Category Archives: Taxes

New Tool: Build Your Own Budget

New Tool: Build Your Own Budget

Sr. Emily TeKolste, SP
August 11, 2021

Our tax code and our federal budget are moral decisions with ramifications for our families and communities. Right now, the recovery package Democrats are working to pass through budget reconciliation process will make bold investments in a more just future. We can afford this by reforming our tax code to ensure that the wealthiest people and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

A more just tax policy not only creates a more equal society, which is better for everyone (even the wealthiest among us), it also ensures we have the revenue we need to make bold investments in a more equitable and hope-filled future where everyone can thrive.

During the second part of NETWORK’s new “Tax Justice for All” workshop, participants re-envision a tax code that makes the wealthiest people and corporations pay their fair share. After setting tax policy, participants use those federal funds to invest in the common good.

Now it’s your turn. Choose your own tax and spending policies with our tax justice calculator. Select the Tax Policies you would implement in the left column and your Spending Policies on the right, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a chart that reflects your total revenue and total spending.

If you haven’t attended Tax Justice for All: Unveiling the Racial Inequity of the U.S. Tax Code, NETWORK’s new two-hour workshop looking at the U.S. tax code and economic inequality, be sure to sign up for an upcoming workshop:

Passing a Faithful Recovery Package to Build Anew

Passing a Faithful Recovery Package to Build Anew

Allison Baroni
August 4, 2021

On July 13, 2021, the Senate announced that it had reached an agreement on a $3.5 trillion recovery package to be passed through the budget reconciliation process. This package, which is based on President Biden’s Build Back Better vision, together with the $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the gross inequity and lack of federal investment in our communities and infrastructure.

Congress has a responsibility to meet the moment, respond to the needs and demands of the people, and make a once in a generation investment in our public infrastructure. To do so, Congress must include the following priorities in a bold, faithful recovery package:  

  • Ensure any national paid family and medical leave program has progressive wage replacement, job guarantees and anti-retaliation language, inclusive definitions of family, and centers women of color in all decisions to ensure racially equitable access.  
  • Make the new Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit expansions permanent and ensure all immigrants, regardless of legal status, can access the Child Tax Credit and human needs programs.  
  • Establish a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and essential workers.  
  • Enact a set of federal standards for Unemployment Insurance (UI) including mandatory 26 weeks of benefits, adequate replacement wage levels (i.e. 75% of wages up to 2/3 of the state’s average wage), and ensure that unemployed workers’ access to benefits is racially equitable. 
  • Provide resources for multi-year rental assistance and address the ongoing unmet need for affordable housing by building affordable housing units. 
  • Make the broadband subsidy permanent to increase access to health care and other critical needs in communities across the country. 
  • Close the Medicaid coverage gap for non-expansion states and provide Medicaid to people who are incarcerated. Finance health expansions by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. 

As always, we will hear critiques that these priorities are too costly. Yet the human cost of not making these needed policy changes is far higher than $3.5 trillion could ever be. Far from a simple policy decision, the choice to include or reject these policy priorities has far-reaching consequences for the lived experiences of those in the United States. For every refusal to include these policy priorities, families in the U.S. face dire circumstances and decisions. 

 Behind all the political rhetoric, lies a simple and important question that we as a nation must answer: who are we beholden too? In Pope Francis’s most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, he reminds us of the answer to that question. Reflecting on the story of Cain and Abel, he writes:  

“Cain kills his brother Abel and then hears God ask: ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ (Genesis 4:9). His answer is one that we ourselves too often give: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (ibid). By the very question he asks, God leaves no room for an appeal to determinism or fatalism as a justification for our own indifference. Instead, he encourages us to create a different culture, in which we resolve our conflicts and care for one another.” (57)   

We are at a tipping point. As our nation races toward devastating income inequality, inadequate access to health care, and a dearth of quality affordable housing and living-wage jobs, the breadth and depth of the policy response necessary can at times seem daunting. It can be all too easy for us to turn away from the task, to absolve ourselves of our responsibility to one another.  

But, as Pope Francis says, if we are to build a culture of care, it must be done. Congress cannot afford to pretend that bold and immediate action is not necessary to improve and protect the lives of everyday people: the neighbor whose home is in danger of flooding, or the one who never had one to begin with. The parent struggling to pay childcare and the relative unable to access health care.  

These everyday struggles are the result of policy choices. The question facing Congress can be reduced to this: Will we choose to be a nation that refuses to take care of its own, one that accepts poverty as inevitable? Or will we challenge that lie, asserting that no cost is too high to take care of each other? If we listen honestly to God’s question to Cain, we will find that there is only one answer! 


