Heitkamp Goes on Tour to Talk Tax Reform

Bismarck - It's been 31 years since the United States passed a major tax overhaul.

Just last month, President Trump campaigned for major tax reform here in North Dakota.

Now, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is going on a tour of her own making stops to discuss proposed changes with North Dakotans.

In her own version of a fireside chat, Heitkamp brought a group of North Dakotans together to voice their concerns over proposed changes to the current tax code.

During President Trump's visit he emphasized simplifying the current code, but now, some North Dakotans are asking if 'simple' really means better.

When it comes to tax reform  some North Dakotans are clear about just how unclear they find the current plan.

"Unfortunately, there are still no particulars it's still pretty vague you still have the four principals that the president outlined," Steve Tomac, North Dakota rancher says.

Principals that include simplifying tax filing, encouraging job creation, providing tax relief for the middle class, and bring companies back to the U.S.

While making a stop in North Dakota, President Trump campaigned for his plan to reform the tax code.

"We're here [in North Dakota] to talk about our plan to create a new age of American prosperity by reducing the crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers," Trump says.

With President Trump's recent visit to the state pushing for tax reform, North Dakotans are asking themselves what over hauling the tax code will do for them.

"Most farmers and ranchers file as individuals and so does that mean we're going to pick up a greater share of [taxes] simply because our gross income is higher?"  Tomac says.

Edward Klecker, a retired U.S. district court clerk says he's worried about what tax reform will mean for the elderly.

"Right now there's a broad statement that it will cut everyone's taxes but the initial things that I've been reading and the research I've done is that one percent of the population will get about 80 percent of the benefits," Klecker says.

Research by the Tax Policy Center reports, as it stands, the current tax proposal would cut federal revenues by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years, and those with the highest incomes would receive the biggest tax cuts.

Officials from the GOP have largely dismissed the report.

"That's not equitable and it's not fair," Klecker says.

With fewer tax brackets and eliminating personal exemptions and itemized deductions  some are wondering who will be left with the bill?

"If you're going to give a corporate tax break and reduce that to 15 percent who's going to pick that up?" Tomac says.

North Dakota's tax commissioner has endorsed the current report in a statement he says the plan will put money back into the pockets of workers, attract more business investment, and simplify a bloated tax code.

Though there's been plenty of speculation, the finer points of tax reform have yet to be discussed and Heitkamp says she's doubtful anything will be passed before the end of the year.

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