Dear Speaker Boehner:
The tax filing season began on Friday, having already been delayed more than a week because of last fall's government shutdown. Tens of millions of Americans are likely to immediately file their tax returns with the expectation that the amount they overpaid in taxes last year will be promptly returned. Secretary Lew has notified us that if Congress does not act quickly when we reach the debt ceiling on Feb. 8, the United States may run short of cash to pay its bills in just a few weeks -- before the end of February. Under the current calendar, we have only eleven legislative days remaining before that deadline.
As Members of the Committee on Ways and Means, which has responsibility for our nation's tax laws, we urge you to immediately put a clean debt limit increase on the House floor. The bill's passage would ensure that all taxpayers receive their money back promptly and protect against an economically disastrous default on our nation's obligations. Failure to act quickly will endanger our economic recovery and send a signal to American taxpayers that their refunds may be in jeopardy, potentially raising unnecessary panic among families awaiting their tax refunds (nearly 110 million refunds of $2,700, on average, last year).
President Obama and Congressional Democrats have been clear: we will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. Past Republican default threats rattled our economy and cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars in lost retirement savings, increased the cost of owning a home, and cost us hundreds of thousands of desperately needed jobs. Let's not add delaying tax refunds to the list. We look forward to working with you to protect American taxpayers.
Ways and Means Democrats