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Montana Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 31
CONTACT: Amanda Harrow, 406-437-3311, amanda@mainstreetalliance.org

Report Shows Impact on Montanans of Extending Bush Tax Cuts for Richest 2 PERCENT of Americans

Small Businesses, Local Communities Can’t Afford $68 Billion Giveaway to Top Two Percent

Helena – 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 2.4 percent of Montana taxpayers would get an average tax cut of $23,650 compared to an average tax cut of $1,490 for households earning $50,000-$100,000.

While just 2.4 percent of Montanans would benefit from the extra tax cuts for income above $250,000, these cuts for the wealthy would cost the country $68 billion in 2013 alone. For comparison, $68 billion is as much as the federal government is spending nationwide in 2012 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 – investments that support strong local economies and small business development.

Those are among the key findings of a new report released today by the Montana Small Business Alliance and Montana Organizing Project, “Time to Pay Their Fair Share: Montana 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.

Only 2.5 percent of small business owners nationwide earn enough to be impacted by ending special breaks for income over $250,000, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. And, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has concluded that tax cuts for the wealthy are among the least effective ways to boost the economy and create jobs.

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 big-business giveaways that need to stop,” said Aimee McQuilkin, owner of Betty’s Divine in Missoula and a member of the Montana Small Business Alliance. “When the super wealthy don’t pay their fair share to support things like education and infrastructure that make it possible for small businesses like mine to succeed, our entire country suffers, small business owners included.  We urge the House to end the Bush-era tax cuts to the richest 2 percent.”

“Our taxes fund education, infrastructure, and other vital programs and services that make our communities good places to live, play, and do business,” said Mike Craighill, owner of Soup and Such in Billings and a member of the Montana Small Business Alliance.  “Most Montanans understand that everyone needs to pay their fair share.”

Major findings of the report include:

  • The richest 2.4 percent of Montana taxpayers have an average income of about $646,000. The other 97.6 percent of the state’s taxpayers make about $52,000 on average.
  • About 98 out of 100 Montana residents would get roughly the same tax cut under the Obama plan as they have up until now. 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 $1,520 and $1,490, respectively.
  • The richest 0.8 percent of Montana residents making over $500,000 a year would get an average tax cut of $50,370 under the GOP plan.
  • Montana taxpayers making less than $25,000 a year would get an average tax cut from the Obama plan roughly 50 percent larger than from the Republican plan: $210 from Obama, compared to $140 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 2 percent of U.S. households under 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. Modern infrastructure, an educated workforce, and healthy local communities are important contributors to small business development and success. The report breaks down what Montana’s share of these funds means for its residents:

  • Highway Planning and Construction: Montana will receive $355.3 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 small businesses by providing the foundation for healthy commerce and promoting economic growth and job creation.
  • Title 1 funding to support K-12 education: Montana will receive $44.8 million in federal funds in FY 2012 for grants to local school districts serving disadvantaged children. In the 2009-2010 school year, 634 Montana schools serving 111,543 children were eligible for this funding.
  • Head Start and Early Head Start preschool programs: Montana will receive $24.1 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 2,902 children in low-income Montana families in 2009.
  • School Breakfast Program:  Montana will receive $7.1 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 27,569 Montana children each day.
  • Make Drinking Water Safer: Montana will receive $16 million in federal funds in FY 2012 to construct water treatment facilities and ensure clean drinking water.
  • Provide Meals to Homebound Seniors: Montana will receive $1.1 million in federal funds in FY 2012 to provide home-delivered meals to frail seniors. About 7,100 Montana residents received meals through this program in 2010.

“We can’t afford to keep giving special tax cuts to the richest,” said Montana Small Business Alliance member Gy Moody, owner of Cleaner Image Janitorial in Billings.  “It’s time for the wealthiest Americans to do their part to keep our communities safe and strong. Those who have done well in America should do well by America and pay their fair share.”

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The Montana Small Business Alliance is a statewide organization of independent small businesses. MSBA brings small business values into the public dialogue, advocating for policies that benefit small businesses and the communities they serve.