< Back to H.R. 4646 (111th Congress, 2009–2010)

Text of the Debt Free America Act

This bill was introduced on February 23, 2010, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Feb 23, 2010 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4646

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 23, 2010

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committees on the Budget, Rules, and Appropriations, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To establish a fee on transactions which would eliminate the national debt and replace the income tax on individuals.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Debt Free America Act.

2.

Findings; purposes

(a)

Findings

The Congress finds the following:

(1)

The current tax structure creates economic distortions that limit growth and job creation.

(2)

The estimated cost of compliance to taxpayers is five billion hours and approximately $200 billion.

(3)

Restructuring the tax code will promote economic prosperity.

(4)

Replacing existing Federal taxes with a fee on transactions eliminates systemic inefficiency that plagues the current tax code.

(5)

The United States, from its beginning in 1790 to the present, has been free of a national debt for only two years, 1834 and 1835.

(6)

The national debt has grown from $75.5 million in 1790 to $5.8 trillion in 2008.

(7)

Expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the national debt reached a high of 108.6 percent of GDP in 1946.

(8)

After 1946, the national debt as a percentage of GDP declined, reaching a low of 32.5 percent in 1981.

(9)

The large budget deficits of the 1980s and 1990s reversed this trend and pushed the percentage to another high of 49.5 percent in 1993.

(10)

The Federal budget surpluses from fiscal year 1998 to fiscal year 2001 were used to retire a portion of the publicly held national debt.

(11)

Between fiscal year 1997 and fiscal year 2001, the publicly held portion of the national debt declined by more than $400 billion.

(12)

Since fiscal year 2002, a return to budget deficits has caused the debt to grow again.

(b)

Purposes

The purpose of section 3 of this Act is to establish a fee on most transactions. Such fee—

(1)

is different than a sales tax in that a sales tax is charged only on sales to the final consumer and the transaction fee would apply to intermediate users as well as end users,

(2)

is different than a value added tax (VAT), commonly used in European and other countries, in that a VAT is imposed only on a portion of a transaction’s value (roughly the difference between an item’s selling price and it’s cost) and the transaction fee would apply to the entire amount of the transaction, and

(3)

is intended to raise sufficient revenue to eliminate the national debt, which was $10.6 trillion in January 2009, during a period of 7 years and to phase out the income tax on individuals.

3.

Implementation of a transaction fee

(a)

In general

Subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after chapter 36 the following new chapter:

37

Transaction fee

Sec. 4501. Imposition of transaction fee.

4501.

Imposition of transaction fee

(a)

In general

There is hereby imposed on every specified transaction a fee in an amount equal to 1 percent of the amount of such transaction.

(b)

Specified transaction

For purposes of this chapter—

(1)

In general

The term specified transaction means any transaction that uses a payment instrument, including any check, cash, credit card, transfer of stock, bonds, or other financial instrument.

(2)

Transaction

The term transaction includes retail and wholesale sales, purchases of intermediate goods, and financial and intangible transactions.

(c)

Liability for fee

Persons become liable for the fee at the moment the person exercises control over a piece of property or service, regardless of the payment method.

(d)

Collection

The fees will be collected by the seller or financial institution servicing the transaction and shall be paid over to the Secretary. In the case of a person who fails to collect and pay over the fee as required under this subsection, such person shall become liable for the fee not so collected and paid over.

(e)

Potential exclusions

Subsection (a) shall not apply to transactions involving stock (and any options or derivatives with respect to stock) until—

(1)

such time as the United States enters into an international agreement that regulates domestic and international stock exchanges, or

(2)

the Secretary issues recommendations regarding the application of the fee as it applies to stock.

(f)

Regulations

The Secretary shall issue such regulations or other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section, including regulations or other guidance which require reporting of such information as the Secretary determines appropriate to prevent under reporting of the amounts on which a fee is imposed by this section.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of chapters for the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 36 the following new item:

Chapter 37. Transaction fee.

.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall apply to transactions in calendar years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

4.

Income tax credit during period that transaction fee and individual income tax are in effect

(a)

In general

Subpart A of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after section 25D the following new section:

25E.

