Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, today is April 15, perhaps the most dread day of the year for the American taxpayer. At some point today, millions of people will engage in a painful, complicated, and uniquely American exercise: filing their Federal tax returns.
According to the Tax Foundation, Americans worked well over 3 months this year--over 3 months; from January 1 to April 9--before they had earned enough money to pay this year's tax obligations at the Federal, State, and local levels. Congress has succeeded in establishing a pattern of taxing and spending to the point that the average American must work a full 99 days of the year just to pay their taxes.
Sadly, while we continue to spend and spend and spend here in our Nation's capital, the tax burden carried by the average American gets heavier and heavier and heavier.
On September 12, 2008, in Dover, NH, then-candidate Obama said this:
I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.
Another interesting quote from then-candidate Obama.
According to data released yesterday by the House Ways and Means Committee, since January of 2009, President Obama and the congressional Democrats have enacted into law gross tax increases totaling more than $670 billion or more than $2,100 for every man, woman, and child in the United States of America.
A list of tax increases includes at least 14 violations of the President's pledge not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for married couples.
For example, there is a new tax on individuals who don't purchase government-approved health insurance. There is a new tax on employers who fail to fully comply with government health insurance mandates. There is a new 40-percent excise tax on certain high-cost health plans. There is a new ban on the purchase of over-the-counter drugs using funds from FSAs, HSAs, and HRAs. There is an increase from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of income, the threshold after which individuals can deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses. There is a new $2,500 annual cap on FSA contributions. There is a new annual tax on health insurance. There is a new annual tax on brand-name pharmaceuticals. There is a new 2.3-percent excise tax on certain medical devices. There is a new 10-percent tax on indoor UV--ultraviolet--tanning services. There is a new tax on insured and self-insured health plans, and it is double the penalty for nonqualified health savings accounts distributions. There is a tobacco tax increase. There are Federal unemployment surtaxes which have been extended through 2011, and there are more and more on the list.
In addition to the financial burden associated with all of the tax increases heaped upon the American people in the past year, taxpayers face the added anxiety of a complicated, antiquated, and oversized Tax Code. Let's look at what Americans go through every year in order to meet the April 15 deadline as reported by National Review Online.
As April 15 approaches like an incoming monsoon, millions of Americans brace for the pain of writing checks to the IRS. Even worse, this annual discomfort begins even earlier, as taxpayers generate a cyclone of documents just to calculate their tax liability. America's excruciatingly complex tax-compliance regime deepens the aggravation of sending hard-earned cash to Washington for virtual incineration by Congress.
Completing tax reforms required 7.75 billion hours of human labor in the 2008 fiscal year, according to the latest reginfo.gov data. That roughly equals 3.7 million people--or everyone in Los Angeles--filling out IRS forms for 40 hours every week, all year, without vacations.
That involves more workers than those at the Fortune 500's five biggest employers--
The National Taxpayers Union's David Keating concludes in a forthcoming report--
more than everybody at Wal-Mart, UPS, McDonald's, IBM and Citigroup combined.
Keating also found that:
Individual taxpayers would devote some 2.3 billion hours grappling with the income tax in 2010 at an equivalent labor cost of $71.4 billion. Add to this the $31.5 billion that individual taxpayers will cough up for tax software, accounting services, photocopying, and other compliance-related expenses. All told, individual taxpayers will spend $103 billion to determine how much more money they must pump into the Beltway.
Meanwhile, the IRS Web site now offers 1,909 different documents, which is up from 1,770 last year. These include the riveting form 8833: Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114, or 7701(b). And don't miss Form 990-W: Estimated Tax on Unrelated Business Taxable Income for Tax-Exempt Organizations. This year's basic 1040 tax return includes 76 lines and 174 pages of instructions, up from 68 lines and 52 pages in 1985.
Last year, the National Taxpayers Union calculated that U.S. corporations spent $159.4 billion on tax compliance, equal to 54 percent of corporate income tax revenue. In 2008, General Electric's tax returns droned on for some 24,000 pages.
It is abundantly clear we are on a path to fiscal disaster. David Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office and current president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and one of the most respected budget experts in the Nation, recently said:
The financial condition of the United States has deteriorated dramatically in recent years. Importantly, our primary fiscal threat is not today's deficit and debt levels, but the structural deficits and escalating debt burdens that will occur after the economy has recovered, unemployment is down, the ``wars'' are over, and the recent crises have passed. These large and growing structural deficits and the tens of trillions in unfunded federal government promises that drive them serve to threaten the future of our country and our families. We must begin to take steps now to put our Federal financial house in order. In addition, we must achieve some meaningful reforms within the next three years in order to help avoid a ``crisis of confidence'' that could have much worse economic consequences for America, Americans, and the world than the recent housing and financial crisis.
Today, all over America, there will be people demonstrating at tea parties, at gatherings, at organizations, at coffee shops, at restaurants, at places of business at the water cooler. People all over America will be talking today about this incredible, complex, difficult, burdensome system we have laid on the American people. It is fundamentally unfair and fundamentally incomprehensible to average citizens.
Most citizens, after they file their tax returns, will now live in some concern, if not grave concern, that they may have made a mistake because of this incredibly complex document from the agency we call the IRS and the tax bills we have. These American citizens can't be positive--even if they have gone to an accountant--that they will not be audited and then subject to further penalties.
We need to clean up the Tax Code. We need to stop the spending. We need to restore the confidence of the American people. There is a veritable uprising going on out there. It is a peaceful one. It is all over America. On a day like today, when they see their taxes have increased by some $670 billion just in the last year, this will fuel the fire that is spreading across America and will culminate this coming November.
Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.