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A Faithful Tax Policy Requires More From the Most Fortunate

7.25.12 blog.faithful.taxes
Bread for the World members headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday June 14, 2011, to lobby their members of Congress on behalf of poor and hungry people. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

At Bread, we talk about the budget as a moral document outlining our country’s priorities. Taxes are a necessary part of that equation. We often hear that Washington has a spending problem. But really, what we have is a deficit problem. Since a deficit occurs when you spend more than you take in, when people say “spending problem,” they’re ignoring half of the equation.

With all of the heated discussion about taxes, it would be convenient to turn away from the deficit issue and say, “Let’s ignore taxes: they’re complicated; they’re controversial; and they’re boring.” However, as devoted followers of Jesus, we are not the types who choose a path based on convenience. We don’t talk only on those issues that make everyone comfortable. As Christians, we speak from an understanding of the way things could be—when the stranger is given something to eat and widows and orphans are cared for. 

Thus, the budget debates and the fiscal problems faced by this country lead us to talk taxes. To help move the conversation, Bread has published a new action guide on taxes, which combines our specific public policy prescriptions with underlying biblical principles—to help you speak up.

 We must start talking about taxes, and we need to start talking today. If we do not push our elected leaders to bring in more tax revenue, then our voices will call out in vain to fund vital programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), poverty-focused development assistance, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, Food for Peace, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids, school lunches, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

There simply will be no money.

Our deficit situation is so severe in the long-term, that without additional revenue we will be unable to fund programs for hungry and poor people at anything close to their current levels over the long term—unless Congress makes unthinkable and politically impossible cuts. Nearly all mainstream economists agree that we simply cannot cut our way out of this situation. This is not calculus or complex economics. It is simple arithmetic.

Major deficit reduction packages over the past quarter century have not only maintained a commitment to not increase poverty, they’ve also all included substantial tax revenues.

Amelia-kegan

Amelia Kegan is a  senior policy analyst at Bread for the World.

 

 

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Comments

I appreciate what you posted here. In the 90s, NETWORK had printed a "mini-course" on tax policy that churches or schools could use. I teach high school social justice, and wish there was a comprehensive program to explain our current tax structure and then options that are facing us. Would you ever come up with such a resource? Thanks for all you have done in Bread for the World!
John Powell, Ferguson, MO

Hi,
Another question---I noticed that it says the "richest 1%...paid 21.6% of the taxes." Then later it says "top 1 percent of households paid 28 percent of their incomes in taxes."--is this saying two different things? This is the kind of thing that would come up in my classroom! Thanks again, John

Hi John,
We like the idea of a "mini-course" and will give it some consideration. In terms of your second question, they are two different things. (1) richest 1 percent...paid 21.6 percent of the taxes." This means the richest 1 percent paid 21.6 percent of all the taxes. (2) "top 1 percent of households paid 28 percent of their incomes in taxes." This means the top 1 percent paid 28 percent of their own incomes in taxes.

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