BILLINGS — Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, who’s challenging U.S. Sen. Jon Tester for one of Montana's spots in the Senate, resurrected his support for enacting a flat-rate federal income tax in comments during a Monday night debate.
“I believe in a flat tax,” he said at a televised debate with Tester, D-Mont., in Billings on Monday night. “I’m fighting for a flat tax because I think ultimately that is the best way to go.”
It’s not the first time that Rehberg, Montana’s sole congressman, has talked about his preference for one, single federal income-tax rate for all tax-paying households in America. However, he hasn’t made the stance a centerpiece of his campaign this year.
Asked about his comment Tuesday morning, Rehberg said he’s been talking about it for a couple of years, mainly as a preferred alternative to a national sales tax, as part of overall tax reform.
He said he would oppose a national sales tax and instead would look at the flat-rate income tax — but not as a way to raise new revenue.
Rehberg said a flat tax likely would include elimination of many deductions, to simplify the tax code, and might be in the range of 10 percent to 11 percent. However, he said any serious discussion of the issue in Congress is a ways down the road.
Tester said while he supports overall simplification of the U.S. tax code, he is opposed to a flat tax, because it would likely increase taxes for working Montanans with moderate incomes.
Tester’s campaign said Rehberg supports a flat-rate tax because it would benefit multimillionaires like himself.
Rehberg said he hasn’t thought about the class-by-class impacts of the flat-rate tax because at this point, nobody has put forth a concrete, detailed proposal.