WASHINGTON—In a letter of November 9, Bishop Frank J.Dewane of Venice, Florida, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, andBishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, Ohio called for amendments to thecurrent draft of the House of Representatives tax reform bill "for the sake offamilies" and "for those struggling on the peripheries of society who have aclaim on our national conscience."
"Doubling the standard deduction will help some of thosein poverty to avoid tax liability, and this is a positive good contained in thebill," wrote the Bishops of the Tax Cutsand Jobs Act of 2017. "However, aswritten, this proposal appears to be the first federal income tax modificationin American history that will raise income taxes on the working poor whilesimultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy. This is simply unconscionable."
Bishop Dewane is the Chairman of the USCCB Committee onDomestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Cantú chairs the Committee onInternational Justice and Peace, and Bishop Murry heads the Committee onCatholic Education.
According to the nonpartisan congressional JointCommittee on Taxation (JCT), households with income of $20,000 and $40,000 peryear will see their taxes raised in 2023, 2025, and again in 2027. Taxes will also increase on average taxpayersearning between $10,000 and $20,000 in 2025. At the same time, significant tax breaks to the very wealthy—includingmillionaires and billionaires—are projected for each year.
The bishop-chairmen highlighted positive provisions inthe areas of education and modest increases to child tax credits, but stressedthat the bill places "new and unreasonable burdens on families," and must bechanged. Included among them are theelimination of: the adoption tax creditand adoption assistance program exclusion, the personal exemption (which willharm many larger families), the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, andincentives to employees and employers dependent care assistance or child care,among others.
The letter also cautioned that the deficit could "be usedas an argument to further restrict or end programs that help those in need,programs which are investments to help pull struggling families out ofpoverty." Finally, the Bishops calledfor fixes to disincentives for charitable giving and affordable housing andcommunity revitalization development projects that will result from thelegislation.
The full letter canbe found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-11-9-2017.pdf.
Keywords: U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop Oscar Cantú, BishopGeorge V. Murry, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committeeon International Justice and Peace, Committee on Catholic Education, U.S. Houseof Representatives, Joint Committee on Taxation, tax reform bill, amendments,standard deductions, federal income tax, adoption tax credit, adoption assistance program, medical deductions,dependent care assistance, charitable giving, affordable housing, communityrevitalization.
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