Low-Income Housing – Wisconsin, Texas

  • Scott Walker’s budget would limit low-income tax credits to those who work, By Jason Stein, February 13, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would require able-bodied adults to work to receive a low-income housing credit — part of broader proposals in the bill to move more people into jobs. Starting in 2018, able-bodied adults below the age of 62 will need to earn money to claim the state’s Homestead Credit. The disabled and seniors would be exempt from the requirement…”
  • State lawmakers take aim at low-income housing, By Lydia DePillis, February 15, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Two bills filed this month in the state legislature would make it harder to develop affordable housing in Texas, imposing onerous new requirements on the projects and giving neighbors broad powers to oppose them. Although the chances of passage are unclear — thousands of measures are filed during the four-month session and only a few become law — the bills would be consistent with many other restrictions the legislature has placed on affordable housing development. Meanwhile, helping low-income people access housing is a rising concern for Texas cities, as a flood of new residents has boosted the cost of both rental and for-sale units…”

Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Detroiters leave $80 million unclaimed for tax credit, By Susan Tompor, January 29, 2017, Detroit Free Press: “The Earned Income Tax Credit is one big bonus check for Michigan’s struggling workforce. The credit is a one-time shot of potentially thousands of dollars that can be used to pay bills, put money down on a used car or even, maybe, save a little something for a rainy day or retirement.  It’s sort of like those big profit-sharing checks for many autoworkers that are ranging from $5,000 at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to $9,000 on average at Ford.  But you must file a tax return to get that tax-credit cash. And plenty of people don’t file for one reason or another…”
  • Gov. Scott Walker to expand low-income tax credit he once cut, By Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, February 1, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker is reversing course on a key tax credit for the working poor, proposing to raise incomes for more than 130,000 state families by returning the more than $20 million a year he cut from the program in 2011.  The Republican governor will unveil the proposal at the Wauwatosa Rotary Club Wednesday as part of a broader package in his budget bill that aims to strengthen families and marriage. The measure marks the changing priorities for Walker as he shifts from the budget cuts of his first term to his current goal of trying to draw Wisconsinites into the work force…”

Low-Income Tax Refunds

IRS to delay tax refunds for millions of low-income families, January 11, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “The IRS is delaying tax refunds for more than 40 million low-income families this year as the agency steps up efforts to fight identity theft and fraud.  The delays will affect families claiming the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. These tax breaks are geared to benefit the working poor, and many families claim both…”

Low-Income Families and Taxes – Canada

Canada’s poor urged to earn more by filing their taxes, By Kyle Bakx, October 11, 2016, CBC News: “After not filing her income taxes for three years, Janet Smith is struggling to find all the paperwork she needs to send to Revenue Canada.  As someone with a low income, she’s expecting to receive government benefits once her taxes are filed. ‘That could probably help me make ends meet. Right now, being on disability and just scraping by, sometimes not even scraping by, it’s pretty tough,’ she said. ‘It’s been a while since I filed taxes, there’s a lot of new things that have come out since I last filed. A lot of benefits that I’m sure I qualify for that I’m missing out on.’  Filing taxes is becoming the key strategy for organizations looking to lift people out of poverty…”

State Grocery Taxes

Decried as unfair, taxes on groceries persist in some states, By Elaine S. Povich, August 16, 2016, Stateline: “Thirteen states and many localities continue to tax the sale of groceries, even though the taxes disproportionately hurt the poor and may affect the quality, variety and even the amount of food they can afford to put on the table.  The reason: The taxes provide a steady source of revenue in volatile times, making it difficult for states to get rid of them without finding a way to make up the revenue. Recent efforts in several of the states to eliminate or lower the taxes have failed…”

Low-Income Families and Taxes

  • For nontraditional families, the tax code can be especially confusing, By Yuki Noguchi, April 7, 2016, National Public Radio: “The TV and a cellphone are playing videos, as Trevor Franklin tries to quiet a brood of kids in the living room of the apartment he shares with his fiancée in southeast Washington, D.C. ‘TJ is mine, and Malik and Morgan are my stepkids,’ Franklin says. A 14-year-old stepdaughter is on her way home from school, and his pregnant fiancée is on bed rest with a fifth child. The Census Bureau says about 41 percent of children are born to mothers who aren’t married, about five times the rate in the 1940s. But they aren’t all single parents. A growing percentage of babies born out of wedlock have parents who live together…”
  • Philadelphia wants low-income residents to take tax credit, By Katie Colaneri, March 30, 2016, Marketplace: “Even before Tax Day,  Philadelphia resident Roslyn Sanders is ahead of the game. She’s at her local community development corporation getting her taxes done and it’s the second time she’s come here. Sanders is back because last year, the organization helped her and her husband, Donald get a big refund by figuring out they qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. She said they got a check in the mail for more than $3,000…”
  • Editorial: Tax code should work for all low-income Americans, Editorial, April 5, 2016, Des Moines Register: “Conservatives have never met a tax cut they didn’t like. Liberals have never met a government handout they didn’t support. So Republicans and Democrats in U.S. Congress should be able to unite behind President Barack Obama’s proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC, created in 1975, is intended to provide additional dollars to low-income Americans and promote employment. To qualify, people must meet income and other requirements, as well as file a tax return. The credit increases as an individual’s income increases, thereby encouraging people to enter the workforce or work more. Because it is refundable, it puts money directly into people’s pockets to spend…”

