State of Iowa Archives: on Tax Reform


Tom Hoefling: Eliminate the state's income tax & special crony favors

Hoefling wants to change the state's economic development programs. "What is passing as economic development is actually crony capitalism," he said. "We shouldn't be offering special favors through our tax code."

Hoefling said if he's elected, he'll seek to eliminate the state's income tax and enact "fundamental tax and regulatory reform."

Source: Fort Dodge Messenger on 2014 Iowa gubernatorial race Feb 12, 2014

Sam Clovis: Transition from personal income tax system to a FairTax

If elected, I would propose and advocate for a transition from the current personal income tax system to a Fair Tax. The Fair Tax is a national sales tax that taxes consumption, not production. I have examined the numbers and am satisfied that this system would provide a robust revenue stream that would incent Members of Congress to ensure that the economy stayed on sound footing. The stronger the economy, the more revenue comes into the federal coffers.
Source: 2014 Senate campaign website, Iowans4SamClovis.com, "Issues" Nov 11, 2013

Joni Ernst: Passed the largest tax cut in Iowa history

Ernst's status as the only elected official in the race can be both an asset and a detriment. During the first debate, it was an asset. The state senator from Red Oak highlighted some of her more conservative votes and pointed to Iowa's ability to get things accomplished, like passing the largest tax cut in state history.
Source: Kevin Hall in Iowa Republican on 2014 Iowa Senate debate Oct 24, 2013

Joni Ernst: IRS is a predatory, bureaucratic, out-of-control disaster

Scrap the Tax Code: The IRS is a disaster. The greatest nation on earth should not have one of the most predatory, bureaucratic, out of control tax agencies on the planet. Our system is backwards. Joni believes real, fundamental tax reform will require more than tweaks to the tax code. It's time to scrap it and start over, to make our tax system fairer, flatter, simpler and more certain.
Source: 2014 Senate campaign website, JoniForIowa.com, "Issues" Sep 9, 2013

Michele Bachmann: Health Impact Fee: opposed cigarette tax but voted for life

Q: [to Pawlenty]: In 2005 you levied a new tax on cigarettes, which you called a health impact fee.

PAWLENTY: I did agree to the cigarette fee. I regretted that.

Q: [to Bachmann]: You opposed the tax, but in the end, you voted for it. Now you promis never to raise taxes. Why would you compromise then, but not now?

BACHMANN: I fought against that tax. The problem is, Gov. Pawlenty cut a deal with the special interest groups and he put in the same bill, a vote to increase the cigarette tax as well as the vote that would take away protections from the unborn.

PAWLENTY: Rep. Bachmann didn't vote for that bill because of a stripping away of pro-life protection, she voted for it and is now creating that as the excuse.

BACHMANN: If a member casts a vote one way, they would be increasing the cigarette tax. If they cast a vote another way, they would not be voting for the pro-life protection. It was a choice. The governor put us in that box and I chose to protect human life.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Mitt Romney: I cut taxes 19 times as MA governor

Q: In 2005, when you were the governor of Massachusetts, you successfully appealed to Standard & Poor's to upgrade your state's credit rating. You said you used a combination of spending cuts and new revenues to put Massachusetts on a more sound financial footing. You even approvingly cited a tax increase passed by the Democratic state legislature. Doesn't this show that sometimes raising taxes is necessary?

A: No. I don't believe in raising taxes. And as governor I cut taxes 19 times and didn't raise taxes. Let's step back and talk about the first part what you said. I was fortunate enough to be a governor that got an increase in the credit rating in my state. Republicans and Democrats worked together in Massachusetts to cut spending. I came in, we had a huge deficit. We cut spending. Every single year I was governor we balanced the budget. That kind of leadership is what allowed us to get a credit upgrade from Standard & Poor's. And that's the leadership we finally need in the White House.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Tim Pawlenty: Health Impact Fee: increased cigarette tax but regretted it

Q: In 2005 you levied a new tax on cigarettes, which you called a health impact fee. You said you had to compromise with a Democratic legislature to end government shutdown. But doesn't that show that when leaders are faced with big deficits, they sometimes have to raise taxes?

