WASHINGTON (June 3, 2003) -— The U.S. Bishops expressed disappointment in the newly signed tax bill which does not benefit low income families with children. The churchmen called for action to find ways to help assist working poor families.
The concerns were expressed in a June 3 letter to Karl Rove, Senior Advisor to President Bush from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Chair of the Bishops' Domestic policy Committee.
The letter follows.
Dear Mr. Rove:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is very disappointed that the tax bill just signed by the President does not increase the refundable portion of the child tax credit.
The Catholic Bishops have been strong supporters of tax policies like the child tax credit that assist families in raising their children. Our 1991 statement, Putting Children and Families First, highlighted (proposals to reform the tax code to help families cope with the high cost of raising children.( (These proposals, which have drawn bipartisan support, would allow middle income families with children to keep more of what they earn and would help lift low income families out of poverty."
The leaders of the Bishops' Conference in 2001 worked with President Bush to ensure that the child credit was refundable and were pleased that with his leadership the 2001 tax bill provided money to low paid workers with children. However, the expansion of the credit contained in the new tax law does not provide similar benefit to millions of low-income working families with children. By dropping a provision included in the Senate version of the tax bill,
close to 12 million children in low-income working families, will receive little or no benefit from the final bill. At a cost $3.5 billion, this provision would have been just one percent of the official $350 billion cost of the legislation. If the intent of the tax cut was to put more money in the hands of those who need it most, these families should have been included.
We urge you to act now to find an effective way to expand the assistance provided to middle income families to working poor families and their children as well.
With every best wish, I am
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington
Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee