Senate version of IMPROVE Act is “Taxpayer Protection Pledge Compliant” says top conservative tax reform group

NASHVILLE –  The IMPROVE Act, as amended last week by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), has met the approval of the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a national conservative group formed by Grover Norquist in 1985 at the request of President Ronald Reagan.  The flagship project of ATR is the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written promise by legislators and candidates for office that commits them to oppose any effort to increase income taxes on individuals and businesses.

In a memorandum to the members of the Tennessee General Assembly today, Norquist said, “The recent amendments made by the Senate, and supported by Gov. Haslam, have improved the bill to the extent that the bill is now a net tax decrease, and thus not a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge…ATR scores the amended version of SB 1221 / HB 534 as a net tax cut and therefore Taxpayer Protection Pledge compliant.”

The group’s approval follows an announcement in January by the American Conservative Union that that the Tennessee Senate is the “Most Conservative Senate” in the nation, earning a score of 79.87 percent.  Since 2011, the General Assembly has cut $438 million in taxes.  These cuts include legislation sponsored by Leader Norris in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 repealing the gift tax, eliminating the death tax, reducing the sales tax on food, exempting the sales tax on certain machinery and medical supplies, and phasing out the Hall Income Tax.   If the IMPROVE ACT is approved, those tax cuts would exceed $540 million.

“We have worked diligently to rebuild our state, not only with a focus on keeping our roads and bridges safe, but to reallocate revenues to maximize the return to Tennessee taxpayers,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville).  “This legislation is the latest along the continuum of cuts providing widespread tax relief for Tennesseans, while paving the way to new and better jobs to Tennessee.”

The legislation, which was approved last week in the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee, is up for consideration in the Senate State and Local Government Committee tomorrow.

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