Sen. Flake proposes publicizing special interests receiving tax breaks

US Sen. Jeff Flake  

New federal legislation aimed at short-circuiting lobbyists who fight tax reform was introduced today in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Flake, who announced the proposal via an Oct. 17 press release, complained in an editorial published on about how loopholes can be used to avoid the payment of lawful taxes. In one example he cited, Flake said “clever accounting allows nearly anything imaginable to become a write-off,” including exotic pets like alpacas.

This new legislation, called the Tax Expenditures Accountability Act, would require the Treasury Department to publish the name of any entity (but not individuals) receiving a tax credit, along with the dollar amount, with the stated aim to provide citizens and legislators alike more transparency about tax loopholes.

As the public debate over tax reform begins in earnest, the bill aims to give lawmakers and the public the necessary details surrounding tax expenditures to evaluate who is receiving how much and for what purpose. To that end, Flake will target the special interests taking advantage of the current tax code to reap the benefits of tax loopholes.

“Congress cannot reform the tax code if we do not even know what loopholes there are, the cost of each, and who they are benefiting,” Flake said in the release. “Every tax give-away to one special interest represents a tax hike for everyone else, which Congress should be prepared to justify.”

Flake published a study last April titled “Tax Rackets: Outlandish Loopholes to Lower Tax Liabilities” that documented how special interests manipulate tax laws to their advantage.

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