Credit during period of transaction fee and individual income tax

(a)

In general

In the case of an individual, there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this chapter for the taxable year an amount equal to 1 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.

(b)

Phaseout based on adjusted gross income

The credit allowed under subsection (a) for any taxable year shall be reduced (but not below zero) by an amount which bears the same ratio to the amount of such credit (determined without regard to this subsection) as—

(1)

the excess (if any) of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income for such taxable year over $100,000 ($250,000 in the case of a joint return), bears to

(2)

$10,000 ($20,000 in the case of a joint return).

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections for subpart A of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of such Code is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 25D the following new item:

Sec. 25E. Credit during period of transaction fee and individual income tax.

.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning during calendar years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

5.

Establishment of task force

(a)

In general

Title III of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. 631 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

316.

Establishment of Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action

(a)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Task force

The term Task Force means the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action established under subsection (b)(1).

(2)

Task force bill

The term Task Force bill means a bill consisting of the proposed legislative language of the Task Force recommended under subsection (b)(3)(B) and introduced under subsection (e)(1).

(3)

Fiscal imbalance

The term fiscal imbalance means the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.

(b)

Establishment of task force

(1)

Establishment

There is established in the legislative branch a task force to be known as the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action.

(2)

Purposes

(A)

Review

The Task Force shall review the fiscal imbalance of the Federal Government, including—

(i)

analyses of projected Federal expenditures;

(ii)

analyses of projected Federal revenues; and

(iii)

analyses of the current and long-term actuarial financial condition of the Federal Government.

(B)

Identify factors

The Task Force shall identify factors that affect the long-term fiscal imbalance of the Federal Government.

(C)

Analyze potential courses of action

The Task Force shall analyze potential courses of action to address factors that affect the long-term fiscal imbalance of the Federal Government.

(D)

Provide recommendations and legislative language

The Task Force shall provide recommendations and legislative language that will significantly improve the long-term fiscal imbalance of the Federal Government, including recommendations addressing—

(i)

Federal expenditures;

(ii)

Federal revenues; and

(iii)

the current and long-term actuarial financial condition of the Federal Government.

(3)

Duties

(A)

In general

The Task Force shall address the Nation’s long-term fiscal imbalances, consistent with the purposes described in paragraph (2), and shall submit the report and recommendations required under subparagraph (B).

(B)

Report, recommendations, and legislative language

(i)

In general

Not earlier than November 3, 2010, and not later than November 9, 2010, the Task Force shall vote on a report that contains—

(I)

a detailed statement of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Task Force;

(II)

the assumptions, scenarios, and alternatives considered in reaching such findings, conclusions, and recommendations; and

(III)

proposed legislative language to carry out such recommendations as described in paragraph (2)(D).

(ii)

Approval of report

The report of the Task Force submitted under clause (i) shall require the approval of not fewer than 14 of the 18 members of the Task Force.

(iii)

Additional views

A member of the Task Force who gives notice of an intention to file supplemental, minority, or additional views at the time of final Task Force approval of the report under clause (ii), shall be entitled to not less than 3 calendar days in which to file such views in writing with the staff director of the Task Force. Such views shall then be included in the Task Force report and printed in the same volume, or part thereof, and their inclusion shall be noted on the cover of the report. In the absence of timely notice, the Task Force report may be printed and transmitted immediately without such views.

(iv)

Transmission of report

No later than November 15, 2010, the Task Force shall submit the Task Force bill and final report to the President, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the majority and minority leaders of both Houses.

(v)

Report to be made public

Upon the approval or disapproval of the Task Force report pursuant to clause (ii), the Task Force shall promptly make the full report, and a record of the vote, available to the public.

(4)

Membership

(A)

In general

The Task Force shall be composed of 18 members designated pursuant to subparagraph (B).

(B)

Designation

Members of the Task Force shall be designated as follows:

(i)

The President shall designate 2 members, one of whom shall be the Secretary of the Treasury, and the other of whom shall be an officer of the executive branch.

(ii)

The majority leader of the Senate shall designate 4 members from among Members of the Senate.

(iii)

The minority leader of the Senate shall designate 4 members from among Members of the Senate.

(iv)

The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall designate 4 members from among Members of the House of Representatives.

