Coburn's 'Tax Decoder' report outlines billions of dollars in federal tax giveaways

Government And Institutions Associated Press

The United States' federal tax code is an overly complicated and unfair system that often rewards the wealthy with millions of dollars in tax breaks while punishing working Americans and businesses, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said Tuesday about his latest report on government waste.

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The Muskogee Republican held a news conference in Washington for the release of his 320-page "Tax Decoder" that highlights tax fraud and specifically notes more than 165 tax expenditures that are expected to cost the national treasury more than $900 billion this year.

"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," 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."

Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator, who is retiring after a 16-year career that included stints in the U.S. House and Senate, Coburn has long pushed to streamline and simplify the tax code, and says many of the tax breaks identified in the report should be eliminated.

Among the tax write-offs highlighted in the report are those offered for sports franchise owners, domestic tuna production in American Samoa, restoring historic structures, and nonprofit fundraising.

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U.S. Sen.-elect James Lankford, who is replacing Coburn in the U.S. Senate, has been a longtime supporter of the so-called fair tax, which calls for replacing all income, payroll, estate and capital gains taxes with a single consumption tax on retail sales.