Guest Editorial

Easing the tax burden


Over the past several years, Congress has enacted several historic tax relief measures benefiting all Americans. With my support, Congress has worked to reduce the income tax rate, provide parents and families with a $1,000 child tax credit, eliminate the marriage tax penalty, and provide investment opportunities to help businesses expand.

The tax relief we enacted in 2001, 2003 and 2004 has helped create jobs, encourage investment and has put more money in the hands of workers, families, and small businesses.

At the end of this year some important tax relief provisions will expire. The House of Representatives recently approved a plan to extend many of these provisions so that our nation can build on the economic progress we've made - and so that American workers and businesses will not experience a tax increase.

Our bill extends the sales tax deduction - that would otherwise expire in tax year 2005 - for an additional year. As a state with no income tax, the state sales tax deduction is particularly important to Washington. Under the bill every taxpayer in Washington will be eligible to deduct state sales tax in tax year 2006 if they choose to itemize deductions. While I will continue to work to make the state sales tax deduction permanent, this extension is a step in the right direction.

The tax relief bill also extends several educational tax incentives aimed at enhancing access to affordable higher education - including tax-preferred Education Savings Account and tax credits for college education expenses. And, it extends an important deduction to help teachers with the out-of-pocket-classroom costs of classroom expenses like books, supplies, and computer equipment.

Additionally, our plan extends a tax provision that enables families that contribute to Individual Retirement Accounts and pension plans to continue receiving a "federal match" in the form of an income tax credit for the first $2,000 of annual contributions. This encourages families to save more and plan for their retirement.

If this tax relief extension plan is not enacted into law I am concerned that workers, families, and small businesses will face tax increases next year. I will continue to support proposals to allow Americans to keep more of their own money. I believe that individuals and families are best able to make decisions on how to save, invest or spend for their future - not the federal government.

Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's 4th Congressional District.


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