The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated poverty, hardship, and racial and gender inequities in the United States. In the first months of the crisis, about a third of people in the United States reported difficulty paying rent, keeping food on the table, or getting medical care. This presentation, delivered during the National Head Start Association’s 2020 Fall Leadership Institute, highlights the devastating, disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people experiencing poverty in the United States with a particular focus on communities of color.
Using Tax Based Policies to Support Workers & Families During The COVID-19 Recession: The Urgent Need for Additional Measures
The COVID-19 pandemic and recession have wrought unprecedented hardship for families with low incomes, particularly Black and Brown families. The federal government alone can and must spend more to help families weather the crisis, emphasized Indi Dutta-Gupta, in his testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means. He highlighted the key role tax policy, particularly cash transfers and refundable tax credits, can play in supporting families. With its ability to reach tens of millions of households with speed and efficiency, the tax system can play a vital role in delivering immediate assistance and jumpstarting a lasting economy.
An administrative proposal to artificially lower the poverty line is “technically questionable, economically unwise, and morally troubling” according to Indi Dutta-Gupta’s testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform. Over time, this change would harm millions of people by taking away their access to foundational support programs—including Medicaid and SNAP. His testimony emphasized the proposal’s inevitable harmful impacts, highlighted the proposal’s questionable assumptions about people experiencing poverty, and underscored the need to reform the poverty measurement to improve its accuracy and usefulness for the federal government and the many other stakeholders who rely on it.
Subsidized employment is a promising and proven strategy for creating more equitable and accessible pathways to stable employment for all—especially people facing serious barriers to employment. A review of 40 years of subsidized employment programs found that subsidized employment models can increase incomes and employment, reduce involvement with the criminal justice system, improve the psychological well-being of participants and their families, and reduce long-term poverty. This resource highlights the broad range of occupations that have been made available through subsidized employment programs.
A Tax Code for the Rest of Us: A Framework & Recommendations for Advancing Gender & Racial Equity Through Tax Credits
This report, published jointly with the National Women’s Law Center, offers a new vision for a tax code that works for women, people of color, and low- and moderate-income families. Centuries of racist, sexist policy choices and discrimination have created significant barriers for women and people of color to build the kind of wealth our tax code now rewards. At the same time, insufficient tax revenues—exacerbated by tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations—constrain budgets for programs that help people afford their basic needs. The paper proposes a framework to help policymakers, advocates, and the public evaluate when and how refundable tax credits can advance equity, economic mobility, and opportunity for all.