Just before midnight last night, Georgia’s legislature voted to eliminate a tax credit for 1 million workers earning under $20,000, joining several other states that are cutting (or considering cutting) tax benefits for low-income families. While states face severe budget pressures due to the recession, sacrificing their low-income tax credits is a terrible idea, for a host of reasons:
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal editorial warns of “the likelihood that the Senate budget resolution dividend tax rate of 39.6% will become law next year. The millions of Americans who receive dividend income — most of them not rich — need to begin adjusting their investment strategy accordingly.”
Following up our post yesterday about the Peterson Foundation’s National Fiscal Summit, here’s a bit of what the Center’s executive director, Robert Greenstein, had to say:
Over the past two decades, a number of states have recognized the folly of taxing working-poor families deeper into poverty and, instead, have eliminated their income taxes on poor — and, in some states, near-poor — households. But our new survey finds that 13 of the 42 states with an income tax still tax two-parent families of four with earnings below the poverty line ($21,947).
As last week’s New York Times story on a new federal anti-homelessness program shows, the sharp recent rise in homelessness highlights the importance of helping low-income families afford decent housing. For years, one of our most effective tools has been the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which helps roughly 2 million low-income families — those at risk of homelessness as well as other families — cover the cost of renting modest units of their choice in the private market.
If we continue current policies, the federal debt will skyrocket to almost three times the existing record by 2050. That’s from 53 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of fiscal year 2009 to more than 300 percent of GDP in 2050. The existing record was set when the debt reached 110 percent of GDP at the end of World War II.
Kudos to the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib for noting in his Capital Journal column today that the country has a major fiscal problem that demands a serious, bipartisan, and balanced policy response. I agree and commend him for the piece.
In this context, here are a few more things to keep in mind on the tax side:
Those who seek a crisp primer on why experts worry about rising deficits and debt should look no further than this morning’s testimony before the President’s fiscal commission by Robert Reischauer, the former Congressional Budget Office director and a member of the Center’s Board of Directors.
With the President’s new fiscal commission having its first meeting this morning, here are three basic points concerning the coming debate over our nation’s budget priorities.