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Arkansas Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Justin Nickels, 501-231-6781, Justin@ArkansasAFSCME.org

Report Shows Impact to Arkansans of Ending Bush Tax Cuts for

Richest 2% of Americans 

Wealthy Few Would Still Reap Significant Tax Breaks

(Little Rock, AR – August 1, 2012) If the U.S. House of Representatives passes the Republican plan this week to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for one year for households making over $250,000, the wealthiest 2.0 percent of Arkansas taxpayers in that income group could get a disproportionate 40 percent of the total tax breaks in their state. They’re average tax cut would be about $35,000.

In contrast, if Congress passed President Obama’s plan to extend the Bush tax cuts on the first $250,000 in household income, the average tax cut for Arkansans who make more than that amount would be about $12,600, or one-third of what they would get under the GOP plan.  And the 31 percent of Arkansans with income up to $25,000 would get larger average tax cuts under the Obama plan than under the Republican plan.

Those are among the key findings of a new report released today by AFSCME Arkansas Council 38, Arkansas Community Organizations, the Arkansas AFL-CIO, and allied groups, “Time to Pay Their Fair Share: Arkansas Can’t Afford to Extend the Bush-era Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Few.”  The report is authored by Americans for Tax Fairness, Citizens for Tax Justice and the National Women’s Law Center.

The report is timely because this week the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Republican plan to extend all the Bush tax cuts, including for the richest 2 percent of U.S. households, while ending improvements in tax credits for low-end and moderate-income families.  The Democrats will offer an alternative plan similar to President Obama’s, which the U.S. Senate passed last week by a 51 to 48 vote.

“Giving lavish tax breaks for those who need them the least is exactly the kind of special-interest giveaways Washington needs to stop,” said Neil Sealy, Arkansas Community Organizations, a member of the Americans for Tax Fairness campaign. “We urge the House to end the Bush-era tax cuts to the richest 2 percent.”

Major findings of the report include:

  • 98 out of 100 Arkansans would get about the same tax cut under the Obama plan as they have up until now.
  • 2 percent of Arkansans taxpayers have an average income of about $622,000.
  • The other 98 percent of the state’s taxpayers make about $49,000 on average.
  • The average tax cut for those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would be roughly the same under both the Obama and GOP plans: about $1,460 and 1,430 respectively.
  • Arkansans making less than $25,000 a year would get an average tax cut from the Obama plan roughly two times larger than from the Republican plan: $330 from Obama, compared to $160 from the GOP, because the GOP plan would end improvements in the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for lower-income working families while the Obama plan would extend them.

The additional tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent in the Republican plan will cost approximately $68 billion next year alone.  That’s equal to what the federal government spends to repair highways, improve education and provide school breakfasts for low-income children, ensure clean drinking water, and deliver meals at home to frail seniors.  The report breaks down what Arkansas share of these funds means for its residents:

  • Highway Planning and Construction: Arkansas will receive $466.6 million in federal funds in FY 2012 to help it plan, build, and repair highways and bridges and support other transportation improvements. These investments in infrastructure help all Arkansans travel more safely and efficiently and promote economic growth and job creation.
  • Title 1 funding to support K-12 education: Arkansas will receive $152.9 million in federal funds in FY 2012 for grants to local school districts serving disadvantaged children. In the 2009-2010 school year, 829 Arkansas schools serving nearly 325,000 children were eligible for this funding.
  • Head Start and Early Head Start preschool programs: Arkansas will receive $75.4 million in federal funds in FY 2012 for Head Start, which helps preschool-age children in low-income families build the skills they need to succeed in school. Head Start and Early Head Start preschool programs served 10,521 children in low-income Arkansas families in 2009.
  • School Breakfast Program:  Arkansas will receive $44.1 million in federal funds in FY 2012 for the school breakfast program, which provides free or reduced price breakfasts to children from low- and moderate-income families. A nutritious breakfast improves children’s health and helps them start the day ready to learn. In 2011, the program served an average of 158,000 Arkansas children each day.
  • Make Drinking Water Safer: Arkansas will receive $23 million in federal funds in FY 2012 to construct water treatment facilities and ensure clean drinking water.
  • Provide Meals to Homebound Seniors: Arkansas will receive $2.1 million in federal funds in FY 2012 to provide home-delivered meals to frail seniors. About 15,121 Arkansans received meals through this program in 2010.

“We can’t afford to keep giving tax cuts to the richest,” said Ricky Belk, Secretary-Treasurer, Arkansas AFL CIO.  “We can’t balance the budget on the backs of children, seniors, and families struggling to make ends meet, and we can’t keep borrowing from China.  Those who have done well in America should do well by America and pay their fair share.”

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