The deck is stacked against those who have the least, and ongoing racism makes it even more difficult for people of color to avoid punitive systems that are intentionally structured to extract what, for poor people, can be usurious penalties. The nation collectively shrugs about such injustices because they are either invisible or we chalk up entanglements in any legal morass to personal behavior. But the truth is that, indirectly, we are all part of the fines-and-fees matrix that entraps poor people in debt or keeps them tethered to the criminal justice system. None of us should look away.
blog April 4, 2022
Punitive Fines and Fees Are an Invisible Cost of State Tax Cuts
blog March 3, 2022
Reality Check: Drastic Income Tax Cuts Are Dangerous Despite What Anti-Tax Supporters Say
Income taxes are the backbone of most state budgets, but you wouldn’t gather this fact based on the current trend to cut or eliminate them. A recent, cheerful Wall Street Journal op-ed from anti-government advocate Grover Norquist offers a clear sign that tax-cutting states are taking the wrong approach. The long-time proponent of anti-tax pledges wrote favorably about the legislative and gubernatorial plans to cut income tax cuts across the country. As usual, he failed to address that income taxes support state investments in education, infrastructure, health care and other important public services.
blog March 2, 2022
SOTU and GOP Response Highlight Dramatic Difference in Parties’ Tax Policy Approach
Since last year, multiple states across the country have proposed or are pursuing costly income and other tax cuts that are heavily tilted toward the highest-income households. State advocates have worked to beat back these proposals and sounded the alarm about the long-term consequences of tax cuts, but legislatures (most GOP-led) continue to introduce and approve top-heavy and permanent tax cuts. This state tax-cut fervor took center stage last night when Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa gave the Republican response to President Biden’s SOTU address.
blog May 22, 2020
What Biden Means By No Tax Increases on Anyone “Making Under $400,000”Presidential candidate Joe Biden said on Friday that under his proposals, no one with income below $400,000 would pay higher taxes than they do now. Does this make sense? It…
blog September 4, 2019
Why Local Jurisdictions’ Heavy Reliance on Fines and Fees Is a Tax Policy Issue
The exposé (Addicted to Fines: Small Towns Are Dangerously Dependent) raises two important issues that policymakers have the power to address. One, lack of revenue at the local level is linked to a broader challenge with state tax systems. Two, fines and fees often entrap lower-income people in a cycle of debt and, in some jurisdictions, ultimately criminalize poverty by casting unpaid fines as misdemeanor crimes.