No, today isn’t a national holiday. It’s not any particular religious festival. We’re more than a week away from Halloween, a month from Thanksgiving, and a couple months from Christmas. The only reason you have today off (assuming you have today off) is because today is Saturday. And yet . . .
On October 22, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a bipartisan bill. That law, signed 25 years ago today, was the last fundamental tax reform in which the U.S. has engaged. Among other things, it broadened the tax base, reduced the number of tax brackets, and reduced the highest tax bracket from 50 percent to 28 percent. It vastly simplified the monster that the tax code had become.
Since 1986, of course, the number of tax brackets has crept up, top marginal rates have crept up, and plenty of loopholes and special exceptions have been reintroduced into the tax law; we are arguable at a point where we again need to fundamentally rethink the tax law.
The politics of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 are absolutely fascinating. If you want to peer into the political machinations of D.C., you could do worse than reading Birnbaum and Murray’s Showdown at Gucci Gulch, a comprehensive (and fascinating) look at the people who shepherded tax reform through the process.
If you don’t have time for the book,[fn1] there are a couple great articles around the web summarizing what the Act meant and how it came through. You could read this article for a taste of the process. Or you could read any or all of these articles, if you’re really into tax reform.[fn2]
So is there any Mormon connection here? Not really; mostly, I just wanted to highlight an important, if generally forgotten, anniversary. But there were Mormons in Congress at the time. And it’s really hard, on an internet connection at home, to find voting records from 1986, but I finally did. And how did Mormons vote on the Tax Reform Act of 1986?
- Senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT: Nay.
- Senator Edwin Garn, R-UT: Didn’t vote.
- Rep. Harry Reid, D-NV: Aye.
- Rep. James Hansen, R-UT: Nay.
- Rep. David Monson, R-UT: Nay.
- Rep. Howard Nielson, R-UT: Nay.
I may well be missing Mormon votes here: I basically just grabbed Reid and Utah politicians. So feel free, in the comments, to tell me what other Mormons voted on the Tax Reform Act. And, given that it had broad bipartisan support (including from Pres. Reagan), why so little love from Utah?
Oh, and happy Tax Reform Act Day!
[fn1] But seriously, you have time. Read it.
[fn2] Note that I haven’t read the Forbes articles yet, but I like a lot of the authors listed; the articles should all be thought-provoking, and, I assume, pretty good.