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Protesters line up against tax reform

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Opponents of 115th U.S. Congress’ efforts to make sweeping changes to the nation’s tax laws today held a rally in front of Sen. Roy Blunt’s Springfield office.

Estevan Gutierrez, an organizer of the Springfield chapter of The Indivisible Project, led the demonstration at Blunt’s 2740 E. Sunshine St. office. The group aims to organize grassroots efforts to defeat President Donald Trump’s policies, elect leaders who also oppose the current administration and promote policies in favor of issues such as the Affordable Care Act, according to its website.

Today’s event was inspired by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which would cut some rates and simplify some tax regulations. At about 11:45 a.m., some 20 people had organized for the two-hour protest that started at 11 a.m.

“The agenda is to show our outrage,” Gutierrez said shortly before the rally. “And to make sure our senator knows we’re unhappy with his support of the bill. We demand his opposition of the bill.”

A communications staffer for Blunt said the senator is in session in Washington, D.C., today. A request for comment was not returned by deadline.

The House passed its version of the bill Nov. 17, calling for changes to both business and individual taxes, according to Congress.gov.

For businesses, the bill would:
    •    reduce the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from a maximum of 35 percent;
    •    limit the deductibility of net interest expenses to 30 percent of the company’s adjusted taxable income;
    •    repeal the work opportunity tax credit;
    •    terminate the exclusion for interest on private activity bonds;
    •    modify or repeal some energy-related deductions and credits;
    •    modify the taxation of foreign income; and
    •    impose an excise tax on certain payments from domestic corporations to related foreign corporations.

For individuals, the bill would:
    •    replace the seven existing tax brackets with four;
    •    increase the standard deduction;
    •    repeal the deduction for personal exemptions;
    •    establish a 25 percent maximum rate on the business income of individuals;
    •    increase the child tax credit and establish a new family tax credit;
    •    repeal the overall limitation on certain itemized deductions;
    •    limit the mortgage interest deduction to mortgages of up to $500,000 from $1 million;
    •    repeal the deduction for state and local income or sales taxes not paid or accrued in a trade or business;
    •    repeal the deduction for medical expenses;
    •    consolidate and repeal several education-related deductions and credits;
    •    repeal the alternative minimum tax; and
    •    repeal the estate tax in six years.

The Senate version does not decrease the number of tax brackets, but it does lower tax rates in most brackets.

Gutierrez said the proposals are too similar to tax reform efforts attempted in Kansas in 2012, in which income taxes were eliminated for business owners and individual income tax rates were cut dramatically. Following significant decreases in tax revenue, those cuts were repealed this year.

“Overall with this model, we’ve learned on a smaller scale what it has done and how unsuccessful it is,” Gutierrez said. “But it’s still getting shoved through Congress.”

In August, Springfield Indivisible organized more than 1,000 people for a protest during President Trump’s visit to Springfield.

For this rally, the nonprofit partnered with Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and the southwest Missouri region of the National Organization for Women. Faith Voices held a demonstration at Blunt’s office Nov. 21 in opposition of the tax plan and its effects on the Affordable Care Act.

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