By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

 GRAPELAND – Field Representatives Michael Ethridge and Craig Lewellyn – with U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady’s office – discussed tax reform legislation put together by Rep. Brady (R-Texas) during the Grapeland Noon Lions Club meeting on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Ethridge began the presentation and thanked the club for welcoming him to Grapeland.

“I go around and meet with groups who provide service to the community and say thanks and answer any questions you may have,” he said.

Ethridge explained both he and Lewellyn worked for Congressman Brady who was the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the chief tax writing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

At the start of his presentation, Ethridge said the tax reform proposal designed by Brady is roughly 80 percent similar to the one endorsed by President Donald Trump and indicated, “… we are working through the differences and reconciling the remaining 20 percent. The goal on tax reform is growth – growth for everything except the size of government and the tax code.”

The field representative distributed several pieces of literature and said one of the items displayed a proposed tax form which contained only 14 line items.

The line items listed on the postcard were: 1) wage and compensation income; 2) add one-half of investment income; 3) subtract contributions to specified savings plans; 4) subtract standard deduction or; 5) subtract mortgage interest deduction; 6)  subtract charitable contribution deduction; 7) taxable income; 8) preliminary tax (from tax table); 9) subtract child credit; 10) subtract earned income credit; 11) subtract higher education credit; 12) total tax; 13) subtract taxes withheld; and 14) refund due / taxes owed.

“This is the type of simplicity we are looking for,” Ethridge explained.

As he continued, Ethridge said there were three key elements in Brady’s tax code proposal. The first element concerned families, individuals and a reduction in the number of different of tax brackets.

“Another part of this is the business side. As a developed country we have the highest tax rate in the world. We do everything backwards compared to a lot of the other countries we compete with,” Ethridge said. “Here, we tax you for producing a product here and if you go overseas, we tax you there and if you do go overseas and make some money, we tax you on the money you want to bring back.”

“We want to lower the corporate tax rate and make it easier for businesses to grow. One of the key components in this is to be able to write off 100 percent of your business expenses in year one,” he said.

The third element in the tax reform proposal is “… busting up the IRS,” Ethridge said.

Ethridge said under Brady’s proposal the IRS would become three much smaller units with one focused on helping businesses, another focused on families and individuals and the third unit would be a small claims court to help resolve tax disputes.

Prior to the tax reform discussion, Lions Club President Ben Childress provided the club with an update on the club’s old business and upcoming projects.

The first project discussed was the repair of see-saws at the Grapeland City Park. Childress said the see saws had been painted and were ready to have metal, fabricated by Vulcraft, placed on them. It was determined the playground equipment would be re-installed, tentatively, within the next.

Childress also informed the club of the retirement of Lions Treasurer Velda Parker, who retired from the post office at the start of the month.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.