Allison Baroni is a rising senior at Villanova University where she studies Peace and Justice & Theology. Allison is a member of the NETWORK Government Relations team this summer. 

Recovery Update: Building Anew with a Bold Recovery Package

Recovery Update: Building Anew with a Bold Recovery Package

Laura Peralta-Schulte
July 21, 2021

Right now, Congress is crafting their budget reconciliation proposal. Over the next weeks and months, our elected officials will decide what policy priorities to include and what to leave out.

Budget reconciliation gives us the opportunity to make bold, transformational investments in our families and our communities by:

  • Making the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit permanent
  • Increasing access to health care, eldercare, childcare, education, and broadband
  • Building affordable housing and increasing access to rental assistance
  • Providing a pathway to citizenship for those with DACA, TPS, farmworkers, and other essential workers
  • Establishing a national paid family and medical leave program, and more.

We cannot go back to the status quo of exclusion and inequality. We must build anew with racial and environmental justice at the center. The recovery package Congressional Democrats are working to pass through budget reconciliation will make bold investments in a more just future. We can afford this by reforming our tax code to ensure that the wealthiest people and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes. We urge Congress to unrig the tax code by:

  • Repealing the 2017 Republican corporate tax cuts
  • Strengthening IRS enforcement to prevent tax evasion
  • Eliminating tax breaks that encourage offshoring
  • Closing tax loopholes used by big corporations to avoid paying their fair share, and more.

Fixing our tax code is essential to closing the racial wealth gap and creating an economy that benefits all of us.

Celebrating Child Tax Credit Awareness Day

Celebrating Child Tax Credit Awareness Day

Colleen Ross
June 21, 2021
Expanded CTC cartoon 3_unbranded

Monday, June 21, 2021 is Child Tax Credit Awareness Day, a day to celebrate and spread the word about monthly payments that are starting soon that will support children and families across the country.

The American Rescue Plan, which passed in March 2021, included a historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit in 2021. The law increased the maximum Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child for children ages 6-17 and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under six, which can be received via monthly payments, with the exact payment varying by parents’ income. NETWORK has long advocated for this policy that uses our shared resources to invest in kids, increase racial equity, and support parents and communities.

In July, monthly payments will start going out to families.

With monthly payments, families can count on this support each month to make ends meet. To help with the costs of raising children, families will begin to receive monthly payments of up to $250 for each child 6-17 years old and $300 for each child under age 6. The Child Tax Credit is fully refundable, meaning that if a family’s income tax bill is less than the amount of their Child Tax Credit, they will get a payment for the difference.

According to the Biden administration, the IRS estimates roughly 39 million households — almost 90% of children in the United States — will begin receiving monthly payments without any further action required. Other eligible families — those who have not yet filed taxes in 2019 or 2020 and who did not sign-up for Economic Impact Payments like the $1,400 rescue payments included in the American Rescue Plan — can still sign-up to receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments beginning this summer. Experts project that the expanded Child Tax Credit could potentially help lift one-half of all children out of poverty if all eligible families sign-up to receive the monthly payments.

The Child Tax Credit will not affect families’ Medicaid, SNAP, TANF Cash Assistance, SSI, or other public benefits, and monthly payments will be delivered via direct deposit to the bank account that the IRS has on file or sent to a family’s mailing address on or around the 15th of every month.

Make sure you get your Child Tax Credit payments!

If a family filed tax returns for 2019 or 2020 or signed up to receive a stimulus check from the IRS with the Non-Filer tool last year, they will automatically get the monthly Child Tax Credit. If they aren’t already signed up, it’s not too late to sign up to get the Child Tax Credit here:

Let’s make support for children and families permanent!

This one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit is a massive advancement in ending childhood poverty. We know it is wrong when children and their families are struggling to make ends meet. It’s not good for families and it’s not good for our communities. We must make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent in the next recovery package that Congress passes.

We are called to build anew by passing tax policies that make the wealthiest people and corporations pay their fair share – doing this allows us to invest in children and families.

New Workshop: Tax Justice for All

New Workshop: Tax Justice for All

Colin Longmore
May 20, 2021

Today, 719 billionaires in the United States hold four times more wealth than the 165 million people in the bottom half of our economic spectrum.* At the same time, the racial wealth gap continues expanding.** How did we get here and what does it mean for our communities? Join me for NETWORK’s newest workshop: Tax Justice for All: Unveiling the Racial Inequity of the U.S. Tax Code

This 90-minute workshop looks at the U.S. tax code and economic inequality in two parts. First, we’ll explore how the tax code currently disadvantages women and people of color together. Second, you’ll work with fellow justice-seekers to reimagine a new tax code to build a just and inclusive society.

