ITEP Reports

State Tax Codes as Poverty Fighting Tools

September 15, 2016

Despite this unlevel playing field states create for their poorest residents through existing policies, many state policymakers have proposed (and in some cases enacted) tax increases on the poor under the guise of "tax reform," often to finance tax cuts for their wealthiest residents and profitable corporations.

Property Tax Circuit Breakers

September 14, 2016

State lawmakers seeking to make residential property taxes more affordable have two broad options: across-the-board tax cuts for taxpayers at all income levels, such as a homestead exemption or a tax cap, and targeted tax breaks that are given only to particular groups of low- and middle-income taxpayers. One such targeted program to reduce property taxes is called a "circuit breaker" because it protects taxpayers from a property tax "overload" just like an electric circuit breaker: when a property tax bill exceeds a certain percentage of a taxpayer's income, the circuit breaker reduces property taxes in excess of this "overload" level. This policy brief surveys the advantages and disadvantages of the circuit breaker approach to reducing property taxes.

Reducing the Cost of Child Care Through State Tax Codes

September 14, 2016

Low- and middle-income working parents spend a significant portion of their income on child care. As the number of parents working outside of the home continues to rise, child care expenses have become an unavoidable and increasingly unaffordable expense. This policy brief examines state tax policy tools that can be used to make child care more affordable: a dependent care tax credit modeled after the federal program and a deduction for child care expenses.

Rewarding Work Through State Earned Income Tax Credits

September 14, 2016

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a policy designed to bolster the earnings of low-wage workers and offset some of the taxes they pay, providing the opportunity for struggling families to step up and out of poverty toward meaningful economic security. The federal EITC has kept millions of Americans out of poverty since its enactment in the mid-1970s. Over the past several decades, the effectiveness of the EITC has been magnified as many states have enacted and later expanded their own credits.

Options for a Less Regressive Sales Tax

September 14, 2016

Sales taxes are one of the most important revenue sources for state and local governments; however, they are also among the most unfair taxes, falling more heavily on low- and middle-income households. Therefore, it is important that policymakers nationwide find ways to make sales taxes more equitable while preserving this important source of funding for public services. This policy brief discusses two approaches to a less regressive sales tax: broad-based exemptions and targeted sales tax credits.