Stateline’s State of the States Report

State of the States 2016, January 25, 2016, Stateline: “Stateline’s annual State of the States series looks at some of the pressing issues state lawmakers are facing as they begin their work this month. The five-part series includes analytical articles, infographics and interactives…”

Earned Income Tax Credit

Working poor bank on tax break in costly California, By Erica E. Phillips, April 6, 2015, Nasdaq.com: “For 30 years, Modesto Alejandro Vasquez has supported his family of four by working as a janitor in a downtown office building here. In 2014, he made about $30,000. Earning 25% above the federal poverty level in costly Southern California, Mr. Vasquez looks forward to this time of year, when a tax refund puts extra cash in his pocket. He said he used the money–$6,000 this year–to pay off debts and repair a computer for his daughter.  A large portion of the refund came via the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is intended to aid the working poor by reducing the amount of taxes owed, or in many cases, like Mr. Vasquez’s, by providing a refund, based on a taxpayer’s income and number of dependents.  California lawmakers, responding to the state’s nation-leading poverty level, are considering the creation of a state EITC program…”

Tax Refund Anticipation Checks

More cash-strapped Americans turn to tax refund advances, By Hope Yen (AP), March 22, 2015, ABC News: “Cash-strapped Americans anxious for tax refunds are increasingly turning to payment advances, prepaid cards or other costly services when getting tax preparation help, according to new federal data raising concerns among regulators about whether consumers are fully informed about the fees.  Regulators are looking to increase oversight of preparers amid the rise in ‘refund anticipation checks,’ a type of cash advance especially popular among low-income families who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, the government’s $65 billion cash benefit program. The advances are being marketed as a way to get fast refunds or defer payment of tax preparation costs…”

Earned Income Tax Credit – Massachusetts

Wide support for lifting earned-income credit, By Katie Johnson, March 4, 2015, Boston Globe: “Quanda Burrell, a single mother of two, works full time as a day-care teacher, earns $24,000 a year, and juggles the bills that inevitably pile up in her Boston home. But each year around this time, she says, she is able to ‘clear the slate,’ paying her debts with an income tax refund bolstered by an $800 state credit.  Burrell, 29, is among more than 400,000 low-income workers in Massachusetts who would benefit from a proposed increase in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, widely viewed as one of most effective antipoverty programs and supported by lawmakers and policy makers across the political spectrum…”

Earned Income Tax Credit

Childless adults qualify for earned income credit, too, By Susan Tompor, February 4, 2015, Detroit Free Press: “The Earned Income Tax Credit has one of those clunky names that you might ignore, as unfortunately some do. But the complex credit can put real money into the pockets of working people. Each year, the Internal Revenue Service, volunteer tax preparers, and others roll out a National EITC Awareness Day to warn that much-needed money is being left on the table. After years of such publicity and with almost 28 million people receiving $66 billion for the credit last year, it is hard to believe that anyone would not know about a key tool that fights poverty…”

Long-Term Impacts of Medicaid

Study: Medicaid-eligible children pay more in taxes as adults, By Amanda Cuda, January 12, 2015, Stamford Advocate: “Children of the 1980s who were eligible for expanded Medicaid benefits in their youth paid more in taxes as adults, according to a new study from Yale University. The study also showed that these same people were more likely to attend college and less likely to die prematurely in adulthood than peers who weren’t eligible for benefits. For some advocates, the research supports what they have long believed about providing Medicaid to vulnerable populations…”

State Tax Burdens

  • Study finds local taxes hit lower wage earners harder, By Patricia Cohen, January 13, 2015, New York Times: “When it comes to the taxes closest to home, the less you earn, the harder you’re hit. That is the conclusion of an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that evaluates the local tax burden in every state, from Washington, labeled the most regressive, to Delaware, ranked as the fairest of them all. According to the study, in 2015 the poorest fifth of Americans will pay on average 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle fifth will pay 9.4 percent and the top 1 percent will average 5.4 percent…”
  • Are local taxes unfair to the poor?, By Aimee Picchi, January 14, 2015, CBS News: “When it comes to state taxes, the rule of thumb is often topsy-turvy: The less you earn, the more you pay. That’s the conclusion from a new analysis of local taxes from the nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a nonpartisan research firm that studies tax issues. The organization’s findings won’t do much to make middle- and low-income workers feel good about their state and local tax burdens. The poorest 20 percent of Americans pay an average effective state and local tax rate of 10.9 percent. By comparison, the top 1 percent of Americans have an effective local tax burden of 5.4 percent…”