Sign up for one of NETWORK’s upcoming virtual workshops today!

Tax Justice for All
Wednesday, May 26 from 12:00-1:30 PM Eastern: Register here
Tuesday, June 1 from 3:00-4:30 PM Eastern: Register here
Thursday, June 3 from 12:00-1:30 PM Eastern: Register here
*Please note, this is a standalone
workshop, not a series, so the same workshop will be presented each time.

Taxes and President Biden’s American Families Plan

Taxes and President Biden’s American Families Plan

Colleen Ross
April 28, 2021

The American Families Plan, the second part of President Biden’s transformational plan for U.S. jobs and families, makes investments into our nation’s children, our education system, and our health care.

While some members of Congress have already begun a strong campaign against the plan’s changes to the individual side of the tax code, it is long past time to modernize the tax code and make it more just.

Here’s a look at the transformational investments in the American Families Plan:

  • Extend the Child Tax Credit increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make the Child Tax Credit permanently fully refundable.
  • Make the Earned Income Tax Credit Expansion for childless workers permanent.
  • Extend expanded ACA premiums tax credits in the American Rescue Plan.
  • Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs.
  • Expand summer EBT to all eligible children nationwide.
  • Create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program
  • Offer two years of free community college to all Americans, including Dreamers.

Read the White House summary of the American Families Plan here.

The American Families plan reverses the biggest giveaways that were passed in the 2017 tax law and reforms the tax code so that all contribute to our shared prosperity in a just tax system, including the wealthiest.  These reforms are urgently needed at a time when economic inequality and the continued persistence of the racial wealth and income gap are harming our country. We cannot be a healthy country while systemic racism and economic inequality continue harming individuals and families in our nation.

For this reason, we support the tax reforms included in the American Families Plan which specifically address the ways that the tax code widens racial disparities in income and wealth. These reforms include:

Increasing the top tax rate to 39.6%

One of the 2017 tax cut’s clearest giveaways to the wealthy was cutting the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, exclusively benefitting the wealthiest households—those in the top one percent. This rate cut alone gives a couple with $2 million in taxable an annual tax cut of more than $36,400. The President’s plan restores the top tax bracket to what it was before the 2017 law, returning the rate to 39.6 percent, applying only to those within the top one percent.

Enforcing compliance with the tax code

The American Families Plan would invest $80 billion to strengthen IRS enforcement, which has been decimated over the last decade and improve reporting on the income for high-earners. According to ProPublica, millionaires get audited at close to the same rate as workers with less than $20,000 of annual income. The Treasury estimates these enforcement improvements could raise $700 billion over 10 years.

Changing how capital gains are taxed

The biggest source of income for the wealthiest people in the U.S. is the profit they make from the gain on stock or other assets; this is known as capital gains. (This creates the much-talked about reality where Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.)

The American Families Plan would partially fund the programs it proposes to invest in children and families by taxing income from capital gains like the taxes workers pay on their wages. It does this by closing two major loopholes that create the current system where wealth has a lower tax rate than what many middle-class workers pay on their wages.

Our partners at Americans for Tax Fairness explain how the plan closes these two loopholes:

  • For people making more than $1 million a year, or the richest 0.3% of taxpayers, Biden wants to eliminate the nearly half-off tax discount they currently get when they sell assets at a profit. Instead of paying today’s top tax rate of 20% on the profits from the sale of assets like corporate stock, the rich would pay the same nearly 40% they already pay on their big salaries and other income. The current capital-gains discount is what allows a billionaire to pay a lower tax rate than a teacher or truck driver.
  • Biden also wants to tax the wealthy on the accumulated gains of assets they inherit—gains that now go completely untaxed. The plan would only apply to gains over $1 million per individual, $2 million per couple ($2.5 million per couple when combined with existing real estate exemptions). This reform will narrow the wealth gap, limit the creation of economic dynasties, and raise revenue for services vital to all of us who do not inherit a fortune.
  • Together, these two reforms would raise around $300 billion over 10 years exclusively from rich people. This will narrow the wealth gap and limit the creation of economic dynasties. It will also fund investments in healthcare, childcare, education and tax credits for working families that raise millions of children out of poverty. (The Tax Policy Center estimated a similar plan proposed by the Biden presidential campaign would raise $327 billion.)

Tax The Rich: NETWORK Hosts Instagram Live Conversation with Patriotic Millionaires

Tax The Rich: NETWORK Hosts Instagram Live Conversation with Patriotic Millionaires

Audrey Carroll
April 19, 2021

On Friday, April 16 NETWORK Grassroots Mobilization Coordinator Sister Emily TeKolste, SP joined Patriotic Millionaires Chairperson Morris Pearl for a conversation on Instagram Live about his new book, Tax the Rich. Emily and Morris discussed the importance of everyone in our nation paying their fair share to work towards eliminating the racial wealth and income gap. Watch the whole conversation here:

Advent 2020: Waiting for Tax Justice

Advent 2020: Waiting for Tax Justice

Colleen Ross
December 6, 2020

Last week, President-elect Biden announced several key members of his economic team, prompting the question, “What does a just national economy look like?” NETWORK often uses a phrase to describe how the government shapes a just, equitable economy: Reasonable revenue for responsible programs.

The Nuns on the Bus visit Hope Community Center in 2018.

There are many responsible programs in the U.S. that do a lot of good for individuals and for our nation as a whole.  Americans for Tax Fairness found every dollar that goes to families as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) returns $1.64 back to the economy. On the other hand, a dollar spent on tax cuts causes the economy to lose money. Outside of economic benefits, two programs that support low-income families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, are linked to better school performance and higher rates of college attendance.

Funding these critical, life-giving and community-building programs that help individuals and families to thrive requires enough federal revenue to pay for them and invest in our shared future. The way we share these costs is through paying taxes; and yes, in a just tax system those with greater ability to pay contribute more than those with fewer financial resources. President Trump and Congressional Republicans rejected this concept of shared investment in our shared future when they passed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Brookings Institute estimates that this legislation caused a loss of $275 billion for FY2018 in federal revenue in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest people and corporations.

This law is only the latest in a series of continuous tax cuts over the past few decades. From 1980 to 2018, taxes paid by billionaires in the U.S., measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased 79%. Even now, during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wealth of the 643 richest U.S. billionaires increased 29%, from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion.

After this long period of decreasing federal revenues and fighting off budget cuts, we must find a way to repeal the 2017 Trump tax cuts for the long-term economic health of our nation. The movement towards “austerity” or “self-sufficiency” that always follows tax cuts is not morally neutral; it cuts to the heart of our social contract and rejects our sacred call to love one another. When we choose cuts breaks for the wealthy over tax justice, then we choose their comfort and their lives over the lives of the poor. As you can see from the economic data as well as stories we heard during the 2018 Nuns on the Bus Tax Justice Truth Tour, this policy will lead our nation to both financial and moral bankruptcy.

We must choose a different course. The tax code has the potential to be a powerful tool to reverse the evil of our persistent racial wealth and income gap and ever-growing economic inequality. As COVID-19 creates an increasingly stratified economy of haves and have-nots with millions of people out of work, it is more important than ever to rescue and reform our tax code.

Labor Day 2020: Our Sick Economy and the Need for Structural Change

Labor Day 2020: Our Sick Economy and the Need for Structural Change

Laura Peralta-Schulte
September 7, 2020

Pope Francis, in his August 26 virtual general audience said, “The [COVID-19] pandemic has exposed and aggravated social problems, above all that of inequality. These symptoms of inequality reveal a social illness; it is a virus that comes from a sick economy.”

To that I say, Amen.

The reality of inequality in the United States is on full display during this COVID-19 crisis in both subtle and substantial ways. With the exception of “essential” professions, COVID-19 has not negatively impacted highly compensated white-collar workers, particularly those without small children. One simply has to turn on their laptop from the comfort of home to be “in the office.” There is no health risk and even some benefits, like eliminating a hurried commute. Many wealthy, white working parents have found ways to outsource educational and childcare services even in the pandemic, allowing them to continue working while their children receive care. For these workers, exposure to risk is a matter of choice. If desired, the wealthy can both work and get their material needs met from the safety of their home.

At the same time, at the very top of the economic scale, the pandemic has created incredible wealth. In 2020, U.S. billionaires have twice as much combined wealth as the bottom half of Americans – $2.95 trillion versus $1.5 trillion. Just 614 billionaires hold more wealth than the whole bottom half of our country. That is to say: 614 people hold more wealth than 61 million households.