(v)

The minority leader of the House of Representatives shall designate 4 members from among Members of the House of Representatives.

(C)

Co-chairs

(i)

In general

There shall be 2 Co-Chairs of the Task Force. The President, majority leader of the Senate, and Speaker of the House shall designate one Co-Chair among the members of the Task Force. The minority leader of the Senate and minority leader of the House shall designate the second Co-Chair among the members of the Task Force. The Co-Chairs shall be appointed not later than 14 days after the date of enactment of this section.

(ii)

Staff director

The Co-Chairs, acting jointly, shall hire the staff director of the Task Force.

(D)

Date

Members of the Task Force shall be designated by not later than 14 days after the date of enactment of this section.

(E)

Period of designation

Members shall be designated for the life of the Task Force. Any vacancy in the Task Force shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled not later than 14 days after the date on which the vacancy occurs in the same manner as the original designation.

(F)

Compensation

Members of the Task Force shall serve without any additional compensation for their work on the Task Force. However, members may be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with sections 5702 and 5703 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in performance of services for the Task Force.

(5)

Administration

(A)

Authority to establish rules and regulations

The Co-Chairs, in consultation with the other members of the Task Force, may establish rules and regulations for the conduct of Task Force business, if such rules and regulations are not inconsistent with this section or other applicable law.

(B)

Quorum

Fourteen members of the Task Force shall constitute a quorum for purposes of voting, meeting, and holding hearings.

(C)

Voting

(i)

Proxy voting

No proxy voting shall be allowed on behalf of the members of the Task Force.

(ii)

Report, recommendations and legislative language

(I)

Dates

The Task Force may not vote on any version of the report, recommendations, or legislative language before the timing provided for in paragraph (3)(B)(i).

(II)

Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation Estimates

The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation shall provide estimates of the Task Force report and recommendations (as described in subsection (b)(2)(D)) in accordance with section 308(a) and 201(f) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. The Task Force may not vote on any version of the report, recommendations, or legislative language unless a final estimate is available for consideration by all the members at least 72 hours prior to the vote.

(D)

Hearings

The Task Force may, for the purpose of carrying out this section, hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths the Task Force considers advisable.

(c)

Expedited consideration of task force recommendations

(1)

Introduction

(A)

Reconvening

(i)

In the House of Representatives

Upon receipt of a report under subsection (b)(3)(B), the Speaker, if the House would otherwise be adjourned, shall notify the Members of the House that, pursuant to this section, the House shall convene not later than November 23, 2010.

(ii)

In the Senate

(I)

Convening

Upon receipt of a report under subsection (b)(3)(B), if the Senate has adjourned or recessed for more than 2 days, the majority leader of the Senate, after consultation with the minority leader of the Senate, shall notify the Members of the Senate that, pursuant to this section, the Senate shall convene not later than November 23, 2010.

(II)

Adjourning

No concurrent resolution adjourning the Senate for more than 3 days shall be in order until the Senate votes on passage of the Task Force bill under paragraph (2)(B)(iv).

(B)

Introduction of Task Force bill

The proposed legislative language contained in the report submitted pursuant to subsection (b)(3)(B), upon receipt by the Congress, shall be introduced not later than November 23, 2010, in the Senate and in the House of Representatives by the majority leader of each House of Congress, for himself, the minority leader of each House of Congress, for himself, or any member of the House designated by the majority leader or minority leader. If the Task Force bill is not introduced in accordance with the preceding sentence in either House of Congress, then any Member of that House may introduce the Task Force bill on any day thereafter. Upon introduction, the Task Force bill shall be referred to the appropriate committees under subparagraph (C).

(C)

Committee consideration

A Task Force bill introduced in either House of Congress shall be jointly referred to the committee or committees of jurisdiction and the Committee on the Budget of that House, which committees shall report the bill without any revision and with a favorable recommendation, an unfavorable recommendation, or without recommendation, not later than 7 calendar days after the date of introduction of the bill in that House, or the first day thereafter on which that House is in session. If any committee fails to report the bill within that period, that committee shall be automatically discharged from consideration of the bill, and the bill shall be placed on the appropriate calendar.

