Poor Families Deserve Tax Breaks like Everyone Else

By Weathersbee, Tonyaa | The Florida Times Union, June 9, 2003 | Go to article overview

Poor Families Deserve Tax Breaks like Everyone Else


Weathersbee, Tonyaa, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee, Times-Union columnist

The cruelty of cutting millions of working poor families off from reaping more help in rearing their children has sliced through to the heart of the Rev. George Harvey Jr.'s inner-city congregation.

His church, Mt. Charity Missionary Baptist Church, sits in the midst of historic Springfield. About 50 people attend regularly. Membership fluctuates because, as it is in many inner-city areas, residents move around in pursuit of jobs, housing, and, when everyday harshness lets up, dreams.

But one break that could have helped Harvey's flock build on their dreams appeared to have evaporated recently when President Bush signed the tax bill into law. The bill omitted an increased child tax credit to 6.5 million families who earn between $10,500 and $26,625 a year.

That's a lot of folks.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, about 12 million children -- one of every six children in the United States younger than 17 -- would be helped by the $400 per child credit. Such a break could offset the costs of off-hours day-care while mother trains for a better job, or the costs of shoes and clothing. It also could put them in a position to bolster this weak economy, because people with scant resources would likely have to spend that money on something rather than save it.

"I don't know of any of my people who are on welfare," said Harvey, who also wrote an e-mail to Bush and members of Congress urging them to restore the credit increase.

"They're sincere, and they love the Lord, but their resources are limited ... they got excited about it [the child tax credit] then realized it wasn't for them.

"It would have helped a lot of our folks."

Last week, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay spurned Democratic attempts to restore the credit, saying that there were more important things to be done, and that he didn't want to give tax relief to people who don't pay income tax. …

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