By Congressman Marsha Blackburn
Every single day I hear from constituents who are fed up with the unfairness and overreach of the IRS. They are hard-working, rule-abiding taxpayers who live within their means and send money to a government that refuses to live within its means. In my book, that is fundamentally immoral. But this year, when Tennesseans file their taxes, there’s one box, b, on line 5, that will permanently be on their return and that means more money back in their pockets. This is thanks in part to language included in the tax extenders bill Congress passed in December. The bill made permanent the ability of Tennesseans to deduct their state and local sales tax from their federal income tax, saving Tennesseans an average of $391 per individual filer.
When I was in the Tennessee State Senate, I led the four year long fight to make sure that Tennesseans wouldn’t be additionally burdened by a state income tax; instead we pay state and local sales taxes and that is how Tennesseans wanted our state’s revenue stream to remain. Coming to Congress in 2003, I made the commitment that I would work to restore that deduction. I kept that promise and that goal was achieved in 2005. Immediately, I began working to make the deduction permanent and with passage of this tax extender legislation, it was achieved. My colleague and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady, worked with me every step of the way and I am grateful for his decade of leadership and partnership on this issue. Making these deductions permanent is vital to Tennessee families and small businesses as it will allow millions of dollars to be pumped back into our economy. Families and individuals should not be punished because they pay state and local sales taxes rather than an income tax. Taxpayers can deduct their state income tax; there is no reason that Americans in states without an income tax can’t deduct sales tax. Hardworking Tennesseans pay their fair share of taxes just like citizens in every other state. We know better than anyone how important it is to make permanent the state and local sales tax deduction. Americans, not the government, are the best stewards of their money.
Additionally, I am grateful to our state legislators for drafting and passing an amendment to our state’s constitution that would forever prohibit a state income tax in our wonderful state. In November, Tennesseans ratified that amendment and now our state will forever be state income tax free.
This is simply an issue of fairness – fairness for families that live and work in states that don’t have a state income tax. Usually excitement and taxes are never used in the same sentence, but this year not only can you be excited there are three extra days to file your taxes, you can also be excited that you’ll get to keep more of your hard-earned money.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving the Seventh Congressional District of Tennessee. She serves as vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Chair of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. She was named the 2016 “Woman of the Year” by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.
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