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Diane Watson on Tax Reform

Democratic Representative (CA-33)


Voted YES on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes.

H.R.4351: To provide individuals temporary relief from the alternative minimum tax (AMT), via an offset of nonrefundable personal tax credits. [The AMT was originally intended to apply only to people with very high incomes, to ensure that they paid a fair amount of income tax. As inflation occurred, more people became subject to the AMT, and now it applies to people at upper-middle-class income levels as well. Both sides agree that the AMT should be changed to apply only to the wealthy; at issue in this bill is whether the cost of that change should be offset with a tax increase elsewhere or with no offset at all. -- ed.]

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. RANGEL: We have the opportunity to provide relief to upward of some 25 million people from being hit by a $50 billion tax increase, which it was never thought could happen to these people. Almost apart from this, we have an opportunity to close a very unfair tax provision, that certainly no one has come to me to defend, which prevents a handful of people from having unlimited funds being shipped overseas under deferred compensation and escaping liability. Nobody, liberal or conservative, believes that these AMT taxpayers should be hit by a tax that we didn't intend. But also, no one has the guts to defend the offshore deferred compensation. So what is the problem?

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. McCRERY: This is a bill that would patch the AMT, and then increase other taxes for the patch costs. Republicans are for patching the AMT. Where we differ is over the question of whether we need to pay for the patch by raising other taxes. The President's budget includes a 1-year patch on the AMT without a pay-for. That is what the Senate passed by a rather large vote very recently, 88-5. The President has said he won't sign the bill that is before us today. Republicans have argued against applying PAYGO to the AMT patch. In many ways PAYGO has shown itself to be a farce.

Reference: AMT Relief Act; Bill HR4351 ; vote number 2007-1153 on Dec 12, 2007

Voted NO on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends.

Vote to reduce federal spending by $56.1 billion over five years by retaining a reduced tax rate on capital gains and dividends, as well as.
Reference: Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act; Bill HR 4297 ; vote number 2005-621 on Dec 8, 2005

Voted NO on providing tax relief and simplification.

Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004
Reference: Bill sponsored by Bill Rep Thomas [R, CA-22]; Bill H.R.1308 ; vote number 2004-472 on Sep 23, 2004

Voted NO on making permanent an increase in the child tax credit.

Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend the $1,000 per child tax credit that is scheduled to revert to $700 per child in 2005. It would raise the amount of income a taxpayer may earn before the credit begins to phase out from $75,000 to $125,000 for single individuals and from $110,000 to $250,000 for married couples. It also would permit military personnel to include combat pay in their gross earnings in order to calculate eligibility for the child tax credit.
Reference: Child Credit Preservation and Expansion Act; Bill HR 4359 ; vote number 2004-209 on May 20, 2004

Voted NO on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty.

Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend tax provisions eliminating the so-called marriage penalty. The bill would make the standard deduction for married couples double that of single taxpayers. It would also increase the upper limit of the 15 percent tax bracket for married couples to twice that of singles. It also would make permanent higher income limits for married couples eligible to receive the refundable earned-income tax credit.
Reference: Marriage Penalty Relief; Bill HR 4181 ; vote number 2004-138 on Apr 28, 2004

Voted NO on making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend the cuts in last year's $1.35 trillion tax reduction package, many of which are set to expire in 2010. It would extend relief of the marriage penalty, reductions in income tax rates, doubling of the child tax credit, elimination of the estate tax, and the expansion of pension and education provisions. The bill also would revise a variety of Internal Revenue Service tax provisions, including interest, and penalty collection provisions. The penalties would change for the failure to pay estimated taxes; waive minor, first-time error penalties; exclude interest on unintentional overpayments from taxable income; and allow the IRS greater discretion in the disciplining of employees who have violated policies.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Lewis, R-KY; Bill HR 586 ; vote number 2002-103 on Apr 18, 2002

American People's Dividend: Give $300 to every person.

Watson adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

The Problem

President Bush argues that upper income people pay a larger share of the taxes, therefore they should get a larger tax cut. We disagree. These people have significantly benefited from the economic boom of the 1990s, while those in the bottom range of incomes have received little benefit. It’s these folks that we must help. President Bush’s plan is “Reaganomics” revisited and it’s fiscally irresponsible. Despite spending $1.6 trillion or more, the President’s tax plan gives little to nothing for those with little income. In fact, anyone below 140% of the poverty line, will get a zero tax cut.

The Solution

The Progressive Caucus believes that tax relief must flow to those who need it the most, the working class and people with limited incomes. We have endorsed an idea called the American People’s Dividend. We’ll give a dividend to every American, because every American is an equal shareholder in America. We estimate the total cost to be about $900 billion over 10 years. The plan will give to every person about a $300 refundable tax credit. A married couple with 3 children will receive $1500, $300 for each member of the family. This plan is simple, easy to administer, and progressive. The plan could provide an economic stimulus since it would put money in people’s pockets immediately. Unlike the Bush proposal, which reserves 40% of the tax benefits for the wealthiest 1% of the population, our proposal gives the wealthiest 1% exactly 1% of the tax relief. This makes the bulk of tax relief available for the bulk of the population. The American People’s Dividend is payable every year the federal budget is in surplus.
Comparison of Progressive Tax Plan & Bush’s Plan
The WealthyThe Low Income
Progressive Caucus American Peoples Dividend$300$300
President Bush’s Tax Cuts$$46,000$0
Source: Progressive Caucus Press Release, "Tax Relief" 01-CPC2 on Feb 8, 2001

Rated 28% by NTU, indicating a "Big Spender" on tax votes.

Watson scores 28% by NTU on tax-lowering policies

Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes—every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers. NTU assigned weights to the votes, reflecting the importance of each vote’s effect. NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All Members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score. The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a Member of Congress voted to lessen or limit the burden on taxpayers. The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the Member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring Members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower. A Member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.

Source: NTU website 03n-NTU on Dec 31, 2003

Rated 100% by the CTJ, indicating support of progressive taxation.

Watson scores 100% by the CTJ on taxationissues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CTJ scores as follows:

About CTJ (from their website, www.ctj.org):

Citizens for Tax Justice, founded in 1979, is not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organization focusing on federal, state and local tax policies and their impact upon our nation. CTJ's mission is to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws. Against the armies of special interest lobbyists for corporations and the wealthy, CTJ fights for:

Source: CTJ website 06n-CTJ on Dec 31, 2006

Tax incentives for child care; eliminate marriage penalty.

Watson adopted the Women's Caucus policy agenda: