WASHINGTON, DC - Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for amendments to the Senate tax reform proposal to "ensure a just and moral framework for all."
"The Senate bill doubles the standard deduction, which will provide tax relief to many. However, the 'Chairman's Mark,' as written, will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy," wrote Bishop Dewane. "Tax breaks for the financially secure, including millionaires and billionaires, should not be made possible by increased taxes to families struggling to meet their daily needs."
According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), on average, taxpayers making between $10,000 and $30,000 per year will see a tax increase in 2021. Significant tax breaks to the very wealthy—including millionaires and billionaires—are projected for the same year. In 2023 and 2025, average taxes will increase for those making less than $30,000, but they will go down for those making more than $30,000. By 2027, after most individual tax cuts are set to expire, average taxes will increase for taxpayers making less than $75,000, while decreasing for those making more.
Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive aspects of the bill, including the fact that the Senate plan does not repeal the adoption tax credit or the exclusion for employer adoption assistance programs. It also recognizes children in utero by allowing contributions to a 529 savings plan before birth. However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems with the legislation which include the elimination of personal exemptions (which "places a significant burden on larger families"), and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform.
"The Senate proposal repeals one portion of the Affordable Care Act—the individual insurance mandate—apart from a needed comprehensive approach to health care reform, one that would protect against millions of additional people becoming uninsured and fix problems that pertain to affordability, protect unborn life, conscience and immigrant access," noted Bishop Dewane. "Tax reform should not become the vehicle for a partial health care reform that fails to address significant problems in our health care system while exacerbating other difficulties."
Bishop Dewane also highlighted a November 14, 2017 Congressional Budget Office letter that stated that a deficit increase of $1.5 trillion over ten years would require spending cuts as early as 2018, if other legislation is not enacted. "These cuts will almost certainly include deep reductions to programs that help those in need," the USCCB letter said.