(2)

Expedited Procedures

(A)

Fast track consideration in House of Representatives

(i)

Proceeding to consideration

It shall be in order, not later than 2 days of session after the date on which a Task Force bill is reported or discharged from all committees to which it was referred, for the majority leader of the House of Representatives or the majority leader’s designee, to move to proceed to the consideration of the Task Force bill. It shall also be in order for any Member of the House of Representatives to move to proceed to the consideration of the Task Force bill at any time after the conclusion of such 2-day period. All points of order against the motion are waived. Such a motion shall not be in order after the House has disposed of a motion to proceed on the Task Force bill. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion to its adoption without intervening motion. The motion shall not be debatable. A motion to reconsider the vote by which the motion is disposed of shall not be in order.

(ii)

Consideration

The Task Force bill shall be considered as read. All points of order against the Task Force bill and against its consideration are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the Task Force bill to its passage without intervening motion except 100 hours of debate equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, and any motion to limit debate. A motion to reconsider the vote on passage of the Task Force bill shall not be in order.

(iii)

Appeals

Appeals from decisions of the chair relating to the application of the Rules of the House of Representatives to the procedure relating to a Task Force bill shall be decided without debate.

(iv)

Application of house rules

Except to the extent specifically provided in paragraph (2)(A), consideration of a Task Force bill shall be governed by the Rules of the House of Representatives. It shall not be in order in the House of Representatives to consider any Task Force bill introduced pursuant to the provisions of this subsection under a suspension of the rules pursuant to Clause 1 of House Rule XV, or under a special rule reported by the House Committee on Rules.

(v)

No amendments

No amendment to the Task Force bill shall be in order in the House of Representatives.

(vi)

Vote on passage

Immediately following the conclusion of consideration of the Task Force bill, the vote on passage of the Task Force bill shall occur without any intervening action or motion, requiring an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn. If the Task Force bill is passed, the Clerk of the House of Representatives shall cause the bill to be transmitted to the Senate before the close of the next day of session of the House. The vote on passage shall occur not later than December 23, 2010.

(vii)

Vote

The House Committee on Rules may not report a rule or order that would have the effect of causing the Task Force bill to be approved by a vote of less than three-fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn.

(B)

Fast Track Consideration in Senate

(i)

In general

Notwithstanding Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, it is in order, not later than 2 days of session after the date on which a Task Force bill is reported or discharged from all committees to which it was referred, for the majority leader of the Senate or the majority leader’s designee to move to proceed to the consideration of the Task Force bill. It shall also be in order for any Member of the Senate to move to proceed to the consideration of the Task Force bill at any time after the conclusion of such 2-day period. A motion to proceed is in order even though a previous motion to the same effect has been disagreed to. All points of order against the motion to proceed to the Task Force bill are waived. The motion to proceed is not debatable. The motion is not subject to a motion to postpone. A motion to reconsider the vote by which the motion is agreed to or disagreed to shall not be in order. If a motion to proceed to the consideration of the Task Force bill is agreed to, the Task Force bill shall remain the unfinished business until disposed of.

(ii)

Debate

All points of order against the Task Force bill and against consideration of the Task Force bill are waived. Consideration of the Task Force bill and of all debatable motions and appeals in connection therewith shall not exceed a total of 100 hours. Debate shall be divided equally between the majority and minority leaders or their designees. A motion further to limit debate on the Task Force bill is in order, shall require an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members duly chosen and sworn, and is not debatable. Any debatable motion or appeal is debatable for not to exceed 1 hour, to be divided equally between those favoring and those opposing the motion or appeal. All time used for consideration of the Task Force bill, including time used for quorum calls and voting, shall be counted against the total 100 hours of consideration.

(iii)

No amendments

An amendment to the Task Force bill, or a motion to postpone, or a motion to proceed to the consideration of other business, or a motion to recommit the Task Force bill, is not in order.

(iv)

Vote on passage

The vote on passage shall occur immediately following the conclusion of the debate on a Task Force bill, and a single quorum call at the conclusion of the debate if requested. Passage shall require an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn. The vote on passage shall occur not later than December 23, 2010.

(v)

Adjournment

If, by December 23, 2010, either House has failed to adopt a motion to proceed to the Task Force bill, paragraph (1)(A)(ii)(II) shall not apply.

