Opinion Pieces

Chronicle: How I’m Working to Cut Taxes for Lewis County

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Lewis County, WA, March 6, 2018 | comments
The historic tax cuts Congress recently passed and President Trump signed into law take a significant step forward in making this dream a reality for the hardworking residents of Lewis County. The average family of four in Chehalis will see a $2,300 savings each year; the average single mom is benefitting from a 70% tax cut. Those tax savings are beginning to show up in bigger paychecks.
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At his State of the Union address, President Trump said: “There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream. If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.”
 
I couldn’t agree more. The historic tax cuts Congress recently passed and President Trump signed into law take a significant step forward in making this dream a reality for the hardworking residents of Lewis County. The average family of four in Chehalis will see a $2,300 savings each year; the average single mom is benefitting from a 70% tax cut. Those tax savings are beginning to show up in bigger paychecks.
 
For those individuals and families I serve, these kinds of savings can mean being able to book that long-anticipated family vacation, put new tires on a car, or be able to add a little cushion to an emergency fund. It’s been two months since the tax cuts were signed into law and folks are already seeing a bump in their paycheck. In fact, the Department of Treasury estimates 90% of American wage-earners will keep more of their money instead of paying it to the federal government.
 
That’s what tax reform is all about – empowering a family in Lewis County to have every opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their children. A little more financial security can go a long way toward being able to invest and save for the future. 
 
And beyond the savings people will see when they look at their paychecks, we provided important relief for small and medium sized Lewis County businesses. In fact, small businesses across Southwest Washington have told me that the tax cuts have allowed them to give bonuses and raises to employees, increase benefits and hire new workers. For the small business owner who spoke with me at a recent town hall, the new tax cuts mean increasing his employees’ hourly wage by three dollars. Small businesses like his are benefitting from the newly-created deduction for “pass-through” businesses – a first-ever 20% tax deduction for mom and pop businesses that fuel our economy in Southwest Washington.
 
And some of our favorite small businesses – small, independent breweries, wineries, and distilleries – also received a big boost from this tax cut bill. The final bill included a legislative solution I helped champion, Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. This bill reduces the excise tax rates on beer and spirits and increases the small wine producer tax credit amount, helping the 33 craft breweries in Southwest Washington alone save thousands of dollars annually.
 
Large employers are investing in their workers, too. As a result of lowering the corporate tax rate, companies like Boeing, Starbucks, FedEx and WalMart who employ thousands in Southwest Washington have joined nearly 300 other U.S. companies in increasing pay, giving employee bonuses, boosting benefits and hiring more workers. For all those who are looking for work or better-paying jobs, Washington’s nonpartisan chief economist is predicting our state will see 20,000 new jobs as a result of the tax cuts. 
 
And to make the tax cuts we passed even better for folks here, I’ve introduced legislation to make the tax cuts for individuals permanent. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate only extended these tax cuts through 2025 when they amended the final bill. Rather than wait until then to extend them, Congress should make them permanent now so that families can be on equal footing with corporations whose tax cuts were made permanent from the start.  
 
Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation has been spread about what this tax reform bill did. Many special interest groups profited from keeping the system just the way it was, and the claims began that it would somehow raise taxes, harm students and seniors and everyone in-between. But the facts show that those attacks could not be less accurate. For those with children, the child tax credit doubled to $2,000 with 70% of that being refundable. Students benefit from the expansion of 529 college expense savings plans. For the 70% of Southwest Washington residents who file using the standard deduction, the money that is tax free will be doubled. Other benefits of these tax cuts include an increased charitable tax deduction, death tax exemption, and medical expense deduction.
 
And while some critics insisted that Social Security and Medicare would be cut as a result of tax reform, that didn’t – and won’t – happen. Further, House Speaker Ryan and Senate Leader McConnell issued a formal statement during the tax reform’s passage pledging to protect these trust funds. Social Security and Medicare are trust funds that people spend their working lives paying into so that they have these vital lifelines when they retire, and I will not jeopardize those programs.
 
A year ago at his inaugural address, President Trump said “… we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.” When that means giving people in Winlock, Toledo and Centralia more control over their property and even their money, and putting Americans’ interests first as we chart an agenda in Congress, I’ve done everything in my ability to help him succeed. Looking back on the many solutions Congress and the President have successfully moved forward in the past year, I believe we can continue to work together to make life better for folks right here in Southwest Washington.
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