Construction workers hurt by tax bill

Waylon Hedegaard


The current tax reform bill changes a great deal, but few are talking about the elimination of the Employee Expense Deduction and how that’s going to affect many working people. Having been a construction worker most of my life, I’ve traveled extensively across our nation. On average, I spent three or four months a year working out of town, and the vast majority of my work expenses were not reimbursed.

That means the money spent on mileage, motels, meals and other work related expenses came out of my family’s pocket. Along with thousands of other construction workers, we long relied on being able to deduct those expenses from our tax burden. For many, it remains a matter of survival.

However, the current tax reform eliminates the Employee Expense Deduction altogether, and that’s going to be very difficult for workers who travel. Even the doubling of the standard deduction is not going to be nearly enough.

The current tax bill is going to harm thousands of working families across our state. In addition, it’ll detrimentally affect the entire construction industry. After all, how are we going to entice the highly skilled construction workers to go where North Dakota needs them when it is unprofitable for those workers to do so?

This rushed tax reform bill will be the largest reform since the 80’s. Though in contrast, Reagan’s tax reform took nearly two full years to complete and had 30 hearings, while the current tax reform has been slammed through with no official hearings at all. This is sad.

I thank Senator Heitkamp for understanding this issue and voting no, but I implore Senator Hoeven and Congressman Cramer to rethink what this is going to do to North Dakotan workers and the industries that rely on them.

Hedegaard is president of the ND AFL-CIO.