PAWLENTY: No. On financial management, the CATO institute gave only four governors in America their highest grade, an "A" grade. I was one of those governors. As to the circumstance that you mentioned, I had the first government shutdown in 150 years. We did put together a package, but I balanced the budget every time in Minnesota that I was governor. In fact, my last budget ended June 30 of this year with a surplus. I did agree to the cigarette fee. I regretted that. As it turns out the courts later held it to be a fee. But nonetheless, it was an increase in revenues. It turns out we had a new budget forecast a few months later. And we didn't even need it.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Terry Branstad: Reduce commercial & residential property tax

My primary focus remains on creating the jobs Iowa needs in order to poise the state for future growth, and property tax reform must be enacted this year.

For Iowa's employers, this is important as there should not be a choice between hiring another employee and paying the tax bill.

Failure to act on commercial property taxes, and failure to cap residential property taxes, will amount to a $1.3 billion tax increase during a time of economic uncertainty.

Source: 2011 Iowa Gubernatorial press release Jun 12, 2011

Christopher Reed: Lower taxes means increased revenue, via the Laffer curve

A: President Bush’s tax cuts are set to expire. Would you make them permanent?

A: Yes.

Q: Why?

A: Because withdrawing a tax cut is a tax increase and I am not for tax increases.

Q: What about the budget deficit?

A: I would say in alignment with the Laffer curve, lower taxes, increase revenue.

Q: Why have lower taxes?

A: Because of out of control spending in Congress.

Source: Dean Borg, Iowa Public TV. on 2008 Iowa Senate debate Jun 6, 2008

John McCain: Make tax reform commission & vote yes-or-no on outcome

Q: The FairTax would eliminate the income tax, estate tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax and replace it with a 23% sales tax. Do you support it?

A: I believe that we’ve got to simplify the tax code. But one of the first areas we’ve got to go after is the alternate minimum tax, which is going to eat in to 20 million American families if we don’t eliminate it, and very quickly. Look, when we found out that Congress could not close a single military base when we had a huge number of them, we appointed a commission and they said we would close so many bases, and Congress votes up or down. I would find [someone like former Federal Reserve Chairman] Alan Greenspan. I’d say, “Give us your recommendations.” We’ll pass a law, and we will vote on Alan Greenspan and his commission’s recommendations, yes or no, up or down. That’s the way you’re going to simplify the tax code, which now requires $140 billion of American families’ income to prepare their tax returns.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

John McCain: FactCheck: Families spend $20B on tax prep, not $140B

McCain overstated what “families” spend to prepare their taxes. McCain said, “The tax code now requires $140 billion of American families’ income to prepare their tax returns.”

McCain’s campaign said that the senator was drawing his figures from a 2005 report by the President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. The panel cited a total compliance cost of $140 billion. But that figure wasn’t just for “families,” it included individual and business taxes. The cost attributed to individuals was $65 billion. And even that figure is not an estimate for the amount of “American families’ income” spent to prepare taxes, but assigned a dollar value to preparation time. The IRS calculates time burden separately from cash outlay. For 2000, it puts the latter at $19 billion, a fraction of the figure McCain used.

McCain would have been correct to say that it is estimated that American families spend more than $20 billion of their income on preparing tax returns, plus hours of their valuable time.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Mike Huckabee: Tax system penalizes productivity; needs complete overhaul

Q: The FairTax would eliminate the income tax, estate tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax and replace it with a 23% sales tax. Do you support it?

A: I absolutely support the FairTax. And part of the reason is, the current system is one that penalizes productivity. If we could have the FairTax, you take $10 trillion parked offshore, bring it home, you rebuild the “Made in America” brand, you free up people to earn money, to work, you don’t penalize them for taking a second job, you don’t penalize them for investing, you don’t penalize them for savings.

Today, our tax system doesn’t need a tap of the hammer, a twist of the screwdriver, it needs a complete overhaul. And what the FairTax does, it ends the underground economy. No more illegals, no more gamblers, prostitutes, pimps and dope dealers will be able to escape the tax code. It’s the single great thing that will help this country [achieve a] revitalized economy.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Mitt Romney: Commission studied FairTax and found serious flaws

Q: The FairTax would eliminate the income tax, estate tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax and replace it with a 23% sales tax. Do you support it?

