Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has released a report highlighting billions of dollars in tax breaks for “special interests.”
Coburn, who is retiring from the Senate Thursday after a decade of service, released a report Tuesday entitled “Tax Decoder.” A medical doctor-turned-politician, Coburn has specialized in focusing on wasteful spending in Congress.
The report scrutinizes more than 165 tax expenditures worth over $900 billion this year and more than $5 trillion over the next five years. Among the tax breaks spotlighted are gambling loss deductions, tax subsidies for Hollywood movie productions, and tax credits for renovating vacation homes and purchasing luxury cars and yachts.
“Powerful special interests and Washington politicians have turned the tax code into a complicated mess that rewards only a few at the expense of middle class taxpayers.” Dr. Coburn said in a statement. “The tax code is Congress’ favorite tool for meddling in the free market and impeding freedom, offering rewards and punishments to coerce Americans and manipulate the economy. For every tax break claimed by one company or offered to only certain groups, every other taxpayer and business must pick up the financial slack and pay higher taxes.”
Coburn noted that billions of dollars in tax breaks go to wealthy professional sports team owners, who can count the roster of players as a depreciable asset. A so-called “Tuna Tax Break” provides nearly $10 million to certain domestic corporations operating in American Samoa. Tax credits for historic and nonhistoric structures result in lost revenue of $1 billion annually, subsidizing beach front resorts, Major League Baseball stadiums, luxury hotels and more.
Coburn noted that in fiscal year 2014, the tax gap will likely be about $500 billion. If this amount were fully paid, virtually the entire deficit currently projected for fiscal 2014, $483 billion, could be eliminated.
His report attempts to provide a detailed, comprehensive overview of the tax code for all taxpayers and lawmakers to help provide the building blocks for a complete overhaul. The report provides a list of options for Congress to streamline and simplify the tax code.
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