During the first four and a half months of the coronavirus pandemic, while most families were stretching their budgets to stock up on food and other necessities, U.S. billionaires’ wealth grew by $685 billion. As our coalition partners Americans for Tax Fairness point out, this increase in wealth is about 80% of the total sum spent on Medicare for 2020, a lifesaving program which serves more than 62 million people. Medicare and other entitlement programs are routinely attacked as being too expensive and contributing to the national debt. How is it that hundreds of billion dollars is an acceptable sum when it is going to those at the top, but too expensive when it is providing health insurance to millions of people? Which one is a better investment in our nation’s people and our future?

The richest 1% now own half of the value of the U.S. stock market and the top 10% own 92%. This dangerous amount of inequality is causing real problems in our nation, even before the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, however, low-wage workers are suffering tremendously as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in Black and Brown communities. The pandemic has already killed over 180,000 people in our nation and continues to spread, putting low-wage workers and their families at severe health risk. Low-wage workers and essential workers must leave their homes to continue earning money, and the stress is even greater with children. With the closure of daycare centers and schools and with no ability to afford expensive childcare services, parents face huge challenges.

At the same time, our economy continues to hemorrhage predominately low-wage jobs. There are nearly 12 million fewer jobs in August than in February. More than 30 million workers are still filing for unemployment or are waiting for benefits, including 1.6 million workers who made new claims just last week, an increase from the previous week. Black and Brown communities suffer the highest rates of economic distress; unemployment remains in double digits for Black, Asian, and Hispanic populations. Unemployment reports do not even count the millions of workers who are underemployed or have been pushed out of the workforce altogether. Families risk eviction, food shortages, and toxic stress as they try to navigate the harsh new economic reality caused by the pandemic.

This Labor Day we must ask ourselves a fundamental question. What are our economic structures that allow such tremendous wealth to be held by the few while millions struggle to live in dignity? In 2019, CEOs in the S&P 500 received an average of $14.8 million in annual compensation. The average S&P 500 CEO to worker pay ratio was 264–1, a historic high. These same executives pay lobbyists to break up unions and work against increasing the $7.25 federal minimum wage. The economic status quo rewards a few not the collective. We as a society worship a false idol, the stock market, and measure the health of our economy by its success or failure, while families on the lower end of the economic ladder continue to struggle.

The Gospel and Catholic Social Justice ask us to live differently, to prioritize the needs of community and ensure everyone has what they need to survive and flourish. We as a society are failing; are we willing to follow Jesus’s example and flip over the tables in the temple to call out for justice?

Pope Francis ended his teaching with a challenge for the faithful. “We are experiencing a crisis. The pandemic has put all of us in crisis. But let us remember that after a crisis a person is not the same. We come out of it better, or we come out of it worse. This is our option. After the crisis, will we continue with this economic system of social injustice and depreciating care for the environment, for creation, for our common home?”

This Labor Day, let us pray for the grace to work together for a more healthy, more just, and more perfect union.

NETWORK Supports Fix for Corporate Tax Giveaway

NETWORK Supports Fix for Corporate Tax Giveaway

Laura Peralta-Schulte
May 8, 2020

NETWORK has worked to make sure each piece of coronavirus legislation cares for those with the greatest need in our nation. Unfortunately, the final laws have had their flaws, and left people out. Now, one of those flaws could receive a much-needed fix as the result of legislation introduced by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH). NETWORK and other justice-seeking organizations support this bill, to repeal a Republican giveaway to millionaires included in the CARES Act. The provisions included in the CARES Act would reduce government revenue by $160 billion over ten years and overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers. These provisions must be repealed at a time when our nation’s economic outlook is so difficult, especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Senator Sherrod Brown noted NETWORK’s support on his website, sharing Sister Simone’s quote, “Rather than stewarding taxpayer resources to promote the common good during this historic pandemic, Senate Republican leaders snuck an outrageous tax break for 43,000 millionaires into the CARES Act. Hedge fund managers, real estate tycoons, and other millionaires will each receive a $1.6 million tax cut. This is a shocking misuse of scarce resources! This Republican give-away is what Pope Francis calls ‘an economy that kills.’ It takes resources from the common good and showers it on those who do not need it. This is wrong, and Congress must immediately repeal this giveaway and invest these precious funds into programs that sustain the health, safety, and well-being of our communities. Sen. Whitehouse’s bill will make this right.”

As we continue to lobby for the common good in light of the coronavirus pandemic, we support this legislation that would advance tax justice in our nation.

Read more about the legislation here.