Interreligious Coalition Opposes House Republican Tax Bill

Laura Peralta-Schulte
November 16, 2017

Yesterday, the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs, a coalition of faith-based organizations, sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging members to vote no on H.R. 1, the House Republican tax bill.

This immoral tax bill prioritize the wealthy at the expense of struggling communities and vulnerable families. It violates our call to care for the most marginalized and to work for the common good. We call on Congress to pass a just tax bill that asks everyone to pay their fair share to invest in our nation.

Read the text of the letter below, or download as a PDF.


November 14, 2017

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi:

As members of the faith community, we know that tax decisions are moral decisions. Taxation choices show who we preference as a nation and who pays the price.  These choices show who and what we care about as a nation. All of our faiths teach us that the center of our concern should be those at the economic margins of our society. Therefore, we, the interfaith community, are speaking with one voice.

We must oppose H.R. 1, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, because the bill violates our faith values as well as the fundamental issues of tax fairness and fiscal discipline.

First, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act is fiscally irresponsible. It grows the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars over ten years. Growing deficits and debt threatens not only the fiscal health of our country, but it also threatens future funding for the programs that help countless families put food on the table and provide for their children. This additional $1.5 trillion in lost revenues will lead directly to future cuts in critical anti-poverty programs and low-income services including Medicaid, SNAP, low-income housing assistance, and other critical services for families struggling to make ends meet. The tax system should be structured to support investments in programs that create economic opportunity and dignity for all, especially families struggling to make ends meet. This bill violates the moral responsibility to care for the vulnerable.

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act makes the tax code more regressive. The tax breaks included in the legislation are not targeted to low- and moderate-income individuals. Provisions such as repeal of the estate tax, lower rates for pass-through income, and lower tax rates for income between $480,000 and $1 million will give enormous benefit to those at the top. This proposal is the exact opposite of a moral mandate to focus on those who struggle the most.

At the same time low-income families are left out of the benefits of H.R. 1. The bill increases the Child Tax Credit, but without making the additional credit refundable or making any improvements for low-income households, 10 million children are completely left out of any benefit increase. We have grave concerns about the cuts to the Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit for immigrant families. We also strongly oppose the way in which H.R. 1 inhibits low-income working families from accessing the EITC, arguably the most effective anti-poverty, pro-mobility program in the country. Yet again this bill fails a basic moral test.

Rather than cutting these key anti-poverty investments for working families, a morally faithful way forward would have Congress

  1. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit so that no worker is taxed into poverty,
  2. Expanding the Child Tax Credit for low income workers so that those who need the credit most benefit
  3. Expanding the American Opportunity Credit so that students can more easily afford higher education which is critical for success.

These are faithfully moral choices that Congress can make.

We call on Congress to put the needs of working families and struggling communities first in creating a just tax system.  All our faith traditions call us to prioritize struggling families and vulnerable communities in our laws and policies.  We respectfully ask you to ensure that any tax changes taken as part of our tax debate be based on principles of fairness and shared commitment to the common good.

Sincerely,

Alliance of Baptists

American Baptist Home Mission Societies

Bread for the World

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US

Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Interfaith Worker Justice

Islamic Relief USA

Jesuit Conference, Office of Justice and Ecology

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Council of Churches

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

The Poligon Education Fund

Faith Action Network – Washington State

Union of Reform Judaism

United Church of Christ, Justice & Witness Ministries

‘The United Methodist Church- General Board of Church and Society

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