Week of 4.11.08
Taxing the Poor
More From NOW: Taxing the Poor | State-by-State: Income Inequality | Quiz: Family, Taxes and Fairness | A Voice from Poverty | Fair Tax Options | Feedback Forum | TranscriptWinner of a 2008 Emmy Award for outstanding analysis of a business news story.
Millions of Americans are filing their taxes and hoping for the best, but are rich people actually paying a smaller percentage of their total income than the poor? This week, NOW looks at how state policies to generate revenue by raising sales taxes and lowering property taxes come at a bigger price for low-income households than for wealthier ones.
Video: Taxing the Poor
Anti-poverty advocates say the shift assigns the heaviest tax burden to those who can least afford it. Despite the charge, it's a model many states have long embraced.
NOW travels to one of these states, Alabama, to document the personal impact of regressive tax policies on three very different families. They include a working Mom who shows us how a ten percent sales tax on groceries makes a significant difference in what her family eats; a couple living in a ramshackle house in the backwoods who've always held jobs but still face hunger; and a well to-do suburban couple who benefit from tax breaks, but feel they shouldn't "take from the poor to give to the rich."
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Until two years ago, Alabama families of four earning as little as $4,600 a year paid state income taxes. In 2006, with strong help from a lobbying group for the poor, the figure was raised to $12,600.
As residents, local politicians, and activists weigh in with their perspectives, NOW asks: Are taxes being levied fairly when it comes to the rich and the poor?
GoodJobsFirst: Find out more about corporate tax giveaways
The Tax Foundation: Candidate Tax Plan Comparison
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Income Inequality Grew in Most States Over Two Decades
Good Jobs First: The State of State Disclosure: An Evaluation of Online Public Information About Economic Development Subsidies, Procurement Contracts and Lobbying Activities
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy