The chairmen of Congress’s two main tax-writing committees in the House and Senate plan to begin a tour across the country visiting with taxpayers and businesses as they plan a major tax reform overhaul.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., first intend to visit two separate businesses, large and small, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area on Monday, July 8. 

The visits are the first in a series of trips across the nation so the chairmen of the two tax-writing committees can hear directly from Americans about how to spark a more prosperous economy and make today’s broken tax code fairer for families and job creators.

The first stop will be 3M’s corporate headquarters in Maplewood, Minn., to hear from the Scotch Tape maker and its employees. Later that morning, Camp and Baucus will visit a small bakery, Baldinger Bakery, in St. Paul.

With $30 billion in global sales, 3M employs 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 70 countries. In contrast, Baldinger Bakery is a fourth-generation, family-run business that was founded in 1888 when Henry and Rebecca Baldinger left Eastern Europe and made their way to America, settling in St. Paul. Over the years they developed a following for their breads, rolls and buns. As their following expanded so did operations. Today, the commercial bakery is in a state-of-the-art facility that can produce approximately 65,000 buns per hour.

On their tax reform tour, the tax-writing chairmen plan to talk to a variety of Americans and businesses, ranging from large multinational corporations with overseas operations like 3M, to small, family-run businesses and individual taxpayers.

Baucus and Camp have been conducting a series of hearings in recent years to discuss various areas of tax policy and posting discussion papers on the Internet outlining various tax reform options. In addition, they recently unveiled a tax reform Web site, TaxReform.gov, and Twitter page, @SimplerTaxes, where they hope to solicit more tax reform proposals (see Congress Launches Tax Reform Web Site and Twitter Page).

Last week, Baucus and his Republican counterpart on the Senate Finance Committee, ranking Republican member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, proposed a “blank slate” approach to tax reform last week in which most tax breaks would be initially eliminated as a starting point and only added back to the tax code if other lawmakers could demonstrate their necessity (see Senate Finance Leaders Offer Blank-Slate Approach to Tax Reform). The proposal has been criticized, however, for opening the floodgates to more corporate lobbying and campaign contributions by special interests dedicated to preserving favored tax breaks. Baucus has announced that this will be his last term in office and indicated he wants to hear fresh ideas from outside the Washington Beltway.

“Over the past two years we’ve heard from hundreds of experts on how to fix the tax code to make it simpler for families and spark a more prosperous economy,” Camp and Baucus said in a joint statement. “We want even more input and want to hear directly from the American people. That is why we are going around the country and starting off in St. Paul, meeting with leaders in business—big and small. We want to hear how we can improve their experience with America’s tax system. We’re going to be travelling across the country in the coming weeks, meeting with Americans—individuals, families, workers and business owners, big and small. We want to hear how we can make the system fairer and easier to deal with for families across America.”