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The current federal Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provides up to $2,000 per child, is designed to provide an income boost to parents or guardians of children and other dependents. However, many low-income families do not receive the full benefit of the federal credit due to an earnings requirement and lack of full refundability for families with low incomes. A state-level CTC could redress some of the shortcomings of the current federal credit. By eliminating the requirement for earnings, along with the phase-in, and making the credit fully refundable, low-income families would be eligible for the full benefit, ultimately reducing child poverty.
In offsetting federal income and payroll taxes and supplementing the earnings of low-wage workers across the country, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the U.S. However, the EITC provides little or no benefits to workers without children; for childless adults, aged 25 through 64, the maximum credit is small and the income limits are restrictive. The tables in this report outline the benefits of relaxing age requirements under state EITCs to include both young and older childless adults; they also identify the impact of bringing existing state EITCs for that population up to 100 percent of the federal credit to help counteract shortcomings in the federal credit’s design.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) allow a broad category of tax subsidies known as itemized deductions, used to reduce taxpayers’ taxable income. Itemized deductions are regressive, offering the largest benefits to higher-income taxpayers and little or no benefits to low and middle-income families. Additionally, Black and Hispanic families tend to receive smaller tax cuts from itemized deductions than white families. This report outlines options state lawmakers can take to address these problems, including outright repeal, applying broad-based phase-outs or caps, and limiting specific deductions such as for mortgage interest on second homes or for charitable gifts constituting a small percentage of income.
The United States needs to address growing inequality and raise more revenue to fund critical public investment. One way to accomplish both goals is to enact legislation that raises taxes for high-income or high-wealth households. This infographic includes figures that demonstrate the following four points: the U.S needs to address inequality, the U.S needs more revenue, the U.S tax system is not solving these problems now, and the public supports using progressive taxes to solve these problems.
Flat or graduated personal income taxes drive income inequality and racial wealth gaps. This brief compares Illinois’s flat income tax structure to the proposed Fair Tax amendment through a retrospective analysis. It shows that Illinois’s historic flat income tax in lieu of a graduated rate tax (used by most states) results in a tax subsidy for the wealthiest Illinoisans that compounds income inequality and racial wealth gaps.
President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan, includes a significant expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The proposal provides a $125 billion boost in funding for the program, which would double the size of the existing federal credit for households with children. This infographic explains the benefits of this expansion and their potential impact on different racial and income groups.
Public school students in the U.S. suffered poorer schools—and local and state taxpayers paid higher taxes—in 2019 due to corporate tax breaks; economic development tax abatements given to corporations cost public school districts at least $2.37 billion in foregone revenue in FY 2019. This report presents case studies from schools in Louisiana, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, and Texas where schools are losing significant revenue to tax abatements. Additionally, this report makes recommendations to these states and offers suggestions to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (BASB); these recommendations include capping the share of each locality’s property and sales tax base that can be abated in the name of economic development, giving school boards control to opt in or out of tax-break deals, requiring all governments that are making abatement agreements to report the costs of such deals to all affected jurisdictions, and more.
The City of Memphis has deliberately avoided its municipal pension obligations at the same time it has granted a series of costly property tax abatements, such as payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), to large corporations and sports franchises. For every year between 2009 and 2012, the revenues lost by Memphis to economic development subsidies exceeded the annual cost of funding the city’s pension system. This report outlines the burdens of PILOTs, and ultimately determines that Memphis’ spending on subsidy deals is eroding the revenues needed to adequately fund public services.
Tech companies have been rapidly expanding their networks of facilities that store and retrieve digital information through the creation of new data centers. State and local governments routinely subsidize these projects, providing traditional subsidies, such as local property tax abatements and investment tax credits, and even establishing incentive programs specifically for data centers. However, subsidies come at the last stage of the data center site selection process and often don’t function as true economic development incentives; that is, they don’t cause something to happen that wouldn’t otherwise. Instead, public officials pay companies to do what they were already planning to do. To avoid such overspending, this report recommends that states and localities fully disclose deal-specific and aggregate program costs (starting when a deal is being negotiated) and cap all state and local subsidies combined at $50,000 per permanent job, and urges public officials to walk away from excessive data center subsidy demands.
Public school districts in South Carolina suffered a sharp increase in lost tax revenue in FY 2019 due to tax breaks granted to private corporations by county governments. The revenues of South Carolina’s school districts are reduced via state permitted programs that grant businesses tax abatements for extremely long periods of time, which could effectively be permanent exemptions. This report offers a variety of policy options to protect the public education system from corporate tax abatements; these include shielding school finance and implementing a county-based disclosure system to ensure that costs and benefits are fully visible for each employer granted an abatement.