In Case You Missed It…

April 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on Tax Day (April 15), the federal budget and taxes, health reform, state budgets and taxes, and the safety net.

  • On Tax Day, Chris Mai compiled CBPP’s top charts on state tax issues and Chuck Marr compiled our top federal tax charts.  We recognized the efforts of volunteers who helped file more than 3 million federal tax returns free of charge for low- and moderate-income people.  We also listed our most recent analyses on tax issues.
  • On the federal budget and taxes, Chuck Marr excerpted his National Journal op-ed on why policymakers should strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers.  Will Fischer highlighted proposed legislation creating a tax credit to help low-income families afford housing.
  • On health reform, Paul Van de Water pointed to new Congressional Budget Office projections that health reform’s coverage expansions will cost less than previously estimated.  Dave Chandra highlighted CBPP’s new interactive database to help states design and operate their insurance marketplaces.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Elizabeth McNichol listed five questions for states considering whether to start refilling their “rainy day” reserves.
  • On the safety net, Becca Segal explained that next month’s expansion of “community eligibility” will help alleviate hunger in thousands of high-poverty schools.  Chad Stone noted that the number of jobless workers affected by policymakers’ failure to restore emergency federal unemployment benefits continues to grow.

In other news, we issued papers on when and how states should strengthen their rainy day funds and why the lone group taxed into poverty should receive a larger EITC.  We updated our guide to statistics on historical trends in income inequality and our papers explaining that federal income taxes on middle-income families remain near historic lows and that the EITC promotes work and encourages children’s success at school.

CBPP’s Chart of the Week:

A variety of news outlets featured CBPP’s work and experts recently. Here are some highlights:

Ryan budget represents the height of irresponsibility
The New Journal & Guide
April 16, 2014

7 Facts About Our Broken Tax System
The Nation
April 16, 2014

It’s Time to Strengthen the EITC to Give Childless Workers a Much-Needed Boost
National Journal
April 15, 2014

CBO: Health Reform Is Working — and Costing Less
Huffington Post
April 15, 2014

Where your tax dollars go, in one chart
April 14, 2014

3 Million Reasons to Thank Tax-Season Volunteers

April 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

This tax season, 85,000 trained volunteers across the country have helped file more than 3 million federal tax returns free of charge for low- and moderate-income people.  Tax Day is the perfect time to reflect on the critical services that these volunteers provide.

Free tax preparation programs such as the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide programs are national efforts to provide professional tax filing assistance to low-income households.

Together, the VITA and AARP programs operate more than 10,000 sites across the country.  Volunteers are certified to work with clients after undergoing hours of training.  As early as January, the volunteers help clients complete their returns, review them for accuracy, and submit them electronically.  In addition to helping taxpayers file their returns accurately, volunteers help clients claim all the tax credits they’ve earned, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, which help workers meet day-to-day needs and care for their families.

The volunteers’ work is a critical service to these working families — but it doesn’t end on April 15.  After today’s deadline, volunteers will continue to help with late filers and post-tax season tasks, such as identifying new locations for the tax preparation services and contacting employers to spread the word about the services, following up with clients to connect them to community and social services, or providing financial education classes.  And, CBPP’s Tax Credit Outreach website will continue to serve as a reference for these volunteers and organizations hosting free tax filing sites to support these efforts.

These volunteers have made it possible for millions of low- and moderate-income people to file their taxes by April 15 — and to claim the tax credits they’ve earned.  There’s no better day than Tax Day to say thank you.

Tax Day Roundup, 2014

April 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm

In Case You Missed It…

April 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget, the federal budget and taxes, Tax Day (April 15), health care, the safety net, and full employment.

