Federal tax bill must include key moral considerations

Congress should pass a final tax bill only if it assists the poor and vulnerable, as well as working families.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, encouraged Minnesota’s congressional delegation to pass a final tax bill only if it meets key moral considerations. According to Congress’ own nonpartisan analysis, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” bills recently passed by the House and the Senate raise the tax burden on low-income Americans and cut taxes for the wealthiest, which violates basic principles of distributive justice.

“The House and Senate tax plans, while premised on the hope of a long-term job and economic growth, disproportionately benefit businesses and wealthy Americans instead of working families,” said Jason Adkins, MCC executive director.  “Tax policy should serve the common good and create shared prosperity, not just the hope that long-term economic growth will eventually create jobs, or that corporate profits will eventually redound to the benefit of workers.”

MCC welcomes the doubling of the standard deduction and the expansion of 529 education plans in the proposed legislation but has serious concerns about, among other things, the repeal of the personal exemption, which will harm larger families; the failure to expand the child tax credit; the elimination of the deduction for medical expenses in the House plan; the House’s plan to eliminate incentives for employers to offer adoption assistance; and the failure to adopt an “above-the-line” charitable deduction that would incentivize and assist charitable giving at all income levels, and increase the amounts people can give.

“Policy that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach (or stay in) the middle class, and the very poor, has by design been a part of our tax code for years,” said the Most Reverend Bernard Hebda, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “Any modifications to these important priorities should be made only with a clear understanding and concern for the people who may least be able to bear the negative consequences of new policy.”

The Minnesota Catholic Conference joined with the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, in opposing the passage of the tax bill without important modifications.  The full text of Bishop Dewane’s letter to Congress can be read at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf.

“The Church does not take a position on the proper corporate tax rate,” concluded Adkins.  “But she does speak to the moral considerations and principles that should govern fiscal policy, and by that standard the two tax plans, as currently structured, fail that test and will not serve Minnesotans well.”


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