Increase the EITC to Help Lift “Childless Workers” Out of Poverty

April 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm

It’s time for policymakers to fix a glaring hole in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), as I explain today in an op-ed for National Journal:

While the tax credit reduces poverty among families with children by double-digit percentages, as a recent Congressional Research Service report found, it does little or nothing to help low-wage workers who aren’t raising minor children. A “childless adult” working full time at the minimum wage — an annual income of just $14,500 — earns too much to receive the credit.

Read more

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.  … Read more

The Top 10 (Well, 11) Federal Tax Charts

April 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

To usher in Tax Day, here are our top 11 charts on federal taxes, which provide context for debates on issues like tax reform and deficit reduction.

Our first chart shows the sources of federal tax revenue.

Individual income tax revenues have held steady for many decades at a little under half of federal revenue.  The share of federal revenue from payroll taxes (mostly Social Security and Medicare taxes) grew sharply between the 1950s and 1980s and has since remained relatively stable. … Read more

CBO: Health Reform Is Working — and Costing Less

April 14, 2014 at 5:23 pm

In new estimates that it released today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that health reform’s coverage expansions will cost less than it previously estimated.  That’s good news for two reasons:

First, the new cost projections come even as CBO also estimates that health reform will dramatically reduce the number of Americans without health coverage.  Second, the lower cost estimate likely means that health reform will reduce budget deficits even more than CBO previously estimated.

Let’s take these one at a time.… Read more

Tax Day Roundup, 2014

April 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm

The Top 5 (Okay, 6) State Tax Charts

April 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm

As we approach Tax Day, here are six charts focusing on state taxes.

More than half of state tax dollars go to fund education (K-12 and higher education) and health care, as the chart below shows.  State tax dollars also fund other critical services such as transportation, corrections, public assistance, care for residents with disabilities, police, state parks, and general aid to local governments.

State revenue losses from the Great Recession were both deeper and longer lasting than in previous recessions, as the chart below shows.  … Read more

Community Eligibility Is Expanding Nationwide

April 14, 2014 at 10:58 am

With nearly 16 million children living in households that have trouble affording nutritious food at some point during the year, the time is right for thousands of schools serving high-poverty neighborhoods to adopt community eligibility, a powerful option to alleviate childhood hunger that will soon be available nationwide.  The Community Eligibility Provision allows high-poverty schools to eliminate school meal applications and offer breakfast and lunch to all of their students at no charge.

Four thousand high-poverty schools across 11 states have already implemented community eligibility, and the White House estimates that 18,000 additional schools will be eligible to adopt the provision for the coming school year.… Read more

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. 
Read more

Obama Plan to Raise Rents on Rural Poor is the Wrong Way to Save Money

April 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm

About 42,000 extremely poor families — 15 percent of those assisted through the Agriculture Department’s (USDA) rural rental assistance program — could face rent increases of up to $600 a year under a proposal in President Obama’s 2015 budget.

Today, families with rural rental assistance must pay 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities.  The President’s proposal would require property owners to charge families a minimum of $50 a month — even if this exceeds 30 percent of their income. … Read more

Just the Basics: Where Our State Tax Dollars Go

April 11, 2014 at 9:40 am

As Tax Day approaches, we’ve updated several backgrounders that explain how the federal government and states collect and spend tax dollars.  As policymakers and citizens weigh key decisions on how best to shape our future government, it’s helpful to examine where the dollars that comprise the budget come from and where they go.

The final installment in our series of revised “Policy Basics” backgrounders explains where our state tax dollars go.

In total, the 50 states and the District of Columbia spent a little more than $1 trillion in state revenues in fiscal year 2012, according to the most recent survey by the National Association of State Budget Officers.  … Read more

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

April 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Some 69 percent of the cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget would come from programs that serve people of limited means, our recently released report finds.  These disproportionate cuts — which likely account for at least $3.3 trillion of the budget’s $4.8 trillion in non-defense cuts over the next decade — contrast sharply with the budget’s rhetoric about helping the poor and promoting opportunity.

The low-income cuts fall into five categories:

  • Health coverage.  The Ryan budget has at least $2.7 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people buy private insurance. 
Read more

Tying Jobless Benefits to Corporate Tax Cuts Would Be Inappropriate

April 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Key House Republicans reportedly want to tie resuming federal unemployment insurance to extending various corporate tax cuts — including permanent extension of “bonus depreciation.”  Policymakers should reject any such effort, given that permanently extending bonus depreciation:

  • Entails huge cost.  Permanently extending the tax break, which allows businesses to take bigger upfront deductions for certain new investments, would cost $263 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
  • Has little bang for the buck.  Enacted in 2008, bonus depreciation was among the weakest federal measures to promote jobs and growth in the Great Recession. 
Read more