ISSUE AREA: TAXES
NETWORK believes that taxes are crucial to our success as a nation because they are the way our nation raises reasonable revenue for responsible programs. Any tax policy change should reduce the income gap, especially the racial and gender wealth gaps.
Catholic Social Justice teaches us that every person belongs to a single and interconnected human family. When making individual and collective decisions, we have a responsibility to consider the good of the whole community over the interests of the few. As Pope Francis said, “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation.” Tax expenditures, like other spending programs, should be focused on strengthening the social fabric of our society and creating strong communities. We must prioritize reasonable revenue for responsible programs. This means strengthening entitlements, funding safety net programs, increasing access to healthcare, and public infrastructure rather than excessive and ineffective military spending. We must also ensure that everyone who benefits from the fruits of taxpayer-funded infrastructure pays their fair share rather than indulge in loopholes that perpetuate self-interest.
NETWORK Advocates for Federal Policies That:
Raise reasonable revenue to invest in key programs and to reduce the national debt
The public narrative around taxes is that they are something to be avoided, and something we are forced to pay into. As politicians focus on reducing our national debt, so too we hear of pledges to reject tax increases. We cannot have a conversation to reduce our national debt without acknowledging that we have increased government spending on wars and other Pentagon expenses, while failing to pay for them. Further, we have significantly cut taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations, creating a significant loss in tax revenue.
Taxes are our contribution to a flourishing society. Revenues raised through our tax system should be enough to pay for the public needs of society, and set us on a sustainable path to economic growth and stability. Neither poverty nor ever-growing debt are healthy for our nation, and a just tax system addresses both through reasonable taxes.
Require everyone to pay their fair share
Offshore tax havens, low tax rates for capital gains, and tax inversions have allowed corporations and the wealthiest few to avoid taxes altogether, or pay a far reduced rate. Some leaders, like Warren Buffet, have pointed out the hypocrisy that billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Our current law perpetuates a system that allows those with excess wealth to disproportionately benefit from our unjust tax code.
Each of us has a role to play in fostering the common good and each corporation and individual does that by paying their fair share to support valuable government programs. The concept of a progressive tax system, where those who benefit most from our economy also contribute the most in return, has been widely accepted as just since a federal income tax was first established. The burden of taxation should not rest disproportionately on those who have the least; those who are able to pay more, must.
Create a more equitable and secure society by expanding tax credits to low-income taxpayers
Our tax system is structured to provide significant tax benefits to wealthy individuals and corporations to incentivize certain behaviors, such as increasing savings for retirement. These incentives, however, are often structured so that low-wage workers do not earn enough to access them. During budget and tax negotiations in Congress, the credits that benefit low-income workers and families are the ones most often at risk of being cut. The result is a system that perpetuates inequality by rewarding behavior that generates financial security for those who already have it while excluding those who are working at low-wage jobs and need it most.
A just tax code should reward the efforts of low-income people to work and save; it should also strengthen our society by caring for people in need. Programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are vital and should be expanded to ensure people do not get pushed into, or further into, poverty.
Limit tax expenditures to those that promote the common good
Tax expenditures, often referred to as loopholes or tax breaks, are instances where the government could be collecting revenue but chooses not to. Although we do not pay directly for these loopholes, lost government revenue costs our nation like any spending program would. Currently, most expenditures benefit groups with power. Provisions that promote tax avoidance by wealthy corporations and individuals are unjust and drain the government of valuable revenue.
Like spending programs, tax expenditures must promote the common good. They should be targeted to build a strong domestic economy and strong communities. Many current loopholes, such as yacht exemptions, do not benefit the common good.
Establish a transparent system to allow for accountability
Our tax code is confusing and convoluted, and it often requires paying a tax professional or service to access all the exemptions and benefits available to a taxpayer.
The tax code should be written in an understandable way so that taxpayers can file their taxes confidently. Americans should also be able to easily assess the purpose and effect of any tax provision, thereby increasing the accountability of the system.
- Faithful Budget
- Earned Income Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit for Immigrants
- Tax Reform
- Eliminating the Flat Tax