(Washington, D.C.) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus is taking his cues from Montanans as Congress debates the best path forward to simplify the federal tax code and close corporate tax loopholes. Baucus is soliciting ideas from all Montanans across the state, and has formed a 15-member working group of Montanans from various industries to advise him and provide feedback on legislative proposals that may be considered.
"When average working folks can't even do their taxes without forking over $250 bucks just to get the job done, and small businesses are paying two thirds more than big corporations to file, we know we've got a problem. There has to be a simpler, more fair, and smarter way for our tax code to work for working families, small businesses, and our budget," Baucus said. "The idea behind simplifying the tax code is that if we cut out corporate loopholes, we can cut tax rates and make the tax code simpler for everyone. My job is to make sure Montana priorities are front and center as the debate moves forward, and I'll be counting on all Montanans to send me their ideas so I can make sure Montana's voice is heard."
- According to IRS data, U.S. taxpayers and businesses spend more than six billion hours each year complying with the filing requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. As the Taxpayer Advocate's 2012 annual report points out, if the hours Americans spent on tax compliance were instead spent on an industry, it would be one of the largest in the United States. Six billion hours is equal to the work of more than three million full-time employees.
- In 2007 IRS researchers estimated it cost the median individual taxpayer $258 just to file their taxes. That's because the code has become so complicated that average folks can no longer file their taxes without help from an expert.
- And the burden hits small businesses especially hard. A 2011 Small Business Administration study noted that tax compliance costs for businesses with 20 employees or less cost $1,584 per employee, while compliance costs for large employers cost only one third as much.
Baucus is asking Montanans to submit their ideas for making the tax code work better on his website. Montanans can click on the "Contact Max" tab at Baucus.senate.gov, select "Contact Max" from the drop down menu and submit their ideas under the topic of "tax."
The 15-member working group is comprised of leaders from all corners of the state and industries ranging from education to energy to agriculture to manufacturing.
- Dr. Jane A. Karas -- Dr. Jane A. Karas is President of Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) in Kalispell.
- Alan D. Ekblad --Al Ekblad is the Executive Secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO and lives in Helena.
- Bill Johnstone -- Bill Johnstone is Chairman and CEO at Davidson Companies, a 78 year old financial services company, headquartered in Great Falls, with 1100 employees in 22 states.
- Mac McDermott - Mac McDermott is a member of MCR, LLC, an oil and gas exploration and production company. He also currently serves as Treasurer of the Montana Petroleum Association and President of the Northern Montana Oil & Gas Association. Mac lives in Shelby.
- Sheila Rice - Sheila Rice is Executive Director of NeighborWorks Montana and NeighborWorks Great Falls.
- Chuck Roady - Chuck Roady is the Vice President and General Manager for F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company in Columbia Falls.
- Bert Robins - Bert Robins is Vice President and Co-Founder of SeaCast, an investment casting foundry headquartered in Butte which operates four US-based manufacturing facilities, serving top tier customers in the aerospace, defense, transportation, mining, oil and gas, and computer hardware industries, among many others.
- Bob Rowe -Bob Rowe lives in Helena and is President and Chief Executive Officer at NorthWestern Energy.
- Larry Simkins - Larry Simkins has been President and CEO of The Washington Companies since 2001. He also currently serves as a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and lives in Missoula.
- Russel J. Spika - Russel J. Spika has been in Public Practice as a Certified Public Accountant in Lewistown, for 26 years.
- James Steele - James Steele is the former Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and past Chairman of the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council. He currently works as a tribal policy and government consultant and lives in Saint Ignatius.
- Gordon Stoner - Gordon Stoner is the Owner and General Manager of Stoner Farms, a fourth generation diversified family operation in Northeastern Montana raising durum wheat, peas, lentils, and cattle. His residence and primary site of farm operations is rural Outlook.
- Antoinette M. Tease - Antoinette Tease of Billings is a registered patent attorney who practices in the areas of intellectual property and technology law.
- Spencer Williams - Spencer Williams has served as the President and Owner of West Paw Design in Bozeman since 1996.
- Nicholas Wolter, M.D. - Dr. Nicholas Wolter is CEO of Billings Clinic, a fully integrated health system in south central Montana.