February 20, 2017
Dear Senate Taxes Committee Members:
The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, writes to express its support for Senate File 28, the Working Family Tax Credit modification bill, authored by Senator Ann Rest. The Minnesota Catholic Conference has supported similar legislation in the past to support low and moderate income families through reducing the tax burden these already struggling families pay.
We see the Working Family Tax Credit as a policy worthy of public support because of its track record of success for those struggling in our society. The WFC is a proven policy that encourages and rewards work, helps working people meet basic needs and support their families, and gets children off to a stronger start. Because these credits are received once a year, they can be a powerful asset building tool – many families use their tax credits to save and build a stronger financial future. Some of the state’s most struggling families would see the greatest benefit from this proposal.
Further, WFC is an effective policy in reaching Minnesota families across the state: about 48 percent of the MN households who currently receive this credit are in Greater Minnesota, and 52 percent in the 7-county metro.
The way a state and society responds to the needs of the poor through its public policies, including tax policy, is a test of its justice or injustice. Tax policy is a means with which the community gathers its resources to provide for the common good and protect the most vulnerable among us. Our faith tradition calls us to advocate for a tax system that raises sufficient revenue to safeguard human dignity and that advances the well-being of all. Furthermore, public revenues should be raised in a manner that protects subsistence income from taxation and respects each person’s ability to pay.
Healthy and stable families are necessary for a flourishing society, and decent work at just wages is critical to family formation and stability. Saint John Paul II notes, “It is urgent therefore to promote not only family policies, but also those social policies which have the family as their principle object, policies which assist the family by providing adequate resources and efficient means of support, both for bringing up children and for looking after the elderly…” (Centesimus Annus, no. 49). The economy is still failing to create a sufficient amount of decent jobs, and too many of the jobs that exist do not pay just wages. As a result, workers struggle to make ends meet, child poverty remains unacceptably high, and family formation and stability have suffered.
The Minnesota Catholic Conference seeks public policy solutions that create a healthy economy and society, including tax policies that promote human dignity, increase social solidarity, and promote self-reliance for the poor. The Working Family Tax Credit is such a program and we ask that as you deliberate on tax policy, you support SF 28.
Thank you for your consideration.
Shawn M. Peterson
Associate Director for Public Policy