(vi)

Rulings of the chair on procedure

Appeals from the decisions of the Chair relating to the application of the rules of the Senate, as the case may be, to the procedure relating to a Task Force bill shall be decided without debate.

(C)

Rules to coordinate action with other House

(i)

Referral

If, before the passage by 1 House of a Task Force bill of that House, that House receives from the other House a Task Force bill, then the Task Force bill of the other House shall not be referred to a committee and shall immediately be placed on the calendar.

(ii)

Procedure

If the Senate receives the Task Force bill passed by the House of Representatives before the Senate has voted on passage of the Task Force bill—

(I)

the procedure in the Senate shall be the same as if no Task Force bill had been received from House of Representatives; and

(II)

the vote on passage in the Senate shall be on the Task Force bill of the House of Representatives.

(iii)

Treatment of task force bill of other house

If 1 House fails to introduce or consider a Task Force bill under this section, the Task Force bill of the other House shall be entitled to expedited floor procedures under this section.

(iv)

Treatment of companion measures in the Senate

If following passage of the Task Force bill in the Senate, the Senate then receives the Task Force bill from the House of Representatives, the House-passed Task Force bill shall not be debatable. The vote on passage of the Task Force bill in the Senate shall be considered to be the vote on passage of the Task Force bill received from the House of Representatives.

(v)

Vetoes

If the President vetoes the Task Force bill, debate on a veto message in the Senate under this section shall be 1 hour equally divided between the majority and minority leaders or their designees.

(3)

Suspension

No motion to suspend the application of this subsection shall be in order in the Senate or in the House of Representatives.

.

(b)

Funding

From the amounts appropriated or made available and remaining unobligated under division A (other than under title X of division A) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111–5), there is rescinded pro rata an aggregate amount equal to $9,000,000, which amount shall be made available without need for further appropriation to the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action to carry out the purposes of the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action, and which shall remain available through fiscal year 2011. Not later than 14 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall administer the rescission and make available such amount to the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action.

6.

Repeal of income tax on individuals

(a)

In general

Chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking the following provisions:

(1)

Part I of subchapter A.

(2)

Subpart A of part IV of subchapter A.

(3)

Sections 31, 32, 35, 36, and 36A.

(b)

Repeal of alternative minimum tax for individuals

Section 55 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(f)

Exemption for noncorporate taxpayers

The tentative minimum tax for any taxpayer other than a corporation shall be zero.

.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017.

7.

Prioritization for repayment of national debt

To take into account the national security concerns of the United States, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall prioritize the repayment of the national debt and shall take into account circumstances in which the Secretary of the Treasury determines the early repayment of outstanding debt is detrimental to the fiscal stability of the United States.

8.

Study and report

(a)

Study

The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, shall—

(1)

analyze methods to prevent and relieve any distortions among economic sectors created by the implementation of this Act,

(2)

make recommendations regarding the application of the transaction fee established under this Act to barter transactions which do not involve a payment instrument,

(3)

assess the transaction fee established under this Act as a tool of Federal fiscal policy, including an impact analysis on the elimination or retention of existing tax expenditures, incentives, penalties, and credits, including—

(A)

the earned income credit,

(B)

the alternative minimum tax,

(C)

the child tax credit, and

(D)

the deduction for mortgage interest,

(4)

analyze the extent to which the transaction fee could offset the cost to the Federal Government of increasing discretionary and mandatory spending, particularly expenditures related to education, defense, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,

(5)

make recommendations with respect to the Internal Revenue Service, which—

(A)

assume the transition and grandfathering of all existing personnel of the Internal Revenue Service,

(B)

identify the elements of the current Internal Revenue Service needed to administer the transaction fee, and

(C)

examine the feasibility of modifying the overall mission and jurisdiction of the Internal Revenue Service from one focused on tax law application to one focused on uncovering waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the Federal Government, and

(6)

make determinations and recommendations for methods of phasing out the income tax on individuals before its repeal under section 4 in a manner which is consistent with the purposes described in section 2(b)(3).

(b)

Report

The Secretary of the Treasury shall, not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, submit to Congress a written report containing the results, determinations, and recommendations of the Secretary under subsection (a).