State-Level Income Inequality

  • Income inequality last year rose in 15 states, By Niraj Chokshi, September 18, 2014, Washington Post: “The nation became more unequal last year. The Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, was higher, in a statistically significant way, in 2013 than in 2012, rising from 0.476 to 0.481, according to a new Census Bureau report. A score of zero suggests perfect equality where all households have equal income, while a score of one suggests perfect inequality, where one household has it all, and the rest have none. Alaska was the only state to see its Gini Index score decline…”
  • Income inequality is hurting state tax revenue, report says, By Josh Boak (AP), September 15, 2014, Washington Post: “Income inequality is taking a toll on state governments. The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue, according to a report being released Monday by Standard & Poor’s. Even as income has accelerated for the affluent, it has barely kept pace with inflation for most other people. That trend can mean a double whammy for states: The wealthy often manage to shield much of their income from taxes. And they tend to spend less of it than others do, thereby limiting sales tax revenue. As the growth of tax revenue has slowed, states have faced tensions over whether to raise taxes or cut spending to balance their budgets as required by law…”
  • Income inequality: States struggle to balance budgets as rich-poor gap widens, By Mark Trumbull, September 15, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “A widening gap in incomes between the rich and the middle class may be hitting US states where it hurts – making it harder for them to raise the tax revenue they need for balancing their budgets. This conclusion, reached in a report released Monday by Standard & Poor’s, comes at a time when states across America are still struggling to rebuild their revenue streams more than five years after the end of a historically deep recession…”

Foreclosures and Tax Sales – Detroit

Detroit needs residents, but sends some packing: By Monica Davey, June 26, 2014, New York Times: “Ronald Ford Jr. has watched neighbors move away and brick houses on his family’s block crumble to nothing, but he says he wants to stay put and give a chance to city leaders who now promise a renaissance. ‘I’d like to try to go with the new Detroit if that’s really coming,’ Mr. Ford, 49, said, standing outside the house on the city’s east side that he describes as precious, ‘like a family heirloom.’ Yet as Mike Duggan, the mayor of the nation’s largest bankrupt city, pledges to stem the flood of departures that have crippled Detroit and to begin increasing the city’s population for the first time in decades, Mr. Ford is on the verge of losing his family’s house. So are tens of thousands of others here who failed to pay their property taxes. In a city that desperately needs to hold onto residents, there is a virtual pipeline out. At least 70,000 foreclosures have taken place since 2009 because of delinquent property taxes. . .”

Tax Preparation Fees

Tax preparers targeting poor with high fees, By Campbell Robertson, April 7, 2014, New York Times: “In December, they begin showing up in empty storefronts in neighborhoods where empty storefronts are easy to come by. Cars with phone numbers brightly displayed on the doors roll down the streets, and signs pop up along the sidewalks promising fast money. For millions of low-income Americans, tax season means the biggest one-time influx of money all year. It also means the annual sprouting of commercial tax preparers: some of them big-name franchises, some mom-and-pops and some, as 20-year-old Brittany Dixon discovered this year, shockingly expensive…”

Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Obama budget would expand low-income tax break, By Jackie Calmes, March 3, 2014, New York Times: “When President Obama releases his proposed annual budget on Tuesday, he will grab his best opportunity of the year to show, in one comprehensive package of hard numbers and precise detail, how he would have the government address what he has called ‘the defining challenge of our time’ — economic inequality. Many of Mr. Obama’s perennial proposals on education, job training, research and more have hit a Republican wall in Congress, but this year the president is adding one with echoes of Republicans’ own ideas. He will propose expanding a longstanding tax break to better benefit workers who are childless, which the White House estimates will help 13.5 million additional Americans who hold jobs yet remain poor. The current tax break favors low-wage workers with children…”
  • Obama budget urges expanding earned income tax credit, By Aamer Madhani, March 3, 2014, USA Today: “President Obama’s 2015 budget to be unveiled on Tuesday will include a proposal to expand the earned-income tax credit for 13.5 million low-income Americans by closing tax loopholes benefiting certain fund managers and high-income, self-employed workers. Under Obama’s proposal, 7.7 million workers would be eligible for a larger credit and 5.8 million workers would be made newly eligible for the credit…”

Earned Income Tax Credit

A renewed push for Earned Income Tax Credit in states, By Jake Grovum, February 11, 2014, Stateline: “A push to boost tax credits for the working poor could see success in states this year, echoing a key proposal from the White House. In the opening days of 2014 legislative sessions, bills that would expand or create the Earned Income Tax Credit have been introduced in nine states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four of those states are looking to create new state versions of the credit. These moves would build off the federal credit of the same name that President Barack Obama proposed to expand in his State of the Union speech last month. Governors on both sides of the aisle have also backed the idea, thanks in part to newly flush budgets and an eye toward aiding their economies by boosting workers’ incomes…”

Earned Income Tax Credit

America’s most effective anti-poverty program is also its most overlooked, By Amber Phillips, February 4, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune: “Most people dread filing their taxes. But for Denver resident Corrine Fowler, it turned out to be a lifesaver back in 1997. Around Christmas, the then-22-year-old single mom lost both her jobs as an administrative clerk and hostess while putting herself through school. She had little money for the new year. But when Fowler filed her taxes, she learned that she qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit, an often overlooked federal program that gives tax refunds to lower-income workers. The $1,800 check she received helped her pay her rent until March, when she had landed a job as a bank teller…”