No doubt many of us are concerned about the national budget and deficit spending that our nation has been struggling with. Any of us who are responsible for the fiscal solvency of our own homes know how difficult it is to make decisions where we have to reprioritize our own spending. Similarly our nation must also take this time to reprioritize its fiscal spending during these difficult economic times. We must find creative ways to reduce spending while prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Our Catholic social tradition suggests that these times of economic constraints do not call us to carelessly eliminate taxation and public spending. Instead we must take this opportunity to address the needs of the community and to invest smartly for the common good. The Catholic Church offers these specific guidelines with respect to the proper use taxes and public spending.
Public spending is directed to the common good when certain fundamental principles are observed: the payment of taxes as part of the duty of solidarity; a reasonable and fair application of taxes; precision and integrity in administering and distributing public resources. In the redistribution of resources, public spending must observe the principles of solidarity, equality and making use of talents. It must also pay greater attention to families, designating an adequate amount of resources for this purpose. – Compendium, #355
While on the one hand our Catholic teaching raises the social value of redistributing wealth and resources one ought not fail to appreciate the principles that qualify such a distribution. By applying solidarity, equality and use of talents we are advocating for economic policies that can assist the working community whose income is simply not enough to support the needs of their family.
For the past number of years the Catholic Bishops of the United States have advocated for two tax programs that they feel adhere to these principles. Urging Congress to “maintain and strengthen the bi-partisan commitment to assist those working families who struggle the most in these difficult economic times” the U.S. Catholic Bishops have advocated for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). These specific tax credits go to working families whose income is below the poverty line. In 2012 workers raising children who made less than $47,000 were eligible for this tax credit where they could receive up to $5,891. Single or married people who worked full or part time at some point in 2012 can qualify for the EICC, depending on their income.
This tax credit is specifically given to workers who file a tax return; this is the only way that one can claim these credits. Filing a tax return may be quite daunting or costly if you have it prepared by a commercial agency. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is an IRS sponsored program that works with community organizations to provide this service to the low-income community free of charge. Please click on the following resource for a listing of VITA sites in:
Please pass along the information and resources to folks that you think may benefit from these tax credit programs.
- Visit http://eitcoutreach.org/ for the resources and information on EITC and CTC
- The EIC Estimator is a IRS calculator that people can use to see how much tax credits they are eligible for.
- The EITC and CTC, “13 for ‘13” Fact Sheet
- The Tax Credit flyer in English
- The Tax Credit flyer in Spanish
“The tax system should be continually evaluated in terms of its impact on the poor.” – U.S. Bishops, “Economic Justice for All” 1986.