To Guarantee Tax Reform, Sunset The Code

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
United States House of Representatives
2309 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Goodlatte:

On behalf of the members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in strong support of H.R. 29, your “Tax Code Termination Act.” By requiring a “sunset” date for the current Internal Revenue Code, your bill would provide the impetus necessary to create a simpler, fairer, and pro-growth Tax Code.

Our current Tax Code is a complex maze of credits, deductions, and exemptions that distorts Americans’ behavior in order to serve policymakers’ often-conflicting goals. The result, as reported in NTU Foundation’s 2016 tax complexity study, is an aggregate paperwork burden that requires 6.1 billion hours to complete and inflicts an economic toll of $234.4 billion in lost productivity, fees, software, and other compliance costs. From the 1950s until the 1980s, the Tax Code was streamlined roughly every 10 years. While incremental changes have been enacted in more recent decades, they have not necessarily served the cause of simplification. It has been more than thirty years since the last serious attempt at tax reform, and the law has grown more complex and inefficient with each passing year.

By putting a spigot on the stream of taxpayer money flowing into Washington, and by setting a date to shut it off, your bill would provide the structure needed to force Congress to deal with tax reform or face the political consequences of failing to do so. Because sunsetting the Tax Code does not guarantee a better system, your bill provides common-sense principles to guide the reform process. Among the many useful guideposts, your bill stipulates that any reforms apply a simple, low rate to all taxpayers, end the Code as a tool for picking winners and losers, and eliminate the bias against savings and investment. Taken together, these guidelines would create a far superior alternative to the current convoluted and economically inefficient structure.    

Lawmakers have signaled their intention to undertake the significant tax reform taxpayers and corporations urgently need in the 115th Congress, and NTU fully supports that effort. H.R. 29 would further emphasize the overwhelming need for reform by creating a firm date on which the current Code will sunset. NTU is pleased to endorse H.R. 29 and urges all Representatives to cosponsor your bill and work toward its swift passage.


Nan Swift
Federal Affairs Manager