Johnny Isakson United States Senator

Don't let tax cuts expire at year-end

Don't let tax cuts expire at year-end

By Johnny Isakson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Op-Ed — Jul 27, 2010

At a time when so many Georgians are struggling financially, it would be unconscionable for Congress to impose the biggest tax increase in our history on America’s families and small businesses by allowing the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to expire at the end of this year. We must act now to make these tax cuts permanent.

As someone who ran a family business in Atlanta for more than 30 years and made a payroll and weathered several recessions, I know firsthand that the taxes imposed by Washington drive the decision-making in businesses and family budgets across the country. I also know that taxpayer dollars are best left in the hands of the people who earned them.

While serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, I helped Congress pass the largest tax relief package in a generation in 2001 and then helped Congress expand these tax cuts in 2003.

This historic tax relief has helped American workers, families and businesses for nearly 10 years by reducing income taxes, eliminating the marriage penalty and increasing the child tax credit.

It also repealed the death tax, allowing individuals to leave their own hard-earned money to family members, to nonprofits or to charitable trusts instead of allowing the government to take it.

A whole generation of Americans has reaped the benefits of this tax relief. It has allowed them to use more of their own money to support their families as well as businesses, large and small, through the ability to purchase the goods and services they need.

Through these tax cuts, Americans have created and expanded small businesses. Thanks to the repeal of the death tax, individuals across Georgia were able to keep family businesses running and to create new jobs.

Now, these tax cuts are set to expire on Dec. 31, and allowing them to do so will amount to the largest tax increase in the history of America.

However, President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress have taken no action toward extending these tax cuts or making them permanent. The result is widespread uncertainty, and there’s nothing that stifles economic growth more than uncertainty about the tax bill coming from Washington.

Few Georgians will celebrate when they realize that beginning Jan. 1 income taxes will rise from 10 percent to 15 percent at the lowest end of the scale, and from 35 percent to 39.6 percent where two-thirds of small businesses are taxed. Are we ready to further handicap our families and small businesses at a time when they can least afford another economic blow?

I say absolutely not.

Few Georgians will be pleased to learn that after a lifetime of hard work, up to 55 percent of their assets will go to the government instead of their loved ones after Jan. 1 if the death tax is reimposed. This is hardly the American dream they worked their lives to fulfill.

We must do everything we can to create a pro-growth economic environment where families and small businesses can thrive. We must not allow the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to expire at the end of this year, and I will do everything I can to ensure that they are made permanent.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is a Republican of Georgia.