With record-setting billions in revenue, we should push to provide tax relief for working families
Re “Baker’s call for tax relief gets some traction in Senate” by Matt Stout (Page A1, May 5): Over the past two years, leaders in many states have increasingly made use of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax break for low-income workers, to stimulate the economy and deliver relief to families who need it most. Regarded as one of the most effective antipoverty programs in the country, the EITC improves health and financial stability by providing additional income for families to meet their basic needs.
Following a temporary expansion of the federal credit in March 2021, many states, including New England neighbors, expanded their own EITC programs to further address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color, immigrant families, and families with low incomes. States both increased the credit amount and, notably, allowed access to taxpaying immigrants, many of whom were excluded from pandemic relief.
Now, after Massachusetts took in a record-setting $6.9 billion in revenue just last month, state leaders have voiced their intention to use this opportunity to address the needs of low-income households and the rising costs of living. As the Legislature considers a tax-relief package, it should be a leader on EITC by including an increase to 50 percent of the federal credit (currently the state’s increase is at 30 percent), and by expanding the credit to taxpaying immigrant households. This would deliver targeted and equitable support and demonstrate a commitment to prioritizing low-income families before giving tax cuts to the wealthy.
Research and policy analyst
Boston Medical Center
The writer is co-lead of the statewide Healthy Families EITC Coalition.
Tax cut would limit our ability to solve big problems
So we got this tax revenue windfall, topping predictions. But it’s more like a one-timer, unlike a tax cut, which is more permanent, and which would permanently lessen our ability to solve big problems.
Let’s not waste this opportunity to make serious progress on big, long-range issues, such as the flooding that will occur in coastal communities (yes, big oil is winning the climate change battle). Let’s make serious progress toward more affordable housing, helping the homeless, fixing the shameful MBTA, etc.
Please keep the nickels I’d get from a tax cut and spend them wisely instead.
A cruel juxtaposition: Shelter network faces closure while state’s coffers overflow
On the front page of Thursday’s Globe, two articles caught my eye: “At shelters, they face a new storm: With ex-leader facing charges, Casa Nueva Vida loses funding, disrupting many Spanish-speaking families” and “Baker’s call for tax relief gets some traction in Senate.”
I learned that 14 homeless shelters in Boston and Lawrence are faced with closure because the Department of Housing and Community Development will not renew the $7.7 million in funding the agency needs to keep operating, while state tax revenues in April exceeded predictions by more than $2 billion.
In other words, families are about to be uprooted while the state is awash in revenues. The state, as virtually the sole funder of these shelters, is responsible, both morally and financially, for seeing that the shelter network finds a new director and remains open.
On Thursday’s front page, two stories seemed to bang up against each other, signaling a distressing disconnect. In one story, we read of a homeless shelter network with a mainly Spanish-speaking staff that is closing because the state has pulled its funding. In the other, we learn that the state has so much cash on hand it’s considering tax breaks.
I shake my head in a combination of dismay and disbelief. Too much money, but closing 14 homeless shelters?
Sure, the shelter agency has suffered from gross mismanagement. But rather than fixing the problem, the state chooses to close the shelters, leaving a segment of our most vulnerable population scrambling.
Something is wrong here. Very, very wrong.