Candidates need to talk about tax reform

Arguably the most talked about presidential candidate in recent history, Donald Trump made another big splash in the media when he unveiled his proposed plan for tax reform in 2016. Like Trump himself, his tax plan is a lightning rod for supporters and critics alike, many of whom will likely get the opportunity to watch Trump defend and discuss his plan at the next Republican presidential debate on Oct. 28.

Just as Trump and the other Republican candidates departed California last month after participating in the second Republican primary debate in Simi Valley, many California-based businesses continue to leave home taking potential opportunities for new jobs and sustained economic growth with them to more tax-friendly states.

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina takes part in the presidential debates at the Reagan Library on September 16, 2015 in Simi Valley, California
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Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina takes part in the presidential debates at the Reagan Library on September 16, 2015 in Simi Valley, California

In fact, according to the findings from The Tax Foundation, California ranks 48th in its state business tax climate index. As a longtime California business owner, I understand all too well how outdated tax regulations impede economic success by stifling the long-term financial development of our state's businesses.

The fact remains, however, that this very same problem continues to take place on a much larger scale every year with American companies fleeing overseas due to the U.S.'s outdated and illogical tax system. The solution to this problem is simple: Reform the tax code. Through comprehensive tax reform, Congress can modernize and simplify the current tax code while closing loopholes in the system, which would allow American businesses to prosper by increasing domestic innovation and job growth.

Recognizing that operating under the same tax code today as we did back in 1986 is fiscally harmful to the American economy is the first step towards a new era of financial accountability. Modernizing the tax code to reflect the times we live in will further encourage sustainable economic growth from American businesses.

In addition, Congress must work to eliminate loopholes in the tax code which continue to impede American businesses' ability to compete with other nations. In doing so by setting the tax rate at or around a competitive 25 percent will ultimately help U.S. businesses invest in training, work forces, and product development. Changing the economic landscape by cutting the corporate tax rate, will unquestionably eliminate any incentive for businesses to leave our borders.

The American small business sector is the foundation of economic stability and strength in this country. This is why it is imperative they are given a fair chance to succeed and compete in the global market, and for each candidate to take a stance in favor of making tax reform a reality.

Carly Fiorina, one of the most prominent American businesswomen in the past century, made her primetime debate debut last month. While Fiorina may be a newcomer to the political arena, she is no stranger to being a vocal proponent of tax reform. At a campaign event in Gardnerville, Nev., Fiorina expressed her frustration with the current tax code stating that, "We have binders full of great ideas in conservative think tanks about how to reform the tax code and somehow we don't ever get around to it." While she has yet to come out with a specific tax plan, Fiorina has voiced her support for simplifying the tax code without implementing any additional increases.

However, the issue of promoting some form of comprehensive tax reform is not a matter that is relevant exclusively to Republican candidates. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton has proposed a tax plan that aims to provide economic relief for the middle class and small businesses while eliminating "overseas loopholes" by creating an environment that encourages overall long-term fiscal growth.

And President Barack Obama has expressed the need for modernizing the U.S. tax code. "We have to set priorities. If we want a strong middle class, then our tax code must reflect our values," Obama said, according to the White House's official website.

While candidates from both parties have set the tone by speaking on the importance of tax reform and presenting a concrete plan of how to achieve it, the other candidates shouldn't be afraid to follow suit. With the largest crowd of potential presidential nominees in history, the brass tacks of tax reform should be if nothing else an avenue for each candidate to differentiate themselves amongst the pack. Those who will still be in contention for their party's nomination this month will likely be looking to bridge the gap between themselves and business owners across the country by outlining their plans for comprehensive tax reform.

Commentary by Elizabeth Roemer, president of Roemer Industries, a company that makes refrigerated medical-transportation containers, in San Diego, Calif.