A: It’s good, but it’s not that good. There are a lot of features that are very attractive about a FairTax. Getting rid of the IRS is something we’d all love. But the truth is, we’re going to have to pay taxes. Completely throwing out our tax system and coming up with an entirely new one is something we have to do very, very carefully. The president’s commission on tax reform looked at this and said: Not a good idea. Some of the reasons are the FairTax, for instance, charges a 23% tax, plus state sales tax, on a new home, when you purchase a new home. But if you buy an old home, there’s no tax. Think what that might do to the construction industry. We need to thoroughly take it apart before we make a change of that nature. That’s why my view is, get rid of the tax on savings and let middle-income people save their money tax-free

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: Reducing taxes is a way to raise MORE money

Senator Edwards last week recommended increasing the capital gains tax from 15 percent to 28 percent because he wants more money. Now, Senator Edwards hasn’t had much executive experience because the reality is the last time we raised the capital gains tax, from 20% to 28%, we lost $45 billion. There is a liberal Democratic assumption that if you raise taxes, you raise money. The way to do it sometimes is to reduce taxes and raise more money.
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: Eliminate the death tax immediately

Eliminate the death tax. That should be eliminated immediately. It makes no sense at all. In 2010, the death tax is going to go to zero percent. And then it’s going to go to 55% in 2011. You do not want to be on a respirator in 2010. And then I would say the most sensible thing to do is to simplify the tax code, reduce taxes, keep taxes low.
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: Too complex to get to FairTax; focus on reducing taxes

Q: The FairTax would eliminate the income tax, estate tax, payroll tax & capital gains tax and replace it with a 23% sales tax. Do you support it?

A: I would say the most sensible thing to do is to simplify the tax code, reduce taxes, keep taxes low. I think the flat tax and the FairTax are both very intriguing. And if we were starting off at the very beginning with taxation, the first argument I would make is let’s not have any taxes. The second argument I would make is the FairTax or the flat tax would probably be a better way to go.

Q: But you’re not for the FairTax now, correct?

A: It would be too complex to get there. And somebody would have to show me how we’re going to make that transition. And, also, the thought that there wouldn’t be an IRS with the FairTax--well, who is going to administer the sales tax? And who’s going to administer the people that are exempt from the sales tax? And who is going to administer what items might be exempt from the sales tax?

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Sam Brownback: Supports optional flat tax in income tax; not FairTax

Q: The FairTax would eliminate the income tax, estate tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax and replace it with a 23% sales tax. Do you support it?

A: I think we need to move toward an optional flat tax. I think we need to go to flat taxes. And let me just say why. We’ve got a problem with the current tax code and we’ve tried to take it out. And every time you try to take it out, everybody comes to defend it that has something in it. You can put an optional flat tax in the tax code and let people choose. And it will create economic growth. That’s why 16 countries have already gone to a flat tax: It creates growth. Growth is the key for us in this economy for us to get things moving forward.

Q: OK, but you’re against the fair tax

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Tom Tancredo: Co-sponsored FairTax because income tax manipulates behavior

Q: The FairTax would eliminate the income tax, estate tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax and replace it with a 23% sales tax. Do you support it?

A: The reason why we absolutely need to go to something like a FairTax--and I am a co-sponsor. And by the way, if you don’t understand how it would work, I would suggest to you that you read Neil Boortz’s book and John Linder’s. It’s a perfect explanation of how it works. But the most important reason to move from an income tax to a FairTax is because an income tax is designed to manipulate behavior. It gives the government the power to manipulate your behavior. “I reward you for the things I want you to do by giving you a tax cut. I penalize you for the things I don’t want you to do by raising your taxes.” That is too much power for the federal government. It is always going to be an overreach of power.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Howard Dean: Plan to increase corporate taxes

Q: Will your middle-class tax relief be immediate?

DEAN: The first priority is balancing the budget. What we will do is lay out a plan to balance the budget and include some sort of plan to increase corporate taxes, just as Lieberman has suggested, because corporate taxes are now at the lowest level since 1934, which means the rest of us are paying the rest of the tax burden and that’s not fair.

