Colorful Commentary

A Note on the Federal Tax Bill

Posted December 21, 2017 by Carol Hedges


With the passage of the federal tax plan, it is a very sad and disappointing day for an old tax nerd like me. By now, we all know that the bill will provide huge tax cuts for corporations and America’s wealthiest people. Many of us also know that while the bill was touted as tax reform, it is really just a tax grab for the folks who are in the best position to manipulate political power to their own advantage.

What saddens me is that this tax bill will unnecessarily cause people economic harm that is otherwise avoidable. With this bill, we lose important tools to address the personal economic devastation that occurs during downturns. By cutting taxes and increasing the deficit when the economy is strong, we have taken away the federal government’s ability to help states and families manage the next recession. And it is all so that the really rich and the really influential can keep even more of the wealth that working people help produce.

What disappoints me most is that during a time when the country is faced with rapidly crumbling infrastructure, unprecedented technological changes, and an expanding economy, Congress chose a flawed economic theory as our guide rather than a proven public investment approach as the path to prosperity. This trickle-down theory was wrong in the 1980s and followed by economic hardship for working people. It was wrong again in the early 2000s and followed by the Great Recession. Yet here we are once again.

Because of the unique nature of the Colorado tax code, our general fund stands to gain revenue from the passage of the federal bill. But, do not be misled, the new state revenue is not sufficient to fill the gaps left by reduced federal support. Let’s hope that our Legislature chooses the proven path to widespread prosperity and makes strategic investments in Coloradans with the new resources.

During this tax debate, Senator Gardner said we need to stop dealing with an “Atari-era tax code that is outdated and overly complicated.” He’s right. And while we disagree with his conclusions for what that means in this bill, CFI will hold him other leaders accountable to that statement as we work with thousands of Coloradans to modernize our state’s constitutionalized tax code and change TABOR’s role in our economic future.

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