Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Tax reform for Oregon’s middle class

December 21, 2017
Op-Eds

Pro-growth tax reform is on its way to hardworking, middle-class Americans. And it’s about time.

The biggest percentage of tax reductions next year will go to those earning between $20,000 and $50,000 a year. That’s according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. An Eastern Oregon family earning the median income of approximately $50,000 a year will pay about $1,300 less next year. Over the next eight years that’s a savings of $10,400 for that family.

What does that mean across the country? A typical American family of four earning $73,000 a year, will see a 58 percent reduction in their federal taxes. That’s real relief.

Moreover, by nearly doubling the standard deduction, even fewer Oregonians will have to hire an accountant to search the 73,954 pages of the federal tax code only to discover darn few of the special interest loopholes apply to them. We’re closing the loopholes and making filing your taxes as easy as filling out a postcard.

For those who choose to itemize their taxes, I worked with my colleagues to maintain provisions important to Oregonians such as preserving the ability to deduct medical expenses, and a combination of both property and state income taxes up to $10,000 — helpful in our high-tax state. For students and teachers, I also successfully fought to maintain the deductions for student loans and teaching expenses.

The IRS should have new tax-withholding tables in employers’ hands before February. Once that happens, taxpayers will begin to see more going into their pockets, and less going to the Washington, D.C., bureaucracy.

In addition to providing historic and meaningful individual tax relief to Oregon families, this measure is also designed to rekindle job growth. Few in Congress were job creators. My wife and I spent more than 20 years as small-business owners in the Columbia Gorge. I can tell you from firsthand experience of growing a business and meeting a payroll, passage of this Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help small businesses, family farms and ranches, and those contractors with a truck and backhoe expand and grow.

Oregon’s breweries and wineries get substantial relief from the beer and wine excise taxes thanks to Republican Senate provisions I fought to include in the final bill. These savings will let our craft brewers and winemakers reinvest more money locally in their businesses and our communities.

Globally, we’ll finally see American-based companies bring money home and invest it here, rather than look for ways to shelter earnings overseas. America had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, resulting in lost jobs and American companies moving abroad. That all changes under this legislation.

Our plan makes the American economy more competitive, which will lead to more job growth and economic expansion. We’re finally giving American companies a better place to do business.

A spokesman for Intel, one of Oregon’s biggest employers, told The Oregonian newspaper that these changes “… can help level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers and make us more competitive in today’s global economy. The bill should also spur further investment in American manufacturing and (research and development).”

These tax reforms are boosting confidence in our economy. Last month, the National Federation of Independent Business confidence index hit an all-time high. Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter, optimism among manufacturers also reached a new high. While the stock market will ebb and flow, a 5,000-point gain in the last year is both historic and welcome news to those with savings and retirement accounts, especially after the last eight years of slow growth.

Many factors affect the strength of the economy, including an available and trained workforce, international incidents and more. Congress and the president need to focus on rebuilding America’s infrastructure next.

But after waiting 31 years for real tax reform, finally we have a law that brings tax savings to hardworking Americans and makes us competitive again overseas.

— Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, represents Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes 20 counties in Central, Southern and Eastern Oregon.