  • On the Ryan budget, we featured a comprehensive roundup of CBPP analysis on the budget.  Richard Kogan illustrated that the Ryan budget gets 69 percent of its cuts from low-income programs.  Robert Greenstein rebutted Chairman Ryan’s criticism of our 69 percent figure and debunked Ryan’s attempt to deny that his budget deeply cuts low-income programs.  Dottie Rosenbaum warned that the Ryan budget’s SNAP (food stamp) cuts would affect millions of low-income Americans.  Chad Stone excerpted his US News & World Report post on how the Ryan budget could affect the economy.  Paul Van de Water analyzed Ryan’s Medicare proposals.
  • On the federal budget and taxes, Joel Friedman underscored the stark difference between the recent Obama and Ryan budgets on non-defense discretionary funding.  Chuck Marr explained the problems with inadequate regulation of commercial tax preparers and noted recent calls to give the IRS needed authority to oversee all preparers.  Robert Greenstein corrected a misrepresentation in congressional testimony regarding IRS training of tax preparers.  Chye-Ching Huang highlighted a New York Times editorial criticizing the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to reinstate dozens of tax cuts without paying for them.  Chuck Marr pointed out that tying federal unemployment insurance to extending the “bonus depreciation” tax cut would be unwise.
  • On Tax Day, we excerpted our paper on why the Tax Foundation’s annual “Tax Freedom Day” report gives a misleading impression of tax burdens.  We also highlighted several newly updated backgrounders on federal and state taxes and spending:  where our federal tax dollars go, sources of federal revenues, payroll taxes, tax expenditures, and where our state tax dollars go.
  • On health care, Judy Solomon listed three things that people who have yet to enroll in marketplace health coverage should keep in mind.  Edwin Park explained that overpayments to Medicare Advantage insurers help the insurers more than beneficiaries and argued that policymakers should resist calls to roll back health reform’s Medicare Advantage savings.  He also highlighted early data showing a decline in the number of uninsured under health reform.
  • On the safety net, Brynne Keith-Jennings pointed to new data confirming that SNAP caseloads and spending continue to decline.  Will Fischer explained that President Obama’s plan to raise rents on the rural poor is the wrong way to save money.
  • On full employment, we highlighted Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers’ keynote speech at the launch of CBPP’s and Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein’s year-long project on making full employment a national priority.

In other news, we issued Robert Greenstein’s statement on House passage of the Ryan budget plan.  We issued papers on reducing overpayments in the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicare in Ryan’s 2015 budget, seven myths about Medicaid, Ryan’s budget cuts in programs for people with low or moderate incomes, and the Tax Foundation’s misrepresentation of typical households’ tax burdens.

CBPP’s Chart of the Week:

A variety of news outlets featured CBPP’s work and experts recently. Here are some highlights:

House passes GOP budget plan despite bipartisan opposition
April 10, 2014

How Some Tax Preparers Feed on the Working Poor
April 10, 2014

We Should Be in a Rage
New York Times
April 9, 2014

Paul Ryan’s poor ‘savings’ plan
Washington Post
April 9, 2014

Ryan Roundup 2014: Everything You Need to Know About Chairman Ryan’s Latest Budget

April 8, 2014 at 9:52 am

We’ve compiled CBPP’s analyses and blog posts on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget.  We’ll update this roundup as we issue additional analyses.

  • Analysis: Ryan Block Grant Proposal Would Cut Medicaid by More Than One-Quarter by 2024 and More After That
    April 4, 2014
    “The Medicaid block grant proposal in the budget plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on April 1 would cut federal Medicaid (and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP) funding by 26 percent by 2024, because the funding would no longer keep pace with health care costs or with expected Medicaid enrollment growth as the population ages….  These cuts would come on top of repealing the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion.”

    Blog Post: Ryan Budget Again Proposes a Medicaid Block Grant, Adding Millions to the Ranks of the Uninsured and Underinsured

  • Blog Post: Ryan Budget Mischaracterizes Housing Vouchers, Then Sets the Stage to Cut Them
    April 4, 2014
    “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan used a faulty number to argue that ‘Section 8’ Housing Choice Voucher program costs have risen excessively.  His budget documents also float a proposed expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration that could lay the groundwork for deep, harmful cuts in the voucher program in years to come.  That program, which helps 2.1 million low-income families rent modest units of their choice in the private market, is just beginning to recover from the loss of 70,000 vouchers due to sequestration budget cuts last year.”