KUCINICH: Dean takes the position that he’s going to balance the budget, but he said repeatedly that he won’t touch Pentagon spending. Half the discretionary budget of the US goes for the Pentagon. The solution is get out of Iraq, cut the bloated Pentagon budget by 15%, and stop the tax cuts that are going to the wealthy.

DEAN: There are an enormous number of needs in defense that aren’t getting met: special operations, an anti-terrorist task force, human intelligence; cyber intelligence; soldiers aren’t paid properly. What I will do is leave the Pentagon budget alone.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Howard Dean: Cutting payroll taxes is not a bad idea

Q: Have you decided to provide a Social Security tax cut?

A: Cutting payroll taxes is not a bad idea. It’s certainly something we’re going to look at. Under no circumstances will we take the money to cut payroll taxes out of the Social Security trust fund. That would be absurd. If we end up cutting payroll taxes, which is the most regressive tax there is for low- and moderate-income workers, it will come out of the general fund in the form of a tax credit. We will not touch Social Security.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Dennis Kucinich: Fact Check: Says $40K earners pay same as $400K -not really

FACTCHECK on Taxes: Kucinich gave a distorted picture of who bears the tax burden.

KUCINICH: When you consider that a steelworker who’s making $40,000 a year has virtually the same tax burden as someone who’s making $400,000 a year, you see that there are inequities.

FACTCHECK: That’s generally untrue even after the two Bush tax cuts. Even counting Social Security and Medicare taxes along with federal income taxes, households with between $40,000 and $50,000 in income pay an average, combined tax rate just under 19%, much LESS than the nearly 27% rate paid by those whose income falls between $200,000 and $500,000 a year. It is true that a rich person who gets most or all their income from stock dividends and capital gains, and little or nothing from salary or other sources, would pay a lower tax rate than the sort of working person Kucinich mentioned. That’s because the rate on capital gains income was cut to 15%. However, such examples are not the rule and it’s incorrect to imply otherwise.

Source: FactCheck on 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Howard Dean: Fact Check: Dean says 60% got $304-really 50% got over $470

FACTCHECK on Taxes: Dean understated the value of the Bush tax cuts that he has promised to repeal:

DEAN: If you make over $1 million, you’ve got a $112,000 tax cut. 60% of us got a $304 tax cut .

FACTCHECK: Actually, half of all US households got MORE than $470 according to the Tax Policy Center. Dean arrives at his figure by averaging in the cuts received by the bottom 60% of households, which includes all those who paid no taxes in the first place and thus got no cut. But that’s just as misleading as averaging in the cuts received by the TOP 60%, which produces a figure of $1,948. By Dean’s logic, President Bush could claim that 60% of us got nearly $2,000 and he’d be just as correct as Dean. Which is to say, not very.

DEAN CAMPAIGN: Factcheck’s objection is that the Governor did not say explicitly that he was referring to the bottom 60%, rather than the top 60%. The Governor is contrasting the huge tax break for the wealthy with the relatively small average cut for most Americans.

Source: FactCheck on 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Al Sharpton: Bush tax cuts make us victims of a war of mass distraction

We have just ended the military side of a war in Iraq, where we were told there were weapons of mass destruction. We have the victims of weapons of mass distraction, because while they told us we were going at weapons in Iraq, they put through tax cuts that have given us record state deficits, and they want to balance those deficits on the back of municipal employees all over America. We need a war against that.
Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Al Sharpton: Bush isn’t cutting taxes, he’s shifting taxes

We’re saying that Bush is cutting taxes. He’s shifting taxes, because when you have to pay more money for mass transit, when you have to pay more money for sales tax, that’s a tax on working class people. Taxes have gone up in New York. They increase the subway and the bus fare. Taxes have gone up all over this country, because it costs more money for sales tax. We are forcing the states to tax working class people while we cut the wealthy.
Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Carol Moseley-Braun: Roll back the tax cut to create peace and prosperity

Q: We’ve had a $1.3 trillion tax cut, but we’ve lost about two million jobs. Your position?

MOSELEY BRAUN: The tax cuts were absolutely a travesty and they ought to be rolled back. That’s just very clear. Their economic leadership gives voodoo economics a bad name. It is not even trickle down. It doesn’t even reach most people, and not even the wealthy are doing really well with this leadership. Nobody is doing well with this economy. What I would do specifically?

