July 26, 2013

Dear Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Hatch,

We understand your committee is undertaking comprehensive tax reform.  We write to urge you to make all correspondence with the committee relating to this tax reform public in real time.

Multiple press accounts indicate that you have promised to keep Senatorial correspondence regarding your tax reform initiatives secret for fifty years. That is far longer than Presidential records are sealed. There are other media reports that there is an increase in tax policy related lobbying and that these special interest are making the rounds with Senators.

While the undersigned groups do not necessarily have common goals for the outcome of tax reform, we agree that transparency is essential for your final product to have credibility with the public rather than feed cynicism. Taxpayers across the United States have a right to know what their elected officials are advocating and what their justification is.  We strongly urge you to reconsider this approach that smacks of backroom deals. The House Ways & Means Committee urged lawmakers and outside interests to submit their priorities and made them public. We urge a similar approach.

Showdown at Gucci Gulch, the seminal work on the historic 1986 tax reform legislation, was published one year after the law was enacted. If your comprehensive tax reform efforts are successful, your secrecy policy would delay that history from being written for 50 years. Again, we urge you to conduct your work in light of day.


Taxpayers for Common Sense
Government Accountability Project
Americans for Tax Reform
Project on Government Oversight
Americans for Prosperity
Tax Analysts
Society of Professional Journalists
Center for Effective Government
The Sunlight Foundation
American Commitment
Society of American Archivists
Tax Justice Network USA
Taxpayer Protection Alliance
Domini Social Investments
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Cost of Government Center
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Business for Shared Prosperity
R Street Institute
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Less Government
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Fund for Constitutional Government
American Sustainable Business Council
Washington Coalition for Open Government
Zevin Asset Management
Advocacy for Principled Action in Government