  • Analysis: Ryan Budget Would Slash SNAP by $137 Billion Over Ten Years: Low-Income Households in All States Would Feel Sharp Effects
    April 4, 2014
    “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan includes cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $137 billion — 18 percent — over the next ten years (2015-2024),  which would necessitate ending food assistance for millions of low-income families, cutting benefits for millions of such households, or some combination of the two.  Chairman Ryan proposed similarly deep SNAP cuts in each of his last three budgets.”

    Blog Post: Ryan’s SNAP Cuts Would Hit Millions of Low-Income Americans

  • Analysis: Medicare in Ryan’s 2015 Budget
    April 8, 2014
    “The Medicare proposals in the 2015 budget resolution from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are much the same as those in Ryan’s previous budgets. Once again, Chairman Ryan proposes to replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher and raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67. Together, these changes would shift costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year-olds without health coverage.”Blog Post: Ryan’s Medicare Proposals: the Latest
  • Analysis: Ryan Plan Gets 69 Percent of Its Budget Cuts From Programs for People With Low or Moderate Incomes
    April 8, 2014
    “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget cuts $3.3 trillion over ten years (2015-2024) from programs that serve people of limited means. That’s 69 percent of its $4.8 trillion in total non-defense budget cuts. Not much has changed on this front from Chairman Ryan’s budget plan of a year ago, or the year before that. Then, too, Chairman Ryan proposed very deep cuts, the bulk of which were in programs that serve low- and moderate-income Americans.The deficit reduction plan that Fiscal Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson issued in late 2010 established as a basic principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or widen inequality. The Ryan plan charts a radically different course, imposing its most severe cuts on people on the lower rungs of the income ladder.”

    Blog Post: Ryan Budget Gets 69 Percent of Its Cuts From Low-Income Programs [Updated]

  • Blog Post: Obama, Ryan Miles Apart on Non-Defense Discretionary Funding
    April 8, 2014
    “One especially stark difference between the recent budgets from President Obama and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, the budget category that includes key investments in the economy, such as education and basic research; support for low-income families, such as Head Start and housing assistance; and essential services that Americans expect, such as veterans’ medical care and food safety inspections.  Obama and Ryan are roughly $1 trillion apart on total NDD funding over the next decade.”
  • Blog Post: Ryan Budget a Path to Adversity for Millions — and Maybe for the Economy Too
    April 9, 2014
    In his latest US News & World Report post, CBPP Chief Economist Chad Stone reprises analysis showing that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget is, in fact, as CBPP President Robert Greenstein described it, a path to adversity for tens of millions of Americans.  He then discusses why it also could be a path to adversity for the economy as a whole.
  • Blog Post: Chairman Ryan’s Response to the Center’s Analysis Doesn’t Hold Water
    April 10, 2014
    “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan took exception to our finding that 69 percent of the non-defense spending cuts in his new budget come from programs for people with low and moderate incomes.  But he makes no attempt to refute our calculations, and his response both defies logic and conflicts with his own budget and even his own words.”
  • Blog Post: Chairman Ryan’s Obfuscation: Part 2
    April 10, 2014
    “In his attempt to deflect our finding that 69 percent of his budget cuts come from programs targeted on Americans of limited means, Ryan says that Medicaid would receive over $3 trillion during the coming decade under his budget and that its costs would grow in all years after 2016.  [This blog post explains] what his too-clever-by-half response conceals.”
  • Statement: Robert Greenstein, President, On the House Passage of Chairman Ryan’s Budget Plan
    April 11, 2014
    “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget, which the House has now passed, is anything but that for most families and individuals.  Affluent Americans would do quite well, but for tens of millions of others, the Ryan plan — which gets 69 percent of its cuts from programs that serve people of limited means — is a path to more adversity.”