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Joe Sestak on Tax Reform

Democrat


No flat tax; focus on the working family, not Wall Street

Sestak and Toomey had agreed to debate on the economy, although only about half of the questions from the audience focused on that topic. "Well, it all relates to the economy," one audience member noted.

The two candidates found some common ground on questions geared toward the economy. Both said federal spending needs to be reduced.

"When I was (in Congress) I was fighting against the spending that was going on," said Toomey.

Sestak said he would like to see the government extend help to the group he says drives the economy--"The working family, not Wall Street"--by getting tax cuts to that group.

Sestak said he does not support the flat tax as he said Toomey does, and the government should look to guarantee community bank loans to entice borrowers.

Toomey said he believes in strengthening the economy through lower taxes, less spending and increasing domestic energy production.

Source: The Express-Times coverage of 2010 PA Senate debate , Apr 11, 2010

Bush tax oplicies shift burden to middle class & future

The Bush Administration’s tax cuts deprived us of the revenue to address urgent challenges, while mortgaging our children’s futures and shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle and lower working classes. The repeal of the estate tax, the lowering of the upper tax brackets, and the reduction in dividend and capital gains taxes means that our government is taxing working families more on their incomes than billionaires on the wealth they inherit (0%) or the stock profits they turn (15%).
Source: 2006 House campaign website, sestakforcongress.com, “Issues” , Nov 7, 2006

Voted YES on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income.

Congressional Summary: Amends the Internal Revenue Code to:
  1. increase and extend through 2008 the alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amounts;
  2. extend through 2008 the offset of personal tax credits against AMT tax liabilities;
  3. treat net income and loss from an investment services partnership interest as ordinary income and loss;
  4. deny major integrated oil companies a tax deduction for income attributable to domestic production of oil or gas.
Wikipedia.com Explanation: The AMT became operative in 1970. It was intended to target 155 high-income households that had been eligible for so many tax benefits that they owed little or no income tax under the tax code of the time. However, when Ronald Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the AMT was greatly expanded to aim at a different set of deductions that most Americans receive.

The AMT sets a minimum tax rate of 26% or 28% on some taxpayers so that they cannot use certain types of deductions to lower their tax. By contrast, the rate for a corporation is 20%. Affected taxpayers are those who have what are known as "tax preference items". These include long-term capital gains, accelerated depreciation, & percentage depletion.

Because the AMT is not indexed to inflation, an increasing number of upper-middle-income taxpayers have been finding themselves subject to this tax. In 2006, an IRS report highlighted the AMT as the single most serious problem with the tax code.

For 2007, the AMT Exemption was not fully phased until [income reaches] $415,000 for joint returns. Within the $150,000 to $415,000 range, AMT liability typically increases as income increases above $150,000.

OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This vote extends the AMT exemption, and hence avoids the AMT affecting more upper-middle-income people. This vote has no permanent effect on the AMT, although voting YES implies that one would support the same permanent AMT change.

Reference: Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act; Bill H.R.6275 ; vote number 2008-455 on Jun 25, 2008

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

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Joe Sestak on other issues:
PA Gubernatorial:
Allyson Schwartz
Mark Critz
Michael Nutter
Tom Corbett
Tom Wolf
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Page last updated: Jul 27, 2015