Taxes and Economic Justice

Everyone has an opinion on taxes.  Most will say we pay too much in taxes.  Some will say we should tax the “rich” more.  No matter what your thoughts, our tax code needs reform.  Currently, our tax code is one of the biggest economic injustices in the United States. 

Here are some examples:

· Since the 1960s, the top corporate and income tax rates (i.e. taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals) have dropped sharply, while the payroll tax (which hits the poor and middle class hardest) has more than doubled.

 · Taxes on wages, which is the only source of income for most working- and middle-class Americans, are higher than the tax on capital gains, which is the primary source of income only of the wealthiest Americans.

 · Because of requirements written into federal law, individuals and families claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (a credit for the working poor and the largest poverty alleviation program offered by the federal government) are audited by the IRS three times more often than wealthy individuals, and eight times more than business partnerships.

· The federal tax code is full of loopholes available only to people wealthy enough to hire the lawyers and accountants who can find them, and the wealth to take advantage of them. While most Americans pay their taxes automatically through employer withholding, rich investors and business owners can shift money around until it is practically impossible to trace and tax.

So, what can be done?  The first thing is learn the tax code.  Not all of it. Just the basics.  What are you taxed on?  Why?  Then, go behind the double talk.  When someone says they want to cut taxes, whose taxes are they cutting?  What exactly is the “death tax” and why should you care?  Once you understand the code, you can see how it can be used to level the playing field. 

During this General Convention, we will again be looking at the Tax Code.  We will continue to create policy that assists The Episcopal Church in advocating for a fair and equal tax code, a code that assists in bringing in dollars to support the government and its many social programs, and why sustaining those programs is important.

- Laura Russell, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice


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