April 17,2018

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The Daily Herald: Sen. Orrin Hatch: Tax Day 2018: Out with the old, in with the new

The Daily Herald: Sen. Orrin Hatch: Tax Day 2018: Out with the old, in with the new

By Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch

When I was growing up, a spring cleaning made a world of difference each year. 

Heat from wood and coal, which most homes used to stay warm in the winter, left a significant amount of residue that needed to be cleaned off the walls each spring. To this day, I still think of spring as the perfect time to say, out with the old, in with the new. 

Looking back on the past four-plus decades I’ve spent in politics, I can think of no better day for us to celebrate that same sentiment than today. After all, this tax day is the last time most of us will ever have to think about our old, outdated tax code. Next April 15, Americans will file under an updated tax code that prioritizes middle-class tax relief, higher wages and job creation instead of special interests. 

Though the truth is that many Americans are already beginning to see the impact of our new law. As we have all noticed, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is already withholding fewer dollars from our paychecks, simply because Congress cut your taxes. 

As it turns out, under the new law, a typical family of four making $73,000 will see its taxes cut by more than $2,000. 

That’s because we doubled the standard deduction, which significantly reduces the burden of filing taxes. We also doubled the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, increased the refundability of that credit, and raised the income cap on the credit phase out to allow parents to get more money back to support their kids. 

The good news doesn’t end there, though. Congress eliminated the individual mandate tax, which disproportionately burdened low-income families. We also improved incentives for retirement and college savings plans. All in all, these significant changes allow families to make an extra car payment, pay off debt, or move into the new house they’ve been saving up for. They get to keep more of their hard-earned money each month to go to the zoo, camp down at Lake Powell, help someone in need, or even watch the Jazz take on the Oklahoma Thunder in the playoffs. 

The new tax code is also changing things for businesses, both big and small, all around the country. Just last month I visited Utah Metal Works, a small, family -run business that recycles scrap metal. They currently employ 40 full-time workers at their 10-acre facility, and they’re one of many companies feeling immense relief under the reduced corporate tax rate, which fell from 35 percent down to 21 percent. 

Thanks to tax reform, businesses of all shapes and sizes are feeling relief across the country. And, now that they can keep more of the money they earn, hundreds of businesses throughout the country are giving back to communities and employees and reinvesting their profits to create more jobs. Take for instance the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies here at home, which has offered $1,000 bonuses to more than 10,000 employees. All of this was because the company wanted to reward employees for their dedication and hard work. 

It’d be impossible to list every business that has invested its tax reform benefits in Utahns, but home-grown businesses like Zions Bank — which announced pay raises for more than 40 percent of its employees, plus $1,000 bonuses for nearly 80 percent of its employees — have raised the bar and encouraged other businesses to give back. 

All of this improves the lives of both employees and citizens in the community, but it also makes the businesses more competitive and energized. 

That goes for the international competitiveness as well. The United States has finally joined the mainstream industrial economies by adopting a territorial tax system. This will make American companies more competitive, plus encourage investment from around the world back here at home. Notably, these changes will also help curb inversions, buyouts and hostile takeovers of American-grown companies. 

I am forever grateful to the great citizens of Utah who have trusted me with ushering in our next generation tax code. These changes are a welcome “spring cleaning” of our outdated and uncompetitive system. Perhaps now, more than ever, we can proclaim: Out with the old, and in with the new! 

Sen. Orrin Hatch is the President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate and the chairman of the senate committee on finance.