Published July 1982 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd An Ill-Advised Tax Increase When the Senate recently approved a bill to raise taxes by $98.5 billion over the next three years, I voted against it. This proposed tax increase is wrong any way you look at it. It is wrong to raise taxes in the middle of a recession. It is wrong to tax the very people who are already suffering because of high taxes and the poor performance of our economy. I voted against raising taxes on West Virginians. Our small businessmen, our farmers, our senior citizens, our working middle, and lower-income taxpayers have already paid an unfair share of the country's tax burden. This ill-advised tax increase, if it is enacted into law, would be the largest tax hike in our peacetime history. It will now be considered by the House of Representatives. Among other things, the Senate bill would: -- provide for withholding tax on interest and dividends; -- triple the federal tax on telephone service; -- double the federal tax on cigarettes; -- increase the tax on airline tickets; -- increase the unemployment insurance tax, which would increase the cost of hiring workers at a time when unemployment stands at post-war record highs, and which would place an added burden on businesses and consumers; -- and increase the cost of health care for our senior citizens. During Senate consideration of the tax bill, I co-sponsored an amendment that we called the "fairness amendment." Unfortunately, it was narrowly defeated. The "fairness amendment" would have eliminated some of the most unfair provisions of the tax bill for our lower- and middle-income taxpayers, such as the provisions I have listed above, and would have offset them by deferring the third year of the Kemp/Roth tax cut for all taxpayers who earn more than $78,000 a year until the budget is balanced. Taxpayers earning $46,500 or less would have received the full ten percent tax cut, while those taxpayers with incomes between $46,500 and $78,000 would have received a graduated portion of the tax cut.