Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously defined taxes as “what we pay for civilized society.” Those who care about human needs know that adequate federal revenues are essential to our shared well-being and progress. They know too that those revenues must be collected fairly, according to our ability to pay. However, years of tax policies that have disproportionately benefited higher-income individuals and big corporations have left the country with a tax code that is both unbalanced and insufficient to meet national needs.
With the recent extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, which will cost more than $100 billion over the next two years, our nation’s resources needed to invest in meeting human needs and to directly promote a more equitable society are seriously at risk. If extended from 2013 to 2022, the tax cuts will cost $5.5 trillion, more than doubling the federal budget deficit. Such massive reductions in revenue strangle the government’s capacity to meet the nation’s needs. Further, the tax cuts worsen the gap between the rich and everyone else.
Many in Congress have vowed their opposition to raising revenues, but in the face of the nation’s deficit dilemma, enacting spending cuts alone to solve the issue would be a disastrous plan. A good mix of spending cuts and revenue raises is necessary to protect services to low-income families. Truly, a tax policy is needed that raises adequate revenues in a progressive manner and includes tax benefits that help struggling families.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2013-2014.
Americans for a Fair Estate Tax
Americans for Tax Fairness
Center for American Progress
Center for Effective Government (Formerly OMB Watch)
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Citizens for Tax Justice
Economic Policy Institute
National Priorities Project
Tax Policy Center
United for a Fair Economy
Policy Analyses and Research