U.S. Bishops’ Chairman Calls for Senate to Amend Tax Proposal to Ensure Just Moral Framework

November 22, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON— Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairmanof the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice andHuman Development, called for amendments to the Senate tax reform proposal to "ensurea just and moral framework for all."

"The Senate bill doubles the standard deduction, whichwill provide tax relief to many. However,the 'Chairman's Mark,' as written, will raise income taxes on the working poorwhile simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy," wrote BishopDewane. "Tax breaks for the financiallysecure, including millionaires and billionaires, should not be made possible byincreased taxes to families struggling to meet their daily needs."

According to the nonpartisan congressional JointCommittee on Taxation (JCT), on average, taxpayers making between $10,000 and$30,000 per year will see a tax increase in 2021. Significant tax breaks to the verywealthy—including millionaires and billionaires—are projected for the same year. In 2023 and 2025, average taxes will increasefor those making less than $30,000, but they will go down for those making morethan $30,000. By 2027, after mostindividual tax cuts are set to expire, average taxes will increase fortaxpayers making less than $75,000, while decreasing for those making more.

Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive aspects ofthe bill, including the fact that the Senate plan does not repeal the adoptiontax credit or the exclusion for employer adoption assistance programs. It also recognizes children in utero byallowing contributions to a 529 savings plan before birth. However, the Bishop highlighted seriousproblems with the legislation which include the elimination of personalexemptions (which "places a significant burden on larger families"), and therepeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart frombroader health care reform.

"The Senate proposal repeals one portion of theAffordable Care Act—the individual insurance mandate—apart from a neededcomprehensive approach to health care reform, one that would protect againstmillions of additional people becoming uninsured and fix problems that pertain toaffordability, protect unborn life, conscience and immigrant access," notedBishop Dewane. "Tax reform should notbecome the vehicle for a partial health care reform that fails to addresssignificant problems in our health care system while exacerbating otherdifficulties."

Bishop Dewane also highlighted a November 14, 2017Congressional Budget Office letter that stated that a deficit increase of $1.5trillion over ten years would require spending cuts as early as 2018, if otherlegislation is not enacted. "These cutswill almost certainly include deep reductions to programs that help those inneed," the USCCB letter said.

The full letter can be found at: https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane,Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Senate tax reform, JointCommittee on Taxation, tax increases, adoption tax credit, adoption assistanceprograms, Affordable Care Act, tax reform, health care reform, protection ofunborn, Congressional Budget Office, spending cuts.

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