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|Headquarters||722 12th Street NW|
|Headquarters||722 12th Street NW|
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is a taxpayer advocacy group whose stated goal is "a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today." According to ATR, "The government's power to control one's life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized." The organization is known for its "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", which asks candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases. The founder and president of ATR is Grover Norquist, a conservative tax activist.
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The associated educational wing is the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, which is classified as a 501(c)(3) research and educational organization. The purpose of both entities is to educate and/or lobby against all tax increases.
Since 1986, ATR has sponsored the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", a written promise by legislators and candidates for office that commits them to oppose tax increases. There are separate versions at the national and state level.
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
In the version for state legislators, the signer pledges that:
I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.
In the 112th Congress serving in years 2011 and 2012, all but six of the 242 Republican members plus two Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives, for a total of 238 – a majority of that body – as well as all but seven of the 47 Republican members plus one Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, for a total of 41, have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. All except 13 sitting Republicans have signed the pledge, while three Democrats have signed it (outgoing-Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) and House members Robert Andrews (NJ) and Ben Chandler (KY)).
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and individual Democratic candidates began attacking "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge" and its signers during the 2010 cycle with charges that the pledge protected tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas. The first appearance of the argument arose in the HI-01 special election. Americans for Tax Reform responded by calling the attack ad "blatantly false." They pointed out that the Pledge does not prohibit any deduction or credit from being eliminated. It only prevents individuals and/or businesses from experiencing an overall increase in income taxes and allows for revenue-neutral tax reform.
The non-partisan, nonprofit Factcheck.org reviewed the DCCC's ad and agreed with ATR that the ad was "blatantly false." The director of Factcheck.org, Brooks Jackson, wrote:"It was called 'blatantly false' by Americans for Tax Reform, the Republican-leaning group that got Djou’s signature on its anti-tax pledge. We agree. ATR’s tax pledge does protect corporations in general – but only from an overall increase in taxes. It says nothing about jobs at all. More important, it does not rule out an overhaul of the tax code. Signers agree to oppose any "net" reduction of deductions or credits "unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
According to The Hill, the Democrats' net pickup of eight seats in the House of Representatives in the November 2012 election, combined with several Republicans' disavowal of the pledge, means that the pledge will no longer have the support of a majority of that chamber when the new Congress convenes in January 2013. Norquist claims that 219 Republicans support the pledge; this figure, however, includes several Republicans who have signed the pledge only to disavow it later.
Created in 1997, ATR's Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, has worked toward seeing each county in the United States commemorate the former president in a "significant" and "public" way, such as the naming of a public building. The project has also supported efforts to place Reagan on the ten-dollar bill. The project has also encouraged state governors declare February 6 to be "Ronald Reagan Day"; as of 2006, 40 governors have done so.
Since 2008, ATR has sought to encourage transparency and accountability in government through the Center for Fiscal Accountability. The organization's mission includes supporting the creation of searchable online databases of government spending, among other initiatives.
ATR sponsors the calculation of "Cost of Government Day", the day on which, by its calculations, "Americans stop working to pay the costs of taxation, deficit spending, and regulations by federal and state governments." Since 2008 the event has been sponsored by the Center for Fiscal Accountability.
The Property Rights Alliance is a project of Americans for Tax Reform. It produces the International Property Rights Index annually, ranking individual rights to own private property in countries worldwide.
ATR has several special project lines dedicated to specific issues including The American Shareholders Association (ASA), Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF), and The Media Freedom Project (MFP).
In October 2010 ATR began mailing fliers to voters in Florida directing them to call Florida governor and Independent candidate for Senate, Charlie Crist. ATR's mailers included pictures of Crist with Obama and quotes from right wing authors.
Shortly after Bill Clinton's 1992 election, ATR headquarters became the site of a weekly, off-the-record get-together of conservatives to coordinate activities and strategy. The "Wednesday Meeting" of the Leave Us Alone Coalition soon became an important hub of conservative political organizing. Participants each week include Republican congressional leaders, right-leaning think tanks, conservative advocacy groups and K Street lobbyists. George W. Bush began sending a representative to the Wednesday Meeting even before he formally announced his candidacy for president in 1999, and continued to send representatives after his election in 2000.
ATR has helped to establish regular meetings for conservatives nationwide, modeled after the Wednesday meetings in Washington, with the goal of creating a nationwide network of conservative activists to help support initiatives such as tax cuts and deregulation. There are now meetings in 48 states and more internationally, with meetings in Canada, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
The significance of the Wednesday meeting has influenced liberals and Democrats to organize similar meetings to coordinate activities about their shared agenda. In 2001, USA Today reported that Rep. Rosa DeLauro initiated such a meeting at the urging of then-House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt, even holding it on a Wednesday.
The primary policy goal of Americans for Tax Reform is to reduce the percentage of the GDP consumed by the government. ATR states that it "opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle." Americans for Tax Reform seeks to curtail government spending by supporting Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) legislation and transparency initiatives, and opposing cap-and-trade legislation and Democratic efforts to overhaul health care.
ATR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, which takes the position in the global warming controversy that "the science of global warming is uncertain, but the negative impacts of global warming policies on consumers are all too real". ATR supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 and continues to favor a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
ATR has called for cuts in the defense budget in order to reduce deficit spending.
ATR supported the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2014 (H.R. 4438; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to modify the calculation method and the rate for the tax credit for qualified research expenses that expired at the end of 2013 and would make that modified credit permanent. ATR argued that the bill would be "permanent tax relief for American employers" and pointed to the fact that the credit has been in existence since 1981, but businesses had always faced uncertainty about it due to Congress being forced to renew it 14 times. ATR also argued that businesses already face high corporate income tax rates and that "investment in new technologies and sources of capital is under pressure from other areas of the tax code."
According to an investigative report from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on the Jack Abramoff scandal, released in June 2006, ATR served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to finance surreptitiously grass-roots lobbying campaigns. Records show that donations from the Choctaw and Kickapoo tribes to ATR were coordinated in part by Abramoff, and in some cases preceded meetings between the tribes and the White House.