I was part of the Clinton tax bill that turned around the last Bush recession. We went into peace and prosperity in this country. I think we have to turn it around again, get away from war and depression and to go to peace and prosperity in this country again.
Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Howard Dean: Bush’s tax cuts made $10,000 debt for every child

Don’t vote for any tax cuts of any kind. Let’s explain to the American people that tax cuts are killing our jobs and making it impossible for us to have a decent health-care system.

This president has passed the largest tax cut in American history. He’s given $1.7 trillion to his corporate friends like Ken Lay, and added $10,000 worth of debt to every child in America. We can do better than that.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Alan Keyes: Abolish the income tax and spend money responsibly

Q: What would you do about taxes?
A: If you need a tax cut today, all you’ll need to do is change your habits of consumption. You’ll be back in control of your own destiny. That is the tax approach that I recommend. Radically different from what they’re all talking about. They want to remain the gate keepers of your money. I want to put you back in charge of that money. Abolish the income tax.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

George W. Bush: Remove unfairness from the tax code

Q: What would you do about taxes? A: I have laid out a plan that. makes sure our economy continues to grow. That’s why I cut the rates on all people who pay taxes. I’ve got a plan that makes the code more fair. The marriage penalty is unfair. The death tax is unfair. The earnings tax on Social Security is unfair. I’ve got a plan that hears the call of people who live on the outskirts of poverty. By cutting the bottom rate from 15% to 10% we help people access the middle class.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

John McCain: Replace employer-provided benefits with a tax cut

Q: As part of your plan to pay for your tax cuts, you say we ought to eliminate what’s called employer-provided benefits to workers. Isn’t that a $40 billion tax increase? A: For the first time since President Eisenhower, we got a surplus and the question is what do you want to do with it? I want to give it to low- and middle-income Americans as a tax cut. I want to give them the benefits from this that they need that lower- and middle-income Americans need.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

Orrin Hatch: It will take political experience to reform the tax code

Q: What would you do about taxes? A: There isn’t one of these [proposed] plans that’s going to go through. The Democrats will fight it tooth & nail and then the Senate will filibuster it. We’re going to have to have somebody who knows how to get a tax plan through. It’s going to take somebody who basically will repeal the outrageous Clinton tax increases, who will double the family exemption, who will try to bring down marginal tax rates, who will make Social Security deductible.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

Steve Forbes: A flat tax will help families, homeowners, and charities

Q: What would you do about taxes? A: We need to get rid of the code. This way we truly get rid of the marriage penalty. [My] flat tax would help stay-at-home moms, not just those in the work force. It would also help charitable giving because it lets you keep more of what you earn. When the American people have more, they give more. It encourages home ownership. Why? Because it lowers interest rates, allows you to keep more of what you earn and therefore you have more with which to buy a house.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

George W. Bush: Reduce tax rates; return surplus to taxpayers

I’ll have a plan that reduces marginal rates to create jobs, but a plan that also helps struggling families on the outskirts of poverty. I believe that after we meet priorities, all that remains must be passed back to Americans, so it will not be spent by Washington.
Source: Candidacy Announcement speech, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Jun 12, 1999

  • The above quotations are from State of Iowa Politicians: Archives.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Tax Reform.
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2016 Presidential contenders on Tax Reform:
  Republicans:
Amb.John Bolton(MD)
Gov.Jeb Bush(FL)
Dr.Ben Carson(MD)
Gov.Chris Christie(NJ)
Sen.Ted Cruz(TX)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Bobby Jindal(LA)
Rep.Peter King(NY)
Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
Sen.Rand Paul(KY)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Sen.Rob Portman(OH)
Secy.Condi Rice(CA)
Sen.Marco Rubio(FL)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
Democrats:
Secy.Hillary Clinton(NY)
V.P.Joe Biden(DE)
Gov.Andrew Cuomo(NY)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel(IL)
Gov.Martin O`Malley(MD)
Sen.Bernie Sanders(VT)
Gov.Brian Schweitzer(MT)
Sen.Jim Webb(VA)

2016 Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg(I-NYC)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Donald Trump(NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura(I-MN)
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