build support for elimination, and respond to criticism of the President’s proposal. This tour, with dozens of CSE activists clad in “America Needs a Tax Cut” T-shirts at each stop, reinforced with Sen. Gramm that the elimination of this egregious tax has serious traction among everyday citizens.
Washington CSE activist Warren Hinze testifies before the Washington House Finance Committee against the Death Tax.
This summary of progress and success demonstrates CSE’s effectiveness in this monumental tax cut battle. We are the only group with the ability to net these results and we are not done yet. We will continue to rally grassroots support to move up the date on death tax elimination and keep pushing for fundamental tax reform. If we do not continue to build political pressure, our opponents will attempt to chip away at what has been achieved. CSE’s activists do not want to lose ground and with our activists, we will make sure tax cuts, specifically marginal rate cuts and death tax elimination, never suffer at the hands of tax-and-spend politicians.